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This article was published 11/10/2016 (1507 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The legacy of a Winnipeg motorsports legend will be carried on thanks to the support of friends and family.
A $15,000 educational bursary was created to recognize Joe Sawtus, a well-known name in the motorcycle and power sports community and owner of Canadian Motorcycle (981 Main St.), at the Manitoba Institute of Trades and Technology (MITT) on Oct. 5.
"I feel very good about it because every one of us has a burning desire to get into the best thing that we can possibly get into," Sawtus said.
Sawtus, 83, holds a special place in the hearts of many motorcycle and motorsport hobbyists in the city. For dozens of years he offered mentorship, guidance, and quick wit to the customers who walked into his shop.
Geoff Ives, an instructor in the motorsport technician program at MITT, recalls meeting Sawtus for the first time on a cold winter day.
"I walked into Canadian Motorcycle and he said, ‘Hey stud, what do you need?’" Ives recalled. "And I said ‘Well, I’ve got this 1978 KZ1000,’ and Joe said to me, ‘You know how to fix it?’"
"I said well not yet, and he said well, you better learn."
According to Ives, that started the course of lifelong learning that eventually led him to a teaching career at MITT.
"The main goal (of the program) is to have our students leave here with a solid foundation in the motorsport world, which now is a recognized trade in Manitoba," Ives said.
"Joe, you’re going to help my students take some of the pressure off so they can focus on their studies here."
Judy Mathieson, Sawtus’ niece, said the inspiration to create the bursary came after rediscovering a notebook filled with mechanical drawings from Sawtus’ time at Tec Voc High School.
Mathieson rallied Sawtus’ friends and neighbours to create the bursary, contribute funds through an auction and other initiatives, and help carry on Sawtus’ legacy of education. She said the admiration and respect Sawtus has received from the community is mutual.
"What’s better than living and working in the passion that you do everyday for so many years and sharing that with others who are not only customers but have become your friends?" Mathieson said.
"Joe is special and while he can’t be replaced, someone else can also make their own statement and create that next generation of business that supports the different activities that go on in the motorcycle and snowmobile world," she said.
Surrounded by dozens of friends in MITT’s motorsport shop and students making their way through the course, Sawtus had a few words of sage wisdom to share with the next generation of technicians.
"Work hard and keep your eyes open," he said.
Danielle Da Silva
Danielle Da Silva is a general assignment reporter.