DEADWOOD — Friends and family gathered at the Lodge at Deadwood Wednesday morning for the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum Hall of Fame induction ceremony.
Nine inductees were recognized for their past and ongoing contributions to the motorcycle industry.
“We honor our Hall of Fame members by telling the stories that showcase their contributions and accomplishments. In doing this, we hope to inspire our visitors and the riding community,” said Sturgis Motorcycle Museum Executive Director Emma Garvin.
The hall of fame class of 2019 are:
Born in September of 1960 in Aberdeen, and raised in a single-parent home with his mother and two younger sisters, Terry Rymer never really had motorcycles on his radar. At the age of 17, Rymer purchased a new 1977 Yamaha IT175 that served as both a race and road bike. That purchase made Rymer a staple at the local Yamaha shop, which turned a free-time hangout into a full-time job in 1978.
Rymer learned motorcycle sales, parts sales, promotions, marketing, with an emphasis on improving customer interaction and experiences; all of which proved to be valuable tools for the future. At the age of 24, wanting more of a motorcycle racing scene, Rymer packed up everything and moved to Rapid City. In 1986, things started to accelerate with Harley-Davidson and the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. His dream was realized in 2010, after 25 years with Black Hills Harley-Davidson: from parts counter to general manager, Rymer’s lifelong commitment to the dealership paid off when he was made partner of Black Hills Harley-Davidson.
“I do not run Black Hills Harley-Davidson,” Rymer said at the induction ceremony. “There’s a ton of people that make it happen. I certainly do not run Black Hills Harley-Davidson. I’m damn proud of it, but I don’t run it, everybody runs it.”
Motorcycle racing was, and still is, Rymer’s passion. (particularly flat track.) Rymer has promoted or co-promoted many races throughout his career and presently owns a race team that sponsors local Sturgis rider Dawson Schieffer campaigning in the American Flat Track Series.
A true Detroit product, Vince Consiglio worked his way through college working at the Big Three at the time: Chrysler, GM, and Ford. However, when Consiglio’s factory jobs laid him off, he took his first cross-country motorcycle ride from Detroit to Las Vegas; traveling Route 66 with just $20 in gas. Riding free in California, not in Michigan, threw Consiglio in court in 1974. This experience, and his love of riding motorcycles, drove Consiglio to ABATE of Michigan in 1975. After several years of battling legislation, a number of ABATE directors became the motorcycle safety foundation (MSF) instructors in 1979 with the goal of establishing motorcycle education programs. Consiglio’s MSF programs helped lead to legislative success in motorcycle education. Today, the Detroit-metro regional program is run through Schoolcraft College and is celebrating 100,000 students being trained from 1981-2019.
Consiglio holds firm that helmets do not prevent accidents. Rider education, tougher licensing, and motorcycle awareness are the keys to reducing motorcycle fatalities in Michigan.
“I’d like to have everybody here that’s ever taught somebody how to ride a motorcycle, please stand up,” Consiglio said. “Because that’s what’s going to keep this industry going. It’s a great honor to be here and let those that ride, decide.”
For the past 50 years, Paughco, Inc. has been providing the custom and restoration Harley-Davidson market with the most diverse, highest quality line of products available.
Paughco’s success is due in no small part to the fact that it is, and always has been, a true family business. Ron Paugh began riding dirt bikes in the San Fernando foothills as a 13-year-old like many did. When Paugh was a junior in high school, he bought his first Knucklehead basket for $75. Paugh started hanging out at D&D Cycle. Boyd Defrance was the owner of D&D Cycle and became a good friend of Paugh’s. DeFrance asked Paugh if his father’s tool and die company could reproduce the early Harley-Davidson inner primary covers. Paugh and his dad made 500 inner primaries and put 100 in the trunk of a 1969 Cadillac his dad leased. Paugh’s dad told his son, “we can’t go selling parts with an old pick-up truck.”
That was just the beginning. One part led to another and in 1969, Paughco, Inc. refocused with the sole purpose of producing the finest in custom and replacement parts and accessories. With the husband and wife team of Robert and Ruth Paugh at the helm, and Ron Paugh heading up the product design and development, Paughco was on the move. By the late 70s, the company was manufacturing thousands of unique products, becoming the No. 1 choice of bike builders worldwide. After completion of Paughco’s new world headquarters, Bob Paugh took his final ride in 1987, and all operations were transferred to Ron Paugh.
As Paughco celebrates its 50th anniversary, the company remains dedicated to the production of an ever-expanding line of products.
“What a great, unbelievable moment,” Paugh said. “I only wish my parents could be here to enjoy this moment with me. … They would be so proud of what the name Paughco has meant to so many people.”
Mondo Porras, owner of Denver’s Choppers also presented Paugh with a special appreciation award for 50 years of quality service to the motorcycle industry.
“It says, ‘Ron Paugh, 50th anniversary, thank you from the industry, we couldn’t do it without you,’” Porras read from the award custom designed to look like a miniature motorcycle gas tank. “Me personally, I couldn’t do what I do; a lot of people in the industry couldn’t do what they do without this man here.”
The focus of Ron Finch has always been from the perspective of “Art of Motion.” His ability to fuse together mechanical design, brilliant paint, and functionally establishes him as one of the premiere builders of this era. Labeled as “too extreme” by some, his work appropriately proclaims the freedom and individualism that is so often associated with the motorcycle lifestyle.
The artistry of Ron Finch is not limited to metal sculpture, it is also expressed in paint. In 2008, Finch was awarded the House of Kolor Prestigious Painter Award for his work on “Finicky,” which has a rainbow of colors on the right side, and a blend of red and orange candy on the left side. Named for its fins, Finicky is a 2006 Shovelhead that features extended fins on the heads, a finned four-gallon gas tank under the seat and Finch sculpture throughout.
Finch motorcycles have been featured in hundreds of magazines, museums, galleries, and shows in the United States, Germany, France, Sweden, and the Netherlands. One of his proudest moments was having the opportunity to display 12 custom motorcycles in the Milwaukee art museum during the 105th Harley-Davidson anniversary in August of 2008.
Finch celebrated his 80th birthday in march 2019 and continues to work from the studio painting and building custom motorcycles and art. Labeled as “too extreme” by some, the work of Ron Finch appropriately proclaims the freedom and individualism that is so often associated with the motorcycle lifestyle.
“I’ve always had that freedom to do what I love for 80 years,” Finch said. “It’s just a gift that I’ve been given by God and the journey’s been great, y’know. And I think the journey’s going to continue to be great.”
Lonnie Isam Jr.
The mindset that old bikes should be entombed in shrines has shifted quite dramatically over the last decade, due in no small part to the efforts of one very quiet, unassuming antique enthusiast. Sturgis resident, Lonnie Isam Jr. sparked a worldwide age of enlightenment with his opinion that old motorcycles should be allowed to live out their time here on Earth as they were intended: in the wind. He set about sharing that view with riders around the world and now, every other year since 2010, antique motorcycle owners take their ancient machines out on America’s back roads to prove their mechanical marvel’s mettle and that of themselves, as well during the Motorcycle Cannonball.
For his efforts, Isam was awarded the J.C. “Pappy” Hoel Award posthumously.
The award is reserved for individuals who have played a special role in the founding, maintaining and/or promoting the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.
“He did not seek attention, he did not seek acalades. Here we’re trying to give it to him and probably post mortum is the best way, because in life I don’t think he would have appreciated it,” said Jeff Dekker, accepting the award on Isam’s behalf.
It is rare that a husband and wife can work closely side by side in the same business. In 1979, Jill Parham helped expand company focus from swap meets to mail-order parts sales. After working two jobs for more than 10 years, and now seeing some family income from J&P Cycles, Parham quit her job in 1991 and moved to J&P Cycles full time. Eventually, J&P Cycles became the world’s largest retailer of after-market motorcycle parts and accessories. In the period of the industry’s greatest growth, Parham became a pioneer in the motorcycle industry, one of the early women leaders in a historically male-centric industry. Parham continues to inspire women in the motorcycle industry and comments on her contributions to J&P Cycles, ”relationships were very important to John and me, and I did very well establishing some of those.” Parham says one of the events which really brought growth and expanded the J&P Cycles customer base was the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.
It is fitting that Parham is honored in 2019 as it marks 40 years of her dedication to motorcycling and motorcycle riders as well as the 40th anniversary of the company she co-founded, J&P Cycles. This induction is on behalf of John and Jill Parham’s many great friends, the thousands of employee riders of J&P Cycles over the past 40 years, and its millions of customers.
“When John had the idea to start a motorcycle business in 1979, his mother called me up and said, ‘You need to stop him from doing this,’” Parham said. “I didn’t stop him, I supported him and together we created a legacy. Let’s keep moving forward and keep the world on two wheels forever.”
While Gloria Tramontin Struck came from a motorcycling family, she didn’t originally have any burning desire to ride.
“I remember the day that my brother, Bub told me he was going to teach me how to ride,” Struck recalled. “I stamped my foot, and I said, ‘No you’re not, because I don’t want to ride a motorcycle and I’m not going to do it.’ Well I’ve been riding ever since that day in 1941, 78 years ago.”
Struck was born in 1925 behind her family’s business, Lexington Cycle Shop, in Clifton, New Jersey. The business had been selling bicycles and Excelsior-Henderson motorcycles since 1915.
In 1946, at age 21, Struck joined the Motor Maids that had been established in 1941. Struck is the longest standing member still riding.
Struck has logged more than 500 thousand miles, riding all 48 continental states many times over.
“I often wonder what my life would be like if I didn’t ride,” she said. “Well, I’m 94 years old now and normally I probably would be baking cookies for my grandchildren and my great-grandchildren, knitting afgans for my friends and family, and looking forward to my weekly bingo games. But, hell, that’s not me. I’d rather be on two wheels riding around the country meeting old friends and new friends. Isn’t that what motorcycles are for?”
Struck ‘s family shares her love of riding. Her daughter, Lori, also is a Motor Maid and can always be seen riding with her mother.
“I want to thank the Sturgis Hall of Fame, and everyone responsible for recognizing me in this way,” Struck said, accepting the award. “They have given me many happy memories throughout the years, all these friends, so I’m a very lucky person. I thank my brother for not taking my ‘no’ for an answer. … This is for you Bub.”
As a youngster, Frank Fritz wasn’t interested in extracurricular activities. He was interested in motor bikes and collecting beer cans, stamps, and all the “staples.” As Frank got older, his step-father told him that if he wanted something, he had to work for it. Frank attended summer school every year and worked in the afternoons. By Fritz’s sophomore year in high school, he was making $7 an hour and he was finally able to buy a 1959 Harley-Davidson Sportster. After all, according to Fritz’s father “you can get killed on a 350 Honda or a Harley.” Fritz could be seen and heard riding his Sportster to school while other kids were getting dropped off by their parents. Fritz still has his 1959 Sportster today.
Fritz said he appreciates the freedom he feels owning, working on and riding motorcycles. For many years, Fritz would ride his 1959 Sportster to the south side grounds in Sturgis for the Rally. At the farthest, he would go to Deadwood. Fritz recalls making laps up and down Main Street from sun-up to sun-down. Now people are amazed that Fritz still rides to Sturgis and camps in the same spot. Fritz doesn’t roll up in a motor home or fly in to stay in a hotel, he does what he has done for the last 30 years.
Fritz says his greatest achievement as a person was always working hard, seeing what he wanted and working for it, and hanging onto life-long friends, who he sees regularly. As a motorcyclist, Fritz considers one of his greatest achievements keeping his first bike and still riding today. Many friends got Harley-Davidson tattoos and had bikes here and there but motorcycling has never left Fritz’s blood.
“I’m so flattered and humbled just to be on stage with all these amazing people,” Fritz said. “This is an honor that I will proudly talk about for the rest of my life.”
As an 11-year-old in 1970, Danny Fitzmaurice’s neighbor Ron Helms opened a new Harley-Davidson dealership. The business was small with many challenges, and it did not take this kid long to figure out an opportunity to volunteer was possible. From this point on, most of Fitzmaurice’s life going forward revolved around motorcycles. He wanted to know how to develop and make more power from all the great people he would encounter. Fitzmaurice worked day jobs and repaired engines at night, all to help fund more racing. As his skills developed, the dream of getting a pro license in 1981 was quickly realized. After the spring Florida racing series, these dreams went up in smoke when Fitzmaurice and racing/business partner, Dave Zehner, realized their expanding engine business was growing fast. This step led to the official formation of Zipper’s in May 1981 with Dave Zehner.
“We had this great plan that I think was probably developed by my influence of watching Wile E. Coyote trying to catch the Roadrunner,” Fitzmaurice said.
They were blessed with plenty of customers building and tuning street and track engines, many for dirt and asphalt drag racing. As the U.S. economy was improving, business was growing and fans wanted to attend and ride to racetracks to see the action. Because of the continued growth of Zipper’s, and commitment to customers and staff, by 1995 Danny Fitzmaurice and Dave Zehner started to scale back racing, selectively attending events to compete in. They were lucky to race during a time of great competition and the ability to compete against and learn from some of the best in the industry.
At the time, they set many records and pursued championships, racing in six different sanctions. Today, these records are long gone with progress of new machines and innovation as they should. Fitzmaurice remains grateful for the impact that so many people made on his experiences of racing.
“It’s been a great journey and we’ve had some of the best teachers,” Fitzmaurice said during the ceremony. “I just can’t thank everyone enough for being there for us, because it’s been a great ride and we have a lot more to do.”
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