Hall Of Famous

Why is it that you rarely see a picture of more than 3 well known builders together? It’s not because we don’t like each other. As a matter of fact, we have a lot of respect for anyone who pursue a passion to the point to make it a way a life, and who is able to make a living from it. We travel the same cities, work the same shows, have the same joys, same frustrations, and almost the same objectives in life.  One day, probably because of my age, I was wondering how we will be remembered in 30 years. For sure by our work on bikes. All customs built by “celebrity” builders are shot by magazines. So, no problem there: our bikes will survive us. We can even expect that one day some magazines will do a retrospective and show the readers what we thought was crazy in our times. Magazines shoot pictures of us, too. But more often, one builder at a time, like bikes. So, one day, during Daytona Bike Week, I suggested a professional photographer that it would be nice if the industry would keep a group picture of all of us together. As a reference and to help the reader from 30 years from now to put a face behind the machines he will look at. Ok, now it doesn’t seem so important. But later? We are getting older, could get sick and are more mortals than our bikes. It’s no difficult to make us meet at the same time at the same place. I think the real question is (to which I cannot and don’t want to answer) who should be in the picture? As a matter of fact, I think we need more than one picture for all of us. Anyway, here a rare picture of 7 of your favorite builders taken during Daytona Biketoberfest. From the left: Donnie Smith, Eddie Trotta, Matt Hotch, Dave Perewitz, Cyril Huze (it’s me), Aaron Greene and Paul Cox. Many more deserve to be in it. It was shot by Ron Galetti from Born To Ride during the IMMBA Hall Of Fame Awards Ceremony. You can even order one from him. 

13 Responses to “Hall Of Famous”

  1. 1 Jeff Clark Nov 27th, 2006 at 8:57 pm

    I agree with your article. I am close personal friends with the majority of the people in your picture. Specifically Dave and Matt. I have great respect for the established builders. I think that documenting the builders and styles is important. I appreciate your blog and the e-mails on your products as they are released. You have a very artistic & professional image. I hope to meet you in Cincinnati @ V-Twin Expo’07.

    Jeff Clark
    TCX Customs

  2. 2 Mike Odom Nov 27th, 2006 at 10:29 pm

    WOW! Great idea. I would have loved to been there to take that shot.

  3. 3 Cyril Huze Nov 27th, 2006 at 10:29 pm

    Let’s meet in Cincy with all the builders to do this historic picture.

  4. 4 Cyril Huze Nov 27th, 2006 at 10:32 pm

    The photographer who does the best group shot could even make some money…

  5. 5 Tom Zimberoff Nov 28th, 2006 at 3:53 am


    Happy to see all of you posing happily. As for the question, “Why is it that you rarely see a picture of more than 3 well known builders together?”, is it because they are usually posing for 1st-, 2nd-, and 3rd-place trophies?

    How will you be remembered indeed? I agree, it will be for your work. But what is the mechanism for that remembrance? Will enough people be riding your motorcycles thirty years from now? Will you be scraping your octogenarian knuckles on steel still building them? Will you have designed the latest Harley-Davidson bolt-on knick-knack, if there still is a Harley-Davidson? Will your work be collected and displayed in museums? Will it be in a critically-acclaimed book?

    Surely your advertising agency experience has led to a practical knowledge of the publishing industry. Your understanding surely includes the characteristics that distinguish magazines and books by both economics and creative content, as well as by the diverse prerogatives of their publishers and authors. So I find it hard to believe that you could somehow imagine any number of periodicals stacking up, so to speak, against the stature of a single book thirty years from now. Incidentally, as you may know, “Art of the Chopper” has led to a curatorial assignment for the Daytona Beach Museum of Arts and Sciences in association with the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC to create an exhibition in 2008. Nearly two hundred of my prints will hang adjacent to as many as seventy motorcycles, categorized by artist. After three months in Daytona Beach, the installation will tour nationally. How will the publicity associated with that enterprise affect your commemorations to come?

    I wrote my books because, as recently as a few years ago, no magazine published had attempted to invoke an intellectual rationale for how a motorcycle could be called a work of art. No magazine published had yet put the creator of such a thing on a pedestal next to the work itself. The first publication of any kind to do so was “Art of the Chopper.”

    My job is to create an archive for posterity. “Art of the Chopper” is a chronicle of the achievements of your peers, Cyril. There is no equivalent to AOTC in the magazine world and certainly nothing belched forth by a reprobate and unconscionable excuse for a book publisher who tries to hack up a fast buck at the expense of one pioneer’s earnest efforts. (You know who they are.) Such copycats are morally, intellectually, and qualitatively corrupt. But they speak for themselves, and I digress.

    Not long ago, every magazine article was about the OWNER of the bike and which manufacturers made its component parts. Any mention of the artist who created it was perfunctory and the text was seldom better than trite. So, too, were the photographs. There was nothing resembling a consistency of artistic taste represented in the periodicals. The coverage of any given motorcycle was limited to obligatory commercial patronization before AOTC came along. Editorial write-ups in that context are respectable enough. They are what they are. But what is art? And who defines it? Since the publication of “Art of the Chopper,” do you think things have improved—–just a little bit?

    Finally, no one has shown more respect for what you do than I have. That said, neither you nor your peers will be remembered as so-called “celebrity” builders. That’s a silly thought. For one thing, the very nature of celebrity is fleeting. As we agree, you will be remembered for the quality of your work as an artist, just as I will be remembered for the quality of my own.

    Best regards,


  6. 6 Marilyn Stemp Nov 28th, 2006 at 9:32 am

    It may be of interest to note that I photographed 27 builders together in Sturgis this year, at Billy Lane’s Builder’s Breakfast. I’ll send you a shot you can post if you like. The event raised money for the Children’s Care Foundation and everyone participated on that basis – for charity. Credit for the gathering goes to Darcy Betlach and it was a huge success. I understand plans are underway for next year already and I plan to be there.
    I’ll certainly show up, camera at the ready, to photograph any group of builders that gathers in Cincinnati. Please let me know the details. For our part, IronWorks will have reproductions of an original illustration featuring Donnie, Dave and Brian Klock – plus the builders themselves – in our booth on Sunday at the show, signing the prints. The charity in this case is Donnie’s High School Chopper Challenge,an amazing effort by Donnie, of course, plus many other builders and aftermarket companies to support the teaching of metal craft to young people. Here’s a thought: if you want to be remembered by people 30 years from now, why not work with them now? What an opportunity for all of us.
    I can’t close before I defend magazines. I think Tom’s opinion of us is a bit harsh. Give us 300 glossy pages without the interruption of ads or deadlines and we could tell an incredible tale, too. But books and magazines can’t be compared in that sense, just as magazines and newspapers are different in scope and timeliness, or newspapers and TV news, for that matter. Do we give space to motorcycles as art? Speaking for IW, absolutely! Do we laud the builder as well as the bike – sure do! I could reference dozens of articles in the last 17 years of IW’s publishing life, but let the record stand. Without question, I have heard builders say many times that much of their “fame” has been due to magazine coverage they received when they were young and unknown. Personally, I think all the credit should go to the builders: they do the work. We’re simply privileged to cover the results of their efforts.
    And while I agree on the longevity of a case bound book over a magazine, how many guys have stacks of old magazines in the basement they can’t part with? (You know who you are.)
    So give us our due – we even make space in magazines to publicize books about motorcycles!

  7. 7 Tom Zimberoff Nov 28th, 2006 at 1:03 pm

    Hi Marilyn,

    I didn’t mean to be harsh to magazines. As you made the point, authors depend on them, too. My point to Cyril is that fame is fleeting, no matter how many stacks of magazines may accumulate in someone’s basement. Books will remain and be read in lobbies, libraries, and living rooms for generations to come. He didn’t say that. Furthermore, I certainly did intend to dismiss the idea of celebrity trumping art.

    There is no question that you could tell an incredible tale with 300 glossy pages without ads. (I wish I had had that number of pages without a deadline.) But that’s my point. Then you’d be a book. That is not what a magazine does. I did not scorn magazines. (My scorn was aimed at a certain book publisher without either class or scruples.)

    You are correct; books and magazines cannot be compared. One medium is not greater than the other. But they do serve different purposes, both economically and with regard to content. That is, of course, why corporations own book publishers and magazine publishers alike, including my own publisher. Their parent company, Hachette, publishes a diverse group of periodicals, from “Popular Photography” to “Road & Track,” to “Elle,” and “Woman’s Day” plus many more. They also own Bulfinch Press, Warner Books, and Little Brown, et al.

    I stand by my statement that no magazine had ever made an intellectual and qualitative argument for motorcycles as art or for builders as legitimate artists before my own book first did. I felt Cyril was remiss to neglect books with regard to that point. Nevbertheless, he knows how much I respect him and his work.

    By the way, working with kids to teach them a craft is a magnificent way to build a legacy, as well as a motorcycle. I applaud Donnie Smith—for everything.




  8. 8 Tom Zimberoff Nov 28th, 2006 at 1:24 pm

    An Addendum:

    I forgot to include a proper tribute for the Guggenheim Museum’s catalog published by Harry N. Abrams in 1998, which was, of course, an inspiration to me. I am speaking about a book called “The Art of the Motorcycle,” of course. However, that book was a tribute to motorcycles in a significantly different context. It was conceived as a means to illustrate the historical progress of industrial design throught the 20th century. Motorcycles were a conveyance, both literally and figuratively, of that idea. What distinguishes TAOTM from AOTC is the latter’s emphasis on the individual works of individual artists. That was a first.

    “Art of the Chopper,” with the word “chopper” representing all kinds of custom motorcycles, honors the individual artists who are personally responsible for creating these metallic masterpieces. “Art of the Chopper” represents the MODERN art in motorcycle design itself.


  9. 9 Tom Zimberoff Nov 28th, 2006 at 1:31 pm

    I do know how to spell “throughout.”

  10. 10 Cyril Huze Nov 28th, 2006 at 2:09 pm

    Tom. In my original post, I didn’t mention books by omission, not by intention. I didn’t mention TV, videos, calendars, etc. You will agree that all media contribute. You already know that all builders that you featured in your books, including me, have a special appreciation for your contribution to our industry.

  11. 11 Rick Fairless Nov 29th, 2006 at 8:37 pm

    Hi Cyril. I really like your blog. You do a great job on it & by the way, you are very talented on your day job! I think getting some builders together for a photo shoot in Cinci would be a great idea. I’m in, just let me know when & where. Keep up the good work. Peace,
    Rick Fairless
    Strokers Dallas

  12. 12 Steve Budge Dec 1st, 2006 at 2:07 am

    Hey Cyril,
    I agree too. It would be fun to have a group picture. Get everyone to sign it and make some money for yourselves.
    Sounds good to me. I know you guys have slow days too. Not everyone is a millionaire.
    it reminds me of the car and bike business when there were hundreds of makers all over the world. They built and stole ideas from everywhere. But those in it for money survived and those who built cars for the rich made some beautiful cars. In the end it all worked out good for the common man but I don’t think it made cars any better. I respect the new guys for re-energising the market. If Arlens son Cory hadn’t pushed hard to grow the busines they wouldn’t be as big and popular as they are outside the bike business as well as inside.
    Others like Donnie likes the laid back Days when there was just not as much Bullshit. My words not his. Although I think he would agree. Real friendships like Arlen and Dave are going to go buy the wayside if people can’t talk straight. A better time when they were kids.
    All these young builders bring something to the table. Even one bike can move the bike business as a whole. And yes personalities move it along too. But they can’t forget what the heart and soul of bike building is all about. Love of bikes, paint, engines, fun and especially friendship.
    The old guard will not be with us forever. The new kids on the block will be more educated and better business men just like all business is. Today’s builders will never be like their Dad’s or favorite builders. It was a close nit and beautiful time when there was little money and friendships were a very big part of the business.
    Hotrods, track bikes planes and steet bikes were made for fun. All dad’s thought their kids were idiots for building all the crazy stuff they made. But today they are known be innovative artistic and a bit wild (who doesn’t remember the flying eyeball). I would like to see more of this attitude. But we know the law of the land will never let the kids do that. The old kids worked out of garages or barns. No one cared what they did. I am 53 and a kid my Dad used to tells me how he felt sorry for us kids because of all the restrictions that we had to live buy. All his friends flew planes in highschool including the girls. They had about 20 friends pre World War II. My Aunt had the first commercial airline license and my other Aunt had the first law degree in MN. Neither ever got to practice but they did ride motorcycles. It’s about the journey not the goal. I think it’s cool that kids want to build bikes and have some fun. For alot of kids this is their law degree or their pilots license. Let them have there fun.
    We should feel bad for the kids because they will never know what we once had.
    Thanks for listening to me ramble on.
    Stephen Budge

  13. 13 Steve Budge Dec 1st, 2006 at 2:12 am

    sorry for the spelling errors and discumbobilated lines. It’s late.

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