Everyone who’s anyone in the two-wheel world attends the annual Trailblazers banquet in Carson, California. It’s the gold standard of motorcycle social events where legends are honored, the fallen are immortalized, and friends’ shared days are told.

But the event is more than bench racing, food, wine, and an outstanding floorshow by the master of ceremonies duo of Don Emde and Keith Mashburn.

Don Emde and Keith Mashburn with Speedway World Champion Billy Hamill.

Don Emde and Keith Mashburn with Speedway World Champion Billy Hamill.

The banquet, held April 22 this year, also hosts what could be the finest collection of motorcycles with history along with their riders and sponsors.

Officially titled the Tom Cates Memorial Bike Show, it is named after the former Trailblazers Board Member and Class C Racer who came up with the concept. Tom Cates wanted to let anyone who attended the banquet bring a bike to show. With so many famous Trailblazers members, it was an instant hit, and many come early to ogle the machines and talk with their owners.

Preston Petty, Motorcycle Hall of Famer, Petty Plastic – and so much more

Preston Petty, Motorcycle Hall of Famer, Petty Plastic – and so much more.

Tom White owner of The Early Years of Motocross Museum.

Tom White owner of The Early Years of Motocross Museum.

Organized by The Early Years of Motocross Museum owner, Tom White, the bike show is unbelievably popular. Lots of exotic and one-of-a-kind motorcycles. It’s heaven on earth for the gearhead, racer, collector, promoter and lover of our sport.

Now this is not some roped-off area where you look from afar. Here you’re next to the bike. Truth be told, between the large turnout of bikes and people, a more accurate description might be squeezing in between the machines.

Do the owners mind? Not hardly. They gladly point out the who’s and what’s of their proud possessions. Conversations often include: “I raced this, I built this, I won my championship on this.” My favorite is: “It’s the only one in existence.”

Each motorcycle has a sign that lists the manufacturer, year, and owner. Trailblazers are encouraged to vote for the bike they like best in several different categories. The winning machines are displayed in the banquet room and their owners are announced during the dinner. They get to come on stage and tell the tale of their prize possession.

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Kudos to Trailblazers Bike Show Director Tom White. He is the driving force behind the Tom Cates Memorial Bike Show. We recognize your dedication and love of motorcycles, Tom. Thank you.

Naturally I can’t forget the best part. The people, the friends, the heroes, the legends. Those we have raced with or watched or shared a beer and story. Those that live, eat and sleep motorcycles. Those we call Trailblazers.

Dale Roll, Dick Mann, Kel Carruthers, Howie Zechner and Malcolm Smith.

Dale Roll, Dick Mann, Kel Carruthers, Howie Zechner and Malcolm Smith.

  • Goose

    The lead made it sound like everybody who makes 13 laps would get cash. I’d bet that would really help some of the mid-pack and lower teams make it to the next race.

    Still a nice idea but not as nice as it sounded at first. Oh well, anything to help these brave guys and gals keep racing is is a good thing. Nobody is getting rich in this series but I really like to see more bucks go to the teams that are struggling. Maybe we could have a fan bucket to be divided between all riders? I’d put some bucks in at the Sac Mile.