Kaizen: the build begins
By Ed Youngblood
My apologies, dear readers, for the brevity of this edition of Motohistory. More than a year ago, the Antique Motorcycle Foundation announced that it would create an exhibit dedicated to the story of the influence of the Japanese motorcycle industry. About eight months ago, Roger Smith and I began to work in earnest on designing and assembling the motorcycles for the exhibit. It would be called “Kaizen,” a Japanese word that means “beneficial change.”
Everything is on schedule, but this past month has been crunch time. As you read this, I will be on my way from Florida to Newburgh, New York where Kaizen will be installed at the Motorcyclepedia Museum. It will open for a private showing to motorcycle and artifact lenders and local dignitaries on the evening of September 6, then to the public on the morning of September 7, the same day the Cannonball Coast-to-Coast Ride embarks from the Museum.
Due to the demands of Kaizen this past month, I have not been able to spend much time on Motohistory, especially the more time-consuming regular features like “Found in Print” and “From the Web.” However, I’m happy with what we have. I’ve told you more about Kaizen (see 8/20/2012 below), and I love Ralf Kruger’s report about the Schotten Grand Prix, especially the photos of those gloriously restored German racing machines.
And, as you can see, fallout continues from the Nobby Clark Hall of Fame fiasco that dominated our news coverage during July.
We promise to stay on top of this issue because it is not over. The way Mr. Clark was treated is a symptom of the greater issue of imperious behavior, secrecy, and bad decision making at the AMA that has gone on far too long.
So read up, then get out there and enjoy the wonderful autumn riding months, and I’ll try to get back on track with more thorough coverage in September.
Editor’s Note; about the photo: The photo above was taken by Bill Wood in May 2009 when we were installing the Fast From the Past exhibit at the Antique Automobile Museum at Hershey, Pennsylvania. Fast ran for more than a year at Hershey, after which we moved it to the new Motorcyclepedia Museum in Newburgh, New York. Thanks to the generosity of the lenders, Fast has now run for three years. Taking it down will be part of the process of installing Kaizen. So, since it is not possible at this moment to show you a photo of Kaizen on the build, we’ll reuse this old photo and pretend it is a picture of Fast being disassembled. I’ll wear my bibs for the Kaizen build—if I can still get into them—so this photo will be more historically accurate.
AMA dropped from Don Emde’s
Cannon Ball Project:
Fallout from Nobby Clark
Hall of Fame fiasco continues
Don Emde, winner of the 1972 Daytona 200 and 1999 inductee to the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame, has announced that a disagreement with the leaders of the AMA and its affiliate American Motorcycle Heritage Foundation has led to them being dropped as sponsors and Heritage Partner for his ongoing Cannon Ball Project, effective immediately.
Emde (pictured above) explained the reason for this change: “A year ago when I announced my project it seemed a perfect fit to have the AMA and the Hall of Fame involved, especially since Cannon Ball Baker was also an inductee to the Hall of Fame. But recent events involving their handling of Nobby Clark’s Hall of Fame induction has created much negative publicity, and I also feel it would be very hypocritical for me to be sporting AMA and Hall of Fame decals and logos on our bikes, websites and more when at the same time I am in such deep disagreement with them about the circumstances of Nobby’s election to the Hall of Fame.”
Clark was announced this spring as one of the 2012 Hall of Fame inductees, but in July an unprecedented decision by the AMHF board chairman to overrule the election results was announced and Clark’s induction was abruptly reversed. Then, following a huge outpouring of protests, a second election was ultimately held and he was finally confirmed for the award that he had been voted to receive in the first election. Emde added, “I regret that this election mess had to result in the changes we are making, but I am very careful who I get myself and my company connected with, and I feel that the Nobby Clark matter has attached too much of a negative atmosphere for me to be involved with them any longer.”
The goal of the Cannon Ball Project is to retrace the 1914 route of Erwin G. “Cannon Ball” Baker when he rode from San Diego to New York City in a record time of 11 ½ days. A coast to coast ride in 2014 is in the process of being planned to celebrate the centennial of Baker’s record ride.
For more information about the Cannon Ball project, click here or contact Don Emde at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 949-215-4780 x 206.
Editor’s Note: To read our interview about Don Emde’s Cannon Ball Project, go to Motohistory News & Views 6/24/2011. To read Emde's previously published position on the Nobby Clark affair, go to Motohistory News & views 7/15/2012.
Schotten Vintage GP, 2012
By Ralf Kruger
Schotten, Hessen, is a small town in the Vogelsberg Mountains, just 50 miles north east of Frankfurt, has been a venue for motorcycle races since 1925. The formerly used circuit had a length of just 10 miles and clearly ranked among the mostdifficult racetracks in Germany. The races were run on public roads, which were closed for these occasions. In 1953, the Schottenring was the venue for the German Grand Prix, which counted to the FIM World Championship. Sadly, the Schottenring GP had to be canceled for the two big classes after practice and following protest of the riders, because the circuit was considered too dangerous to race on. But today it is the site of a vintage grand prix.
The 24th Schotten Vintage GP, which I visited over the weekend of August 18 and19, is certainly one of the most popular events of the classic motorcycle scene in Germany, despite the new one-mile circuit, which is on the outskirts of Schotten, has no real connection with the original.
With the participation of about 350 riders separated into 12 different classes, plus additional special exhibitions by Audi-Tradition, the Hockenheim Motorsportmuseum, and VFV (Germany’s vintage racing organization), the event offered exciting races run with the efficiency of an assembly line. With involvement of so many organizations and private owners, the abundance of wonderful, old, and seldom-seen motorcycles was simply unbelievable.
In addition to the fine motorcycles, the event is spiced by the presence of famous former GP riders like Rodney Gould (winner of the 1970 FIM 250 class on a Yamaha) and Dieter Braun (winner of two World Championships: 1970 on a Suzuki 125cc, and 1973 with a Yamaha TZ 250), pictured above left.
To my honest surprise, there were no less than twenty 50cc racing motorcycles (pictured above right). We speak of it as the "Schnapsglassklasse" (schnaps-jar-class), which British motorcyclist call it "tiddlers." These motorcycles are quite rare today on the racetracks of the continent as well as in England. Mostly of these at Schotten wereGerman GP-Kreidlers, but there also were some modified Kreidler RS (above left) series bikes, and a lonely Simson GP from 1975 (pictured right). These small motorcycles develop an enormous rate of acceleration and RPMs, as long as the rider manages to stay in the nearly microscopic power-band. It never ceases to astonish what low weight, slim tires, and low wind-drag can do for performance in a motorcycle powered by such a tiny engine.
Perhaps the most exciting presentation the "class of the champions" could offer was performed by Dieter Braun on a Yamaha TZ350 and Egid Schwemmer on his Ducati 900SS (pictured left), which he used to become German Production Bike Champion in 1980. Though it was not the best bike for the tight corners of this circuit, Egid drove his machine to its limit, showing off his ability by in an outright battle with Dieter, who also rode in an inspired way. Egid's original Championship Ducati (below), prepared by former importer Fritz Röth, was appearing on the track for the first time since it's glorious victory in 1980.
One of the busiest riders of the weekend was Ralf Waldmann. He competed not only with his 1978 50cc Van Veen Kreidler, but rode also a 1939 DKW 350SS in the Audi-Tradition/Rennsport-Museum Hockenheim Class. This machine was only one of many that Audi-Tradition brought to the meeting. It would have been enough for Audi-Tradition and the Hockenheim Museum to display these great treasures in their big tent, so allowing them to be raced was even better. It helped one understand how the incredibly loud DKW twingles dominated their classes, and their 1954 three-cylinder two-stroke RM 350 (left)—known as the “singing saw” -- broke new technological ground in the 1950s.
My favorite motorcycle at the meet was the the 1939 DKW 350US (right), a compressor-charged, double-piston two-stroke, and I am very grateful the Audi-Tradition did so much to present the bikes to the public, outside the walls of their Ingolstadt museum.
With Audi-Tradition seting such a high standard, it was incumbent on the Hockenheim Museum to try to keep up, which they did by presenting one of DKW’s main rivals, a 1930 Puch (left). This was a 250cc water-cooled, double-piston engine (or "twingle").
There was also a rare bevel-driven OHC machines from England, an exquisite 1923 New Imperial TT racing bike with a 350cc JAP DOHC engine ( below right). The valve train is by gears and bevel-shaft, but rockersmove the valves. This machine was designed by John Albert Prestwich under the supervision of Val Page. The motorcycle almost won the 1922 Junior TT with Bert Le Vack at the bars, but on the last lap a mechanical failure of the gearbox prevented victory.
Another wonderful bike which the Hockenheim museum displayed was the 1928 Chater Lea 350cc TT (left). Its engine was designed by Dougal Marchant and is famous for its extraordinary valve actuation by a face-cam. The bike on display is the original machine which Michael Gayer from Austria rode to many victories.
Since there is a long tradition of successful sidecar racing in Germany, it is natural that there was a Sidecar class as well. Better said, there were two: one for the bikes from 1930 to 1965 and the other an class open up to 2002 with no limit for engine capacity. This class was provided to attract modern road-going machines, modified for racing (pictured right). These sidecarists brought close and exciting competition. Anyone who has piloted such a machine knows how different it is from solo racing, and how it depends on very skilled teamwork. The reaction of spectators reveals that they understand this.
If I counted correctly, there were no less than thirteen vintage MZs of different classes on the road. At the forefront of this fleet were Heinz Rosner and Siegfried Merkel, both successful MZ factory GP riders (pictured right). Surely, Walter Kaaden, who was race director for MZ, would have been proud to see so many bikes from Saxony.
Finally, while Audi-Tradition and the Hockenheim Museum were important participant, it was the great number of privateers who were responsible for the success of the event. Their motorcycles were beautifully prepared and presented. Their diversity and level of conservation is exemplary. Based on my conversation with their owners, I am confident that these culturally and historically important machines will continue to get attention they truly deserve.
In fact, with long-term care and attention, some of these wonderful bikes have been improved without altering their original appearance. For example, I spoke with the owner of a tuned 1950 DKW RT125 (right) which originally produced 4.75hp. He claimed that solely by using tuning techniques known in its era and published by DKW Werk in technical bulletins, he had increased its output to about 10 hp. He said it would go about 62 mph with original gear ratios and without much "tailwind."
The audience also contributed in their way to the event. I never before saw so many motorcycles of the 60s and 70s at one place, as seen in parking lots. There were so many Norton Commandos and Triumphs from England, Bevel-Ducatis, Moto Guzzis and Moto Morinis from Italy, BMWs, and even the occasional Indian or Harley-Davidson from America, that one could have easily organized a Coucours d’Elegance.
Judging by the organization and quality of this event, I can say that the success of the big anniversary event next year is assured. The organizers--MSC Schotten with support by ADAC and VFV and all other helping hands-- have everything under control. Welcome to Schotten in 2013!
For more about the Schotten Grand Prix, click here.
that changed everything
On the evening of September 6, 2012, the Antique Motorcycle Foundation will open “Kaizen: The Influence of the Japanese Motorcycle” at the Motorcyclepedia Museum in Newburgh, New York. It is the first exhibit to be assembled at a major American motorcycle museum about the motorcycles that revolutionized the motorcycle industry; the Japanese motorcycles of the 1960s and ‘70s.
The Japanese word “Kaizen” means “beneficial change,” but in post-war Japan, it was more than just a word. It was also a philosophy of work and manufacturing that became the key to the quality and innovative design that enabled Japanese brands to penetrate, then quickly dominate international markets with products built to a higher standard. Under the principles of Kaizen, every worker was encouraged to identify small changes that would reduce waste in a war-torn nation where essential resources were in short supply. It was soon realized that the by-products of the relentless drive to reduce waste were improved quality and efficiency. Many of the concepts practiced by the Japanese became components of a worldwide manufacturing revolution that became known as “Total Quality Management,” but only after the Japanese proved by dominating markets that they had learned a better way.
The practice of Kaizen not only enabled the Japanese to become dominant in the American motorcycle market, but it resulted in “beneficial change” to the motorcycle industry as a whole when the market became larger, reached a broader range of customers, generated more profit, and improved the public opinion of motorcycling in America. Consequently, Kaizen, the exhibit, is more than an exhibit to celebrate the beauty and technology of Japanese motorcycles. It also celebrates the philosophy that altered and benefited the worldwide motorcycle industry.
Kaizen will run through August 2013. It contains 47 motorcycles, plus artifacts, posters, and giant graphics of advertisements of the period from the late 1950s through 1980.
Motorcyclepedia, which opened in April 2011, contains more than 400 motorcycles and memorabilia displayed over 85,000 square feet of floor space, placing it among the leading motorcycle museum in the nation. It contains a diverse array of motorcycles and artifacts, including the largest single collection of Indian motorcycles anywhere, a large collection of 1960s and ‘70s customs, military and police motorcycles, and periodically changing exhibits sponsored by the Antique Motorcycle Foundation.
The Antique Motorcycle Foundation is a non-profit organization created to tell the story of antique motorcycling so that the role and influence of the motorcycle in our transportation history and technological development can be better understood and appreciated. The Foundation seeks to advance the interests of all motorcycle collectors, regardless of the interests in periods, brands, or motorcycle nations of origin.
The AMF is supported solely by gifts and monetary contributions, for which contributors may receive tax-deductions. For more information about the Antique Motorcycle Foundation, go to www.antiquemotorcyclefoundation.org.
Nostalgia and the Japanese motorcycle
From the birth of the American motorcycle industry, circa 1900, through 1960, sales amounted to no more than about 50,000 motorcycles a year. The arrival of the Japanese brands, combined with the youthful Baby Boomers and a growing post-war economy, drove sales sharply upward, reaching an all-time high of 1.5 million in 1974.
A second sales boom came 35 years later when these original customers moved toward retirement and became nostalgic about the fond memories of their youth. Those memories, of course, included the Japanese motorcycles on which they learned to ride.
It was anticipated that the key appeal of Kaizen would be nostalgia. Below are three promotional releases distributed before the opening of the exhibit, all playing to the nostalgia of Baby Boomers. The graphics are from advertising of the period, and appear as giant panels in the Kaizen exhibit.
Kaizen: The bikes that tripped
your teenage trigger
Remember those early Japanese bikes that tripped your teenage trigger? The ones that put so many of us on the motorcycle road for the rest of our lives? What did you really want, that motorcycle, or the attention it would get you? It didn’t matter, both were good. Impressing the girl, feeling the wind, making memories.
Some of us didn’t stay on the motorcycle road. We left to get an education, defend the country, get married, raise kids, pursue a career, whatever. Many of us returned later, when we had more time, more money, and usually a larger belt size, answering the pangs of nostalgia.
And some of us didn’t return, but really wish we had.
Don’t worry, the Motorcyclepedia Museum will give you your nostalgia fix with Kaizen, the first exhibit in America dedicated exclusively to classic Japanese motorcycles. “Kaizen” is a Japanese word that means “beneficial change.” It is also the business philosophy of constant incremental improvement that enabled the Japanese to revolutionize the world motorcycle market.
So join us, as we travel back to see the bikes you had and the ones you wish you had; the ones that gave you memories of a lifetime. Kaizen opens September 7, 2012. For times, directions, and more information, go to motorcyclepediamuseum.org/.
Kaizen is a creation of the Antique Motorcycle Foundation. For more information, click www.antiquemotorcyclefoundation.org.
Kaizen: Where were you in ’72?
Where were you in ’72?
Or how about 1965, when those little Honda step-throughs were everywhere? Now you could get a motorcycle, because your mother was not afraid of it. Heck, your mother even wanted one herself.
Cool thing about those little Japanese bikes is that they grew up, right along with you. They got bigger and faster, and a lot sexier. By the time the Suzuki Hustler or the Kawasaki Triple arrived, those tough guys on Brit bikes were no longer pulling up beside you at red lights. Then came the Honda Four and next the Kawasaki Z1. Fergedaboudit!
You know where you were in ’72, and sometimes you wish you were still there.
Don’t worry, the Motorcyclepedia Museum will take you there with Kaizen, the first exhibit in America dedicated exclusively to classic Japanese motorcycles. “Kaizen” is a Japanese word that means “beneficial change.” It is also the business philosophy of constant incremental improvement that enabled the Japanese to revolutionize the world motorcycle market.
So join us, as we travel back to ’72 and earlier to see the bikes you had and the ones you wish you had. Kaizen opens September 7, 2012. For times, directions, and more information, go to motorcyclepediamuseum.org/.
Kaizen is a creation of the Antique Motorcycle Foundation. For more information, click www.antiquemotorcyclefoundation.org.
Kaizen: What happened to
all the nice people?
During the 1960s, Honda planted its brand in America with the slogan, “You meet the nicest people on a Honda.” It was an advertising campaign like no other ever seen in the motorcycle industry, and it flew in the face of the negative opinion that most Americans had about people who ride motorcycles.
Honda’s products were also unlike anything previously seen in American motorcycle dealerships. They, and other Japanese brands, brought new standards of quality and ease of operation that made many Americans take a fresh look at owning a motorcycle.
By following a new path, the Japanese brands brought in new customers, and by 1974 had driven sales to an all-time high of more than 1,500,000 units a year. They created a flood of enthusiasm for motorcycling that benefited all brands, provided they were willing to learn the lessons of product improvement and quality control. It was a phenomenon described by the Japanese word “Kaizen,” meaning “beneficial change.”
But what happened to all those nice people?
They’re still here, and many are still riding Japanese motorcycles in addition to Harleys, Ducatis, BMWs, Triumphs, and on and on. The Japanese not only created a bigger market; they set higher quality standards that have kept men and women aboard motorcycles as they aged, matured, and adopted higher expectations for safety and comfort.
Join us at the Motorcyclepedia Museum to see Kaizen, the first exhibit anywhere dedicated exclusively to classic Japanese motorcycles. Kaizen opens September 7, 2012. For times, directions, and more information, go to motorcyclepediamuseum.org/.
Kaizen is a creation of the Antique Motorcycle Foundation. For more information, click www.antiquemotorcyclefoundation.org.
AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame
reinstates Nobby Clark to class of 2012
Today the Motorcycle Hall of Fame announced the results of its supplemental voting procedure in consideration of Derek ‘Nobby’ Clark, who was earlier this year announced as an inductee to the Hall, then later disqualified due to what officials described as a "balloting error." The actions by the Hall of Fame caused a popular demand that Clark be admitted, as originally announced, to which the American Motorcycle Heritage Foundation responded through creation of the unprecedented “supplemental” voting procedure. Below is the official press release distributed today announcing the results of vote, printed in its entirety.
Famed Grand Prix motorcycle tuner Derek "Nobby" Clark has been elected to the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame in a supplemental vote, the American Motorcycle Heritage Foundation reports.
"Derek ‘Nobby’ Clark stands shoulder-to-shoulder with roadracing's most enduring legends, and played a key role in successes that will go down in history among the greatest of the sport," said Jeffrey V. Heininger, chairman of the AMHF. "It's time for Mr. Clark to take his rightful place among the many legends who embody the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame."
For 25 years, Clark was one of the world's leading motorcycle race mechanics. In addition to being a part of 17 FIM Grand Prix world championships, earned in classes ranging from 50cc to 500cc, his teams won three Daytona 200s, one Daytona 100, four Imola 200s and eight Italian championships. Clark not only excelled at the highest level, but also worked with some of the greatest motorcycle racers in history, including Hall of Famers Mike Hailwood, Giacomo Agostini and Kenny Roberts.
"It certainly was a surprise," Clark said. "I'm very excited, and I'm looking forward to being in Las Vegas for the induction ceremony and seeing my old friends. I haven't seen quite a few of them for quite awhile, so it's going to be like a family reunion."
Clark also expressed his appreciation for the support he received during the supplemental vote process.
"I'd like to thank everybody who supported me," Clark said. "I admire them, and I respect them, and I hope they all come back to the Hall of Fame. In my opinion, all of them are legends, and I respect them not just for what they've done in racing, but for what they've done for motorcycling in general. Motorcycling is a big family, and that is something we are privileged to have."
Clark joins the late Rod Bush, KTM North America president and industry visionary; pioneering female motocrosser Sue Fish; 1975 AMA Supercross Champion Jimmy Ellis; world-class bike restorer Brian Slark; the late Al Wilcox, iconic race starter; and off-road racing legend Ty Davis as a member of the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame Class of 2012.
The supplemental vote for Mr. Clark was implemented by the AMHF, which overseas the Hall of Fame, in response to procedural errors that invalidated Mr. Clark's inclusion on the original ballot. The supplemental vote did not affect the other 2012 Hall of Fame inductees.
"The members of the AMHF Board of Directors extend our sincerest apologies to Mr. Clark for the mistakes that invalidated his original ballot," Heininger said. "By way of this supplemental vote, we've ensured that Mr. Clark's induction took place with the utmost sincerity and that no one can question his inclusion in the Motorcycle Hall of Fame."
The supplemental vote was tallied by the independent voting service Votenet. The accounting firm Plante Moran independently audited the results.
The class of 2012 will officially be inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame on Nov. 16 as part of the AMA Legends Weekend. The weekend also includes the 2012 AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame Dave Mungenast Memorial Concours d'Elegance on Saturday, Nov. 17, featuring many of the country's most impressive original and restored classic motorcycles.
In addition to the current class, the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame induction ceremony shines the spotlight on two previously inducted members of the Hall of Fame, reminding the motorcycling community of the amazing career of these Motorcycle Hall of Fame Legends. For 2012, the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame Legends will be 1998 inductees Malcolm Smith, a pioneer in off-road motorcycling and a star in the motorcycle documentary "On Any Sunday," and Mert Lawwill, the 1969 AMA Grand National Champion whose title defense was the central theme of the timeless film.
Tickets for the AMA Legends Weekend are now available through this online registration form or by calling (800) 342-5464.
The AMA Legends Weekend will be held at the Las Vegas Red Rock Resort, a world-class spa, hotel and casino, featuring a range of entertainment, dining and family-friendly attractions. The facility's expansive ballrooms provide a stunning backdrop for the AMA Legends Weekend. Room reservations are available now at a special group rate by calling (866) 767-7773 and referencing group code RCIAME or AMERICAN MOTORCYCLIST. Online room reservations are available at www.redrocklasvegas.com.
More information about the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame can be found at www.motorcyclemuseum.org.
Nobby Clark image by Dawn Deppi (copyrighted)
Nobby Clark receives
lifetime achievement award
While the jury remains out as to whether Nobby Clark deserves recognition by the Motorcycle Hall of Fame, SportBikes Inc Magazine has honored Clark with its 2012 Lifetime Achievement Award. The honor was bestowed August 8 at the Simone Foundation’s annual classic motorcycle event in Philadelphia by SportBikes Inc Publisher Allan Lane and staff writer Michael Lawless (pictured here with Clark and racer John Lawless). The latter Lawless was there as one of the countless racing participants who has benefited from generous and selfless service by Clark.
The SBI Lifetime Achievement Award is presented to individuals whose persona and industry contributions have inspired and advanced the Sportbike industry as a whole. Past winners have included Eraldo Ferracci, founder of “Fast by Ferracci,” whose contributions to motorcycle road racing have spanned decades.
Lane selected Clark as the 2012 beneficiary based on testimony from staff writer Lawless, who states, “It was Clark’s persona and selfless actions that caught my attention. Clark has been known to put aside the competitive aspects of sportbike events and act to engage the industry as a whole.” Lawless adds that there are countless examples of Clark’s sportsmanship and service to others, including one that involved his own brother John who was helped by Clark even though he was competing against Clark’s team.
SportBike Inc Magazine is a digital publication and international lifestyle brand that provides news, entertainment, and information within the sportbike Industry.
The Motorcycle Hall of Fame created a public outcry earlier this year when it announced admission of Clark into the Hall of Fame, then two weeks later withdrew the honor through a vague press release that declared that the institution’s integrity was at stake. Response was swift, with seven members of the Motorcycle Hall of Fame resigning in protest and returning their medals.
The protesting members included Dave Despain, Dick Mann, Kenny Roberts, Jeff Smith, Dick Klamfoth, Ed Fisher, and Motohistory publisher Ed Youngblood. As of this date, none has received an acknowledgment from the Hall of Fame and their names and biographies still remain on the Hall’s web site.
In an attempt to clarify his decision to “unduct” Clark, Motorcycle Heritage Foundation Chairman Jeff Heininger admitted that he was coached in his action by American Motorcyclist Association Chairman Stan Simpson and President Rob Dingman, although the Hall of Fame rules provide for no such outside interference.
Under pressure from the public and its own volunteer Hall of Fame committee members, the Foundation board met on July 19 and decided to “re-ballot” on behalf of Clark, a second procedure that is not provided for in the rules. The decision to circulate the unprecedented ballot came after the board had voted against simply reinstating Clark to the list of 2012 inductees, as previously announced.
The balloting process was deadlined for August 13, although the Hall of Fame has never announced how the results will be tabulated.
Hall of Famers refuse to participate
in re-balloting process for Nobby Clark
Members of the group who have returned their medals in protest of the treatment of Derek “Nobby” Clark by officials at the American Motorcyclist Association and the Motorcycle Hall of Fame have refused to return ballots sent to them for a reconsideration of whether Clark deserves to be in the Hall.
After being announced for induction earlier this year, Clark was rejected through a process outside of the rules of the organization that Chairman Jeff Heininger admits involved guidance by AMA Chairman Stan Simpson and AMA President Rob Dingman. Heininger’s team of Hall of Fame chairmen and committees was never consulted in the decision, and some complained of having to learn about it through outside media.
Subsequently, under pressure from AMA members and their own volunteers, the American Motorcycle Heritage Foundation board of directors established the unprecedented process of issuing a second ballot to voting members in regard to Clark. The board could have ended the controversy by simply reinstating Clark to the list of 2012 inductees, but rejected that option.
Dave Despain, who was the first member to return his medal, was the first to declare his intention not to participate. In an e-mail to other members of the group, he stated, “My reason for quitting the Hall is my loss of confidence in the nomination process and the people who control it. This so-called 'supplemental vote' does nothing to fix the nominating process. On the contrary, it's a further perversion of that process, and I think it was created for the purpose of protecting those very people. Therefore it does nothing to correct the problems over which I resigned. Plus, I no longer consider myself a member of the Hall of Fame. I resigned, and I think that removes me from eligibility to vote.”
Despain added, “The other side of that is a natural tendency to want to vote as a means of supporting Nobby, but I'm pretty comfortable that he will understand very well my reasons for not doing so.” He concluded “I don't think there's any reason in the world why we all need decide this the same way. We should each follow our conscience.”
Two-times Motocross World Champion Jeff Smith was next to declare his intentions. In a letter to AMHF Chairman Heininger, Smith stated:
I was surprised to receive your letter of the 25th of July. It arrived last week as a recorded delivery, USPS Priority Mail. It suggested that I make a supplemental vote regarding the Derek "Nobby" Clark business.
I voted once on the subject, but my vote was made invalid by you, Mr. Dingman, and Mr. Simpson taking a decision to void Nobby's induction fourteen days after its announcement!
After reading your lame explanation of what caused this display of corporate power, I was incensed at the crudity and unprofessional nature of it. So I resigned my position from the Hall of Fame Motocross Nomination Committee, returned my Hall of Fame medal received in 2000 and returned my AMA membership card of 42 years. I do not wish to be associated with an organization whose leaders are capable of such gross public and human relation errors.
I have asked specifically that my name and likeness be removed from the Hall of Fame items immediately. That includes my address being expunged from your files. That you would not know of the position and actions I have taken, I find disappointing. Your decision has been much commented on in the press and on the internet. Also, Mr. Dingman has received my card and medal. Please ensure distribution of this note to all AMA Directors and staff so that my requests and requirements will be put into effect. I can recommend an excellent source for relevant information at ww.Motohistory.net/news.html
It is my opinion that the Nobby Clark incident is only the latest indication of misguided management at the AMA. One wonders what the Board of Directors are doing. Are they comfortable with a declining membership, unsatisfactory financial position, and the type of P.R. recently practiced?
Or, do they supinely watch the downward spiral thinking they have no responsibility? They have a duty to the AMA and its Charter. They have the responsibility to see that AMA is run with integrity, good business practices, and the best interests of its members. They elect the Chairman of the Board from their own body, and hire or fire the President who holds his position entirely at their pleasure.
This letter is to explain that since I am no longer eligible, I can not vote.
Jeffrey V. Smith
In addition to Smith, two-times AMA Grand National Champion Dick Mann has written to the Hall of Fame:
Dear Mr. Heininger,
After receiving your letter informing me how I can vote in the unnecessary, supplemental vote for Derek (Nobby} Clark, I realize it is necessary to reiterate my position. I resigned from the AMA Hall of Fame. I returned my medal that I received in 1998.
Although it is my highest hope Nobby will, once again, be voted into the HoF, I cannot compromise my position to cast a ballot in this needless election.
It has been disheartening to see the constant demise of the AMA and the AMHF due to the mismanagement of Mr. Dingman and Mr. Simpson.
Please remove my images, and any references to me from the Hall of Fame or any advertisement of the AMHF/HoF.
I choose to not be a participant in the AMA /AMHF HoF until the membership sees a much needed change in the management.
To date, the Hall of Fame has ignored the requests of those who have resigned. Their names and biographies are still on the HoF web site.