By Wade Thiel
What a Life He Lived
Bill Tuman, who is one of the most influential folks in motorcycling, has died. He was 99 years old. Tuman is known as one of the original Indian Wrecking Crew members and an AMA Hall of Famer.
Tuman began racing flat track in the 1940s. He had a very successful racing career from 1947 to 1955. He won five AMA Grand National Championships. He was known by his nicknames Rockford Rocket and Bullet Bill.
Indian Motorcycle had its Wrecking Crew that dominated from 1950 to 1953. It consisted of Ernie Beckman, Bobby Hill, and yes, Bill Tuman. The three riders managed to win a total of 14 AMA National wins between them.
Tuman was known for helping other riders and racers. He earned the title of Most Popular Rider in the paddock in 1950 because he was always willing to lend a hand to anyone who needed it.
Most recently, when Indian Motorcycle introduced the FTR750 at Sturgis in 2016, Tuman was there. He and Hill were in attendance. In 2019, Tuman’s family and friends reunited him with his Big Base Scout racing motorcycle. He got to sit on the bike one last time. It now lives in a museum.
He is survived by friends and family. He has many grandchildren and great-grandchildren. The family will hold a celebration of life at a later date. It will have to be a hell of a celebration, because Tuman was a heck of a guy who made his mark on many people in the motorcycle community and beyond.
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