R.I.P. Ken Maely (speedway legend) - Sportbike Forum: Sportbike Motorcycle Forums
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post #1 of 2 (permalink) Old 11-29-2003, 12:11 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: May 2001
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Unhappy R.I.P. Ken Maely (racing legend)

It's taken a little while for me to post this because Ken was a very close friend of the family and, to say the least, it was a shock to hear of his passing. I post this as a "thank you" to Ken for treating me like one of his own kids, for being such a great friend to my parents, for teaching me so much about racing and how to treat people, for doing so much for the racing community, and for leaving behind such a great legend.

For those who don't know who Ken Maely is, he's the man behind just about every steel shoe worn by speedway and flat track racers. It was almost impossible to attend a race without hearing the name Ken Maley. He was a mentor to every new racer and a true friend to every rider and fan. To say that he was a one-of-a-kind character would be an understatement. Meeting Ken was a right of passage for every racer and those lucky enough to call him "friend" were truly blessed. The number of lives he touched is undeniable and he will truly be missed.

Having grown up in the So. California racing community of the late '70s through '90s I have fond memories of countless racing legends, many of whom were friends of the family and spent lots of time at our house. They were my extended family and to this day I still consider myself to be the luckiest kid on the planet to have grown up in that time, in that place, with those people. The times spent with Ken Maely I will always count among my favorite. R.I.P. Ken...we'll see you soon, buddy.


Last edited by slaintedan; 11-29-2003 at 02:31 PM.
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post #2 of 2 (permalink) Old 12-01-2003, 03:59 PM Thread Starter
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Taken from CycleNews.com...

"Ken Maely, the original hot shoe man, died on Thursday, October 9, in Riverside, California, after suffering a heart attack. He was 78.

Known the world over for his manufacturing and development of the steel shoe or “hot shoe,” the Wisconsin-born Maely got his start as a motorcycle racer in the Midwest flat track hotbed known as the “fairs circuit” in the ‘40s, after World War II. But he soon realized the need for an improvement upon the skid shoes that riders were fashioning out of automobile parts for their left boots at the time.

“It used to be the big rush after the races to go down to the junkyard to get all the bumper ends you possibly could because it would last you for about a month or so,” Maely once said while filming a segment of the now defunct television show The Exciting World of Speed and Beauty. “In about 1948 I started making my own shoe, after that, whenever I’d loan someone my shoe, why… After you sell someone a shoe, he is not just a customer he’s a good friend from then on.”

Demand was so great that Maely quit racing to concentrate on his hot shoe-building business full-time. He moved to a ranch in Corona, California, to set up shop, where he continued to build shoes, and also created a training facility for flat track and speedway racers to hone their skills. Ken Maely Hot Shoes were worn by several AMA Grand National Champions, most notably Kenny Roberts - who went on to win the AMA title in 1973 and ’74 before going on to win the World 500cc Road Racing Championship three times, from 1978-1980, and with whom Maely had a great friendship. Maely was recognized for his shoe work when he was inducted into the AMA Hall of Fame in 1999.

World Speedway Champions such as five-time titlist Ove Fundin of Sweden and Americans Bruce Penhall, Bobby Schwartz and Billy Hamill all wore Ken Maely Hot Shoes at various times in their careers; Hamill won his first speedway race as a junior at the Maely Ranch in Corona. Maely so enjoyed the sport of speedway that in 1977 he began to develop his own speedway engine. Architecture from from that engine was later used in products from other engine manufacturers, such as Husqvarna. His engineering efforts also earned him numerous government contracts with the Republic of China, where he made frequent visits to assist in setting up manufacturing and assembly plants.

Maely, who had just underwent heart surgery about three weeks ago, had battled and defeated cancer and other heart problems earlier in life. He remained a constant fixture at West Coast flat track Nationals, where he continued to sell and do repair work on hot shoes. At home, he could always be counted on to be running his water truck every hour on the hour for the riders who showed up to practice at his training track.

It was also at home that Maely recently won one of his toughest battles, when he fought and won a legal challenge to keep his training facility open even as a housing development was encroaching on the property. When asked at a recent practice day why he didn’t just throw in the towel and sell his property, most likely for millions, Maely replied, “If I do that, then where all these kids go to learn how to ride?”

Funeral arrangements are pending. We will bring you more information as it becomes available.

Ken Maely will truly be missed…"
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