Sunday, August 17, 2008

Local Harley Legend Passes

Bob Hofmeister, a Harley legend in the Minneapolis/ St Paul area passed away at the age of 91 this past week. Bob was a very active member of the motorcycling community for his entire life, and in his "retirement" owned Faribault Harley Davidson. For a short obituary, click here.

Bob was also honored by the motor company, being included in their list of the pioneers of Harley Davidson. Years ago Bob treated me to a tour of the business that he founded, Milhoff Steel, and let me tell you, it was a machine shop with a capitol "M." Particularly memorable to me was a lathe that held an approximately 6 foot diameter piece of round stock. That lathe by itself was far too large to even fit in most machine shop buildings. Yet it was only one of many pieces of equipment. His shop was known as the place to go when no one else could do the job. Bob was famous for his work ethic and customer service.

In his younger days Bob was active in hill climbs, scrambles and TT races. He evidently passed those skills on to his son Bill, who has likewise become a local legend in flat track racing. You may recognize his name from my previous posts here, and here.

On a personal note, I need to mention that Bob had a hand in building the first set of Knuckle heads that I used for drag racing. His good friend Gumps Riley had machined the heads and port spigots for dual carbs, but took them to Bob for welding because he felt that Bob was slightly better with cast iron. Years later when I mentioned to Bob that he had welded those heads which were on my bike for two national championships, he replied with a smile that he guessed he should have charged more.

This past Friday the funeral was held, and as part of it, many great stories and memories of Bob's life were related. I was proud to be one of what I would estimate to be well over a hundred riders to escort Bob Hofmeister on his final trip from church to cemetery. All of those Harleys following in solemn procession from one side of the Twin Cities to the other was a fitting tribute to one who had such an impact on the sport throughout his life.

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