History and Club Profile
The first 50 years (1949 to 1999)
We always knew that our club would endure the test of time, and now we embark on the second half of our first century. From no suspension to some suspension to all kinds of suspension, from not much power to better power to awesome power, from heavy and unreliable motorcycles to much lighter and very reliable motorcycles, it has been one hell of a ride, hasn't it?
We spoke with charter member Earl Wilson, and he gave us a quick summary of some great history. Our club started out as a Harley-Davidson club for couples, and became a racing club a few years later. In 1948 we were the Wild Deuces, and changed our name to Prospectors in 1949 (the 'M/C' came later). Chartered by the AMA in 1950, and promoted our first race about 1951. And what a race it was! The event was a Hare & Hound that started in Gardena (!), with checkpoints in Redondo Beach, Torrance, Dominguez Hills, and Compton. The last section was a high speed run to the finish in Gardena. Wow. Is that - 2 -cool, or what? An idea for a new event, maybe a Dual Sport Grand Prix?............Maybe not.
Over the years, we have promoted all the different types of District 37competition events - Hare & Hounds, Hare Scrambles, European Scrambles, Enduros, Grand Prix’s, Dirt Track Scrambles, and Motocross. Our annual Gold Rush Enduro is the longest continuous running AMA Enduro in the United States. The Cowbell up north and the Alligator in Florida have been running five years longer, but not continuously, as they have been interrupted by gas shortages and land use issues. Ina addition to the Gold Rush, our District 37 Night Enduros in the early1970’s were called the ‘Moonshine Enduro’.
As the sport of District 37 desert racing evolved and grew during the1950’s, there was a growing number of ‘small bikes’, which was anything smaller than a Matchless or Triumph 500. Die-hard big bike riders looked at these guys on the ‘250’s’ and called them ‘Lightweights’. Thus the name was born, and in 1958 the Lightweight Division for 250cc motorcycles got its start. The first two riders to earn the Number One Plate in this new division were Bill ‘Pops” Messer and Kenny Harrimen, both Prospectors, and also brother-in-laws.
How many of our members actually race? This number has fluctuated greatly over the years - during the 1960’s and 1970’s we had a definite presence at desert races and were one of the larger clubs. 1983 was a comeback year, and for the remainder of that decade we were once again one of the more active desert clubs. We have always been an active enduro club, which has been our strength since 1990, and still is. We have also had a good number of club members who ride the GP’s during that time, and still do.
The next 50 years (2000 to present)
This year, 2006, we held our 51st Annual Gold Rush Enduro, and our GP in November will be the 21st Annual California Grand Prix. These are the two events that we promote every year, and our primary motivation has never wavered - we do this for the sport. We try to give District 37riders the opportunity to experience something fun and different that they will tell their friends about - this is our contribution towards helping our great sport grow.
We are a family oriented club, and always have been. Our members come from every age group, zero to 80+ as it were. Our previous history as also being a ‘party club’ is an important part of who we are, but these days we only have two actual ‘parties’ every year. Our annual Hoser Wig and Costume Party is incredibly fun and has to be seen to be believed! This is always held down at the Hoser Compound the night before our enduro, and is about two miles away from all other campers (we get loud). We also bring in the New Year out in the desert and in a big way - this one is much larger and something that the whole family can enjoy.
Do we have club events, get-togethers, and trail rides? Oh heck yes. Our annual Easter Field Meet is huge; we have rides, field events, in camp contests for the kids, pot luck dinner, freebie raffle give-away, and breakfast on Sunday morning. Easter Egg Hunt on Sunday morning? Probably the biggest one you’ve ever seen - some years we have a 5-row start, broken down by kid size (really little kids, with the help of mom, get 1st row).
In addition to our Easter Field Meet, we also have our Thanksgiving Club Meet and New Year’s Club Meet. Sometimes these will have field events, but usually we just ride and eat a lot. For the latter of those two meets, we go on a New Year’s Eve Night Trail ride that is something special. For the serious trail rider with a headlight, it doesn’t get any better - this is the real deal, not a putt up and down dirt roads. The ride always ends before 11:00 pm so we can join the festivities that are already in progress around the New Year’s Eve Bonfire (bring your Christmas tree!) And yes, we do a countdown at midnight.
Club meetings are held eleven (11) times a year in Lakewood, usually on first Tuesday, but not always. We publish a comprehensive club newsletter that is sent to all members, and everything we do is announced well in advance. New members pay a one-time membership fee of $35 -we do not collect annual dues from active members who work and help with our Enduro and GP (it takes all of us to put on these events). For membership information come see us at the races, or send us a message via the Contact tab.