2013 marks the 82nd Anniversary of the Peoria Motorcycle Club. It also marks the 66th year – beginning in 1947 – that PMC has held a National Championship TT. Most likely, our founders never dreamed we’d still be going this strong after so many years.
To help introduce ourselves - to let you know who we are - we have a brief explanation below, regarding our Past and our Present. If you want to learn even more, type “Peoria Motorcycle Club” into your web browser’s search tool. You can find numerous articles about the club, our races and our members. You'll also find links to online video sites such as YouTube, where both professional media crews AND loyal race fans have shared exciting footage from our racing events.
Motorcycling publications from around the world have devoted pages to our history and our races. PMC has been featured on national television, and was also mentioned in the classic motorcycle enthusiast's film, On Any Sunday. We have fans attend our races from all over the country, and the world.
When you think about things that have come about in the world over the last 82 years, PMC has outlasted many of them. That’s quite a tribute to our people as individuals, and to our club as an organization. Wow . . . 82 YEARS!
The Past . . .
Great organizations are normally founded on having a vision - a clear vision - a vision for what can be done, when you don't limit yourself. We like to believe that the Peoria Motorcycle Club (PMC) is a great organization. That's due in part, to knowing with complete certainty that the club was founded on a clear vision of what could be done. Thanks to brothers Bob and Bruce Walters, and Bruce's wife Gladys, we had visionary leadership during the club's formative years.
Bob, Bruce and Gladys moved from Galesburg to Peoria in 1931, to open the new Walter Brothers Harley Davidson dealership. While living in Galesburg the Walters trio organized the Galesburg Motorcycle Club, where they promoted riding and racing. Because they were such enthusiasts, it was only natural for them to take an active role in the Peoria Motorcycle Club.
Most people - many who spend their whole life around the Peoria area - don't realize the huge impact Bruce Walters had on the sport of motorcycling. Local people, who know anything at all about motorcycles, know that Peoria has a Walter Brothers Harley Davidson dealership. The ones who have been around long enough, know that the dealership used to be downtown on Jefferson Street. What the majority don't know is, Bruce Walters played a significant role in the evolution of dirt track racing at the national level. The AMA approached Bruce, who was already an accomplished dirt track racer himself, to organize, promote and officiate the first Daytona race, when it was actually held on the beach. Bruce Walters was inducted into the Greater Peoria Sports Hall of Fame in 1996 and into the AMA Dirt Track Hall of Fame in 2003.
Motorcycle racing in Illinois would not be what it is today without the support of Bob and Bruce Walters, and the competitive events they promoted and held on PMC club grounds. Even with all the things they did for the AMA on a national level, the Walters trio always stayed focused on the growth of PMC. During the early years, Peoria Motorcycle Club hosted some very tough Enduro competitions.
We're not talking about trails rides on the lightweight 2-stroke Pentons and Huskys of the 70s, or high-speed runs on the liquid-cooled, fuel-injected KTMs and Hondas of today. We're talking about a time when men were men and bikes were... well... hogs! Imagine slogging through the mud on a Harley '45. Worse yet, with a sidecar and passenger. Rest assured not all events were that brutal. PMC has hosted countless road rides, with the most famous being the annual Turkey Run, which we still hold today.
Over the years, PMC's greatest claim to fame has been our AMA Grand National Championship TT Race, which we have held every consecutive year since 1947. This annual event is the longest running dirt track race in the world.
Our track and grounds have been graced by the very best names in the business:
> Bill Miller (3 wins)
> Dick Mann - (5 wins) pictured in action, here, to the right
> Bart Markel (6 wins)
> Mert Lawwill (only 1 win, but well known for his role in the original "On Any Sunday" movie)
> Kenny Roberts (1 win, best known for his road racing championships)
> Jay Springsteen (2 wins, famous for his results at the Springfield Mile)
> Chris Carr (13 wins, earning him the title "Prince of Peoria")
> Henry Wiles (7 wins and still going strong... "Hammer'n Hank")
PMC is still committed to the original vision and mission of its founders. Our top priority is to support AMA dirt track racing by hosting the finest TT races in the world. Our success is driven by our desire to uphold the history of the sport, and to ensure its existence going forward. We deliver on this goal by providing a family-friendly atmosphere, which promotes motorcycling as a sport and a lifestyle. Our final goal is to introduce more people to the sport we love, and to bring motorcyclists and their families together.
Our current membership represents a wide variety of interest in terms of passion and interest in motorcycles and riding. Several of our club members are an important part of the rich history of TT racing at the Peoria Motorcycle Club. Some of the more "experienced" gentlemen (who by the way, remain young at heart) have raced on our famous track - banging bars with fellow competitors, hanging their left foot out there and sliding through the turns, and flying over the backstretch jump in top gear. We are honored to have them in the club and as an integral part of the team who plans, promotes, prepares and executes our two major annual events.
The TT races are just two of the club's annual events. During the course of the year, PMC holds events just for club members. We also promote a few special events in which the public is invited, and those will always be posted on the Event Schedule.
PMC has a limited membership, and right now we're at full capacity. In fact, we have people on a list, waiting for an opportunity to join. Among our members, we have individuals who:
> Collect, restore and ride vintage motorcycles
> Cruise city streets and country roads on their low-slung V-Twins
> Rack up thousands of miles on a plush, decked-out touring bikes
> Drag their knees through corners on high-tech sport bikes
> Carve through canyon roads on agile sport-touring bikes
> Explore forgotten roads (many are gravel) on adventure bikes
> Ride trails, climb hills and cross creeks on enduro bikes
> Blast through berms and over whoops on motocross bikes
> Perform a balancing act over rocks and logs on trials bikes
PMC members also get together with friends who aren't in the club, to go on special rides. The group shown here gets together twice a year for a 4-day 'Flat River' trip, where they camp and ride off-road at St. Joe's State Park in Missouri.
Most of the guys in this group ride dirt bikes while they're at the park, but there are few quads and a couple side-by-sides that come along too. And it's not just men on this trip. Several of their wives also enjoy camping in the great outdoors.
As you can tell, we love to ride motorcycles. But, you may be wondering what brands we ride. Even though there's a lot of good 'ol American pride among our membership, and a lot of us own Harley Davidson motorcycles, we enjoy riding and racing so much that almost every brand is represented. The collectors among us have some pretty obscure and obsolete iron in their fleet, which of course is to be expected. But the bikes that members actively ride include:
As members of the local community, PMC cares about the growth and development of the Peoria area. Many of our members give to their individual communities through volunteer efforts. As a club, we can provide a place to share information regarding events designed to help good causes. Click here to learn more about how PMC is Caring for Peoria.