Thousands of people turned out at Stockton 99 Speedway on Saturday for the funeral of Ralph “Sonny” Berger, longtime president and founding member of the Oakland chapter of the Hell’s Angels Motorcycle Club.
It was an event that the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office warned on Friday that it could be dangerous.
But attendees cried, shared stories, and remembered the 83-year-old Modesto native who died of cancer on June 29.
“He’s blind in one eye and stuffed with oxygen, but it’s better to catch up when the kickstand is up,” said one speaker.
As of Saturday evening, no serious incidents had occurred at the funeral, a Sheriff’s Office spokesman said. He advised avoiding the speedway area on Wilson Way, stating that Hells Angels rival organizations were likely to be in the area.
The sheriff’s office, the Stockton Police Department and the California Highway Patrol planned to maintain a highly visible presence in the area, he said.
Medical assistance was requested at the service of two participants in the infield of the track. At approximately 4:30 p.m., traffic on the Wilson Way section outside the speedway was light and CHP was not immediately available for comment.
About 7,000 people turned up at Berger’s funeral, according to Tony Nosetti, president of the business that operates the speedway. Some people were
Throughout the afternoon, the infield of the truck was packed with people gathered in front of the rose-garlanded stage, where Berger’s family and friends spoke. Berger was a founding member of the Auckland chapter of the Hells Angels, which was launched in 1957.
Berger was well known as the public face of the club, which has chapters around the world and is considered a gang by the Department of Justice. He has authored several books, contributed to several films, was a consultant, and had a role in the TV show ‘Sons of Anarchy’.
Berger was convicted in 1988 of conspiring to murder a rival club member and blow up the headquarters, The Associated Press reported at the time.
The funeral will run from 2:00 pm to 8:00 pm and will include speakers, a slide show and performances by the Fried Brothers Band.
Record reporter Aaron Riasley is in charge of public safety. You can contact her at her [email protected] or her Twitter @LeathleyAaron. Support her news locally and subscribe to Stockton Records. https://www.recordnet.com/subscribenow.
This article originally appeared on The Record. Funeral of Hell’s Angel Sonny Berger in Stockton