It is with great sadness that we have to report the passing of Melbourne J. “Mike” Wilson, considered by many as the godfather of the American Motorcyclist Association. He was 94.

Wilson, a member of the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame, is considered a titan in the motorcycle scene in America. Together with his wife, Margaret Wilson, herself a member of the AMA Hall of Fame, Wilson became a pioneer of sorts in the motorcycle business, having competed in a number of races in his time, including winning the 1956 Iowa TT State Championship. While his motor racing career isn’t as illustrious as some believe, Wilson’s contributions to the business extend far past the race track. He was also an astute businessman, opening Wilson’s Motorcycle Sales, a Harley and Honda dealership, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He was also a devoted sponsor of young racers, steering the careers of fellow Hall of Famers John Tibben and Leo Payne.

It’s not a stretch to say that neither would’ve reached the levels of success they had without the help of Melbourne Wilson.

In the twilight of his life, he and his wife began focusing their efforts on preserving the history and heritage of motorcycling in the US. More than any other person, the Wilsons are largely created with the creation and promotion of the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame and the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum.

“As American motorcycling’s first couple and two of the sport’s greatest benefactors, Mike and Margaret Wilson were without peer,” AMA President and CEO Rob Dingman said in a statement.

“Mike, along with Margaret, not only lived life on two wheels to the fullest, but he gave back to the sport in many ways, which included their lasting contributions to the Hall of Fame, where their story will live on in perpetuity.”

Rest in peace, Melbourne “Mike” Wilson.

Why it matters

Not everyone knows how Melbourne "Mike" Wilson is. But just because you didn’t know the man, that doesn’t mean you can’t pay your respects to the contributions he made to the motorcycle industry in the US.

I admit to knowing little about him. But I did know that he was credited for the creation of the AMA Hall of Fame. I’ve talked to some people who knew of his work better than I did and the overwhelming sentiment was pretty much what I expected.

Melbourne "Mike" Wilson was a man who loved motorcycles. But more than that, he also loved seeing people enjoy riding their own motorcycles. He and his beautiful wife Margaret are inspirations to us all. Individually and together, they were able to create an environment that nurtured their passion for motorcycle and they were able to share it with other people.

In some ways, Wilson touched our lives without us even knowing it and that’s a debt we might never be able to repay.

But if you’re in the Cedar Rapids area on February 9, you can pay your respects at his funeral service at the Cedar Memorial Park Chapel of Memories.

Press Release

The American Motorcyclist Association expresses its most sincere condolences to the friends and family of Melbourne J. “Mike” Wilson, who passed away Feb. 2. He was 94.

Mr. Wilson, an AMA Motorcycle Hall of Famer and longtime patron of the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame, was preceded in passing by his wife and fellow Hall of Famer Margaret Wilson last July. The couple was awarded the AMA Dud Perkins Lifetime Achievement Award in 2014.

“As American motorcycling’s first couple and two of the sport’s greatest benefactors, Mike and Margaret Wilson were without peer,” said AMA President and CEO Rob Dingman. “Mike, along with Margaret, not only lived life on two wheels to the fullest, but he gave back to the sport in many ways, which included their lasting contributions to the Hall of Fame, where their story will live on in perpetuity.

“On behalf of AMA staff, our members, the AMA Board of Directors and the American Motorcycle Heritage Foundation, I express our deepest condolences to Mike’s family and friends,” Dingman added.

Born on March 2, 1920, Mr. Wilson started racing dirt track as a novice in 1939. Following his service in World War II as a fighter pilot, Mr. Wilson, along with Mrs. Wilson, opened Wilson’s Motorcycle Sales, a Harley-Davidson and later a Honda dealership, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Mr. Wilson returned to competition and won the Iowa TT State Championship in 1956 as an expert-licensed dirt tracker. He was the last racer to enter the Peoria TT on a 74-cubic-inch Harley-Davidson in 1958.

As a sponsor, Mr. Wilson backed the careers of many great racers, including fellow Hall of Famers John Tibben and Leo Payne.

Following a quarter-century running a successful business, Mr. and Mrs. Wilson began focusing their efforts on preserving the heritage of motorcycling and were instrumental in the creation and promotion of the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame and the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum, including commissioning the timeless bronze sculpture “Glory Days” that serves as the centerpiece of the Hall of Fame itself.

Services will be on Monday, Feb. 9, at the Cedar Memorial Park Chapel of Memories in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Friends may call at the Cedar Memorial Park Funeral Home on Sunday. See www.cedarmemorial.com for specific times and directions.

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