Common Tread

Motorcycle Cannonball Run founder Lonnie Isam Jr.: 1969-2017

Aug 23, 2017

Cannonball Run founder Lonnie Isam Jr., a respected member of the antique motorcycle community, died recently at his home in Sturgis, South Dakota, after a battle with cancer. He was 48.

Lonnie Isam Jr.
Lonnie Isam Jr. Photo provided by the Motorcycle Cannonball Run.
Isam was around motorcycles from his childhood, and worked with his father as a motorcycle wrangler on the set of "JFK," the Oliver Stone conspiracy movie, according to a statement issued by the Cannonball Run. Isam had his own motorcycle shop, called Jurassic Racing, in Sturgis and was known as an authority on motorcycle history and restoration.

In 2010, he founded the Motorcycle Cannonball Run, a coast-to-coast ride across the United States on motorcycles from before 1929. Riders from around the world came to participate in the endurance run.

"His original quest to just share a ride along America’s back roads with friends catapulted the wrenching visionary into the public eye as he managed to lead a different international group of adventurous riders in an epic excursion across the country three more times after the inaugural run," said the Cannonball Run statement. "Participants have declared the runs as ‘life changing.’ And while Lonnie Jr. was always happiest when sharing a lane with his friends, his role of promoter launched the quiet gear head into a spotlight he was ill prepared for. He eschewed the limelight and shunned publicity. As far as he was concerned, the old bikes deserved to live out their lives as they were intended, being ridden, and that was all that was important. Lonnie Isam Jr. will forever be a part of motorcycling’s glorious history.

"As per his request, there will be no services. Instead, it is suggested you take a ride through the country and recall a man who lived his life for his many friends and the sincere love of antique motorcycles."