One of the founding fathers of supercross, Allen Becker, passed away on Monday, December 12, at his home in Houston. He was 90 years old. A successful insurance man-turned-live events promoter, Becker got his start in promotions with the 1966 Houston Boat Show, which took place in the then-recently built Houston Astrodome. That led to other live events, including flat track motorcycle and TT races on the floor of the stadium. In 1974, Becker joined forces with Daytona International Speedway’s Jim France to launch the AMA/Yamaha Super Series of Stadium Motocross—what we now know as AMA Supercross. Promoting a wide variety of concerts, sporting events, theatrical shows, and more, Becker’s company PACE Entertainment soon became the largest producer of live entertainment in the world. He sold the business in 1998 to SFX, which ultimately became Clear Channel, and then spun off Live Nation, and ultimately Feld Motor Sports, now the organizers of today’s Monster Energy AMA Supercross.
One of Allen Becker’s sons, Gary, provided us with his father’s obituary, which appeared in yesterday’s Houston Chronicle. Godspeed, Allen.
Allen Jack Becker
A Man Whose Life Touched Many
Allen Jack Becker died peacefully at home on December 12, 2022. A beloved husband, father, grandfather, uncle, friend and employer, he was a respected and honorable man, whose life touched countless others.
A native Texan, Allen was born on April 23, 1932 to Bertha and Edward “Sonny” Becker. He and his two predeceased sisters, Marlene and Ada Mae, grew up in Houston and also enjoyed family time on Galveston Island.
Allen graduated from The University of Texas, where he was a member of the prestigious Silver Spurs service organization. During his senior year, he received the Mike Flynn Award, a designation that honored the most outstanding male student. A proud Texas Longhorn throughout his life, Allen’s college years were pivotal. While at UT, he met his wife of 53 years, Shirley Kanter, and began a love affair that lasted until Shirley’s passing in 2008.
Married life for Allen and Shirley began while Allen served in the United States Air Force and was stationed on Bergstrom Air Force Base in Austin. Here, their eldest child, Brian was born. In 1957, Allen began a career selling insurance for Kansas City Life. Success seemed to follow Allen throughout all of his professional endeavors, starting with winning numerous insurance sales awards and becoming a multi-year member of the Million Dollar Roundtable.
In 1959, second son, Gary was born. Allen and Shirley centered their lives around their close-knit family, raising their children alongside Allen’s sisters and their children. This familial closeness has been passed down to the next generation. Each family planned kids around the same ages so that first cousins could became like brothers and sisters, and aunts and uncles like second parents.
In 1966, Allen met Sidney Shlenker. Their shared charisma, talent for building relationships, and strong work ethic enabled Allen and Sidney to create a promotion company that would become one the largest multi-faceted live entertainment companies in the world. PACE Entertainment began its journey promoting and producing shows in The Houston Astrodome. During this time, Allen and Shirley grew their family, too, adopting their daughter, Sunni Ann. The three siblings continue to be close and focus on family to this day.
After 33 years of hard work, aches and pains, ups and downs, successes and failures, Allen sold PACE. Allen could now fully focus on his passion for renovating historic American theatres; a passion that led him to restore more historic theatres than anyone in America. Alongside partners and sons, he owned and operated one of the nation’s leading live theater companies, ACE Theatrical. ACE owned and operated theaters in New Orleans, San Antonio, and Sugar Land, before being sold in 2018.
During these 50-plus years, Allen and his companies had many extraordinary successes, few spectacular failures, and won numerous accolades and awards, such as Best Of’s,Tony’s, and an induction into the Texas Business Hall of Fame.
Yet for all who knew him well - and whenever he was asked - his greatest achievement was the positive imprint and contribution he made on every person his life touched. Allen’s employees knew him to be loving, supportive, and fair. Equally, their love for him continues to this day. No one will ever forget the PACETTES. Or the annual girls’ lunches. Or the flowers to every female employee on Valentine’s Day. These thoughtful gestures were Allen’s way of working with people, more than managing employees, thereby making PACE a family. The leaders Allen hired are the leaders of the entertainment business today. His name and company, PACE, will always be remembered as: Innovative. Honest. Fair. Resourceful. Successful. Generous.
Allen and Shirley carried these attributes into the next phase of their lives devoted to philanthropy. Giving-back was vitally important to them. They generously donated time, effort, and resources in support of children, and medical and Jewish causes.
Allen was fortunate to find a second love, Diana Brackman. They shared a romance until his last day. Even during the most difficult years, Diana was by his side every step of the way, and Allen’s children will be forever grateful for her devotion.
Allen is survived by his children: Brian Becker and his wife, Norelle; Gary Becker and his wife Amy; Sunni Markowitz and her husband, Gary; and his cherished grandchildren: Jarod, Jeremy, Abbie, Brookie, Casey, Morgan, and Haley and Phil Wysocki. Countless nieces and nephews, cousins and friends. All greatly important to him.
The family wishes to thank the team of doctors, nurses, and caregivers who have been instrumental during the most difficult times in Allen’s final years.
In lieu of flowers, we kindly ask that you make donations to the Allen J. Becker Family Emergency Fund at the Houston Children’s Charity, the National Jewish Hospital or Jewish Family Service.
Main image courtesey of the Allen family.