999 Main Street, Sturgis, SD
HONOR THE RIDER

Special Awards of 2018

Kirk "Hardtail" Willard

Freedom Fighter Award

Hardtail, as he is known in the motorcyclist right world, is spoken upon with the highest regard from riders representing all walks of life. From the aftermarket industry and original equipment manufacturers to motorcycle clubs and state motorcyclist rights organizations, he is known as a force to be reckoned with. Logging nearly a million miles on his collection of motorcycles on behalf of the bikers rights machine, his objectives have always stayed pure; to promote and preserve motorcycle riders’ freedoms and its associated lifestyle. He began by doing this is in his home state of Wisconsin representing ABATE of Wisconsin, and then nationally and internationally through his work with the Motorcycle Riders Foundation. He has represented motorcyclists in various States, in our United States Capital, within the Halls of Congress, the several Federal Agencies that interact with motorcycles and motorcyclists, many times in the European Union, and even in the United Nations. He remains very proud of his work as a U.S. Representative of the International Motorcyclist Cooperation Group and their work in global harmonization and regulations. Hardtail first joined and became active in ABATE of Wisconsin in 1985 after he was hassled twice in a month on his newly built custom-built chopper. He has continuously served as an Officer and Board of Directors member of ABATE of Wisconsin since 1997. He was first elected to the Motorcycle Riders Foundation in 2002, being elected Vice President in 2003, and its President since 2006, a position he holds along with Chairman of the Board to this day. Hardtail figures he has represented motorcyclists and motorcycling in 47 states and 19 countries worldwide. His name is synonymous with the Motorcycle Riders Foundation, an organization of motorcyclist rights activists directly responsible for the historic repeal of the federal government funding incentive for states to require a helmet to ride a motorcycle. Hardtail himself worked to steer the MRF and its supporters in their efforts to ban National Highway Traffic Safety Administration employees from lobbying state governments to implement universal protective gear laws. He has also worked tirelessly throughout the years, refuting EPA’s “Color and Chrome” initiative which would have only allowed riders to make cosmetic changes to their bikes and their continued impacts on performance through emission and sound control devices. In the early days he worked equally diligently to stop motorcycle horsepower limits and bans. Prior to taking over as Chairman of the MRF Board of Directors, he voiced support to establish, and eventually expand, the only national lobby and advocacy day for bikers in our nation’s Capital. Known as “Bikers Inside the Beltway” Hardtail helped to augment this yearly gathering into a highly anticipated powerhouse of an event, attracting hundreds of bikers from across the country to Washington D.C. to meet with their elected officials. In recent years, the event has expanded, bringing rider education and training tools directly to the U.S. Capital for lawmakers and staff to experience as well as plans to collaborate with the House Motorcycle Caucus this year in an event to recognize federally, May as Motorcycle Awareness Month. One doesn’t need to be around Hardtail long to hear him expound on his firm belief that we all must focus on crash avoidance verses the flawed oft heard themes of safer crashing. Hardtail is also very proud of having established the Legislative Strategy Session at the MRF’s Annual Meeting of the Minds Conference bringing together Leaders from a majority of the State Motorcyclist Rights Organizations and numerous Motorcycle Clubs to build and agree on the MRF’s Legislative Agenda for the coming year. In more recent years, Hardtail’s leadership and work on the federal highway transportation bill lead to provisions which ended all federal funding of motorcycle only checkpoints which had been used as a way to target those who ride under the guise of “compliance checks”. He was also one of the catalysts in initially forming and resurrecting the Motorcyclist Advisory Council which is a group of motorcycle riders with a direct connection to the nation’s top highway safety professionals to advise them on issues of importance to motorcyclist. And most recently under his passionate direction in 2017, bipartisan and bicameral legislation was introduced, recognizing and condemning instances of motorcyclist profiling and encouraging states to take action. Those that know him often compare his leadership style to that of President Theodore Roosevelt’s mantra-to walk softly and carry a big stick. His tireless and relentless commitment to the motorcycle community has made an impression on his friends and colleagues including Dave Dwyer, who is a former Board Member of the Motorcycle Riders Foundation, former Legislative Director of ABATE of Wisconsin, and active member of both organizations; he says about Hardtail “I have traveled the country with Hardtail and I feel that there is nobody in the United States more deserving of inclusion in the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum Freedom Fighters Hall of Fame than Kirk “Hardtail” Willard.” And in Hardtail’s home state, the Executive Director of ABATE of Wisconsin Dave “Chubbby’ Charlebois said, “Not only has Hardtail given a significant amount of time and effort to the motorcyclist rights movement at the local, state, and national levels; he has inspired and mentored leaders for decades and has selflessly ensured we remain strong and vigilant. I can think of no one more deserving of inclusion into the Sturgis Freedom Fighters Hall of Fame.” Even those not directly involved in the motorcyclist rights world were aware of his affect on the motorcyclist community. Former Member of Congress Reid Ribble, who represented the 8th District of Wisconsin in Washington D.C. from 2011-2016 said, “No one could be surprised by the news that “Hardtail” has been selected for the Sturgis Freedom Fighter Award. He regularly visited me while I served in Congress and was among the most effective advocates for the motorcycling community that I ever worked with. He is a true champion of riders everywhere and this recognition is well deserved.”

Fred Fox

Lifetime Achievement Award

When Fred Fox started his Parts Unlimited distributing business in Edgerton, Wisconsin in 1967, he was the one and only employee, keeping his inventory in his garage. Hard work, long hours and a vision of what was possible paid off and Parts Unlimited rapidly grew into a thriving company, first serving motorcycle and snowmobile dealers in and around Wisconsin, before becoming a nationally-known distributing organization. Fox acquired Drag Specialties in 1988.

Today, over fifty years later, Janesville, Wisconsin-based LeMans Corporation—the parent company of Parts Unlimited and Drag Specialties—is the world’s largest motorcycle aftermarket distributor, and employs more than 1,200 people in operations spread across the United States, Canada and Europe. The company’s own brands include Drag Specialties, Thor Motocross, Moose Off-Road, Icon and Z1R helmets and apparel, with many hundreds of other leading brands of powersports products filling pages in the Drag Specialties FatBook and numerous Parts Unlimited and Parts Europe catalogs.

Fred Fox has been inducted into many Halls of Fame, including the Sturgis Hall of Fame in 2002, the International Snowmobile Hall of Fame in 2010 and the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 2011. He began riding and racing motorcycles, go-karts and snowmobiles when he was 13 years old and became an avid collector of Americana, with a collection of over 60 rare and interesting Harleys, Indians and other antique vehicles.