The Annual Flat Track Racing Hall of Fame Induction Party

 

Recently at the Notoriety Theater in Las Vegas, Nevada, the motorcycle industry celebrated the latest Hot Shoe Hall of Fame inductees, increasing the total number to 155. Gene Woods, a three time U.S. Open Speedway champion during the 1980s is the founder of the Hot Shoe Hall of Fame as well as the charity which provides new shoes, “Heart Shoes”, to needy men, women, and children in the area. Gene’s vision to honor and remember two-wheel racers and industry icons, combined with his own generosity, makes this a “must attend” event for anyone who rides or loves motorcycling. Each year it continues to grow in attendance and is a wonderful opportunity to see and reminisce with riders, racers and industry icons. This was our third year in attendance. We saw old friends and met new ones. Geoff shared vintage photos he took during the 1970s with inductees, and Saturday was a special time to check in and enjoy our motorcycle family.

 

Commemorative sticker celebrating Mert Lawwill’s 2024 Lifetime Achievement Award.

This year, Mert Lawwill was celebrated for his outstanding contributions to the motorcycle industry with the 2024 Maely Lifetime Achievement Award. Here’s a few of our photos of Mert taken through the years-

(L to R) Mert in 1975 at the Sacramento Mile, leading John Hateley; Mert (Goodyear cap) with “King Kenny” in 1981 at Laguna Seca when they owned Roberts/Lawwill Racing; 2012 at the Modesto Harley Davidson with Bike #07 of the 19 Mert Lawwill Street Trackers built by Mert Lawwill Concepts.

Thanks to Gene Woods and Alex Mecl we can share this video with you, as Mert could not be present at the event. It made us want to get out our copy of “On Any Sunday” and enjoy watching it again with friends!

Mert Lawwill’s remote acceptance of the Hot Shoe Hall of Fame 2024 Maely Lifetime Achievement Award.

One of Mert’s contributions is through his development of Mert’s Hands. He has designed and created a prosthetic device that allows athletes to participate again in the sport they love, after a serious injury. One such rider is Sherman Lee, #7E. Sherman races in Northern California District 36 and is the first to hold the #1 plate for the AMA Adaptive Riders in 2021.

(L to R) Sherman Lee’s “Hot Shoe” on permanent display at the Los Vegas Hot Shoe Hall of Fame; Lee in the 2023 Lodi Cycle Bowl; Accepting his award at the ceremony.

On Saturday afternoon, before the evening event, inductees and their families and friends gathered at Gene Wood’s indoor go-kart track, located at the end of Fremont Street in Downtown Las Vegas. Gene hosted racing between inductees, and as is typical with racers, the competitive juices began to flow.

Ronnie Jones playfully putting Jimmy Odom into the barrier, while Walt Fulton III tries to sneak by on the inside; Jimmy Lewis taking the checkered flag.

The evening program began at 7:00 PM and featured a “Who’s Who” of industry contributors. Interviews were casual and filled with stories for all attendees to enjoy. Mickey Fay, who was inducted last year, displayed his restored Honda XR500 and shared stories of when he won the 1979 Houston Astrodome TT (the first race of the season). He was only 19 years old from Seattle, Washington and was working as a dry wall taper. Honda supplied an XR500 engine, a set of leathers, money for a frame and running gear, as well as expenses to Houston. Little did Honda realize how their investment would pay off!

Mickey Fay’s Honda XR500 on which he won the Houston Astrodome TT in 1979; Mickey Fay, inducted in 2023.

1993 Grand Prix World Champion Kevin Schwantz was among the notables to share their particular remembrances of people, events, and camaraderie centered around their love of motorcycles. What a great gathering of legends in the sport.

Kevin Schwantz, the Suzuki 1993 world champion was on hand. Upon his retirement, the FIM retired his number #34.

Ronnie Jones, one of the original founders of the charity Rookies of 79, now known as Back on Track, shared his thoughts on his mission to help injured riders as well as stories from his five decades of main event top 10 finishes during his career in racing. We were lucky enough to capture his racing and winning at the Lodi Cycle Bowl Night Before the Mile in 2022.

Ronnie Jones (2021 inductee) at the Hot Shoe Hall of Fame night; Racing at Lodi Cycle Bowl’s the Night Before the Sacramento Mile in 2022.

As the evening drew to a close, the Hot Shoe Hall of Fame inaugurated a new award, the Zechi, named after its first recipient, Howie Zechner. We were also able to catch Mark Kariya, industry photographer for over 40 years, in front of the lens for once! The announcers, Ike Clanton, Jerry Bernardo, and Ralph Sheheen did a fantastic job of moving the evening along, so that everyone present felt the love of the motorcycle family. We can’t wait to be there again next year.

Barb & Geoff Nickless

For more on the Hot Shoe Hall of Fame in Vegas, click HERE.

Group photo of attending inductees and award winners for 2024.

 

NE Ga Motorsports

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