Bill Tuman reunited with championship motorcycle after nearly two decades

Published: Jul. 15, 2019 at 7:46 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

Reunited again-- A nearly 98-year-old motorcycle racing champion got to see his legendary bike again.

On a sunny Monday morning, a van pulls up in front of Iowa Masonic Health Facilities in Bettendorf. The driver Kelly Skeffington starts to pull items out. The number 51 can be seen, it's the bike belonging to Motorcycle Hall of Famer Bill Tuman. One of the members of the legendary Indian Wrecking Crew.

“He knows we are here to visit him, but he doesn't know we have his bike with us,” said Kelly Skeffington

Then the legend himself, Bill Tuman gets wheeled out. After nearly two decades, Bill finally gets to be around his number 51 championship motorcycle. A man with few words but with much gratitude.

“It is just so cool that so many people did this,” said Debi Hayes, granddaughter of Bill Tuman. “They took the time out of their day, to do something that he will remember forever,”

“Crashed one of them, not too long ago, it wasn't too long was it? Said Bill Tuman.

The surprise was put together by one of Bill's caretakers. The bike that Bill sold back in 2002 to a doctor in Australia, recently was brought back in the U.S. Kelly Skeffington has been taking care of not just Bill's bike, but the two other members of the Indian Wrecking Crew-- Bobby Hill and Ernie Beckman.

“Get the jitters when you are standing next to probably the most iconic Indians ever made,” said Skeffington.

A moment that not only Bill will remember but his friends as well.

“To be a part of this has been an honor for me,” said Bob Skeffington, a friend of Bill Tuman.

Even after many years, Bill's fan base is still there.

“He likes to talk bikes and enjoys talking about the wrecking crew days,” said Hayes.

The wrecking crew days that will stay with him no matter how far he and the bike are.

“This is kind of neat that from the factory, it's got Tuman's name stamped in the motor,” said Kelly Skeffington.

Tuman had many wins on that bike. A total of 136 consecutive first-place finishes and he is a five-time national champion. The motorcycle will make a few more stops in other states and then head back to Australia.