Margaret Wilson was one of the first of a generation of female motorcyclists in post-World War II America who took up the sport and began changing the image of the motorcycling as an exclusive domain of men. This "golden gal" of motorcycling rode her bikes over 550,000 miles -- an enormous accomplishment for any rider. She was a tremendous motorcycle supporter, an enthusiastic promoter and a great guide. Margaret was awarded a Golden Life membership in the Motor Maids Inc. club for her years of active participation and dedication to their cause.
Wilson was born on March 1, 1916, in Lancaster, Wisconsin. Her love of motorcycling began in 1946, when her husband, Mike, returned from duty in World War II and bought her a new Harley-Davidson. The 45-cubic-inch Harley had a high buddy seat, windshield and safety guard and was so high off the ground Margaret could not touch the ground. Her husband, sitting behind her, would put his feet on the ground when Margaret came to a stop to hold the bike upright. After several hundred miles with Mike on the passenger seat giving her instructions, Margaret finally took her first solo ride and she was off and on her own, instantly an avid rider.
Beginning in 1950 and for the next 25 years, Margaret and Mike also were business partners in Wilson's Motorcycle Sales of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. She was a Golden Life Member of the Motor Maids, having joined this renowned national women's motorcycle organization in 1951, and she helped form the Corn State Riders Motorcycle Club in the early 1950s. Over the years, she served as secretary and road captain. She was also the only female rider on the club's organized motorcycle Drill Team. Putting safety first, she and Mike were among the first to wear helmets and protective clothing, encouraging others to do the same.
One of her proudest moments came in the spring of 1959 when Margaret was voted America’s Most Popular and Typical Girl Rider for 1958 by all the clubs in the AMA. The large trophy remained on display in her and Mike's house for years.
Over the years Margaret assisted with many motorcycle races and events as she rode throughout the United States and Canada. In one year alone, she traveled all 48 contiguous states and visited nine Canadian provinces. On another road trip through Canada, she went to the northern tip of Newfoundland.
Both Margaret and Mike served on the board that established the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame and the museum that houses it. They also were among the museum's principal benefactors for many years. The couple commissioned and donated the beautiful bronze sculpture “Glory Days” that currently serves as the centerpiece of the Hall of Fame itself and functions as the official logo of the museum.
"There may be no better role model for women, whether or not they ride motorcycles, than Margaret Wilson," said Robert Rasor, President of the AMA, when Wilson was awarded the AMA Bessie Stringfield Award in 2003. "Her personal energy and passion, as well as her inestimable contribution to motorcycling over nearly six decades, makes her most deserving of the AMA Bessie Stringfield Award."
Mrs. Wilson passed away on July 23, 2014.