Husqvarna presented the 11th annual Canadian Motorcycle Hall of Fame Induction Banquet and Reunion at the Sheraton Airport in Montreal, QC, Saturday, March 25, and veteran road racer Miguel Duhamel of Las Vegas, NV, cemented his reputation for public speaking.
Fan favourite Duhamel, a star on the American superbike tour for almost two decades, was the final person inducted during post-dinner ceremonies hosted by television personality Eric Menard.
Duhamel was born in Montreal and is the son of famous 1970s racer Yvon Duhamel and the younger brother of 1980s Canadian motorcycle racing star Mario, both already inducted into the CMHOF.
Speaking in both English and French, Duhamel started by saying that it was a great honour for the crowd of almost 300 to be there with him.
“There are so many stories. I just love to be here with you tonight, it’s such an honour, with people like Pascal (Picotte, road racer) and Carl (Vaillancourt, MX racer) – these are the guys I grew up racing with,” said Duhamel. “As much as I hate losing to them and they hated losing to me, we’re really good friends off the track.”
“I ran over Pascal with the RZ350 bike, with a bike we built out of parts at the back of the shop,” he continued. “I was winning with that bike against guys with Honda NS400s, they were way faster, but I was, like, ‘the man.’ Then this guy Pascal Picotte shows up at Shannonville, they say he is pretty fast, and I’m like, ‘Yeah, well I’m pretty fast too…’ We got to the last lap, last corner, and he just made a small mistake.”
At this point, Picotte, who had just been inducted moments earlier, interrupted from the floor to yell, “You pushed me!” Much applause ensued.
“I didn’t push you! We went into the corner so deep, and he couldn’t get it stopped, and I went inside, and I made it look like I always meant to do that. At that point, I realized this guy could be tough! I was really amazed by his riding, but I never told him – so I’m telling him tonight!”
Duhamel went on. “Another story is that I was racing motocross against Carl Vaillancourt. It was a spring race, a warm-up race, it wasn’t that important of a race, but we all know they’re all important. I thought we were just racing for fun. So I won by a good margin, and then I stopped, and started doing push-ups. Carl finished second; I thought he would see the humour, but I guess he didn’t, because he drove over me with his motocross bike! But things settled down, and we had many, many great races. We had some memorable races.
“One really memorable race was when I got that first Pro win at the Shannonville national in 1988 on the Monette Sport Kawasaki Superbike,” continued Duhamel from the podium. “Again, it’s all of the people like we have here tonight that made all of that possible. I don’t think you really appreciate all of that support when you are racing, all the things that people did to give us all an opportunity to go racing. My mother and father made so many sacrifices to let us ride. Some people think it was easy, but it wasn’t. I remember telling my dad around 2008 that I should not have to go out and look for a ride, and he said to me, ‘Imagine how I felt.’ He was a world championship snowmobile racer, seven-time (CMA) White Trophy winner, he raced with and beat Kenny Roberts, Giacomo Agostini in their day.
“We had shops and supporters like Monette Sport, Mechanic Mobile, Motovan, and every year my dad would go out and get me a ride. (We did) whatever we needed to do to follow those dreams. My mom, she has frequent flyer miles with God (because) she has been talking to him so much. She told me that in 2008, it had been 50 years that they have been going to the races, with my dad, Mario and me. That is unbelievable, and so just for that, Mom and Dad, thank you so much.”
Earlier, a heartfelt Picotte had talked about his 1990 season, when he needed to raise money to join the Sunoco/FAST Yamaha team of Michel Mercier, and his father mortgaged their home to pay almost the full value of the property for discounted equipment from Yamaha. Picotte also talked of his career-building four-year development contract with Fast by Ferracci Ducati, and the warm relationship he enjoyed with team boss Eraldo Ferracci.
“Eraldo asked us to meet with him in Pennsylvania, and I can’t thank him enough for launching me in AMA Superbike, said Picotte. “It would have all been very, very hard without him. I still miss him today. I should have never left him; he was a real gentlemen and he brought me a lot of good things. He is Italian, like Mr. Motovan (fellow 2017 inductee Carlo Paladino, founder of Motovan) and all about family.
“It is really hard to win at racing without a family. Family is really, really important, because within the race team you can be the best rider in the world, but without a great team behind you, you can’t do anything. You can get on many kinds of motorcycles, like Miguel did, and the motorcycle can be okay, but with a good team you can make it great. And many times that team will make you look great.”