Schilling was a member of Cycle magazine’s editorial staff for 18 years, including nine as editor-in-chief, and as a race tuner helped Cook Neilson earn Ducati its first AMA Superbike win.
“Phil Schilling joined Cycle magazine in 1970, and for 18 years – nine as editor-in-chief – served as our magazine's foundation and its conscience,” says Neilson who brought Shilling to Cycle and preceded him as editor-in-chief. “During that rich and extraordinary two-decade span, when Cycle grew to be the largest-circulation motorcycle magazine on the planet, Phil found time to teach young racers how to race, and young writers how to write. He provided the racers with wisdom, patience and fast equipment, and the writers with fluency and grace and perspective. Often the racers and the writers were the same people.”
Neilson, a member of the 2006 Hall of Fame class, recruited Schilling from a teaching job at the University of Wisconsin to be Cycle’s managing editor. Neilson later retired to Vermount and handed Cycle’s handlebars over to Schilling.
“To this day, Phil remains motor journalism’s finest editor, and its finest writer,” says Neilson. “I’ve known him now for more than 40 years. He’s been my best friend through all of it. I know he’s honored to join the Hall of Fame. All those whose lives Phil has touched – riders, racers, writers, readers – should feel honored too.”
Neilson and Schilling continued their partnership at the race track in the early ’70s. In 1974, the duo split time between editing Cycle and working on a Ducati SS750 they dubbed “Old Blue”. With Schilling tuning Old Blue, Neilson competed in the 1976 debut season of AMA Superbike. In 1977, they earned Ducati its first ever AMA Superbike win, taking the checkered flag at Daytona.
Schilling and the rest of the 2011 Motorcycle Hall of Fame class will be inducted Nov. 18 as part of the AMA Legends & Champions Weekend at the Las Vegas Red Rock Resort.
“My reaction to my induction is one of amazement,” says Schilling. “I never thought I would be considered for this type of honor. I feel like there are a lot of other people who are more deserving. While the Neilson and Schilling era of Cycle magazine is something I’m really proud of, I’m also very proud of the people we worked with and who became the next generation of Cycle magazine editors and continued to improve the publication.”