Hall of Famer Spotlight: Hazel Kolb
March 13, 2023
By Keaton Maisano
March is Women’s History Month, which is why this month’s Hall of Famer Spotlight shines a light on a woman who left her mark on the motorcycling community while also trailblazing a path for women.
AMA Motorcycle Hall of Famer Hazel Kolb — nicknamed the “Motorcyclin’ Grandma” — is known as a touring ambassador for motorcycling. Famous for her trip around the United States, Kolb promoted a positive perception of motorcycling, and the AMA responded by renaming its AMA Brighter Image Award to the AMA Hazel Kolb Brighter Image Award. That award is given by the AMA Board of Directors to an individual or organization that has generated excellent publicity for motorcycling.
Beyond what she did for motorcycling, Kolb also paved the way for women when she became the first female member of the AMA Board of Trustees, helping guide the AMA through a time of rapid growth.
Born in 1926 in Hannibal, Mo., Kolb grew up poor during the Great Depression. Her love for motorcycles came after her older brother, Tom, bought his own bike when he moved to California.
Riding on the back of Tom’s motorcycle sparked the fire in Kolb, and she vowed to buy her own motorcycle one day.
It wouldn’t be until her second marriage that Kolb fulfilled this promise to herself, and she built many memories riding with her husband, Jack.
Following Jack’s passing in 1975, Kolb came up with the idea of riding the entire perimeter of the United States on her Harley-Davidson Electra Glide, and she accomplished the feat in 1979 at age of 53. Kolb’s nearly 15,000-mile journey was done in the public eye, as she completed more than 300 interviews and appeared on TV multiple times.
A book on her journey, titled On the Perimeter was published in 1983.
Kolb passed away in 1990, and she was inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 1998.