Sturgis Motorcycle Museum to Honor Willie G. Davidson

Lifetime Achievement Award For Legendary Harley-Davidson Brand Ambassador

Considered the patriarch of motorcycling by bikers around the globe, William G. Davidson’s artistic vision and passion for riding have not only shaped Harley-Davidson’s identity for more than 50 years, they have transformed the entire motorcycle world. Affectionately known as “Willie G.” by millions of motorcycle enthusiasts, Harley-Davidson’s Chief Styling Officer Emeritus and Brand Ambassador is set to be honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum Hall Of Fame Induction ceremony, August 9, 2017.

“Willie G. is not just a brand ambassador for Harley-Davidson, he is an ambassador for biker culture worldwide,” said Myrick Robbins, executive director of the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum & Hall Of Fame. “The Museum’s goal is to ‘Honor the Rider’ and Willie G. is the embodiment of motorcycle riding.” Already a pre-2001 member of the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum Hall of Fame, Willie G. was joined by his lovely wife Nancy in the Class of 2010.

Willie G

“Just like Sturgis Rally founders Pearl and Pappy Hoel, Willie G. and Nancy have made a long-term, positive impact on the motorcycle community,” added Robbins. “You could say Willie G. was born with gasoline in his veins.”

The son of former Harley-Davidson president, William H. Davidson, and the grandson of one of the original founders, William A. Davidson, he has helped shape the iconic look, sound and feel that have defined Harley-Davidson motorcycles for more than 50 years. Starting in the 1970s, he developed iconic designs which kept Harley-Davidson motorcycles selling while the company completed technological and manufacturing improvements. Throughout his career he developed the bikes that came to define Harley-Davidson, from the XLCR Cafe Racer up through the V-Rod and the Street Glide.

A Wisconsin native, Willie G. went to The University of Wisconsin for three years before transferring to the Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles. He joined Harley-Davidson in 1963, when he was invited to set-up the company’s motorcycle design department. In 1981, Davidson was one of 13 executives who raised more than $75 million to purchase Harley-Davidson from AMF Incorporated.

Buzz was in good company at Sons of Speed as Wiilie G and Bill Davidson showed up to watch the races. while Michael Lichter worked his magic through the lenses of his camera.

Willie G was all smiles at the recent Sons of Speed event. 

In addition to Lifetime Achievement honoree Willie G., The Sturgis Motorcycle Museum Hall Of Fame Class of 2017 features a group of over-achievers and true leaders who have influenced an entire era of motorcycling:

Class of 2017 Inductees

Colleen Barnett & Mike Taylor – Colleen Barnett-Taylor started her motorsports career at Barnett Clutches & Cables while still in her childhood working for her parents (and original 1948 founders), Charlie and Afton Barnett. Since the beginning Colleen has been a driving force and integral part of the company. Mike Taylor, already a long-time motorcycle rider/enthusiast, joined the firm in 1968 which cemented a great partnership after he and Colleen were married. Together they have operated Barnett since 1975 and owned the company since 1993.

Cory Ness – Don’t think for a second that Cory Ness rode his famous father’s coattails into the Sturgis Hall Of Fame. At only 10 years old, he disassembled his bicycle, painted it, chromed its parts and entered it in the Oakland Roadster Show. The first motorcycle he turned his talents to was a wrecked CB350. After building it back up, Cory sold it before even getting a chance to ride it. He was 14! Today Cory is the chief designer behind Arlen Ness Enterprises where he runs the day-to-day business. In between designing new parts and accessories, he still finds time to wrench on custom bikes periodically.

Mark Shadley – Since the early 1970s Mark Shadley and Shadley Bros. Motorcycles have been shaping the perception of what a custom motorcycle is. The quality, detail and innovation of his custom built bikes have made him well recognized by both the motorcycle industry and his peers. His enthusiasm and involvement in the custom motorcycle industry has been a lifelong passion.
Jim Thiessen – For 50 years, machinist and go-fast guy Jim Thiessen has generated trust with riders, record breakers, racers and certified Harley mechanics around the world whom use JIMS products on a daily basis. Today JIMS is one of the industry’s leading producers of performance parts, accessories, tools, transmissions and high-performance engines – all aimed at enhancing the Harley rider’s experience.

Terry Vance – #35 on the NHRA’s 50 greatest drag racers of all-time, 14-time national champ Terry Vance never lets off the gas! Terry and his tuner Byron Hines shared a passion for the quarter mile from the early days, but they also shared a vision of creating a company that would be a pillar of the motorcycle aftermarket, and they used their unrivaled achievements in racing to build a brand that would unmistakably stand for quality and performance. Terry Vance is an American former professional motorcycle drag racer, racing team owner and manufacturer of high performance parts for motorcycles.

Rod Woodruff – Since 1981, the Sturgis Buffalo Chip Campground has treated millions of motorcyclists to rock concerts, camping, entertainment and more. Rod Woodruff is the man who brought Rock & Roll to the Black Hills and now hosts a 10-day Concert Series each August during the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. The Buffalo Chip provides a music festival, various other forms of entertainment, and full service tent, RV and cabin camping on almost 600 acres in rural Meade County. Woodruff is the J.C. “Pappy” Hoel Outstanding Achievement Award winner for 2017, a special designation reserved for individuals who have played a special role in the founding, maintaining and/or promoting of the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum & Hall of Fame.

“We honor our Hall of Fame members by telling the stories and history of their stories, showcasing their contributions and accomplishments,” said Robbins. “Join us to honor the rider, the class of 2017 and the ultimate rider – our Lifetime Achievement honoree, Willie G. Davidson, during the Sturgis Rally.” The Sturgis Motorcycle Museum Hall Of Fame Induction ceremony presented by Strider is being held August 9th at the Lodge at Deadwood in Deadwood, South Dakota. Breakfast tickets are available for a $45 donation, tables of eight for $350. Tickets are available by calling the Museum at 605.347.2001 or they can be purchased online at: http://www.sturgismuseum.com/shop/hall-fame-breakfast

Add Attitude to Your Milwaukee-Eight with Willie G. Skull Covers

Willie G. Skull Covers for Milwaukee-Eight Engines

Willie G. Skull Air Cleaner Trim (P/N 61300654, $54.95*) and the Willie G. Skull Timer Cover (P/N 25600066, $28.95*).

Add some authentic attitude to a Harley-Davidson Milwaukee-Eight engine with Willie G. Skull Collection trim accessories from Harley-Davidson Genuine Motor Parts & Accessories. The Willie G. Skull Air Cleaner Trim (P/N 61300654, $54.95*) and the Willie G. Skull Timer Cover (P/N 25600066, $28.95*) feature a menacing raised skull with black-filled eyes that leaps from a field of chrome, surrounded by Harley-Davidson Motorcycles script. Each is designed specifically for the Milwaukee-Eight and complements other Harley-Davidson Skull accessory items. These items fit 2017-later Touring and Trike models. Air cleaner trim only fits the original equipment air cleaner cover, and does not fit CVO models.

These and other Harley-Davidson Genuine Motor Parts & Accessories are available at more than 750 authorized retail locations in the United States and online.

*Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP), excluding taxes and shipping. Prices at local dealerships may vary.

Harley Motorcycle Museum To Feature Willie G. Davidson Art Work

The Harley-Davidson Museum is excited to announce its special summer exhibit for 2015, which will honor motorcycling’s legend behind the legends – Willie G. Davidson. The exhibit, titled Willie G. Davidson: Artist, Designer, Leader, Legend opens June 13 and runs through Sept. 7, 2015.

Housed in the Garage special event space, visitors will experience a celebration of the artistry, influence and impact of a man whose designs have defined American motorcycles for generations. Key elements include previously unseen historical artifacts and items from Willie’s personal collection that provide insight into his unique perspective, personal style, creative process, inspiration and influences. In addition, one-of-a-kind vehicles, original designs, art, rare artifacts and media paint an engaging portrait of this iconic figure, his influential career, legacy, and current work. Additional details about the Willie G. Davidson: Artist, Designer, Leader, Legend exhibit will be released next spring.

Biographical information: Willie G. Davidson serves as Chief Styling Officer Emeritus and Brand Ambassador at Harley-Davidson, Inc. He is affectionately known by millions of motorcycle enthusiasts as “Willie G.,” and he is the grandson of one of the original founders, William A. Davidson.  For 49 years, Davidson helped shape the look, sound and feel that define Harley-Davidson motorcycles. In 1981, he was one of 13 executives who raised more than $75 million to purchase Harley-Davidson from AMF Incorporated.

Look for a coverage of this exhibit in various magazines, including American Iron Magazine, and Motorcycle Rides & Culture.

The Harley-Davidson Museum is located at 400 West Canal Street in Milwaukee and provides a glimpse of American history and culture like you’ve never seen it before – through the lens of

For more information on the Museum’s galleries, exhibits, special events, tickets and more, visit h-dmuseum.com.

2011 Harley Davidson Blackline Softail FXS

NEW MODEL PREVIEW By Chris – Maida Harley-Davidson’s newest Dark Custom

The H-D crew was rocking it pretty hard at Don Hill’s, a major punk and alternative club in lower Manhattan last January! The event was the launch of its new Blackline Softail. Willie G and wife Nancy were on hand, as well as Karen Davidson who also launched a new line of H-D clothes to go with the new bike. Of course, a number of engineers and H-D media people were also present, all of whom were a pleasure to hang with. Whoever picked Don Hill’s for the launch really aced it! Right up there with the legendary CBGB, you just don’t walk into DH’s. The rope is up and you wait your turn, but that was not the case for those invited to this special unveiling. As you can see by the photos, we had a great time, and most of the H-D staff and a number of hot models were painted with the Blackline name. Nice work, H-D!

But enough of that; on to the bike! The Blackline Softail is “stripped to the legal limit,” as our H-D press kit states. The style of the Blackline is thanks to  Industrial Designer/Stylist II, Casey Ketterhagen at the Motor Company. According to Casey, he first built the concept bike shown below with no regard for DOT regs. He was then told to move as much of that look as possible over to a modern Softail chassis while staying inside DOT requirements. Casey worked with Softail Platform Staff Engineer Korry Vorndram to build a stock H-D that is barely legal.

Besides DOT constraints, the amount of cash allotted to the build was also a limiting factor.  For example, if you can use an oil tank that’s already been certified, you have more money to come up with a totally new handlebar setup. And that’s exactly what Casey did on the Blackline, as you can see on the accompanying rendering. The gas tank trim is another totally new part, as is the headlight and speedometer. Though H-D lists 104 parts as new on the Blackline, many are stock components with a new finish, but that’s not a slight of hand by H-D. If it has a new part number, it has to be listed as a separate (new) part.

Since you can get the full specification sheet online, we’re not going to reprint it here. However, I do want to mention one spec that’s close to my heart: the Blackline boasts the lowest seat height in the H-D lineup for 2011. Being 5’4″, that means a lot to me! AIM

Story as it appeared in the May 2011 issue of American Iron Magazine.