In Memory

Dale Walksler, 2-3-2021

Dale Walksler, 2-3-2021



 
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02/05/21 12:53 AM #1    

Scott Zapel

From the Motorcycle Hall of Fame [motorcyclemuseum.org/halloffame/detail.aspx?racerid=514] Biography of Dale Walksler:

Dale Walksler

INDUCTED: 2019

1970 Opened Dale's Hogs at age 18

1974 Started Harley-Davidson dealership in Mount Vernon, Ill.

1999 Relocated dealership to Maggie Valley, N.C.

2002 Opened Dale’s Wheels through Time Museum

At a relatively early age, Dale Walksler demonstrated a flair for business and a passion for motorcycles.

“My first motorcycle ride started as a bunch of 15-year-old kids hanging around a garage, looking at an old Panhead,” Walksler said. “I decided to buy the old bike and drive it home.”

That “old bike” was a Harley Servi-Car. He made the deal, and his motorcycling adventure began.

Throughout his high school years in Glen Ellyn, Ill., Walksler bought and sold Harley-Davidson parts. Then in 1970, at the ripe old age of 18, he opened his own store, called Dale’s Hogs.

Just four years, later, Walksler became one of the youngest Harley-Davidson dealers in the country. He was 22 when he opened his dealership in Mount Vernon, Ill.

As his business grew, he moved his motorcycle collection to the dealership to attract customers. In 1999, Walksler sold the dealership and relocated his motorcycle collection to Maggie Valley, N.C. The new museum opened in 2002.

“Noticing that people enjoy old motorcycles is nothing new to me,” he said. “And from the very start, I realized that people will travel long and far to see a collection of rare old motorcycles. And I created Wheels Through Time just for that reason.”

Dale’s Wheels through Time Museum sets itself apart from most other museums by featuring motorcycles in running condition.

“The dropping jaws, the never-ending compliments on the collection. The most satisfying aspect of Wheels Through Time is the reaction of the people who visit,” Walksler said. “They are always aghast when they see the vast collection of rare motorcycles. And when they see them run, it takes it one step to the next note.”

Walksler’s museum features more than 350 bikes that trace the evolution of motorcycling from its earliest days into the 1960s. Walksler said he chose the location because Maggie Valley already was a tourist town.

“To build a museum there is something that would be a plus for the tourism industry,” he said. “And it would be a no-brainer to build the vast collection known as Wheels Through Time.”

He said the biggest challenge was staffing the museum with “people who understand my vision.”

“Finding those people is not an easy thing to do, but I have managed for 17 years now to do that,” Walksler said. “It’s a task I look forward to every day. Inspiring our visitors, inspiring our guests and inspiring our staff is something that’s hugely important to the overall impact.

“Our staff of museum docents is second to none,” he said. “We keep three to five people on the floor every day, sharing the stories of American history, starting bikes and sharing that story. It’s something you’ll see at no other museum in the world, as far as I know. And Wheels Through Time specializes in having a great customer experience.”

That customer experience is what drove the success of Walksler’s motorcycle dealership, as well.

“There’s not a huge difference between running a museum and running a motorcycle dealership,” he said. “It’s all about customer satisfaction and making sure each and every customer is pleased with the result of the experience that they’ve had. We entertain hundreds of people every day, and it is our goal to have their experience equal or exceed the visitor prior to them, one after another.”

Although the museum is open to the public only six months each year, more than 100,000 visitors pass through its exhibits annually. From December through April, the staff restores bikes and arranges new exhibits.

The museum’s popularity earned Walksler appearances on several television programs about vintage car and motorcycle restoration, including “American Restoration,” “Chasing Classic Cars,” “American Pickers” and his own show “What’s in the Barn?”

Those shows helped popularize vintage motorcycling, as well as put forward a positive image of the motorcycling lifestyle.

Dale Walksler died Feb. 3, 2021, after a four-year battle with cancer.

 


02/05/21 09:24 AM #2    

Charles "Chuck" Kuoni III

I truely regret never having visited the Wheels of Time Museum when we were living in Chapel Hill, NC and renewing my contact with Dale. In high school knew Dale, but we were never "friends" and it is great that he is recognized for his work. I always think about Dale when I see a TV program that references the Wheels of Time Museum, such as American Pickers. RIP Dale, your life was special and you made a lot of people happy because of your love for motorcycles. Chuck


02/05/21 11:07 AM #3    

Ralph Klein

What a success story. I have copied this and sent it along to my kids. Thank you, Scott, for posting this unfortunate tragic news about Dale. One could think of Dale as being analogous to a good natured - ton of laughs guy. We always had fun clowning around in school. We had a lot of fun particularly in Mrs. Pappas’ class senior year. Dale was a great competitor in wrestling as well. He had that tough spirited attitude a great wrestler needed to be successful. Its obvious he transferred his dedication and spirit into an extraordinarily successful career not only for himself but for all the others that enjoy his museum and business. RIP Dale, we miss you!


02/06/21 06:18 AM #4    

Jeff Reno

So sorry to hear about Dale. Hard work and success were earmarks of the Walksler family. Like his older brother Doug, Dale was passionate about what he did. Wheels Through Time. If you had zero interrest in motorcycles and came across this place by accident, went inside, and experienced what Dale collected and displayed you would walk out and just say WOW.  Not unusual for him to walk out of his shop area with greasey clothes and hands and talk with people.  Most, if not all of the motorcycles in the museum were in running condition. A must see museum. My condolences to the Walksler family. Dale will be missed by all who knew him. 


02/06/21 08:36 PM #5    

Jean "Frosty" Pengelly (Lay)

I'm so sorry to hear about Dale.  What a great life story and legacy.  This amazing museum will live on in his memory. If we ever get a chance to go to NC, I will make sure to go see this museum! I wish I could have seen it with Dale there.


02/11/21 08:56 PM #6    

Scott Zapel

This YouTube link has a 3+ minute photo montage of Dale and his motorcycles, mostly at his Wheels Through Time museum: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9HYhlb99gA8.

Here is another nearly 5 minute YouTube video link in which Dale is interviewed in the Wheels Through Time museum, and you get to hear his rich baritone voice talking about his passion for motorcycles:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Pn9ZdvqNw8.


02/12/21 04:17 PM #7    

Jean "Frosty" Pengelly (Lay)

Scott, thank you for sharing that photo montage.   Everyone who knew Dale should see this.


02/13/21 03:35 PM #8    

Susan "Sue" Webster (Pronk)

It is so interesting to see and hear what our Glenbard classmates have been doing. This video of Dale is a great tribute to his memory. Thank you Scott for all you do to keep us informed. 


02/14/21 08:19 PM #9    

Jean "Frosty" Pengelly (Lay)

I finally got to see the interview from 2013.  So fun to see him and hear him talk about his passion.  I wish I could have gone to this museum and talked to him.  So sorry we've lost another classmate. But thank you for keeping us all informed, Scott.


02/22/21 01:32 PM #10    

Lynn Stephen

What an incredible collection and legacy that Dale created leaving an amazing piece of American history for all to enjoy. I didn't know Dale very well and I'm sorry to hear of his passing. Several years ago my dad and I saw Dale on American Pickers and it was such a great surprise to see him on the show. We had hoped to visit his museum, but unfortunately we didn't have the opportunity. I hope his family will continue to share his dream and lifes' work with this wonderful museum.  


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