Bohn Body Armor

Motorcycling greats lost in 2019

The AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame on the AMA campus in Pickerington, Ohio, honors motorcycle racers, riders, builders and advocates who have achieved greatness. In 2019, six of those motorcycling greats passed away.

They will never be forgotten.

Arlen Ness (above) died March 22, 2019. He was inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 1992. Ness, one of the best-known builders in the world of custom motorcycles, went from customizing his own 1947 Harley-Davidson Knucklehead in the late 1960s to becoming a trendsetter whose designs have been studied, and copied, by everyone from other bike-builders to factory engineers. He also founded a mail-order empire that bears his name.

Gene Romero died May 12, 2019. He was inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 1998. Romero was one of the best-known motorcycle racers in the United States during late 1960s and early 1970s. Romero won the AMA Grand National Championship in 1970 riding for Triumph. Known as a TT specialist early in his career, Romero became a top contender in all forms of Grand National racing and won nationals on miles, half-miles, road-racing circuits and TT tracks.

Peter Fonda died Aug. 16, 2019. He was inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 2002. The son of actor Henry Fonda, Peter became a successful actor in his own right. Motorcycles and counter-culture were common threads in some of his early work, including the 1966 film The Wild Angels. In 1969, Fonda produced and acted in the film Easy Rider. Regarded as an important film commentary of the era, Easy Rider explored the conflict between freedom and societal standards in 1960s America. The film also helped to popularize the custom chopper movement, and generated new interest in V-twin motorcycles.

Clark Collins died Nov. 30, 2019. He was inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 2010. Collins has a long and storied history of advocating for the rights of off-highway vehicle riders, from the creation of the public land-access group the BlueRibbon Coalition (BRC), to building regional and national coalitions among all trail users, to his instrumental role in the passage of a federal law to dedicate user-paid monies for trail funding.

Ed Waldheim died Dec. 9, 2019. He was inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 2007. A tireless advocate for off-road motorcyclists, Waldheim began his involvement in motorcycling as an off-road racer. He later moved into helping organize races and ultimately into governmental off-road advocacy. Waldheim is president of the California Off-Road Vehicle Association and was appointed to the California Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Commission by two governors and served multiple terms. He won numerous awards for his advocacy on behalf of all off-road enthusiasts, including the prestigious AMA Motorcycling Advocate Award.

Dick Klamfoth died Dec. 13, 2019. He was inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 1998. Klamfoth will forever be associated with the Daytona 200. At the age of 20, he burst onto the motorcycle racing scene in March of 1949 when he rode to a surprise victory in the 200 on his very first attempt. Klamfoth won the spring classic again in 1951 and 1952 to become the first three-time winner of America’s most famous motorcycle race. Known as one of the true gentleman of the sport, Klamfoth was named AMA’s Most Popular Rider in 1961.