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Blue Barons Motorcycle Club ran the streets of Tacoma

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"A lot of people ask ‘Who were the Blue Barons?' I tell them they were a motorcycle club and the first thing they always think of is the Hell's Angles or whatever.  And they're not, they are totally the opposite," explained David Allen, son of Blue Baron's founder, Paul Allen.

From afar they looked like leather clad bikers caving up the streets of Tacoma on Indians, Triumphs and Harleys. Up close, they were business men and community advocates.

Though certainly not the oldest of the motorcycle clubs in the area, the Blue Barons have certainly left their mark. Established in 1938(est.) and continuing into the mind 1970s, the Blue Baron's administered Graham speedway, owned and ran the Mount Tahoma Hill Climb (also known as Blue Baron Hill), and supported a huge number of public and social works. They were members of both the American Motorcycle Association and the Northwest Motorcycle Association.

Prior to closing in the 1970s due to a lawsuit with a mink farm and encroaching urbanization, Graham Speedway was once a mecca for motorcycle enthusiasts in the area. Owned by the (still active) Tacoma Motorcycle Club and ran by the Blue Barons, the speedway put on numerous races and events - including an Evel Knievel jump in August of 1967. The speedway saw the likes of local legends Bob Knox, ‘Indian' Joe and Emil Ahola.

Caroline Gallacci perhaps best described the Mount Tahoma Hill Climb best when she wrote in her book Playgroud to the Pros, "In Addition to the Graham Speedway, racers also used what they called Blue Baron Hill. It was not much to look at: a gravel scar carved out of the salal and ferns above a nondescript cinder-block building that was the headquarters for the Blue Barons club. From the clubhouse, however, it appeared almost vertical and must have been a challenge just to, let alone beat the clock. The hill sits on the edge of South Tacoma peat bogs near where the end of 56th meets Tyler Street."

The Blue Barons founded and supported several charity events in the area. The clubhouse on 56th street saw Halloween parties for the St Ann's orphanage. Rides were arranged to raise money for the numerous charities. Bob Malley, a lifelong member of the Barons and Expert Class rider independently started a youth program, Young Hotshots, encouraged riders sixteen and younger to ride safe. He also established for founded a class for McNeil Island as a way to cultivate mechanic skills, it was the first such program in a federal facility.

Sadly the Blue Baron's chapter in Tacoma's motorcycling history is drawing to a more definite close. "I've been to three funerals in the last year of club members that have passed away," Allen said.

The Blue Barons left such an imprint on Tacoma and the Puget Sound that they will be featured in the upcoming exhibit "Let's Ride: Motorcycling the Northwest" at the Washington State History Museum. The show is scheduled to open January 23, 2013.

Comments for "Blue Barons Motorcycle Club ran the streets of Tacoma" (7)

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Ed Bray said on Jun. 03, 2012 at 8:37pm

I remember the Blue Barons well. My good friend Larry Robinson was a racer and climbed the hill many times. Sadly he passed a few years ago.

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PAM KELLEY said on Jun. 07, 2012 at 9:27am

I remember them well, too. I was close friends with Donna and David Allen and as children we spent many weekends at the 56th street club and at the Graham Speedway and attended many of the parties they hosted. Aways a very family oriented gathering and Paul an Ruth Allen were like a second family to me. Love the memories!

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Billy Stambaugh said on Jun. 09, 2012 at 8:02pm

Fantastic article! ! Thanks for keeping history alive! My Gramps would be stoked!

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Cindy Hembree said on Jan. 21, 2013 at 8:19pm

My dad "Red" Berry used to own Tacoma Motorcycle Sales on River road in the late 60's. He was a member of BB. We attended many hill climbs at the old site off of 56th. I can't drive by there without thinking of it and the flat track out at Graham speedway where my brother Pat and my dad's cousin Milt Loflin would sometimes race and of course Emil Ahola, bouncing Bob Malley and a few others. The corn feeds and bike games that the Blue Barons held. Good memories. Nice article

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Bob Higgins said on Aug. 25, 2013 at 1:44am

I bought my first new bike a 1962 BSA starfire 250 scrambler from RED and MILT on river road . it was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. not knowing better I rode from Tacoma to Olympia and seized the piston . Red and Milt took me home and repaired by brand new BSA free of charge. you do not forget people like that .I am now age 71 .the blue barons hill climb was where I went after work often . I still have a picture of me on the start of the hill with RED and MILT . THOSE WERE THE DAYS

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jeff nemec said on Sep. 25, 2013 at 7:24am

I got my 125 mx in 1972 BUT Dave had got it and the nice guy that he is late me buy it THANkS DAVE You are a good person

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George McNelly said on Nov. 24, 2013 at 3:24pm

Had many fun afternoons at the Blue Baron's Hill Climbs during the late 60's and early
70's. The competitors and Barons were all fun loving guys, but could be very competitive. Also had a good time at the races on Friday nights out a Graham, and
also enjoyed some great scrambles out on the farm land. These were the "Golden Years" of motorcycling in my mind. Thanks and Good Luck!

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