The Hilltoppers Motorcycle Club was started in 1945 by Norm Lee, Al Williams,
Earl Harris, Frank Baily, George Norton and Carl Erickson. These Charter Members
were a family-oriented group of individuals who enjoyed both street and off-road
motorcycle riding. At this particular time there was only one other motorcycle
club in existence in the Long Beach area and they had a very poor public image.
The Charter Members of the Hilltoppers set out to show the public that motorcycle
riders could be responsible and law abiding citizens.
Club meetings were held once a week at the Signal Hill City Hall. During the
club's first year of operation, the members went riding either on the street or off-
road every single weekend for the entire year.
In 1946, the Hilltoppers joined the American Motorcycle Association for the
purpose of furthering the positive image of motorcycle riders and staging competitive
In 1947, the Hilltoppers M.C. of Signal Hill was incorporated in the State of
California as a non-profit organization for the purpose of teaching motorcycle riding
skills and promoting off-road racing in a skillful and safe manner. The members
reached their goal as the club was awarded the AMA Safety Award for the year of 1947,
given to the club most successful throughout the country in conducting safe and injury-
free competitive events.
In these early years, the Hilltoppers sponsored many events in the Long Beach area,
both off the road and on the street. In the later years, from the late 1940's on, the
club was involved in putting on many Desert Racing type events such as: Hare & Hound,
Hare Scrambles, English Trials, English Scrambles (now known as Motocross), European
Scrambles, TT Scrambles, Hillclimbs, and Grand Prix's. While the Hilltoppers were
involved in sponsoring and hosting races, they were at the same time a highly competitive
club entering the majority of events put on by other clubs and organizations. The riders
of this era recall, and newspaper clippings support, the fact that the club would often
win the team trophy as well as numerous individual wins for the club members.
The Hilltoppers were presented the Valvoline Perpetual High Point Trophy from D-37
of the AMA for maintaining the highest total of club race points for three consecutive
years. The Hilltoppers were high point club in 1949, 50, 51, 52, 53, and 55, more than
enough years to win the trophy, the only club in District 37 to ever accomplish this.
Another one of the more prestigious wins for the club was the Catalina Grand Prix,
an AMA Grand National Championship race held from 1951 through 1958 on Catalina Island.
The Hilltoppers were instrumental in organizing and running the event as well as
participating. In 1958, a Hilltopper by the name of Bob Sandgren won and retired the
Perpetual Catalina Trophy, winning the event overall the last two years. Another
Hilltopper, Nick Nicholson, won the Catalina Grand Prix in 1952 and as National Champion
was the only Hilltopper chosen to race abroad for the United States. Nick Nicholson
raced the Isle of Man TT's in 1953.