2017-04-19 / Community View

Flat out hauling

Lapeer celebrates local motorcycle racing champion
BY PHIL FOLEY
810-452-2616 •


Jay Springsteen marked his 60th birthday with a proclamation from state Rep. Gary Howell and a surprise party at Ray C’s Harley-Davidson. Daughter Amanda; Matt Middleton, Amanda’s boyfriend and service manager at Ray C’s; Lapeer Mayor Bill Sprague; Tim Humphries, a longtime friend and former AMA official; Ray Clemens and wife, Judy, surround Jay at Saturday’s festivities. 
Photos by Phil Foley Jay Springsteen marked his 60th birthday with a proclamation from state Rep. Gary Howell and a surprise party at Ray C’s Harley-Davidson. Daughter Amanda; Matt Middleton, Amanda’s boyfriend and service manager at Ray C’s; Lapeer Mayor Bill Sprague; Tim Humphries, a longtime friend and former AMA official; Ray Clemens and wife, Judy, surround Jay at Saturday’s festivities. Photos by Phil Foley LAPEER — At an age when most kids were trying to decide between college, the military or getting a job, Jay Springsteen was buying a house on the south shore of Lake Nepessing with his winnings from flattrack motorcycle racing.

Ray Clemens, who was a few years ahead of “Springer” as his fans called him at Lapeer High School, said he was always more focused on racing than school.

That focus lead to the Rookie of the Year trophy his first year riding professionally on the AMA (American Motorcycle Association) Grand National circuit, three consecutive AMA Grand National Championships and he was inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 2003, the year he retired from professional racing.

Saturday, with the help of Clemens, Springsteen’s daughter Amanda, who works at Ray C’s Harley-Davidson, put on a surprise birthday party for him. “I hope he’s not mad,” she said as his pickup pulled into the dealership’s lot Saturday evening.

He wasn’t.

Close to 200 friends, family and fans closed in around him to wish Springsteen a happy 60th birthday.

“He inspired me through my career, said Scott Parker, whose 20 years of AMA racing included nine grand national championships. “He was a tough competitor in the early years,” Parker recalled.

Springsteen won 43 of the 398 AMA nationals he started in and was only the fourth rider to win three successive Grand National Championships.

He started out with a Harley- Davidson mini-bike as a 9-year- old and nine years later signed with Harley his rookie season. Springsteen stayed with the company most of his career.

Tim Humphries, a former AMA official, came up from Carlisle, Ohio to introduce Springsteen. But a guy who placed in the top 10 in AMA competition 23 times in a four-decade career doesn’t need a lot of introduction. The crowd nodded knowingly as Lapeer Mayor Bill Sprague read off his impressive list of accomplishments from a proclamation by state Rep. Gary Howell, R-Deerfield Township.

Springsteen still lives in the house he bought at 18 with his wife, Judy. With a slight smile he said he’s been “taking it easy” since he retired from professional riding.




Swartz Creek’s Scott Parker, who went on to win nine-grand nationals during his 20-year career in flat track racing, says hello to Jay Springsteen’s daughter, Amanda Parker, and said he learned a lot from Springsteen. “He was a tough competitor,” he recalled. Swartz Creek’s Scott Parker, who went on to win nine-grand nationals during his 20-year career in flat track racing, says hello to Jay Springsteen’s daughter, Amanda Parker, and said he learned a lot from Springsteen. “He was a tough competitor,” he recalled.

While friends and family look on, Lapeer Mayor Bill Sprague reads a proclamation from state Rep. Gary Howell honoring Jay Springsteen’s long AMA flat-track racing career, starting with Rookie of the Year in 1975. While friends and family look on, Lapeer Mayor Bill Sprague reads a proclamation from state Rep. Gary Howell honoring Jay Springsteen’s long AMA flat-track racing career, starting with Rookie of the Year in 1975.

Jay Springsteen looks over his shoulder at San Jose, Calif., in 1980 to find the pack of racers a whole lot closer than he thought. Jay Springsteen looks over his shoulder at San Jose, Calif., in 1980 to find the pack of racers a whole lot closer than he thought.

Ray Clemens has known Jay Springsteen since high school. Jay went on to become a top motorcycle racer and Ray went on to building his business to become a top Harley-Davidson dealer. Ray Clemens has known Jay Springsteen since high school. Jay went on to become a top motorcycle racer and Ray went on to building his business to become a top Harley-Davidson dealer.

Jay Springsteen takes a corner at a race in Louisville, Kentucky. about 1979. Jay Springsteen takes a corner at a race in Louisville, Kentucky. about 1979.

Jay Springsteen wasn’t the only motorcycle star at Ray C’s Saturday. Steve Morehead of the “The Findley Flyers” came to town to wish his old friend and competitor well. 
Photo by Phil Foley Jay Springsteen wasn’t the only motorcycle star at Ray C’s Saturday. Steve Morehead of the “The Findley Flyers” came to town to wish his old friend and competitor well. Photo by Phil Foley

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