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Hill-Preppin’ Pooch

John Radke’s 6-year-old pit bull has become District 14’s beloved mascot, and a staple of hillclimb events

June 6, 2023 (from May 2023 edition of American Motorcyclist)

By Keaton Maisano

A typical hillclimb event involves fans looking up as riders brave hills that reach toward the sky, but spectators in District 14 occasionally find themselves looking down and asking a simple question: “Where’s Heywood?”

Heywood can be found at national hillclimbs and other motorcycle events, where he steals the show with four paws rather than two wheels. Event promoter John Radke adopted the 6-year-old pit bull rescue in spring of 2021 from the Humane Society of West Michigan, and nearly 25 racing events later, Heywood has adjusted quite well to his new motorcycle-centric lifestyle.

“The very first week I had him, we were prepping for the Ironman at the Muskegon Motorcycle Club,” Radke said. “He fit right in and hopped up in the backhoe we have out there that I was running. He rode around in the backhoe with me while we were prepping the hill and going around in quads just like it was something he had always done!”

As quickly as Heywood accepted his new life, his newfound community welcomed him just as fast. Following an abusive upbringing that left his face scarred, Heywood was in need — and certainly deserving of — plenty of love from his new family and friends.

“They just love him,” Radke said. “The weekend of nationals at Mount Garfield he just spent the weekend going trailer to trailer and everybody was feeding him and petting him. They just really enjoy him because he’s a dog that doesn’t cause no issue with other dogs and just wants to be petted — petted or fed.”

“Everybody knows him from all the districts, and they all love him just the same,” Radke continued. “Once you meet him, you’re a buddy of his.”

So next time you find yourself at a national hillclimb event, make sure to ask for Heywood. And be prepared to provide him with plenty of treats.

John Radke taking a photo with his dog Heywood.
John Radke taking a photo with Heywood.