C.H. Wheat was a crowd-favorite racer in the early- and mid-1900s, who then become an innovative motorcycle industry business owner while still racing, before retiring to continue owning his motorcycle business and sponsoring off-road racers worldwide. He was recently honored as the recipient of the Trailblazer’s 2015 Dick Hammer Award, the club’s highest award.
Wheat became a Class C racer in the early-mid-1900s (the original hooligan class), and was met with great success in both road and off-road races. Some of his biggest victories include titles earned at DeAnza Park, the Catalina Gand Prix, the Torrey Pines roadrace, and others. During his career as a racer, he competed against some of the most legendary names of motorcycling, including Ed Kretz Sr., Ed Kretz Jr., Dick Dorresteyn, Dick Mann, and others.
Wheat’s most memorable race was the Riverside TT Pacific Coast Championship in 1957, where he battled Ed Kretz Jr. for 25 heart-hammering laps. The two were said to pass each other at least three times a lap, and finished barreling across the finish line neck-and-neck to the audience’s standing ovation.
As a racer, Wheat recognized a need for better performance parts that were racing-oriented. This prompted him to found IMS Products in 1976, a leading designer of aftermarket off-road motorcycle racing products. Wheat introduced high-performance parts and accessories that revolutionized the competitive scene, including high-capacity quick-fill fuel tanks for distance off-road races; wider, more ergonomic footpegs; and more durable shift levers.
After Wheat retired from racing, he continued to run IMS Products and a number of other motorcycle product companies. In 1995, he teamed with off-road racer Scott Wright to expand IMS Products. With Wright, they started sponsoring racers worldwide, and used their input to help design parts to satisfy the needs that they saw in the off-road racing scene. IMS Products now sponsors more than 1,000 racers worldwide.
Wheat continues to give back to the community through pro-motorcyclist philanthropic work. With Rider Down and other organizations, he networks to help injured riders with financial assistance.
Wheat is a member of the Trailblazers, a highly-exclusive club for people who influenced and shaped the history of motorcycling. He is a Hall of Famer in the club, and was honored in 2015 by being given their highest award: the Dick Hammer Award.