Ken Maely
1925 - 2003


Sad news Ken Maely has passed this afternoon
my condolences to his family he will be forever
remembered as the steel shoe man......
and the begginers speedway riders mentor
best wishes Dukie

Oh, man.......I love Ken Maley.......!!!!!!
There's a pretty big group of racers needing hotshoes up there..........!!!!
Sail on Ken Maley, you have finished the race!!! The race, God had set before you. For the Word says
'Let us run with endurance the race that God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus,
on whom our faith depends from start to finish'.
Today you were greeted at Heavens gates with 'Well done, thou, Good and Faithful servant, you have been faithful
and just over few things, now you'll be made ruler over much!! Enter into the Joy of the Lord.......
For the Word declares, 'to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord'.
Until that great and wonderful day, when the rest of us go to meet the Lord in the Air, Sail on Kenneth Maley,
we will always love and miss you!!!!!

God speed you Ken you are the best there is and the best there ever will be
Billy Gruwell

Wow, I can't believe it. This is truly the end of an era. Godspeed Ken you will be missed.......

I am so sad to hear Ken passed away. I spoke with him a little over a week ago on the telephone and he said he was feeling OK
but would not be able to make it to Del mar. I had a feeling he was not doing well.
I first met Ken at 1968 at Ascot. He was always there making shoes and making sure he knew everyone in the pits.
after I was injured, I did not see Ken for 20 years. And, although I was only one of a thousand racers in those glorious 60s,
he remembered me when I saw him at his ranch! not only remembered me but remembered many things about me from those days.
He made me feel important.
I don't think he forgot anyone who bought one of his shoes.
I'm sure many of you can tell us a story about Ken.
Ken, we will miss you.

i cant believe he is gone.the man seemed that he would go on forever.he never stoped working but always had time.
it didnt matter if you where springer or joe shmoe.i have sat here reading all of your posts with sorrow.
i am shure that all the people that have met the man where touched by him in some way. i know that i was .
god speed ken.
jeff apple

That is really sad news, Ken has been a friend since the late 50's. My prayers go to his wife Rose and his family.
Dennis Mahan

man, i talked to him last week. i was going to send him my boot and $$$ for my first steelshoe when i got paid on friday.
what a character. i was on the phone with him for about 15-20 minutes just he just seemed
like a genuinely nice guy. my prayers are with his family


You are indeed the very best.
GodSpeed dear friend.
Dale Lineaweaver

I can’t believe Ken is gone! I have known him since the late sixties. The racers he has touched would reach in the thousands, a
and he remembered each of their names and something about them. Ken can now take his place in great hall of fame above.
am sure he will be seated at the head table with the great racers and tuners who knew and loved him.
Mr Ed

God I cant believe it, i'm in shock. Me and my whole family have been riding at Kens ranch for as long as I an remember.
My dad and uncle grew up racing with Ken always being at the races with them. He was a great guy. I wont ever forget
the fun times ive spent with him at the ranch, like our Maeley mile and Maeley tt nationals.
He has been a big part of my racing. I wont forget ya Ken.
Best wishes to his lovely wife and neice, I hope you get through this tough time.
Alex Wood #67

Ken Maely left an indelible imprint on all that knew him. A true character the likes of we'll never see again.
Rest in peace,   Ken Maely left an indelible imprint on all that knew him. A true character the likes of we'll never see again.
Rest in peace,
Rob in AZ

Godspeed Ken. I will miss those five minute phone calls that lasted thirty. Ken made my first shoe at ascot thirty years ago
and my last this summer. If you were #1 or #501 he treated you the same. My thoughts are with his family.
sideways 3n

Blessings to Ken's family. He was so friendly and helpful to so many racers.
Best Regards,
Devon Sowell  -  Old59R

Truly a legend has passed, such men cannot be replaced!! I only met Ken one time, many years ago at
the Colorado Mile. The exhaust pipe on my 350 Yamaha twin was sticking out too far,
according to the AMA tech inspector and he directed me to Ken to fix it. He did and wouldn't charge me anything.
My condolences go out to his family and I will remember them in my prayers.
Jim Henry #90n


Man what a blow to Flattrack. I still remember everyone crowding around watching him work at the Dome.
What a Craftsman. A few years ago my wife called him and ordered a T shirt for me as a gift.
She ask him if he had a 2X and he said NO, tell him to loose some damn weight.
She later said man that Dude I ordered your shirt from is a character.
She said she felt like she had known him forever and it was the first time she had ever talked to him. Godspeed Shoeman.

What fun we had. Godspeed Ken.
Bob,Carol,and Steve Hill

Man that's horrible news. Ken was one of the nicest guys I've ever met. Every single time I went over to his place
he ALWAYS asked about how my dad and family was doing back east.
He gave so much to the racing community. Ken would give the shirt off his back to anyone.
He will be truly missed. God speed the steel shoe man.
Ed sr., Cliff, Ed jr. Fatz

What a terrific loss.
Ken was one of those rare individuals who touched the lives of everyone he met.
He certainly touched mine, and my family's.
I'm glad that I was able to count you as one of my friends.
You most certainly will be missed.
The racing community will never be the same without you.
Brad Rudy.

Message for FATZ! Watched ya crawl into his water truck and pull a patch so we could have water again.
Those are the things I will never forget.


That is sad news. I fisrt heard about Ken around 30 years ago when I first started racing.

Everyone wanted one of his SHOES. And just like everyone says here, he treated you as if he knew you well even if it
was the first time he had met you. Guess I will have to take better care of the T shirt I bought from him
at Del Mar a few years ago. God speed Ken and may your family find comfort at this difficult time.
There is probably none in flattrack that was as well known as you are. What an Icon,God bless you.

Ken was a National treasure.
My deepest condolences to his family and many friends.
Godspeed Ken
Don Potter, 67J

If motorcycling and Flattrack ever had a friend, Ken was it! He will leave a major empty spot in this life.
I think everyone he ever met will be affected by his passing

Today is indeed a very sad day. I only met Ken in the recent years through my step father,
Larry Wilburn. Larry knew Ken from the "old" days and they were very close.
I have never seen Ken without a smile on his face and something good to say about whoever he was speaking about.
The racing community has lost it's favorite father. My family and I are deeply saddened by this news.
Our hearts go out to his family(if any) and my step father. Godspeed Ken, you will always be remembered by me with
a big smile on my face, as it was that I always have seen you.
Brian Coakley

Godspeed you to your reward that is promised to you. He was one the greatest legends of American Flattrack racing.
I won't put on my shoe without saying a prayer.

I still have the shoe he made at the dome in i think 1972.
it hangs in my race shop next to the new shoe ken made for my son last year.
what a loss to flattrack. he is a true hero and legend to the sport.

Rest in peace Ken.
"Life is a sexually transmitted, ultimatly fatal condition. Enjoy it while you can."

Very sad news. A huge loss to everyone who has ever met Ken.
If you've never had the honor of meeting him you can see by these posts that he was a very special man.
You will be missed shoeman thank-you for all you have done.
Ray Hensley

Ken treated me like Family. That meant a lot, to everyone.

 I only talked to Ken Maely twice, Once in 1991 at San Jose and once in 2001 at Del Mar. Both times it was to have some work done on my steel shoe. Now when it comes to steel shoe maintenance I am a procrastinator and at San Jose I received a royal ass chewing for the condition of my shoe. He told me that my shoe was so bad that he would have to take it back to his shop to repair it and that he would send it to me. Well I was racing that day and I needed my shoe and after enough crying he got it fixed for me just before practice got started. Fast forward 10 years later (I think he was wearing the same shirt) at Del Mar and I'll be damned if I didn't get the same ass chewing, word for word, and my shoe was ready just in time for practice. Although we didn't spend that much time together he treated me like I was one of his kids. I'm going to miss him.
Ricky Henson #55

Ken was so humble and friendly that you forgot how sharp he was and how many things he accomplished beyond making steel shoes. Kind words for everyone and a love for racing and racers were his stock in trade. A lot of knowledge the history of flat track and speedway racing was lost with this man. On a personal level I will miss his friendship. We have lost a giant.
Fat Dad

'm so glad I stopped by last Sunday. Got my shoe back yesterday, Ken Maely will be sorely missed.

So Long Ken,
You are leaving a big hole in the middle of the racetrack…so much history, so many stories.
Bigger than life, you left a huge impression on me the very first time I saw you. As wide-eyed 17 year-olds at
our first Catalina Gran Prix, Dick Hammer and I watched in utter amazement as you gave
a boxing lesson to a big dumb drunk bully on the steamship ride home. You've been our hero ever since.
How can I forget the time you welded in "Lover" on my skidshoe? That certainly caused some problems at home!
What a sense of humor! You were like no other and we'll sure miss you,
Our prayers to your wife and family,

What a sad day in the world of motorcycle racing. Better yet...what a sad day in the world...period. As a novice,
Ken made me my first steel shoe in early 1957, and it was the only one I ever wore. It sits in my racing room
with many other treasures that I've collected.
GodSpeed Ken. You will be missed by all.

The only thing I have from my days of racing is my Ken Maley Shoe. Gods speed Ken.
John Crume - Crazy John

GODSPEED KEN and condolences to the Maley family. I have grown up with Ken in my life. He and my dad met and became friends before I was born. We were all in the same motorcycle club at one time or another. He was one of the original members of the Hilltoppers M/C and only left them as a result of his constant search for ways to make money. The time was the 1950's. The place was a cold night at the races. Ken recognized that everyone was cold and there was not one vendor of coffee to be found. He decided to brew a big pot of coffee and charge a reasonable fee to all who wanted to cut the chill. This turned out to be quite a good move on his part. He made a mint while making a whole lot of racers a little more comfortable. Almost like providing all of the steel shoes he's made over the years. Back to the story. At the end of the night, one of the members of the Hilltoppers came over and asked Ken "How much money did we make tonight?". Kens response was, "We who?". The Hilltopper responded with, "You know, the club." Ken then pointed out that not one club member lifted a finger to help him. He bought all of the equipment, cups and coffee out of his pocket; he brewed and served the coffee all night without any assistance from a single club member. The money invested was his and the money made was his. That night ended his membership in the Hilltoppers M/C. I'm sure that many people have many stories about Ken. I've often been told not to take something that didn't already have a patent, anywhere near Ken unless you wanted to see it in mass production the following week under the name of Maley. Ken always treated me like a son and I will miss him dearly. I will, however, cherish these and all of the memories of the last 40+ years. I wonder what new changes he's made upstairs already. He will be greatly missed, but never forgotten.

Ken was a very special man and a nicer friend. I made him a clock with his picture on it and gave it to him last year, why?
because he's who he is. Godspeed will be missed by everyone you ever made a shoe for...
Jim Grant

I remember Ken at the Dome one year, a cold front came through and it was cold!!!!!
There was this giant of a man working in a sleeveless T-shirt. I knew I was in the company of greatness
as I watched him work his magic on that metal.............Godspeed
myron combs

Very sorry to hear about Ken's passing. We had just talked last week and we were going to go to his track this sunday.
Godspeed Ken, you will sorely missed by all who knew ya.

This a sad day. Ken was such a good man with a smile for every body.
He worked so hard to help the up and comers on his ranch. All I know is that Heaven is very lucky to have him enter there.
Dee Dee De Lucca

My condolances to the Friends family and Relatives and especially to the whole flat track community.
Rest In Peace Maely.
I first remember Ken Maely at the Dome in the early years, probably the first one in 1968. It seems he was always there working. And not just on shoes but he welded anything you broke.
My rookie expert year in 1975, I broke the Brake lever on the Triumph in the TT Practice twice. The brake on the right was too low and I would drag it in the right hander and Maely welded it back up both times.
I also remeber when Maely had the Speedway bikes at the Astrodome Trade Show. He used the Honda 350 bottom end and built his own top end I think. He always made you feel he remebered you, when you talked with him.
The funiest story I remember about Maely though was when he was at an AMA Congress meeting and discussing rules and the future of flat track. Maely made a Motion that flat track start running to the right instead of to the left. Obviously He would have sold a lot of Steel Shoes. Always thinking ahead. lol

I'm just speechless. Ken truely walked as a God among men, but like someone said earlier...
it didn't matter if you were #1 or #501, he treated you the same.

Thank you for those great photos Glynn. I never got to meet Ken but feel I've know him anyway. He left such an imprint on the flat track world(literally) but also on the hearts of all that he associated with. Reading the tributes to him, I know he was the kind of person I would have been proud to have known. My prayers are with his family at this time. You are going to be sorely missed Ken. God Speed.
Audrey H


His passing leaves a hole in the So Cal cosmos, and in my life.
Hopefully, Ken will soon be racing in the Heavenly Short-Track on Sunday afternoons against Dick Bettencourt
and all the other riders whom he so loved and who have preceded him in death.
He often stated: "If I can't take it with me,... I'm not goin'" But as Dick equally often predicted,
he was apparently (and unfortunately) unable to take it with him, after all.
God speed, Ken!... he knows damn well you've earned your rest!!
ol t-bone - - - o%\o

Ken Maley had no reason to know me. I wore one of his shoes, and I rode a flattracker. That was about it. Despite that fact, he always greeted me warmly and by name when we would see each other. I remember the time the oil tank on my KR cracked at Willow Springs. We needed to get it welded before the main event. Ken was there. He helped me clean all of the oil out and then chased down the right welding rod. When he was done he wouldn't take any money from me. I feel pretty lucky to have known him. God Bless Ken Maley.
Rudy 87m

I live about 10 minutes from his house, and go to his track a lot. Depending on his mood that day he would either charge me, OR NOT. He always had the best stories to tell! When I first got back into racing flat track again I went to his place and he acted like I had never been gone. We talked about Bettencourt, Frauenberger, Horton and even cheatin Chuck Claydon. Just wanted to share my story too.

Godspeed, Ken, see ya later. and thanks.
Deep sympathies to Rose and all family and friends.

Dear Friends and Fellow Racers:
News traveled to Kansas City today that Ken Maley had passed. I know that we will all get to that time someday but the man was such a force to all of Motorcycle Racing that's it truly a sad day. My first memories of Ken like those of Digger Helm and many others was
back in the late 50's. Ken lived in Southern California, but every summer during the AMA National swing you would find him and his old van setting up shop at the pit gate to be sure he had everyones "shoe" ready by practice.
Remember when Dick "Bugys" Mann burnt a hole in his boot from his "Steel Shoe" while racing the Mile at Bay Meadows? Or the time when Dud Perkins' HD Rider Dan Haaby twisted his leg hitting a hole and had to go up a boot size - Maley made a special fit to his Steel Shoe so he could run the Old State Fairgrounds track in Sacremento! As the years progressed so did Maley's eye for Speedway Bikes. He was strong willed when it came to design of his bikes and riders. I can remember living in Gardena California working for Bell Helmets (while in Long Beach and later in Norwalk) when Bell's "JJ" took me to see Ken's latest Speedway "crop" - those where the young riders he was training at his track in Corona. The Bast Brothers, were
hot, Penhall was a comer as was Bobby Swartz and Gene Woods. Ken Maley would crack up thinking that "Fishback" the MX Rider was going to try Speedway! He was a good rider as it turned out. Harry Oxley, Ken Maley they were visionaries! Judy, Ken's first wife was a fixture at his side as I'm sure "Rose" was today. I'm sorry that I had not kept up with my old friends of the 50's, 60's, and 70's as for the 80's when I moved to KC it's been
nothing compared to the Motorcycling of yesteryears! This year I went to Topeka Kansas for a Formula USA Half-Mile got to see Mike and Sandra Kidd. I had to leave before the action started as we had a Late Model Stock Car Race the same night 80 miles away. The Vintage Bikes looked great it was truly a walk back in time.
Thanks for the email!
Pattie Prestidge Frost
Dist.36 Scorer from the 70's
Flattrack Pattie to my friends!

Like so many people, I got to know (and like) Ken Maely at the
races. Last year, while attending the Old Timers Banquet here
in Oregon, myself and a couple of friends were talking in the
lobby when Ken walked up. We had no idea that he was going to
be there. I didn't hardly recognize him in that suit and tie.
Even though it had been some time since we last met, he still
recognized me. We all talked and joked until it was time to
sit down to dinner. During the course of the evening, several
racing notables got up and spoke about the "old
days" and what they were doing now. When it was Ken's
turn, he spoke about all of the really neat people he had met
over the years through his involvement with Dirt Track and
Speedway racing. He told us about his travels all over the
world and some of the projects he had been involved in.
However, he definitely caught another gear along with a
noticeable rise in RPM, when he started talking about meeting
his wife to be while he was working in China. It was obvious
to all in attendance that she was the true love of his life.
He ended his talk by saying that every year since he met her
were "The happiest years of my life". In closing, I
would say this: If a man's wealth can be measured by the
number of friends he made over the years, then Ken has to be
one of the richest people in history.
Doug OBrien

Marlyn 'Thunder' Klunder left Howard, SD in 1958 and went to LA with his KR
to mix it up with the big boys weekly at Ascot. His home made shoe soon wore out
and he had Ken make him up a new one in the pits at Ascot in 1959.
That shoe lasted through his pro career. In 2000 Thunder called Ken and sent his 1959 shoe back
to Maley for repair. When he got it back there was an invoice from Ken that read
'No charge..under warrenty'! Ken WAS a great man and will truly missed. God speed 'Shoe Man'!
Tommy R

I Started Racing Flat Track in North Idaho 25 years ago at a track
called Huter Speedway in Couer d' alene.  We moved to Socal in 81 and
then started racing at Corona raceway it was there that my father was
introduced to Ken and had Ken build a shoe for me. I can remember when
I got home from school that my father was so impressed and taken back
by Ken that we made a special trip out to the ranch for me to meet him,
I was only 11. Since then I graduated to Speedway and raced Juniors for
may years and then went to the 500's when I retired from racing in 89.
Over the years I had kept in contact with Ken not as much as I would
have like to but every time we talked it took me back to my childhood
and memories and the remember when?  You always felt like family when
you were with Ken.  He will be missed.
Tim Gewecke

  It's really great that you built a Ken Maely page.  I just found it today while searching for old flat-track photos. 
He was one of a kind.  The first time I met him was in 1969 at Sacramento.  I was a brand new Junior rider, with zero experience on the Mile. (I was able to skip Novice based on other racing experience) 
Ken noticed my pretty ratty hotshoe, which was a homebuilt job, loaned to me by a buddy.  Ken then gave me a pretty good (and very graphic) friendly lecture on what would happen if my shoe caught a rut.  He then loaned me a brand new shoe that he had in the truck, no charge, no sales pitch. 
When I returned it to him later in the day, he told me to "keep it until you can afford a new one".   I was stunned.  That's the kind of guy he was, as everyone who met him already knows. Ken really did care about the riders, even us unknown newbies.
Ken was also fiercely secretive about his tricks of the trade.  I was a welder, so was curious about what kind of rods he used on the bottom of the shoes.  While we were talking, I took a peek at the stack of rods he had.  The type of rod he was using usually had an I.D. number stamped on the side, showing the alloy.  To keep his secret for building such long-lasting shoes, he had carefully ground-off the I.D. on every single rod.  He just kinda grinned when I noticed that. 
Neat guy.  He'll be missed.

Chuck L



OBITUARY - Ken Maely Passes
By Scott Rousseau     Cycle News
A Tremendous Legacy, A Good Friend 10/10/2003

Ken Maely, the original hot shoe man, died on Thursday, October 9, in Riverside, California, after suffering a heart attack. He was 78.

Known the world over for his manufacturing and development of the steel shoe or “hot shoe,” the Wisconsin-born Maely got his start as a motorcycle racer in the Midwest flat track hotbed known as the “fairs circuit” in the ‘40s, after World War II. But he soon realized the need for an improvement upon the skid shoes that riders were fashioning out of automobile parts for their left boots at the time.

“It used to be the big rush after the races to go down to the junkyard to get all the bumper ends you possibly could because it would last you for about a month or so,” Maely once said while filming a segment of the now defunct television show The Exciting World of Speed and Beauty. “In about 1948 I started making my own shoe, after that, whenever I’d loan someone my shoe, why… After you sell someone a shoe, he is not just a customer he’s a good friend from then on.”

Demand was so great that Maely quit racing to concentrate on his hot shoe-building business full-time. He moved to a ranch in Corona, California, to set up shop, where he continued to build shoes, and also created a training facility for flat track and speedway racers to hone their skills. Ken Maely Hot Shoes were worn by several AMA Grand National Champions, most notably Kenny Roberts - who went on to win the AMA title in 1973 and ’74 before going on to win the World 500cc Road Racing Championship three times, from 1978-1980, and with whom Maely had a great friendship. Maely was recognized for his shoe work when he was inducted into the AMA Hall of Fame in 1999.

World Speedway Champions such as five-time titlist Ove Fundin of Sweden and Americans Bruce Penhall, Bobby Schwartz and Billy Hamill all wore Ken Maely Hot Shoes at various times in their careers; Hamill won his first speedway race as a junior at the Maely Ranch in Corona. Maely so enjoyed the sport of speedway that in 1977 he began to develop his own speedway engine. Architecture from from that engine was later used in products from other engine manufacturers, such as Husqvarna. His engineering efforts also earned him numerous government contracts with the Republic of China, where he made frequent visits to assist in setting up manufacturing and assembly plants.

Maely, who had just underwent heart surgery about three weeks ago, had battled and defeated cancer and other heart problems earlier in life. He remained a constant fixture at West Coast flat track Nationals, where he continued to sell and do repair work on hot shoes. At home, he could always be counted on to be running his water truck every hour on the hour for the riders who showed up to practice at his training track.

It was also at home that Maely recently won one of his toughest battles, when he fought and won a legal challenge to keep his training facility open even as a housing development was encroaching on the property. When asked at a recent practice day why he didn’t just throw in the towel and sell his property, most likely for millions, Maely replied, “If I do that, then where all these kids go to learn how to ride?”

Funeral arrangements are pending. We will bring you more information as it becomes available.

Ken Maely will truly be missed…

The above messages were posted on the Flat Track Forum.


According to Ken Maely's son, Mike, there will be a bench racing session and memorial celebration
for the late hot shoe builder and motorcycle racing icon, who passed away last Thursday.

The event is scheduled to take place at Bassani Manufacturing, 2900 E. La Jolla, in Anaheim, California, 92806,
on Saturday, October 25, from noon to 6.p.m. There will be refreshments and food available, but the event is BYOB.

Attendees are requested to please RSVP to Mike Maely via the following e-mail address:

Memorial Celebration

Held at Bassani Manufacturing on October 25th, 2003