Growing up in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, I was bitten by the motorcycle bug at an early age. My first cycle at age 13 was a 1956 Triumph Tiger Cub, which was my transportation to school (even when the thermometer read -20 degrees).
I joined the Sioux Valley Cycle Club and started my racing career in 1958. I won “Mr. Motorcycle of South Dakota” in 1960. Married my high school sweetheart and moved to Minneapolis in 1963. My riding style impressed the owner of a new startup cycle shop, Honda Motor Sports. The first Honda shop in the Twin Cities, owner Kenny DeGonda was a true entrepreneur. He loved racing and gave me a full sponsorship, which gave me the opportunity to race all over the USA. Won the Minnesota Scrambles Championship in 1963-64-65-66.
I worked for Gopher Motor Rebuilding for 7 years. Good job, good pay, and good benefits, but my dream was to have this cool little cycle shop. One morning as I was driving down Highway 7 in Minneapolis I noticed a small car repair shop had just moved out. I checked around and found out who owned the property. I was really nervous, but I knocked on his door where he lived, in St. Louis Park, and told him I would be interested in renting his shop. After a lengthy conversation, he said he would give me a shot and the monthly rent would be $180.00 per month. "Would your cycle shop be able to afford that?" I had to be positive and said “Yes.” He drew up the contract, and I moved in January 1971.
With very little money but lots of ambition, Sport Wheels was born. The timing was perfect. Honda had just come out with the 750cc Four, and Japanese bikes were taking over the industry. By 1975 we had grown to max capacity at 7102 West Lake Street. Our daughter Kim was born in 1966, and I had closed the chapter on my racing career in 1973, so my full focus was on growing the business. Eventually, my wife Kari left her super job at National Car Rental (a paycheck that was paying lots of the bills at the time) and she came to work at the Wheels.
We bought property on Highway 169 between Jordan and Shakopee and started Sport Wheels II. Business was booming and later started Sport Wheels III in Bloomington, Minnesota. Running three stores was like running on a treadmill while trying to have the right inventory at the right store at the right time. The adrenaline rush I had experienced at racing was now kicking in running the business. In later years we sold the Bloomington store and shut down St. Louis Park store to put our focus on the Jordan store. With just 3 acres of property trying to hold 6000 salvage bikes, we purchased nine acres, two miles up the road (where we are today) doing what we started way back in 1971. I’m now an old man, but coming to work makes me feel like a youngster with an eye for motorcycles. Daughter Kim now runs the business and I’m the gopher. I love it. Customers ask me why I don’t retire, I tell them it’s not a job it’s my hobby.
How could I be so blessed?