Saddlemen

Snapshots from the 71st Annual Trailblazers Banquet

| 20 April 2015 4:08 pm

Trailblazers Motorcycle Club
Awards Banquet: Carson Center

Story and Photos by Howie Zechner
CARSON, CA, APR. 11, 2015

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As always, the Trailblazers’ annual banquet was a wonderful event. Everybody who was someone or wanted to be someone marked their calendar for this once-a-year classic. More than 700 of the motorcycle faithful filled the Carson Center. Memories were rekindled and forged friendships were renewed. It was an afternoon and evening of pure ecstasy for those of the two-wheel persuasion.

Snapshots from the 71st Annual Trailblazers Banquet

Snapshots from the 71st Annual Trailblazers Banquet

As always, the sellout event was well organized. Trailblazer ambassadors, all dressed in their bright gold jackets, were plentiful and available in case help was needed. None was required, as sign-in was painless. Credentials included your table number, a ballot to vote for the best bike on display, and an Ascot decal.

Jeff Heininger (center, of Webco fame and a past Chairman of the American Motorcycle Heritage Foundation) and Ernie Aragon (right) help out an attendee.

Jeff Heininger (center, of Webco fame and a past Chairman of the American Motorcycle Heritage Foundation) and Ernie Aragon (right) help out an attendee.

Also as always, the place was packed. So-and-so, who won the whatchamacallit three years in a row, was there, along with dozens of other regional, National and World Champions. The guys who sponsored those guys were there in abundance, as were the crews and fans that supported them. Everywhere you looked, people were smiling.

Four-time World Speedway Champion Barry Briggs (left) catches up with author Howie Zechner (right).

Four-time World Speedway Champion Barry Briggs (left) catches up with author Howie Zechner (right).

Sidecar racer Ernie Aragon.

Sidecar racer Ernie Aragon.

This year’s Bike Show did not disappoint, either. The show officially started at 3 p.m., and the hall was filled to the brim with motorcycles: Featuring a wide variety of two-wheel history, racers, cruisers, one-of-a-kind bikes and production staples were there in all their splendor. Many were accompanied by pictures or trophies, and all came with stories, and the owners who were happy to share the how and who and why.

The Tom Cates Memorial Bike Show in full swing.

The Tom Cates Memorial Bike Show in full swing.

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The gate went up at 6 p.m. (For those who don’t speak “racing,” that means the banquet doors opened.) After three bars and hours of looking and talking, a sit-down was well in order. Finding your table in the massive room and getting settled was the evening’s biggest challenge. Once everyone was seated, the opening ceremonies included a prayer, a rendition of the national anthem, and a video tribute to those we lost since the last banquet, in 2014. The well-produced memorial meant that many a tear was shared as the tribute to these fallen heroes and friends was displayed.

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As always, there was wine, food and merriment. All was superb, and an hour passed quickly before the night’s awards and congratulations were announced. Complemented by slick video productions, the Hall of Fame, Dick Hammer, and the Lucile Flanders Awards were presented, the latter for the first time ever. Inductees, or in some cases their relatives and friends, came up to the stage and told stories of bygone youth and treasure. One word describes the celebration: “Outstanding.”

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The evening passed before anybody was ready to let it go. Goodbyes were long, and groups gathered for one more story, picture or compliment.

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As always, thank you, Trailblazers. You did a damn good job. Now get busy – next year’s banquet is only 360-some-odd days away. Let’s get this show moving!
– Howie Zechner

[For more from this event, please see “Thanks from the Prez…” by Don Emde, with Judy Whitson… Editor]=

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