Trailblazers 71th Annual Banquet
Held at the Carson Events Center, Carson, California
April 12th, 2015
Toast to Ted Lapadakis who passed in 2014
Gary Lee Conrad was born in Los Angeles in 1943. His family moved to Palmdale when he was 12 and he lived there for 58 years. In 1960, he graduated from Palmdale High School where he met the love of his life, Linda. Gary served in the National Guard for eight years and worked most of his life as a New Construction Plumber. But, his greatest passion was motorcycle riding.
Debby Cole accepts Trailblazers Hall of Fame award for Gary Conrad
Mel Dinesen, who passed away in 2006 at the age of 93, had been a motorcycle dealer in Bakersfield, CA. dating back to 1950 where he sold Indian into the 1980s with Yamaha, Hodaka and other brands. He first made headlines as a race tuner in 1960 when 16-year old Eddie Mulder won the famed Big Bear Grand Prix on one of his Royal Enfields. Dinesen went on to sponsor numerous riders from central and southern California in dirt track racing and roadracing with Ron Pierce, a young Bakersfield rider. Ron won numerous AFM and AMA races for Mel which earned him a spot on the Yamaha factory team beginning in 1968.
Chris Carter was born in Palo Alto, California on April 23, 1951. His life on two wheels began, like many others, with a Schwinn Stingray bicycle which he used for his paper route. Every day he’d pedal by some neighborhood kids riding dirt bikes in a vacant lot. After hanging around long enough the boys let him have a turn and Chris was hooked on dirt bike riding.
Chris Carter is also receiving the inaugural “Lucile Flanders Award,”
Rob Morrison was born in 1952 and grew up in Fontana, California. He started riding motorcycles at 16. Then one day in the late 1960’s Rob accompanied his father to Perris Raceway to watch the TT Scrambles races. Rob was hooked and was soon racing himself. By 1971 Rob was a rising star racing in the District 37 Expert class, riding for shops like K&N and Ontario Cycle. In 1972 Rob moved up to an AMA Pro Novice license. Riding a Pete Pistone tuned Bultaco; he won the 1972 California State Championship. He moved up to the Junior class in 1973 and started riding a Norton built by “Big Bill” Rychlik and Harold Allison. He did well enough on the Norton to be promoted to Expert in 1974.
Ron Bishop was born in Woodland, Washington, in 1943. His family moved to Southern California when he was 10 and settled in Escondido. Escondido was a hub of motorcycling activity and it wasn’t long before little Ron was blazing around on a Cushman Eagle scooter, which he naturally took off-road. He rapidly moved from the scooter to a Mustang and eventually to his first real motorcycle, a Zundapp 250cc Super Sabre. Ron Bishop was inducted into the AMA Hall of Fame in 2001 for his many accomplishments in off-road racing. In September 2014, he passed away due to natural causes, not long after his seventieth birthday.
Walt Axthelm was born in Upland, Pennsylvania, in 1933. His family moved to Southern California when he was 14 years old and Walt soon got a junior motor license and his first motorbike, a Schwinn-bicycle-framed Whizzer. His first races were against his buddies who had Whizzers and scooters of their own. He loved to ride and in the afternoons he would go down to the L.A. riverbed and practice until dark. When Walt was 17 he began racing his first true motorcycle, a rigid-framed Royal Enfield.
Neil Fergus was born in San Francisco, California in 1931. His family soon moved to Sierra Madre, California and it was there that Neil began his love of motorcycling. Neil bought his first motorcycle at age 16. He rode mostly off road in any vacant lot he could find. Soon he was taking the bike out to the Mojave Desert to ride, and began entering desert races.
Thad Wolff was born in Los Angeles in 1959 and has lived in nearby Thousand Oaks his whole life. One day, a neighbor’s father offered to take Thad to a motorcycle race nearby and the event changed his life. The race was the Trans-Am and Thad climbed a tree to watch Torsten Hallman, Joel Robert and, Roger DeCoster dominate the American riders.
Wheat became a racing contender in Southern California in Class C dirt
track and also roadraces, as well as off-road races in the west with
top finishes at DeAnza Park, Catalina Grand Prix, Torrey Pines roadrace
and more. He rode against some of the best of his era including Ed
Kretz Sr., Ed Kretz Jr., Jimmy Philips, Ray Tanner, George Everett,
Dick Dorresteyn, Johnny Gibson, Dick Mann, Tex Luse, Walt Axthelm, and
Don Hawley. For CH, racing was fun and most images of him show his
winning smile. His most “fun” race came at the 1957 Riverside TT
Pacific Coast Championship where he battled Ed Kretz Jr. for 25 laps.
The duo passed each other more than three times every lap and crossed
the finish line virtually side-by-side to a standing ovation from the
crowd in the grandstands.
CH Wheat received the Dick Hammer Award from Don, Keith and Skip VanLeeuwen
Malcum Smith and Jack Penton Bryan Farnsworth and Dave Ekins
John Hateley on Dick Mann Triumph replica Gary Bryson and Keith Mashburn Steve McLaughlin and John
Thanks to Randy and Mark Zimmerman / Specialty Fabrication for the wine from Ramspur.