Motorcycle Industry Icon Tom White Passes Away at 68

| 4 November 2017 1:33 pm

Tom White, R.I.P.

Courtesy of Judy Whitson/Trailblazers News
Photo by Mitch Friedman
VILLA PARK, CA, NOV. 2, 2017

Tom White, famed motorcycle racer, business owner, philanthropist and historian, has passed away after a courageous battle against cancer. He was 68.

Tom White with his family.

Tom White with his family.

Tom was raised near the ocean in Huntington Beach, California, where he grew up surfing before discovering his life-long passion: motorcycles. He soon found his niche in flat-track racing, eventually earning National number 80 as a professional.

In 1976, White founded Tom White’s Cycle Specialties, which would later become White Brothers Cycle Specialties when White partnered with his twin brother, Dan. Over the next 25 years, White Brothers would grow into a nearly $40 million-a-year company that at its peak employed nearly 200 employees.

White sold White Brothers in 2000 and turned his attention toward collecting and restoring vintage motocross bikes. Over the next decade, White’s collection grew to more than 170 motorcycles, including a variety of unique models from brands such as Husqvarna, CZ, Maico, Bultaco, BSA and others. White believed his efforts were but one piece of a greater industry initiative to ensure the history and legacy of motorcycle racing in the United States remained intact and relevant for future generations of racers and fans.

White’s Early Years of Motocross Museum, located on his family’s private property in Orange County, California, is not open to the public, but it has played host to motorcycle-industry events, including product launches and professional racing media gatherings, as well as numerous charity fundraising efforts.

In addition to his role as a motorcycle historian, White discovered another passion over the past few decades: announcing motorcycle races. White became the announcer of the weekly REM Motocross Series at Glen Helen Raceway in San Bernardino, California. It was one of his greatest joys. In 2017, White was honored with a monument along Glen Helen’s Walk of Fame. White also served as the announcer for many professional races throughout the United States, reveling in the thrill of all disciplines of motorcycle racing.

In 2014, White was inducted into the AMA Hall of Fame, and in 2018 White is due to receive the prestigious Dick Hammer Lifetime Achievement Award from the Southern California Trailblazers Motorcycle Club.

“While we mourn the loss of an incredible human being, we also celebrate his life, his achievements, his passion for motorcycles, and his love of friends and family,” said the White family. “We hope that Tom’s life story serves as inspiration to everyone that fierce determination and good will can yield a life extraordinarily well lived.”

Tom White passed away peacefully in his home, surrounded by his family, along with several of his favorite motorcycles. He is survived by his wife, children, grandchildren, dear friends, and motorcycle enthusiasts around the world.

White will be honored in a memorial service to be announced at a future date.

Tom White
By Judy Whitson

We were all praying for a miracle cure, but it didn’t happen.

Tom White lived a full, active life until the very end. Less than a month ago, he rode four laps at the Perris AFT races on his new Indian.

Tom never stopped moving. He vibrated with energy and he couldn’t say no. Whatever his mission, he jumped in with both feet and with a smile on his face: surfing, flat-track racing, business, announcing, museum, AMA, Trailblazers, bicycling, family, friends and more. How did he do it?

He was tireless in supporting High Hopes, where his severely injured son gets care and therapy during the day. He asked that nothing be printed in the Trailblazers newsletter about his illness, and even though it soon became general knowledge, we honored his request.

The world is a better place because of Tom, and he will be dearly missed. Condolences to Dani and their family and friends.

God Speed, Tom.

Tom White
By Don Emde

Tom White passed away Thursday, November 2, from the cancer he had been battling this past year. There has not been a date set for memorial services as yet.

He was a great friend to us all, and a very important part of the Trailblazers board of directors and its mission and activities. He leaves a big hole for us to fill.

I know from discussions I had with him, even when he knew his fate, how important the Trailblazers Club was to him and that the banquet and bike show must continue, and that he would be expecting us all to rise to the occasion and continue the great work he was doing. Tom White was inspired by the late Tom Cates, whose idea it was originally to add the bike show to the banquet schedule. When we lost Tom Cates, it was Tom White who stepped forward and said, “I’ll do it.” I know we have many in our group with the commitment to keep it all going in the name of our two Toms.

Rest in peace, my old friend.

[For more on Tom White, please see “AMA Mourns the Passing of Motorcycling Icon Tom White” and “Tom White, Motorcycle Ambassador Extraordinaire, Passes Away at 68”… Editor]

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Category: Dirt Track, Flat Track, Motocross, National, Riders, Riders All, Vintage

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