Steel City Riders History
The Steel City Riders Motorcycle Club began in the late '40s as The Flying Midgets. So named because all of the members rode 90-125cc motorcycles. The other Hamilton club The Blackhawks rode Harleys & Indians.
In 1949 members met in a bicycle repair shop in West Hamilton (Westdale). As members moved up to larger machines, it was decided that the name was no longer appropriate, and after a club meeting, with much heated discussion, that lasted all night into the morning the Steel City Riders were born.
Past Present and Future
Steel City Riders’ was started in 1947 as the Flying Midgets. In 1961 the name was changed and the club was registered as a non-profit corporation.
During the early years of the club, members” raced what they brung” as the saying goes. Many competed in several racing disciplines; motocross, dirt track, enduro, trials and ice racing to name a few. If you have attended the Awards banquet in the past few years there has been a DVD played on the screen which is composed of many old films spliced together showing events over the years. The club consisted of 30 or so members in the early years, hosted social events and took part in parades and city organized events. Over the years the club grew and acquired a clubhouse where I’ve been told meetings were lively and members would race each other to get there as seating was limited due to large attendance. Club members would wrestle over the latest issues of bike magazines and many arguments took place but ended with a beer and lots of bench racing. The club continued to grow and eventually hosted a World Championship Motocross in Copetown where the worlds best came to race, including Roger DeCoster. Steel City has had many of its members achieve local and national championships over the years. One of the clubs very founders, Jim Kelly, was a 5 time Canadian Ice Racing champion, Larry Bastedo a 50 year plus club member and Bob Kelly, who still rides the occasional event with us today, all have had several championships as well. I sat with Larry and a few others some time ago and tried to create a list. There were over 20 National Champions and I’m sure many more but memories were failing those present. Quite a history!!
Today the club is a different entity, yet it still has retained its club atmosphere. The membership for 2008 consisted of 326 Competition members and 180 Enthusiast members. 506 is a long way from 30 some members. I mentioned earlier that the club was incorporated in 1961. Jim Kelly looked after much of the business dealings of the club and with his passing in 1994 some of these fell by the wayside unnoticed. Upon doing some researching of club records and such, this was discovered and in 2006 the Board of Directors took the necessary steps to once again incorporate the club as a non-profit corporation. Since that time the Board has gone over virtually everything enlisting the services of an accountant to review all of our financials, a lawyer to rewrite our indemnity waivers and by-laws, as well as acquiring Director and Officer Liability Insurance. It is a very different world now as compared to the days of 30 or so members. You must insure that everything is in order legally. Just last year we had to change the way Tuesday night practices were run and purchase insurance to cover what to us was just a fun night at the track learning to ride.
Over the last few years there have been many changes within the club; the number of classes available to compete in, workdays, Class Review Committee, Promotion Points, purchasing a tractor with a mower, tiller and loader for maintenance. We carry several insurances, there are waivers that all workers must sign on race days, the instructional DVD we show for flagging, flaggers equipped with 2-way radios at our competition events, medical personnel, even our penalties have changed because even with all this growth and change, we still want to maintain that “club”, that “family” atmosphere. We want members who want to participate, contribute, and be part of a club, our club.
Some of our future plans include purchasing a vehicle for our medics to use in the way of a “gator” style unit so they can safely and quickly attend to an injured rider. Safety is a major concern for our riders’ as well as the spectators. This year we have redesigned the starting area and will be installing two tunnel type passage areas, one at the pit area and another in the upper section of the track so spectators can access viewing areas safely.
As I’ve stated a few times now, we are a non-profit corporation therefore we channel our money back into the club through everything I’ve mentioned above as well as awards and charities. We also support other motorcycling events. Two major events, the International Six Day Enduro and the MX of Nations. All of these areas take money and the Board always considers this a family club. In turn, they do their best to keep the cost to the members very reasonable, promote the sport and provide the members with a very good program. From everything covered here you can see although we are a club, we have become a large business so to speak. To stay in business, or in our case, preserve the club, we look at where we have come from, where we are going, and how we are going to get there. Each of these important points of business as well as the volunteering and contributing, has been, still is, and hopefully always will be both the desire and the drive of not only the Board of Directors but all our club members.
Since Albert wrote the previous article a number of years ago, several things can be updated at this time. The "gator" style vehicle ended up being in the form of an ATV to help medical personnel get to where they are needed faster. The two access tunnels have been in place for a number of years, the club has put many dollars into widening the track and redesigning a lot of it's layout and natural jumps and adding man made jumps as well. The PeeWee track underwent some major changes too. To help keep dust under control on race days, 2 ponds have been dug to help with watering the upper track section and a 3rd pond is in the works at the kid's track. The club has purchased gas pumps, a water tanker with PTO driven watering system and received a donation of fire hoses for watering those hard to access spots. Last fall, a big tractor was purchased to use for watering and maintaning the track, if you know anyone selling the proper implements required to help maintain the track, please let us know, we are currently looking for some good deals on equipment. Many members have volunteered their time and materials to help build a solid scoring platform, a sign in trailer was donated along with many materials such as wood and steel decking to also help upgrade the extensive trail system that seems to magically grow every year thanks to Bob Kelly and Doug Fair. To top it all off, Jason McAlpine, Rod Green and a number of hard working club members fabricated brand new starting gates for the 2013 season! 2013 saw the introduction of sign in software and 2014 will be the first season for the MX series to undergo full Mylaps transponder integration. All in all, it seems that whatever SCR plans for infuture years, it gets done through the perseverence and hard work of it's memberships and volunteers.
Some good info about Butch Kelly