Danny & Arlene Liska documents for AMA Hall of Fame nomination
Date last revised: January 26, 2020
The initial effort to nominate Danny and Arlene Liska into the American Motorcyclist Association's Hall of Fame began with Eddie James, a former director of road riding for the AMA,
finisher of multiple Iron Butt Rallies, a co-founder of Minnesota's TeamStrange, and a close personal friend of Arlene's. Following his untimely death in 2009, his project languished.
In the summer of 2019, Lisa Erbes, Jim Winterer, Rick Corwine, and Bob Higdon agreed to breathe new life into Eddie's dream. Lisa and Jim went through the archives of scores of newspapers
and magazines, unearthing 169 media references to the Liskas going back more than 60 years; Rick assumed the job of sorting through a mountain of photographs, cleaning them up,
and digitizing them; and Bob put the results of everyone else's work together, filled out the required paperwork, and submitted the 20-page joint applications to the AMA Hall of Fame on
December 24, 2019.
The AMA requires that the submission contain, among other things, "Support material and copies of media coverage highlighting the applicant's achievements." In the case of the Liskas
that would amount to attaching a book. Michael Kneebone, president of the Iron Butt Association, graciously agreed to host a large but representative sample of media that we believe
fairly represents their monumental achievements.
The material here is arranged as follows:
AMA Hall of Fame application
Photos - Liskas
Photos - The Americas
Photos - Europe and Africa
Butler & Smith advertising campaign
Video interview of Arlene Liska
Chronological collection of newspaper and magazine articles
In the years 1959 through 1964 when Danny and Arlene's big rides were taking place, Butler & Smith was the sole importer of BMW motorcycles into the U.S.
Sensitive to the attendant publicity of Danny's ride to Alaska in 1959, the company decided to become an unofficial sponsor of the Liskas, providing parts
support when Danny broke down in South America and in 1963 arranging with BMW for the donation of a new R60 that the Liskas could pick up in Europe
and use on their second great ride.
Our research has discovered eight advertisements that Butler & Smith ran from February 1966 through February 1967. Some of them are undated, and there are
likely others, but it is nonetheless clear that Danny and Arlene had become the poster children of BMW during that era.
January 25 1963 (Omaha World-Herald) - Danny and Arlene receive a pennant from the Chicago Adventurer's Club and begin planning a ride from the top of Europe to the bottom of Africa (PDF download)
September 5 1963 (Niobrara NE Tribune) - While their hometown newspaper reports that Danny has left for Europe, it inexplicably fails to mention Arlene's departure and participation on the ride that will take them 15 months to complete (PDF download)
November 28 1963 (Niobrara NE Tribune) - The Liskas' hometown newspaper dutifully reports that Danny had made it to northernmost tip of Norway and then had turned south, but again completely ignores Arlene's participation in the trip (PDF download)
July 11 1964 (Omaha World-Herald) - A report of the Liskas' travel along the Mediterranean Sea from Morocco to Egypt, following the Nile upriver to Lake Victoria, visiting Ethiopia and Yemen, then trekking south through Somalia on their way back to Kenya (PDF download)
April 25 1965 (Omaha World-Herald) - The first of a series of African adventure stories written by Danny and Arlene for the Sunday edition of the Omaha World-Herald's "Magazine of the Midlands" (PDF download)
January 17 1971 (Omaha World-Herald) - The slide show and lecture scheduled by the Liskas in Omaha develops a conflict with an appearance in the city by President Nixon, but the show must go on (PDF download)
Fall 2015 (Living Here magazine) - "Motorcyclists, adventurists, and motorcycle clubs from all over the world stop in Niobrara to meet 'the queen of endurance riding," seek her advice, listen to her adventure stories, and gain inspiration." (PDF download)