Canadian Motorcycle Hall of Fame - Inductees to The Class of 2011

Class_of_2011_Canadian_Motorcycle_Hall_of_Fame

Back row (Left to right): Hunt Jack, Bastedo Larry, DeGruchy John, Becker Herb, Cornwell Jonathan, McMurter Rueben.
Front row (Left to right): Clare John, Fraser Moe, Sharpless Toni, Coburn Kathleen, Dillon Len.

John DeGruchy – Class of 2011

Truly a man who’s done everything in Canadian motorcycling, John DeGruchy derived great pleasure as well as his livelihood from the sport but he gave back far more than he took away. There are few honours that evaded him in his competitive years and even after retirement from racing he was applauded by customers for his service to the motorcycle business. John arrived in Toronto in 1954 from his birthplace in Jersey, Channel Islands, close to the coast of France. Emigrating with his wife Francine and infant daughter Annette, John’s priority … [Read more...]

Eric Chitty – Historical Inductee – Class of 2011

Eric Stephenson Chitty was one of Canada’s most successful motorcycle racers even before he went overseas, and after a move to England in the late 1930s he became our biggest export until the era of Mike Duff. Eric was born in Toronto in 1909 to parents who had earlier emigrated from England. His father was an advertising consultant but young Eric showed more of an interest and aptitude for mechanical things. As a teenager he attended a technical college and helped a neighbour with his car repair business. A friend of the family loaned Eric … [Read more...]

Harold Cole – Historic Inductee – Class of 2011

One hundred years ago, a young man from Toronto named Harold Cole gained the break he needed to launch his professional motorcycle racing career. He was only 16 but had already been riding and itching to go racing for more than a year. At the age of 15 Cole took delivery of his first motorcycle on June 1, 1910 and had it on the local race track the same day. The bike was an American-made 500 cc single-cylinder Yale with flat leather belt for transmission and a battery ignition. It was described as a 4 hp machine, based on the calculation of … [Read more...]

Len Dillon – Class of 2011

Lightning Len Dillon showed his verve for handling machinery early on while growing up on the family farm in Enterprise, Ont., north of Kingston. Len boasted that by age 8 he handled the Ford tractor on par with the adults he knew. He graduated to an old beater car handed down from his brother so he could roar around local fields well before he was of legal age for driving. Conversely, Len waited until age 26 before getting his first motorcycle, a 65 cc Honda in 1973. From then, though, things moved quickly and the following year he won a … [Read more...]

Kathleen Coburn – Class of 2011

Kathleen Coburn burst to prominence in the Canadian road racing scene in 1985, becoming the first woman to win a RACE series final. Her mount in the amateur 600 cc production race at Gimli, Man., was a two-stroke Yamaha RZ500, not the easiest machine to ride well. She went on to place in the top 3 of that year’s amateur 600 championship, along with winning amateur of the year and president’s choice awards. It was a rocky road to her first success and Kathleen recounts all the dips in her learning curve. With no motorcycling background among … [Read more...]

Toni Sharpless – Class of 2011

The name Sharpless has been synonymous with motorcycling seemingly forever and Toni Sharpless is no exception. Oldest of the three children of Hall of Fame legend Bill Sharpless, Toni was only six years old when a minibike appeared under the family Christmas tree. One minibike to be shared with two eager brothers taught her the value of co-operation as well as basic riding skills. Her competitive streak appeared early and Toni began ice racing when she was 10, eventually becoming national junior class champion and the first woman to win a … [Read more...]

Moe Fraser – Class of 2011

Maurice Fraser, known to all as Moe, had a taste for going fast and he also enjoyed a bit of fun. Moe was devoted to dirt track racing but when the Shannonville circuit opened he showed up the road racers and took first place. A change of tires on his dirt track Yamaha was all that Moe needed to win on the pavement on a rainy day. “Road race guys don’t like to slide,” he observed. Moe was born in Pictou, N.S., in 1942 but grew up in Burlington, Ont., and became fascinated by all things mechanical. He was self-taught and worked as a licensed … [Read more...]

John Clare – Class of 2011

Motorcycling has come a long way since John Clare opened his BSA and Triumph dealership in 1954. And yet Clare’s Cycle & Sports remains, as always, a thriving dealership and hotbed of motorcycle enthusiasm in the Niagara region. It’s still a family-run operation with John Clare a constant presence in the shop, riding motorcycles and contributing to his community. John was only 20 when he opened his motorcycle business. He’d been involved with bikes since the age of 15 when his brother-in-law turned over ownership of a 1930 … [Read more...]

Rueben McMurter – Class of 2011

In his 16-year racing career Rueben McMurter became a forceful presence on the road race circuits of North America. “The Rueb” amassed more than 50 first-place finishes in professional racing. He raced in the first-ever world superbike event at Donington Park in England in 1988 and placed a brilliant second overall in the 1989 world superbike round at Mosport behind world champion Fred Merkel. Success had its cost and Rueben suffered his share of injuries, but as he says, “I always pushed hard. I was out there to win.” Win he did, gaining 14 … [Read more...]

Jon Cornwell – Class of 2011

Few Canadians have motorcycling more deeply ingrained in the family blood than Jonathan Cornwell, affectionately known to friends and fans as Corndog, a.k.a. the Dogger. Jon has been involved in the sport in a multitude of ways for all of his life and has excelled in nearly all branches of motorcycle competition. His two-wheel experiences started at the age of six and more than 40 years later he still has a taste for speed. While just in his first year of school, young Jon found family approval of motorcycling wasn’t hard to come by. His … [Read more...]

Herb Becker – Class of 2011

Perhaps the key to Herb Becker’s success is that he’s never stopped learning, never stopped looking for new ways that will add to his knowledge of making machines perform beyond their designers’ expectations. Herb regards an engine as a symphony conductor regards a musical score, with a deep appreciation for the harmony among its component parts necessary to produce results at the highest level. For more than 25 years Herb has applied his imagination, intense work ethic and willingness to experiment toward building a succession of … [Read more...]

Larry Bastedo – Class of 2011

Larry Bastedo has demonstrated his commitment to motorcycling for more than a half-century and shows no sign of letting up today. His passion for the sport earned him expert status in scrambles and enduros, senior class in road racing, trials and dirt track as well as prominence on many other levels. He has been a pillar of the sport since before many of us graduated from a tricycle. Growing up in Hamilton, Ont., it was natural for Larry to join the famed Steel City Riders club, or the Flying Midgets as they were known in their early days. … [Read more...]

Jack Hunt – Class of 2011

A man with a big presence in Canadian motorcycling, Jack Hunt rode to the top in motocross almost as soon as he began. He rose dramatically through the ranks in Canada, then after five short years went back to Europe and took on the world championship grand prix circuit. Jack arrived in Canada as a young man in 1957 after spending nine years in England in the wake of the Second World War. His birthplace in 1941 was Estonia, one of the three small Baltic nations overrun by Germany almost immediately after the beginning of the war. After the … [Read more...]