Bruce Rossmeyer, Harley dealership empire builder, killed in motorcycle crash

Publish Date: 
Jul 29, 2009
By Dennis Johnson

Bruce Rossmeyer, one of the largest Harley-Davidson dealers in the world and the creator of Destination Daytona, was killed Thursday in motorcycle crash while riding with a group to the Sturgis Rally.

According to the Wyoming Highway Patrol, Rossmeyer, 66, was traveling with five other motorcyclists eastbound on highway 28 when they pulled up behind a vehicle towing a camper trailer. The driver, Robert Van Valkenburg, 73, braked, signaled left and was in the process of turning left when Rossmeyer attempted to pass on the left. The dealer hit the driver's side door of the vehicle and was thrown to the road. He was not wearing helmet.

None of the other motorcyclists were hurt in the incident.

Al Rieman, managing partner of Black Hills Harley-Davidson in Rapid City, S.D., tells the paper that Rossmeyer was riding with a group of Hamsters on their way to the rally.

Maurice Slaughter, the owner of Bayside Harley-Davidson in Portsmouth, Va., and three otther dealerships recalls working with Rossmeyer back when the H-D dealer was a Toyota dealer in Daytona Beach, Fla. Slaughter, who ran Toyota's dealer development business, says that after Rossmeyer retired from the auto business to sell motorcycles, Toyota wanted him back. He jumped back into the car business, Slaughter says.

"To me his greatest skill was his vision," Slaughter says. "He was able to take the motorcycle dealership to a new level. No one thought as large as he did."

Rossmeyer not only built his empire of dealerships, he built a true motorcycling mecca with Destination Daytona. He brought in other manufacturers and other competitors. "He wanted to give the customers the full experience," Slaughter says. "Everybody benefitted from it."

The News-Journal reports that a woman at the Destination Daytona Harley store said, "The family isn't ready to make a statement. The media will be notified when they are."

Rossmeyer is survived by his wife Sandy and his five children, Mandy, Wendy, Randy, Will and Shelly.