Burke LeSage (middle), the first paid employee of SEMA, was involved in dry-lake racing for more than 35 years—dedication that resulted in an unrivaled series of accomplishments.
SEMA Hall of Fame member and legendary land-speed racer Burke LeSage passed away November 7 at the age of 76.
LeSage was raised in Montebello, California, in the '40s. His passion for racing was influenced as a youth by local dry-lake racers, as well as his neighbor Jim Lindsley, a member of the Southern California Timing Association's Gear Grinders racing club. Lindsley helped the young LeSage become an early competitor at the lakes.
After joining the Gear Grinders in 1951, LeSage began racing in competition at the age of 16. From there, his love for racing and speed equipment helped fuel a career that spanned more than 40 years. In addition to racing, LeSage's path included stops at the Grant Piston Ring Company, Weiand Automotive and Ak Miller's Garage. LeSage also worked at SEMA, becoming the organization's first paid employee in 1965.
LeSage was inducted into the SEMA Hall of Fame in 2005.
Here is a short video interview with LeSage conducted at the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum in 2009.
He is survived by his wife, Jean Bixby, daughter Belinda, son Jamie, brother Terry, sister Mellis LeSage, stepson Rew Hennessy and several grandchildren.
A Celebration of Life for Burke LeSage is set for 1:00 p.m., Friday, January 20, 2012, at:
The Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum
1101 West McKinley Avenue, Bldg. 3A
Pomona, California 91768