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Motorcycle.com Staff
by Motorcycle.com Staff

Thanksgiving, Heroes, MO, You.

By Sean Alexander, Nov. 24, 2004
Like many of you, I grew up on and around motorcycles. Like most men, my heroes consist of my father and assorted iconic figures from my past. My personal heroes are: My Father, Yvonne Duhamel, Sochiro Honda, Gilles Villeneuve, Steve McQueen, Ayrton Senna, My Father, My Father, My Father.



Dad grew up in rural Indiana. At age twelve, he snuck his father's Piper J2 out of the hangar and flew it on his very first "Joy Ride". From then until his death at age 49, he took airplane and/or motorcycle joyrides every chance he got. He raced Harley & Triumph flattrackers, hillclimbed Ferrari sports cars, was road manager and pilot for the folk group Peter Paul & Mary.... once flying them under the Brooklyn Bridge on a dare. After flying the band all over the world, he became an airline pilot and after one too many close calls commuting to LAX on the 405 Freeway, he designed and built the first dual-disk system for the Honda CB-750. In the process of marketing that system, he met Pops Yoshimura. In 1972, he flew Pops and the rest of the Yoshimura organization to America and founded Yoshimura Racing, USA. He rode a Pops Yoshimura tuned Kawasaki Z-1 to 6 FIM world speed records, on the Bonneville Salt Flats. His team riders included Yvonne Duhamel, Dave Aldana and several other key players in the early history of the AFM Open Production and AMA Superbike series. During this period from the late 60's to 1981, he maintained his "day job" as an airline Check Captain, training other pilots to be Captains on McDonnell Douglas DC-8s and then Boeing 747s. In other words, dad was my hero. He was my hero, not because of the cool things he did in his life. He was my hero, because of the emergency 2:00am motorcycle blasts to the grocery store to buy Ice Cream supplies during a commercial break on Gamera Vs. Godzilla. He was my hero, because hed look back and wink at me with that knowing grin, before he downshifted the car and blew-off that teenager in the Mustang. He was my hero, because hed put his arm around me and calmly explain what Id done wrong, before delivering the lashes with the belt that I deserved. He was my hero, because he lived every minute of his life, with a vigor and direct honesty that awes me to this day.

Since he died at a young age, most people think he must have died in a plane crash or racing some kind of vehicle. Actually, he died from a massive heart attack, shortly after mowing his lawn. My father was not killed in a fiery crash or on some hair balled adventure, dad slipped away on October 5th, 1981, as my mother and I frantically performed CPR on him. People often ask what its like to have your father die in your arms, when youre twelve years old. The answer is: It helps, because I know he didnt suffer, I know how and why he went and I know that he lived his ass off. Sure, it was traumatic, but I think anyone who loses an immediate family member suffers that same amount of trauma.

Wheres all this going and how does it relate to Motorcycle.Com or Thanksgiving? This is how:

Every time I throw my leg over a motorcycle, I think of my father. Every time I pass someone on the racetrack while leaving a little black line from my rear tire, I think of my father. When Im riding, I sense that hes looking through the visor with me. I sense that hes chuckling, as he watches me pull some foolhardy stunt. When I see a cool bike, or study the latest technical innovations, I want to show them to him because hed get a big kick out of it. I am comforted by the absolute certainty that my father did everything that he wanted to do and chased his dreams with relentless passion. Because of this, I know that he lived a full life. If he hadnt raced motorcycles, flown airplanes, developed his dreams and loved his family, Id feel that he died an unfulfilled man and that would have been tragic.

There are more than enough people in the world, who will allow themselves to be brow-beaten into a job they don't want, or guilt tripped into the responsible choice. Dont be a tragedy, follow your dreams, ride your motorcycles and be true to yourself.

Thank you Dad, thank you Motorcycling, thank you MO. -Sean
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Motorcycle.com Staff
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