Lonnie Isam, Motorcycle Cannonball Founder, Dies in Sturgis
Lonnie Isam, Jr.,noted motorcycle collector and founder of the Motorcycle Cannonball run, died of cancer on August 20. A native of Washington state, Isam was the only son of Lonnie and Marianne Isam, who were at his side.
As a teenager, he spent weekends scouring garage sales and swap meets, then reselling his treasures to make spending money. As a young man he traveled to Europe, worked with his father as a motorcycle wrangler on the movie set of Oliver Stone’s conspiracy film, JFK, and immersed himself in learning all he could about motorcycling’s past. Respected as a leading authority on motorcycle history and restoration, Lonnie eventually opened his own motorcycle shop called Jurassic Racing in Sturgis, South Dakota. Along with all of this, it is the Motorcycle Cannonball Run that he will always be remembered for.
Known around the globe as the founder of the most difficult antique motorcycle endurance ride in the world, Isam started the famous Motorcycle Cannonball in 2010. The race changed the landscape of antique motorcycling by encouraging owners to make their ancient machines roadworthy and hit the blacktop with fellow enthusiasts. His original quest to just share a ride along America’s back roads with friends catapulted the wrenching visionary into the public eye as he managed to lead a different international group of adventurous riders in an epic excursion across the country three more times after the inaugural run.
Participants have declared the runs as “life changing.” While Lonnie Jr. was always happiest when sharing a lane with his friends, his role of promoter launched the quiet gearhead into a spotlight he was ill prepared for. He eschewed the limelight and shunned publicity. As far as he was concerned, the old bikes deserved to live out their lives as they were intended, being ridden, and that was all that was important. Lonnie Isam Jr. will forever be a part of motorcycling’s glorious history.
As per his request, there will be no services. Instead, it is suggested you take a ride through the country and recall a man who lived his life for his many friends and the sincere love of antique motorcycles.