Will Roeder Passes At 52

Cycle News Staff | May 18, 2011

Will Roeder, the 1984 AMA Battle of the Twins Overall champion, and part of the famous Roeder racing clan of Monroeville, Ohio, died early Sunday morning, May 15, 2011, in Stein Hospice Care Center, in Sandusky, Ohio, as a result of ALS.He was 52.Roeder was a member of one of the most famous families in American motorcycle racing. His father George Roeder was one of the leading AMA Grand National riders of the 1960s. Will, and his brothers Jess and George II “Geo”, carried on their father’s legacy in racing. While his younger brothers were best known for flat track racing, Will made his name in road racing.He started racing the AMA Battle of the Twins Series shortly after the series was inaugurated in 1982. Will won the stock class of the Battle of the Twins at Daytona International Speedway in March of 1984 racing a Harley-Davidson XR1000 Sportster. It marked his first national win and it was an emotional one for the Roeder family. His father George wrenched for him that weekend and Daytona was one track where George had never tasted victory.”That was a race my dad always wanted to win, but didn’t,” Will said of racing at Daytona, in an interview late last year with the Lorain Morning Journal. “I desperately wanted to win that race for him, and I did.”Daytona was just the first of many Battle of the Twins victories. He dominated the stock class for two years, winning 13 races in the process. Will racked up so many points in 1984 on the Sportster that he earned the overall Battle of the Twins Championship.Will’s brother Geo explained why his brother got into road racing in the first place.”Will was a good flat tracker and motocross racer,” Geo said. “But he had arthritis really bad from a pretty young age and it was tough for him to heal up from broken bones, so he got out of racing. He caught the bug again and went road racing instead, figuring that was a little easier on the body.”After Will earned two Battle of the Twins stock class titles, the class was discontinued. He reemerged four years later racing the new Harley-Davidson 883 Road Race class. He was one of the top riders in the early years of the 883 class, scoring a podium at Mid-Ohio in 1990. After a few seasons in the 883 series Roeder again retired from national-level racing to focus on running the family’s Harley-Davidson dealership in Monroeville, Ohio.In 2009 Will announced to his family that he had ALS, often referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease. “He knew he had it for awhile, but didn’t want to tell anybody,” Geo said.In spite of battling with the disease for the last few years of his life, Will looked upon himself as lucky to have done all he had.”I was fortunate in my life,” Roeder said in a video interview last November. “I got to go to a lot of places, see a lot of things, meet a lot of people and make a lot of friends.”Will was a life member of Harley Owners Group, American Motorcyclist Association and Airline Pilots Owners Association. He was also a member of the Harley Davidson Dealer Advisory Council, Sons of the American Legion, and was an instrument-rated pilot. Will enjoyed boating, golf, fishing, dartball, traveling, NASCAR, Bike Week at Daytona, and most of all riding his Harley. Will was magnetic, spreading his laughter, fun and mischief to his family and friends throughout his entire life.He is survived by his wife of 22 years, Julie A. (Moore) Roeder of Sandusky; by his children, Jessica L. and Scott Benfer of Monroeville and Brooke A. Roeder of Huron; by his grandchildren, Logan, Evan and Addison Benfer. Will is also survived by his mother, Jessie Roeder of Monroeville; and by his brothers and sisters, Paula Roeder-Fox and Steve Fox of Monroeville; George II “Geo” and Constance Roeder of Monroeville, Jess Roeder of Monroeville, Katherine “Kami” and Chris Luers of Cincinnati and by his half brother, John Best of Columbus.He was preceded in death by his father, George Roeder, in 2003.Friends may call 1-3 and 5-8 p.m. Thursday, May 19, in Walker Funeral Home, 98 West Main Street, Norwalk, Ohio. Staging for the procession to the funeral service will begin at 1 p.m. Friday, May 20, at the funeral home. The service will begin at 2 p.m. at Roeder Racing and Service, 3684 Ohio 20 W., Monroeville, Ohio. The Rev. James McClain will officiate.Memorial contributions may be made to Stein Hospice Service, 1200 Sycamore Line, Sandusky, OH 44857.Condolences may be shared at edwalkerfuneralhome.com.