Cycle News

Cycle News Issue 45 November 14, 2017

Cycle News is a weekly magazine that covers all aspects of motorcycling including Supercross, Motocross and MotoGP as well as new motorcycles

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Page 126 of 129

P126 CN III FRIENDLY FIRE BY STEVE BAUER W hen Tom White passed last week, he left behind a void that may never be filled. Tom was the embodiment of all that is good about motorcy- cling. For nearly two decades, Tom has been our sport's most eloquent ambassador, articulate spokesman, dedicated caregiver and enthusiastic fan. There are many talented people whose contributions collectively shape our little two-wheeled universe, but no one gives back to the sport the way that "Non-Stop Tom" did. The legacy he left behind will somewhat temper and mask the impact of his loss to the industry, but nothing can replace the man in the minds and hearts of those who knew him. I met Tom in the late seventies, when the company he co-founded with his twin brother, Dan, was building a reputation for building fast four-strokes and aftermarket suspension modifications. Tom was proud that White Brothers- built motorcycles had won several 4-stroke World Championships, but Marty Moates' victory at the 1980 Carlsbad USGP on a White Bros-suspended Yamaha was his crown jewel. It was a watershed moment in MX history and he beamed with pride whenever he told the story. What I'd give to hear him tell it one more time… Tom later bought out brother Dan's shares and by the time he sold White Bros "for an undis- closed sum" in 2000, he had grown the little Garden Grove hop-up shop into a $40 million per year powerhouse that employed 200 people. In the business world, where winning is the prize and cashing out and moving on is the measure of success, this is usually where our hero takes the money and heads to greener pastures. But racing was in Tom's DNA and there were extenuating circumstances, "family matters"… and nothing mattered more to Tom than his family. Tom adored his wife, Dani, daughter, Kristin and sons, Brad- ley and Michael. During a tribute to her dad at the 33rd Vet World MX Championships held last week- end, Kristin recalled that a stand- ing joke around their house was when one of them complained that he loved his motorcycles more than he loved his kids, their dad never argued the point. But they knew better than that and so did everyone else. Tom would have turned down a meeting with the pope if it meant breaking a date with Dani or the kids. His family always came first…I'm not sure which came second, motorcycles or his faith, but it was close. In 1997, Brad suffered a cata- strophic brain injury in a motor- cycle accident behind the race shop. The doctors told Tom and Dani that if Brad managed to survive, he would live a non-func- tioning life in a medical facility. The family rejected that notion and with the help of Orange County's High Hopes Foundation, Brad has lived a life filled with love, surrounded by family. Brad's tragedy was the catalyst for Tom to sell the busi- ness when he did and Brad was also the one who had gotten Tom started in collecting and restoring dirt bikes. Tom's immaculate collection of over 170 bikes is legendary and is well documented online. If you never attended one of the many charity and industry events held at his "Early Years of Motocross Museum," you can find it at http:// His collection became an obsession and a quest to preserve the rich history of the sport he loved for future generations. Tom respected everyone and when you talked to him, he made you feel like you were the most im- portant person in the world. He al- ways made it about you and never about him. A mutual friend, Patrick Johnson, used these words to describe White: "he made every- one he interacted with instantly comfortable, acknowledged and relevant. He was so 'present' to those he talked to, welcoming and interested." An inductee of both the AMA and Trailblazer Halls of Fame, in April Tom is slated to receive the Trailblazers Dick Hammer Award, their highest honor. I went to my first Trailblazers banquet a couple NON-STOP TOM

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