Brotherly Love |

Brotherly Love

When Paul Orlandi lost his battle with throat cancer two years ago, a huge hole developed in the local motorcycle community. He was a generous man, according to his brother, David Orlandi, sharing his time and expertise with others on a moment’s notice. “He was always helping people out, especially the younger kids, with motorcycles, with racing, with just anything,” David said.

Paul Orlandi, one of seven children, was born in San Francisco but raised in Nevada County, where he graduated from Nevada Union High School (1968); his father also taught at NU. Paul went on to own his own concrete business, but his passion was motorcycles; racing, riding and collecting them. “He was so into motorcycles; there wasn’t anybody alive more into motorcycles than him,” said David. “A lot of people ride Harleys or ride whatever they ride, but he rode every kind of motorcycle, raced every kind of race and was number one in all of them at one point.”

Paul had quite a motorcycle racing history, riding his way to many wins in Speedway, Open Superbike and AMA Pro Thunder races. He had a couple of championships under his belt in a racing career that spanned more than three decades. An Internet search of Paul’s name yields a number of results, including his many accomplishments and racing highlights, especially a Super Motocross win in Stockton six months before his death. “Paul was a fierce competitor and a great guy on and off the track!” said Craig Mason of Fast 50s in Auburn, in an email posted on Road Racing World’s website shortly after Paul’s passing.

His brother also built motorcycles, David added, including the Indian Paul rode in the years before his death. Paul had a collection of about 40 motorcycles, including Harleys, BMWs, MotoGuzzis and Ducatis, that shared his garage with trophies, photos, collectibles and ‘all things motorcycle’.

A Vietnam veteran, Paul was diagnosed with throat cancer about 18 months before his death, a result of exposure to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War, according to David. He passed away on July 21, 2006, the third Saturday in July; Paul’s funeral procession was led by 30-40 motorcycles. David wanted to do something special to honor his brother’s memory, something that involved motorcycles.

“A lot of his friends, they all ride motorcycles; Indians, Harleys, BMWs, Dukatis,” David said, “so I just figured, in his honor, I’d do a Poker Run and get all these motorcycles together.” A Poker Run gives all participants a playing card at the start of the run, at three stops along the route and at the end of the run, for a total of five cards. Whoever has the best poker hand at the end of the run wins the grand prize. The worst poker hand also gets a cash prize.

David organized the first annual Paul Orlandi Memorial Benefit last year on the third Saturday in July, one year after Paul’s death, a run that started at the Nevada County Fairgrounds and ended at Lake Francis in Dobbins, where David lives. “We had 147 motorcycles and 232 riders (last year),” David said.

Proceeds from the first run, $4,000, were given to Dobbins Elementary School; this year the money will stay in Nevada County, with part of the proceeds going to the Nevada County Food and Toy Run in December, another local motorcycle event. David will announce the amount raised at the end of the run. “I think it’s nice for all the riders to know how much they did,” David said.

This year the 85-mile run starts at the Nevada County Fairgrounds again, with free coffee and donuts, a raffle ticket and a ride pin for all participants. The riders proceed out Highway 174 to Colfax, up old Highway 40 to Baxter, out Interstate 80 to Nyack, down to the town of Washington via Highway 20 and on to Nevada City, ending at the Nevada City Elks Lodge. A barbequed tri-tip fajita lunch awaits participants at the end of the run, along with live music by local band Ruf Cut. There are raffles throughout the afternoon with prizes including cash and gift certificates for tattoos, smog checks and other services from local businesses.

Pre-registration is encouraged but participants can also register at the fairgrounds (Gate 1) Saturday, July 19th, from 9-11am. The cost is $25 for a single rider and $40 per couple. More information about the run is available at or by calling David Orlandi at (530) 692-0130 or Jane at (916) 987-5225. A map of the route and written instructions are available on the website. Donations are always welcome from those who can’t participate in the ride.

David says proceeds from all future runs, which will always occur on the third Saturday in July, will stay in Nevada County, where Paul lived most of his life. “I’m just doing this to remember him, so everybody does, and I know he would really like it,” he said.

NASCAR Notes: Last Sunday’s race at Chicagoland Speedway seemed like déjà vu as Kyle Busch won again, passing Jimmie Johnson after a restart with two laps to go to the finish. Joe Gibbs Racing has a real handle on those Toyotas they’re driving; talk in the garage area concerned the extra 22+ horsepower Gibbs’ Toyota engines have produced, at least on paper. The Sprint Cup Series is off this weekend; the Nationwide Series races on Saturday at Gateway International Speedway in Madison, Wisconsin.

Eric Holmes has done it again for Antelope’s Bill McAnally Racing, winning both the pole and the race in Roseburg, Oregon last Saturday; that’s four poles and four wins out of eight races! Holmes set a track record during qualifying, led the first 98 laps and overcame a flat tire to retake the lead on lap 143 of the 150-lap event. Holmes now leads the NASCAR Camping World West Series by 71 points, with five races left on the schedule.

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