Thanks from the Prez…

| 20 April 2015 3:21 pm

Trailblazers Motorcycle ClubTrailblazers Logo 300 0001
Awards Banquet: Carson Center

Courtesy of Judy Whitson/Trailblazer News
CARSON, CA, APR. 11, 2015

And now, a message from your President…

Hi, everyone.

To those of you who were among the 700 or so attendees at the banquet, thank you for turning out again. We hope you had a great time seeing old friends, old bikes, dinner, and our awards program. It seemed to us that things went pretty well. I guess after holding banquets for 70 years, the club should have it down pretty good now.

It’s a big effort to put the banquet on – a year-long project to select our honorees and then produce the videos, program, tickets and other materials. Keeping track of the incoming ticket orders and getting everyone seated is a big job. A big thanks, by the way, to Bill Cooper for his tireless work to keep things straight there. I goofed up on stage and forgot to mention him when I was thanking the rest of the team the other night. My apologies to Bill for the oversight.

I can’t say thanks enough times to Mark and Randy Zimmerman for their sponsorship of the wine for our toast to Ted Lapidakis. To be honest, in the past, we’ve mainly looked for some wine to get us by for a quick toast. Mark and Randy insisted, though, that to honor Ted, we needed to do it right, and they covered all the costs for the wine and labels from the Ramspur Winery up in Napa for the nice red and white wines to go with dinner.

GE Capital continues to be a great supporter of the Trailblazers and provided some funding for us to upgrade our video production this year. Thanks to Paul Puma for that. I think you would all agree that the larger screens and improved sound system made for a nicer program. (The one minor glitch, by the way, when the sound went out turned out to simply have been caused by someone walking over and disconnecting a cable. Luckily, the disconnection was located and plugged back in quickly.)

We welcomed Hagerty Insurance this year as a co-sponsor of the Tom Cates Memorial Bike Show. Thanks to them, and to Tom White for introducing us to them, and for his support in co-sponsoring the show with them, and his leadership of the activities in the courtyard.

Judy Whitson is another of the Trailblazers board members who does so much more than most people realize. Her ongoing e-mails are one of our main links to the members throughout the year. She also carries a big load for the banquet, coordinating the information and materials needed to get you all your tickets in the envelopes and organizing the team at the check-in station.

Our co-emcee Keith Mashburn also did a lot more behind the scenes than you might have imagined. As he has done for a few years now, he and a team of video graphic producers put together all of the videos that ran during the banquet. That just gets better and better every year. And a new resource this year provided by the Motorcycle Industry Council was Lee Durlach, who helped direct the stage activities and timing of the whole show. Thanks to Lee for his help.

Historic filmmaker Peter Starr added to the show this year by providing some footage from his archives that we watched at dinner, as well as taping the film during the bike show to go with the music at the close of the night. Thanks, Peter – that added a lot, for sure.

And there are others who pitched in with their time and money to make something that was needed happen. Things like the pit-pass printing, lanyards, trophies, medals and more. Thanks to Van Leeuwen Enterprises, K&N, Ernie Aragon and Tom Horton, as well as all of our program advertisers who provided the funding for our biggest-ever souvenir program.

Our whole 15-member Trailblazers board of directors did something for the banquet, as did other volunteers whom I mentioned at the banquet. Thanks for another great year!

We are actually already at work on the 72nd annual banquet in 2016. Watch for upcoming announcements about the date of the next banquet and other news. Also, be sure to check the Trailblazers Facebook page and the website at

See you next year!
– Don Emde, President, Trailblazers Motorcycle Club

Editor’s Note
Seventy-one years and we are still going strong. It was wonderful being with people who actually understand what motorcycles, racing and the camaraderie is all about. They lived the life, knew our heroes, and enjoy hearing and telling the tales. Many are still active in the industry and as racers, mechanics, etc. We come from all walks of life, but our love of motorcycles is a common denominator. We shared so much and now share our memories.

What a great bunch! Proud to be part of it!
– Judy Whitson

Hold The Date!
The next Trailblazers banquet will be held on April 23, 2016. We have already set the date, so mark your calendar!

Hall of Fame Election Process
The board of directors will be meeting soon to hash over the 2015 banquet and then the following meeting will be devoted to starting the election process for next year. If you are interested in formally nominating someone – not just giving us a name – please contact Don Emde or any board member and we will walk you through what materials and information you would need to come up with for a nomination that the board would take seriously. If you attended the banquet, the board members are listed on page 50. To contact Judy Whitson, please go to or call 951/780-1978 or 909/226-6038.

Trailblazers Website Updated
Don’t forget to take a look at the website. It will be updated regularly, as we start to load items into our Virtual Museum. It is a slow process, but we hope to eventually have an extensive history of racing, racers, motorcycles, tracks, and the people involved. Go to

Dues Are Due
Our membership runs from banquet to banquet, so dues are now due. The fee is $10 per year. You can pay online at or mail your dues to…

c/o MIC Inc.
2 Jenner, Suite 150
Irvine, California 92618-3313

[For more from this event, please stayed tuned for “Snapshots from the 71st Annual Trailblazers Banquet” by Howie Zechner to be posted soon on Today’s Cycle Coverage… Editor]

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