Tom White – ORMHOF Class of 2020
Tom was raised near the ocean in Huntington Beach, California, where he grew up surfing before discovering his life-long passion: Motorcycles.
Tom soon found his niche in flat track racing, eventually earning national number 80 as a professional. But his day job was fixing motocross bikes for a shop in Orange County, California. In time he developed ideas about specialty parts that he and his brother Dan, with help from their father, turned into a thriving business.
In 1976, White founded Tom White’s Cycle Specialties, which would later become White Brothers Cycle Specialties, when Tom partnered with his twin brother, Dan.
Over the next 25 years, White Brothers would grow into a highly successful company, with sales of $40 million a year and nearly 200 employees. In addition, Tom also created the World Vet MX Championship and the World Four-Stroke Championship.
Collecting motorcycles was, at first, Tom’s son Brad’s idea. 1984, the 6-year-old saw a rusty 1965 Greeves 250 Challenger motocross bike at a race event and said, “Dad! We should buy this and fix it up!” Tom and Brad purchased the Greeves, and their motorcycle collection grew over the years.
Tragically, Brad was seriously injured in a near-fatal accident when he was 18, leaving him blind, unable to speak, and paralyzed. Tom sold nearly all of the motorcycles in the collection to help provide care for his son. He couldn’t bring himself to sell the Greeves.
In 2000, Tom sold the assets of White Brothers and began rebuilding his motorcycle collection in earnest, collecting more than 170 motorcycles over the next decade. He narrowed his focus to restoring and collecting vintage motocross bikes, eventually establishing Tom White’s Early Years of Motocross Museum. While not open to the public, the museum plays host to fundraising events, including an annual “Bikes & Burgers” fundraiser for the High Hopes Head Injury Program that helped Tom’s son Brad in so many ways.
Tom would always tell his wife, Dani, with a wink, “The most I ever paid for a motorcycle is $150.” Of special interest is Tom’s collection of 11 Husqvarna’s that include the 500cc Baja Invader (1 of 3 twin cylinder off-road bikes built by the factory) that won the 1969 Baja 1000. Other interesting motorcycles include a 1968 Suzuki TM250 (1 of 65) that was the first Japanese production MX’er, a Bultaco Rickman Metisse (1 of 24), and a 1972 XR750 similar to the one White raced on Grand National dirt tracks. The 5,500 square foot private museum has many posters from the earliest years of MX in America and many of Edison Dye’s (the man who brought MX to America) original photos and documents.
In April 2017, Tom White was diagnosed with terminal cancer. The next month, he was honored by his friend Bud Feldkamp on Glen Helen Raceway’s Walk of Fame, surrounded by his friends and family. Tom passed away in November of 2017.
Tom’s motorcycle legacy is a family affair. His daughter Kristin and her husband, John Anderson, founded Dubya USA, a play off the letter “W” found in the family name. Specializing in building motorcycle wheel sets, Dubya also offers custom wheel building, individual wheel components, and even wheel restoration. With Dubya USA and the Early Days of Motocross Museum, Tom White’s legacy will live on.