Motohistory Quiz #101:
We have a winner!
In quick succession, we got several correct answers to our quiz. The first was from Pete Young, of San Francisco, California, identifying it as a German Standard, powered by a Swiss MAG engine.
The motorcycle in our Quiz (pictured below left), which belongs to Bernd Kussmann, is a 1927 500cc, 10hp model, built in Ludwigsburg, Germany. It survived the Second World War by being hidden in shed in 1944 so the Wehrmacht could not expropriate it.
Quiz winner Young immediately recognized it because he has one also, but with a 350cc engine (pictured below right). He writes, "Here is a photo of my old German Standard. The front fender is off it right now, but someday I’ll put it back on and take the bike for a ride. I’ve promised my kids that they can play with it when they are a bit older. The handshift will be good practice for them before I let them loose on the belt drive bikes."
Founded in 1925, Standard’s first models carried 250cc and 350cc JAP engine, but the company soon switched to MAGs from 350cc to 1,000cc capacity. Standard production was also set up in Switzerland.
An attempt was made to return to production after WWII, but was impeded by the death of company founder Wilhelm Gutbrod shortly after the war. The company survived until 1950.
Congratulations, Pete. You have become our latest Motohistory Know-It-All.
Tony Nicosia, Part II:
Tony goes straight
Editor’s Note: Last month, we recounted the first 28 years of Tony Nicosia’s life, from his youth in Tampa, Florida to his nine years in Japan where he honed his racing and tuning skills while serving in the U.S. Air Force (see Motohistory News & Views 6/28/2012). Returning to America in 1965, Tony could have pursued a professional racing career in scrambles or road racing, but he chose to set his sights on becoming one of the great record-breaking drag racers of his time. This is the rest of the story.
Tony Nicosia was discharged from the Air Force in May, 1965. He spent his last weeks at Dover, Delaware, where he had one more bit of fun at the expense of the U.S. government. During a break in Florida, while racing with Ray Hempstead and Royal Sherbert, Nicosia crashed and broke his arm, for which Uncle Sam paid his medical bills. But this failed to slow him down. With a cast still on his arm, Nicosia and some buddies rode the 100 miles from Dover to Cumberland, Maryland to race a scramble. Tony won a trophy, strapped it to his motorcycle Marlon Brando-style, and rode back to Dover.
Once discharged, Nicosia returned to his home state of Florida and went to work for Bill Labrie, a Suzuki, Vespa, and imported car dealer. He recalls, “I could make good money working on Vespas, but I didn’t like it.” Hoping to have more control over the kind of machinery he would work on, Tony opened his own shop, Sunshine Motors. But he lost money. Tony explains, “I realized I was a tuner, not a mechanic. I didn’t cut corners and I spent too much time on jobs; far more than I could charge flat rate for.”
Nicosia moonlighted by driving an 18-wheeler dump truck, and within a few months of leaving the Air Force sold his shop and headed for California. “It was happening there,” he says, “That’s where the sport was hot, there were race tracks open every weekend, and I had some buddies there.” His first race in California was at Willow Springs, where he won his class on a CR110 Honda (above right). The next week he took the same CR110 road racer to the Lions drag strip in Long Beach where the AHRA was hosting a Grand National. Tony ran the little Honda to 64.14 mph with an ET of 17.77 seconds for an AHRA world record that still stands today, 46 years later (left, Nicosia is seen on a 125cc CR93)).
While racing at Willow Springs, Nicosia ran into a Suzuki man named Yoshito Ito, whom he had known in Japan. Yoshito offered him a job, which Tony accepted and started the following day. For Suzuki, he did development on the X6 Hustler, the TM250, and the T500, and served as crew chief for the Suzuki road racing team. While Tony held that post, the team never lost a race. In addition, he raced a 50cc Suzuki (below right).
In 1968, Suzuki was experiencing internal management strife. Top American executives had filed complaints about pay and discrimination, and were in arbitration with the Japanese. While Tony was not part of the dispute, he did not like the atmosphere. Besides he had been offered a job by Darryl Krause at Kawasaki, which would begin soon when a new high-performance three-cylinder motorcycle was expected to arrive from Japan. Although his bosses urged him to stay, Nicosia left Suzuki and took a brief job at BSA, building racing engines for Tom Cates from the company’s pile of returned warranty parts. “I guess I did okay,” Nicosia says with a smile, “Later Cates told me that an engine I built for Dallas Baker for TT racing ran two full seasons.”
In September, the H1 triple arrived, and Nicosia went to work for Kawasaki. He recalls, “They wanted me to put 5,000 miles on it as soon as possible. We took it to Nevada and Arizona where there was less traffic and we could run at higher speeds. One night I ran it wide open from Vegas to Reno and back.” They also took the bike to local drag strips (below left). There, people would readily notice that it was something different, and would begin to ask questions. Tony laughs, “I told them it was a home-grown special; that I had welded another cylinder on a Yamaha.”
Once unveiled to the public, the H1’s acceleration was so mind-bending that some of the motorcycle publications couldn’t believe it; they thought Kawasaki was passing off heavily modified bikes as production machines. Kawasaki Vice President for Public Relations and Advertising Paul Collins threw down the gauntlet. Having seen the speed the diminutive Nicosia could wring out of an H1 in the quarter mile, Collins challenged one of the leading magazines to go to the Kawasaki distribution center and choose a crated H1, at random. He said, “You bring the bike to the drag strip, you supply the gas, and you watch us while we uncrate and set it up. Then we race it.”
Collins’ bosses at Kawasaki were tearing their hair over this idea. The fate and sales of the company’s new flagship motorcycle would depend on one afternoon at the strip. But Collins was confident both in his product and his rider. Right out of the box, Nicosia turned 99 mph in 13.01 seconds. The second run as 101 mph in 12.99 seconds, and the fifth run was 107 mph in 12.70 seconds. Before he was done, Nicosia pushed the stock H1 to 111.38 in 12.61 seconds. The only casualty that day was skepticism toward the new H1. Subsequently, the magazines trumpeted its awesome acceleration, just as Collins knew they would.
Paul Collins recalls his introduction to Tony Nicosia. He relates, “He showed up in my office one afternoon, tagging along with someone else. Right away, he started selling himself, telling me how much he could do for our products and Kawasaki’s reputation through drag racing. He was very persuasive. I knew this guy was fast, but I decided that afternoon that if there was one thing he could do better than ride motorcycles, it was turn on the charm. If he could sell Kawasakis as well as he sold himself, he would be an excellent spokesman for our brand. Tony is very positive and really has a way with people.”
The plan, which was run entirely out of Collins office, not the racing department, was to put Tony in a van with a couple of bikes and send him to visit every Kawasaki dealer who had a drag strip nearby. The objective was to set anew strip record with the H1, which Nicosia found easy to do. Beginning late in 1969, Nicosia visited nine tracks and grabbed 18 records. In 1970, he set more than 70 records. Tony's image on the H1 (above right) became iconic, adopted as a kind of logo worldwide by the Kawasaki Triples Club (left).
When a dealer suggested that he had special equipment, Tony would say, “Fine. Take an H1 off your showroom floor and I’ll race it.” He adds, “This was the best situation ever. You left the dealer with a record-setting bike on his floor. That was something they could really promote. They loved it.” In July, 1971, Nicosia took a local dealer’s H1 to an AHRA Grand National in East St. Louis, and returned the bike to the dealer with ten world records.
The program became the cornerstone of Kawasaki's advertising campaign (rigth), and was almost too successful. Tony says, “We started getting complaints from the racing department because our program was getting so much attention and budget. Paul made a cardboard Christmas tree with working lights for the dealer showrooms, plus a life-size cardboard cutout of me that would sit on an H1 in front of the Christmas tree. It was not an inexpensive display. Then, every time I set a record, he would send out an announcement to stick on the Christmas tree at every dealership in the nation. With new material being printed every week, this promo started running into noticeable money.” Nicosia also took bikes to Bonneville for land speed records (below left). He told Collins, “Look at it this way. If you get a record, no one can knock it down for at least a year.”
The Nicosia drag racing road show continued through the end of 1972. Collins left Kawasaki at the end of the year, and his successors wanted something new. The H1 had made its point, and the H2 had just arrived. Tony left the company to form Hot Bike Engineering in Fremont, California. He was given an H2, and continued to drag race privately, learning to harness the awesome power of the big 750.
What Tony had learned about the Kawasaki triples was applied to the manufacture and sale of speed parts, especially expansion chambers. At Hot Bike Engineering, Tony and a staff of six built racing engines, assembled and sold speed kits, and manufactured expansion chambers, wheelie bars, special clutches, and other drag racing parts.
In 1973 the Kawasaki Z1 arrived (below left), and then in 1984 the Ninja. As the result of EPA regulations, big two-strokes were now obsolete, but you couldn’t tell that by observing Tony and his customers. Keeping triples running fast remained a good business, and Tony himself was still racing triples. Tony laughs, “Kawasaki really wanted me to quit racing the triples, and they knew exactly what would motivate me. They gave me the first Ninja to arrive in America (below) and told me to go set a record with it.” He adds, “I got the bike in April and set a record in June. I made a pipe and blue-printed the engine, and did nothing else. I didn’t even install a drag racing clutch.”
In 1976, Nicosia crashed hard and nearly died. The doctors warned him to give up racing, which he failed to heed. In 1979, his Korean wife made a trip back home, but never returned. They were divorced. In 1986, Tony crashed hard again, and this time was in a coma for several weeks. While in the hospital and recuperating, his partner liquidated much of the business to pay off personal debts. Tony was so angry, he says, “I thought about getting a gun and killing him, then I realized I would have to sit in a prison cell the rest of my life and think about the reason I was there. I decided it was better to put it behind me.” They broke up and Tony closed the business to return to Florida, where he went to work for a Kawasaki dealer.
Fade back more than three decades when Tony, 17, ran off to Waycross, Georgia with Janice Carrington, his 15-year-old girl friend, to get married. They were apprehended before they made it to the altar, and Tony had to join the Air Force to avoid prosecution for statutory rape. Janice, Tony learned, was now a nurse at St. Joseph Hospital in Tampa. He looked her up, and they started dating. One evening, after a meal at Janice’s house, Tony patted his distended stomach and said, “I should marry you just for the spaghetti,” and Janice responded, “I accept.” They were married on May 8, 1987.
Officially, Tony gave up drag racing when he got married, but this didn’t last long. In 2002, at the age of 64, he bought a 600cc Ninja with the intention of returning to the strip. This didn’t last long either. Things had changed. Eyes bugging with astonishment, Tony says, “Wow! It was a whole new game. I couldn’t believe what stuff cost; parts, fuel, tires, everything. Drag racing has gone way beyond my means, or my willingness to pay.”
But there are other ways to go fast. Nicosia traded the 600 Ninja dragster for a 1999 Suzuki Hayabusa, then he traded the Hayabua for a GSX-R. He says, “I couldn’t even find a place to wring out the Busa, but I got the Gixxer up to 186 on I-75.” Now 75, Tony Nicosia no longer owns a motorcycle, but he spends a lot of time riding the web, staying up with every aspect of the sport and e-mailing friends around the world, including his old buddies in Japan. And from time to time, he does a little engine hop-up work in the cozy little shop behind his home in Tampa (right).
Tony Nicosia might have been among America’s first wave of motocrossers, having sharpened his scrambling skills in Japan. His achievements in club racing in California in the late ‘60s could have prepped him for a career at the top tier of AMA or international road racing. But opportunity and circumstances took him straight to the drag strip, first in Japan then in America. There, and at Bonneville, he accumulated more than 200 track, national, and world speed records.
Presently, his friends are undertaking a campaign to get him into the Motorcycle Hall of Fame. To read more about Tony Nicosia, click here.
Vintage and antique clubs
convene for leadership forum
Two-dozen leaders from more than a dozen national organizations dedicated to various vintage and antique motorcycle interests met in Mansfield, Ohio on July 19. It was the third annual gathering of such groups for the purpose of sharing ideas for promoting and strengthening the antique motorcycle movement in America. Originally organized in 2010 by Vintage Japanese Motorcycle Club directors Hal Johnson and Roger Smith, this year the meeting was convened under the auspices of the Antique Motorcycle Foundation.
Planning for the event was undertaken by a steering committee that included Paul Danik of the Penton Owners Group, Fred Guidi of the American Historic Racing Motorcycle Association, and Smith, Johnson, and Ed Youngblood, all of the Antique Motorcycle Foundation. AMF Secretary Tracey Powell assisted with the organization of the meeting.
In addition to camaraderie and informal discussion, this year’s program included three presentations. Ken McGuire (above left), a motorsports liability defense attorney who is also President of the Spanish Motorcycle Owners Group, discussed how to reduce or manage a club’s liability in the conduct of organized events. Robert Morris University Communications professor Jon Radermacher (above right) described recent developments in communication hardware and software, and how new technology can be used to improve the communication and functioning of national non-profit organizations. The third presenter was former AMA Marketing Vice President and current National Motorcycle Museum Special Projects Manager who described ways for organizations to improve membership recruitment and retention.
Hal Johnson (left), who served as chairman of the steering committee, stated, “This was our best forum yet, both in terms of quantity and quality. Attendance has grown each year, and our discussion continues to be robust and informative.” He added, “We had a very clear indication that the clubs involved want to keep the process going with another gathering in 2013.”
Organizations attending the forum included the Antique Motorcycle Club of America, the Antique Motorcycle Foundation, the American Historic Racing Vehicle Association, Moto Retro Magazine, the Spanish Motorcycle Owners Group, the Penton Owners Group, the Hodaka Owners Club, the International CBX Organization, Yankee Owners, the Potomac Vintage Riders, the Ohio Valley BSA Owners Club, McKee Sky Ranch, the National Motorcycle Museum, and the Vintage Japanese Motorcycle Club.
Photos by Bill Wood.
Don’t forget the campaign to install a granite plaque for Nobby Clark on theDaytona 200 Monument in Daytona Beach. For more information of make a donation to the project, e-mail Beverly Klamfoth, firstname.lastname@example.org. Any funds raised over and above the cost of the plaque will be donated to Mr. Clark’s medical care.
To see POV footage from the board track racing class at Wauseon this year, click here and here.
Here’s some Garrett Williams motorcycle rockabilly for your amusement and amazement.
Speedster/write Rocky Robinson celebrates his 50th edition of Salt Addiction, his column at Motorcycle-USA.com.
With backing from Parts Unlimited, Sam Wheeler (pictured left) plans to be the first motorcyclist to break 400 mph at Bonneville. Dick Lague at IGNITION3 is documenting the project.
On August 18, Mecum will auction a collection of 71 MV Agustas as one lot. Stop by the ATM machine on your way to Monterey.
The Cycle World web site has published a comprehensive list of Americans who have ridden the Isle of Man TT, compiled by Steve Thompson. Good work, Steve!
The Canadian Motorcycle Hall of Fame will induct pioneer motorcycle enthusiast Ed Hawkes, and motorcycle innovator,competitor, organizer, adventurer and a roving ambassador Duc Dufour at the Seventh Annual Canadian Motorcycle Hall of Fame Induction Banquet and Reunion on November 3, 2012 at the Delta Centre-Ville in Montreal, Quebec.
Talk about yer Cannonball! Check out Old Bloke on Bike.
The 2013 FIVA World Rally will be in Latvia.
On August 8, Billy Huber (pictured right) will be the first motorcyclist to be honored by the Reading Fairgrounds Racing Historical Scoiety.
Tickets are on sale now for the 8th Annual Barber Vintage Festival.
Want to win the ultimate vintage off-road lottery. VMX Magazine is running a 50th Issue subscription promotion. Subscribe before December 10, and your name will go into a drawing to win all fifty issues of VMX published to date. This is a cool deal, considering that some rare single issues of VMX are fetching up to $400 on the collectible market. Click here to get in the contest.
Here’s vintage dirt track racing in Europe.
Photohistory by Tom Mueller
I used to love getting up close and personal on the race track, which allowed for tight shots and a crisp view of the riders and machinery. Check out this infield straight photo of Broc Glover (11) using the inside line to edge out Mark Barnett (10) at Daytona International Speedway.
What is so appealing to me is the simplicity of it all. Note the uncluttered air cooled cylinders and once again, the open face helmet lets us into Broc's world via facial expression. Yes, bikes were slower and riders stayed closer to the ground. But I would argue that when you have superstars like Glover and Barnett wheel-to-wheel, the competition was never better.
See this an more classic motocross at Tom Mueller’s Retromotocross.
Craig Vetter discusses the
Nobby Clark "Supplemental Vote"
and the situation at the AMA
I attended the AMHF (American Motorcyclist Heritage Foundation) Board of Directors Meeting Thursday, July 19, 2012 in Pickerington, Ohio. The people on that Board are:
Jeff Heininger chaired the meeting. None of my fellow Committeee members, as far as I knew, had been consulted about un-electing Nobby. I wanted to know who made the decision to un-elect Nobby and asked if it was the AMA Board
(http://www.americanmotorcyclist.com/about/board) or did the decision come from somebody in this room.
Heininger said that he alone made the decision and got the approval from Stan Simpson and Rob Dingman.
Heininger then gave us two, pre-typed out proposals to vote on to deal with the Nobby crises. One validated the addition of Nobby Clark’s name on the 2012 ballot. If we voted for this, Nobby would be in. End of discussion.
The other proposal was to approve a special ballot seeking the approval of Nobby to be inducted with the class of 2012.
I and two others voted for the first proposal and against the second proposal. I did not like the second proposal because it was estimated that it would take two weeks for resolution. I had stated that I wanted this resolved ASAP. In addition, the outcome of the second proposal was not as certain, in my opinion.
The second resolution passed.
Yesterday, my ballot came and I voted for Nobby. An E-mail from Heininger now says it may take three weeks for resolution.
After spending four hectic days with the AMA at Vintage Days, I must conclude that the AMA staff is way over-worked. Many staffers are wearing two and three hats to cover the responsibilities. To make matters worse, the Nobby crises came to a head in the middle of Vintage Days.
Are we under staffed because revenues are down? Are revenues down because fewer and fewer people see any reason to join the AMA?
Shouldn’t the AMA Board be taking the steps necessary to take our AMA forward with growth and prosperity?
I don’t see this happening. I think the Board of the AMA should be taking the heat here.
In a quiet moment with Rob Dingman, in a corner of the Hall of Fame Museum tent, Sunday morning, I asked how we might arrange for a “Re-imagining” conference in which the brightest among us might propose a new and relevant AMA: An AMA that would attract riders with such a powerful purpose that they would say: “Wow! This AMA is for me. Sign me up!”
Unfortunately, Rob and I were both interrupted by other duties and were not able to continue.
The way I see it, conceiving of and implementing a new and vibrant AMA would be the beginning of correcting our problems. If the Board is not doing this, who?
In summary: 2012 Vintage Days was a very busy event. From all accounts, it was the best attended Vintage Day ever. They worked me hard as their Grand Marshal. I put on the second Vetter Fuel Economy Challenge. I told stories of motorcycle design. I led riders around the track on my streamliner. I loved every moment of it. I do want the AMA to do well.
By the way, a big banner on the way into the event said “Free Nobby.” Some “Free Nobby” T-shirts made me chuckle, too. In the three days of the event, nobody brought the Nobby thing up to me.
Sculptor Steve Posson
unveils “Flying Mile”
Steve Posson, the sculptor who created the signature “Glory Days” bronze that inspired the logo for the Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum, has just unveiled “Flying Mile,” a six foot long sculpture of Albert “Shrimp” Burns on his 1914 Indian 8-Valve.
Flying Mile shows Burns drifting sideways through a dirt track corner, dust flying from the tires. He is dressed in 1914 riding gear: leather aviators hat, goggles, thick sweater, leather pants, boots and gloves. Burns’ bike was Indian’s fastest racer, a 61 cubic inch 8-valve. It had no suspension, clutch, gear box, or even a throttle. Once it was running it ran wide open until stopped by a kill switch. It could go 110 mph per hour on a board track, running on narrow 2 1/2 inch wide tires. The whole motorcycle and rider are leaned forward to give the appearance of speed. The bronze has crisp details, including the Indian name on the crank case and gas tank, and stitching on the leather parts. It weighs almost 500 pounds.
The master for Flying Mile was first sculpted in wood, wax, clay, and plastic. Molds were made from the master, and wax parts from the molds. There are about 40 separate castings, welded together then sculpted and polished. Flying Mile is available in a numbered series of 10. Number one is spoken for, and orders are being taken now for two through ten. Go to Possonart for more information.
Photos by Amy Walker
Canadian Vintage Off-Road Festival
coming in August
When Canadian Steve Tucker attended an AHRMA Premier/Classic race in Chehalis, Washington, he knew something like this needed to be staged in Canada. Teaming up with fellow vintage racers Jean Paul Larocque and Eric Pritchard, who has a farm near Olmstown, Quebec, where vintage trials have been staged for more than a decade, he invited Canadian Motorcycle Hall of Famers Gerry Marshall and Helmut Classen as special guests for a two-day trial, scrambles, concours, and banquet.
That was in 2009, and it turned out so well that in 2010 a motocross was added to the weekend. CanAm was declared featured marque, and Jeff and Irene Smith were invited as special guests and concours judges. In 2011, Mick and Jill Andrews were invited, with Mick conducting a trials school on Friday. This time the featured marques were OSSA and Yamaha. Local musicians provided Saturday night entertainment after dinner and Andrews’ Q&A session for attendees. Moto Internationale and the Gref family provided event t-shirts for all the racers, and Hurricane Irene kindly waited until the Monday to flood the entire course. Mick had so much fun that he asked to return for this year’s event, which will be held August 24 through 26, and his old Massachusetts buddy Joe Bolger agreed to join him. The featured marque is Hodaka, so Paul Stannard from Strictly Hodaka will be there as well.
For more information, click here.
Designer Craig Vetter graces the cover of the August issue of American Motorcyclist, the journal of the American Motorcyclist Association. Vetter, whose first two-wheeler was a Cushman scooter and whose avowed greatest influence is Buckminster Fuller, explains that he has followed the principle of getting more from less throughout his life, and that when he knew he had become a part of an industry dedicated to making motorcycles more powerful, bigger, and less efficient, sold his company (1978) and moved on to other things. Now a member of the Motorcycle Hall of Fame, Vetter has returned to making more from less with motorcycles, devoting his time and energy to building fuel-efficient motorcycles and encouraging others to do so as well through economy contests. Not surprisingly, a separate feature in this issue is about the Vetter Mystery Ship, which he regards as his best full expression of motorcycle design. Also of interest to the motohistorian in this issue is a story about Midwest dirt track legend and Hall of Famer Ronnie Rall. American Motorcyclist cannot be found on newsstands. You must be an AMA member to receive it in the mail. To join the AMA, click here.
The September issue of Racer X Illustrated contains an intriguing story about the end of motocross man Broc Glover’s, about how after 13 years Yamaha unceremoniously dismissed him, even walking away without a “good job, so long” after he won a Supercross for Yamaha in the final evening of his national career. Glover also went on to ride a season with KTM in Europe, and again won his final Grand Prix. Undoubtedly, there are two sides to every story, but it seems to often we hear or read about top athletes being unceremoniously tossed aside when their corporate sponsor decides, for whatever reason, to move on. Today, Glover remains a popular fixture on the motocross/supercross scene as Dunlop’s senior manager of off-road racing. While Racer X devotes most of its pages to the modern sport, almost every issue has something of interest for the motohistorian. To subscribe to Racer X Illustrated, click here.
Japan’s first motocrosser, the Suzuki TM250, provides the cover art for the September of Moto Retro Illustrated, backed up inside by an extensive, well-illustrated, well-researched feature about Suzuki’s early motocross effort. They are also feature stories about Brad Lackey’s 1973 works Kawasaki, the 1958 Honda RC70 scrambler, and the 1968 Kawasaki F21M scrambler. For those who tend toward the road bikes of the era, there are features about the famous Suzuki Water Buffalo, the hellacious Kawasaki H2, and the Honda RC30. There is even a very extensive feature about the Honda US90, the vehicle that launched a billion dollar ATV industry. Photography is beg and beautiful, especially for the TM250 and the Water Buffalo stories. There is also a tribute to the late Gary Nixon. To subscribe to Moto Retro Illustrated, click here.
Much for the motohistorian in the September issue of American Iron Magazine, an American V-twin-oriented publication that seems to get fatter every issue. There is a story about classics and customs outfitted to honor various branches of the U.S. military, featuring the Kiwi Indian “Coast Guard” Chief, a nostalgic creation of what might have been. There is a story about the 2012 Kickstart Classic, which ran from the Wheels Through Time Museum in Maggie Valley, North Carolina to the AMCA National Meet at Denton, North Carolina this spring. Editor-in-Chief wraps up his pre-Cannonball series with Part VI, which discusses the final details of preparing his 1929 JDH for the big run that will begin September 7. Jim Babchak’s American Iron Classic feature is about the 1914 Sears Spacke-powered twin that Matt Olsen rode on the 2010 Cannonball. Olsen crashed out of the event, breaking his arm, which prompted him to confess, “It’s the nicest bike I ever crashed.” To subscribe to American Iron, click here.
Let the balloting begin
The AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame has issued a letter to voting members, laying out the procedure for what it calls a “Supplemental Vote” for the inclusion of Derek “Nobby” Clark in the Hall of Fame class of 2012. Those eligible to vote may do so through the VoteNet web site, for which they have received a confidential access name and password, or by request for a paper ballot. Voting begins July 30 and will end August 13. No explanation has yet been given as to what return will constitute results in favor of or against Mr. Clark’s inclusion.
The letter, signed by Hall of Fame Chairman Jeff Heininger, explains that the vote is being undertaken “in response to errors that occurred in the 2012 AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame balloting process.” No acknowledgement is made of the outrage and demand for inclusion of Clark made by members of the Hall of Fame and Hall of Fame nominating committees. The decision to exclude Clark was made not by the committees that nominated him, but as the result of a private conference between Heininger, AMA Chairman Stan Simpson, and AMA President and CEO Rob Dingman. Several nominating committee members resigned in protest to the decision and the irregularity of the procedure. In addition, seven members of the Motorcycle Hall of Fame returned their medals in protest.
The letter from Mr. Heininger was sent to the Hall of Fame members who resigned and returned their medals, which would suggest that either another clerical error has been made, or that Mr. Heininger, Mr. Simpson, and Mr. Dingman do not take them seriously.
While Mr. Simpson and Mr. Dingman were participants in the conference that resulted in the exclusion of Mr. Clark, neither has made a single public statement since the controversy began, allowing Mr. Heininger to bear the brunt of the criticism.
The Clark Fiasco:
“A small scab on a very big sore”
The Nobby Clark fiasco at the Motorcycle Hall of Fame is a “small scab on a very big sore.” These were the words of WBOB radio host Jon Vedas (pictured right) on his 2 Wheels Only show today while interviewing Dave Despain. And Despain identified current AMA management as the big sore, which he reported has lost thousands of members and millions of dollars during its current five-year tenure. In addition to the financial losses, Despain discusses the cloak of secrecy over AMA governance, which has now even been written into its Code of Regulations.
Despain also says more about the Nobby Clark legal problems that were suggested to be the cause of his removal from the Motorcycle Hall of Fame on a web site owned by John Ulrich, who has served on the AMA Board. Clark, according to Despain, ended a protracted lawsuit brought against him by former employer Team Obsolete by agreeing to a plea that amounted to a misdemeanor. It is a “criminal record” far less significant than other famous members of the Motorcycle Hall of Fame—such as Evel Knievel and Floyd Clymer—and that failed to stand in the way of Clark subsequently being granted U.S. citizenship.
“That’s crazy!” Despain says about the fact that the AMA sold the control of motorcycle racing to a Daytona-based group, but let that organization continue to operate under the name of the AMA, leaving it with the blame for the controversies that inevitably accompany motor racing. That transaction, which AMA CEO Rob Dingman promised to make transparent to the membership, has remained shrouded in secrecy as well. No one knows whether the AMA gained anything financially.
While discussing the AMA’s significant membership losses with host Jon Vedas, Despain urged AMA members not to quit, but to rather stay involved and demand accountability from management and the AMA’s Board of Directors, which has granted CEO Dingman big increases in compensation despite declining membership and revenue.
To listen to “AMA Blunders“ on 2 Wheels Only click here.
Can loyalty to the AMA
get you fired?
In naming Nobby Clark and Dave Despain his "Persons of the Week," Dragbike.com columnist and former AMA employee Keith Kizer (pictured right) reveals his experience of the inner workings of the AMA where apparently confusion between loyalty to the organization and loyalty to the CEO can be a professionally fatal mistake.
He also reports that
when the AMA was selling off core functions, such as professional racing, there was a plan to sell the Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum as well.
Read it here.
Cycle News interviews
Hall of Fame Chairman
“This is not an AMA problem.
This is a Motorcycle Hall of Fame problem.” – Heininger
Cycle News Editor Paul Carruthers has just published an interview with Motorcycle Hall of Fame Chairman Jeff Heininger (pictured right).
Despite acknowledging again that AMA Chairman Stan Simpson and CEO Rob Dingman “coached” him to the conclusion to unduct Nobby Clark from the Hall of Fame, Heininger insists that the AMA leadership is free of fault in the decision and the widespread and angry reaction that followed.
Read it here.
A review of Nobby’s re-do
Everyone I’ve heard from about the American Motorcycle Heritage Foundation decision to re-ballot for Nobby Clark to see if he really does belong in the Motorcycle Hall of Fame seems unimpressed with the idea as a solution to the problem. This is because the “problem” has become much larger than Mr. Clark’s status re the Hall of Fame. The problem has become the style of leadership and culture of irresponsibility at the AMA that has brought that organization low, and now appears to be intent on doing the same to the Motorcycle Hall of Fame.
Reactions to the re-vote decision have ranged from confusion to outright ridicule. Most see the re-do as a ruse to keep the real culprits in this mess – AMA Chairman Stan Simpson and AMA CEO Rob Dingman – safely hunkered in the bunker, out of the line of fire while others take the flak. Their complicity was clarified by Hall of Fame Chairman Heininger’s own report, where he admitted that the decision to unduct Mr. Clark was taken in consultation with the AMA’s top two.
So while Mr. Heininger gets thoroughly beaten about the head and shoulders by the angry mob, and unnamed staff wait to see who will be blamed and dismissed from their jobs, we have heard nary a peep from Mr. Simpson or Mr. Dingman. They remain invisible, silent, utterly unapologetic. It’s a style of leadership that has become characteristic at the AMA. They insist on controlling everything, typically make terrible decisions, then duck for cover while they guide the axe to fall on someone else’s neck.
In this case, it has been Mr. Heininger. I wonder if he yet understands how thoroughly he has been used and tossed out by his good ‘ol buddies. If he doesn’t, he may be the only one who still does not understand where the real problem at the AMA resides. I’ve not spoken to a soul who does not believe that the smell is coming from the direction of the corner office.
You’ve got to wonder what motivates these guys. Is it just compulsive control-freakery? Or was there third-party interference that motivated them to take down Nobby Clark? If so, “balloting errors” and “re-balloting” are just camouflage to distract us from deeper inquiry.
You would think that presiding over the loss of millions of dollars and tens of thousands of members at the AMA would keep them busy enough. But no, they’ve got to micromanage the Hall of Fame as well. Then rush back to their cone of silence when it all goes wrong.
Despain: How to heal a dying dog.
I cannot summarize the situation better than Dave Despain, who has stated in an editorial on the Speed web site: “The way I see it, those who created this mess in the first place have now done everything possible to try and make it go away - everything except to take responsibility.”
To read Despain’s editorial, “How to Heal a Dying Dog,” click here.
Nobby gets a do-over
Editor’s Note: Late on July 19, the Board of Directors of the American Motorcycle Heritage Foundation announced that a “supplemental vote” would be undertaken to determine the inclusion of Nobby Clark in the Motorcycle Hall of Fame. Further, speaking on behalf of the Board, Chairman Jeff Heininger delivered what might be regarded an endorsement, stating, “We believe Mr. Clark is worthy of induction into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame.” The release is published below in its entirety.
AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame to conduct supplemental vote for Derek 'Nobby' Clark induction
PICKERINGTON, Ohio -- The American Motorcycle Heritage Foundation Board of Directors will conduct a supplemental vote for the inclusion of Derek "Nobby" Clark in this year's Hall of Fame induction class.
The decision is in response to errors that occurred in the 2012 AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame balloting process. The supplemental vote does not affect other 2012 Hall of Fame inductees.
"We believe Mr. Clark is worthy of induction into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame," said Jeffrey V. Heininger, the chairman of the AMHF. "It's important to stress that the balloting errors were not of Mr. Clark's making, and the entire board offers its sincere apologies to Mr. Clark."
The AMHF Board moved to put Mr. Clark's name to a vote that could see him inducted to the Hall of Fame at this year's induction ceremony in November.
"The only people who can elevate Mr. Clark to the Hall of Fame are the voting members, which include the living Hall of Famers," Heininger said. "A clear vote in light of all that has happened allows Mr. Clark to enter the Hall with the honor he deserves. We expect to start contacting voting members for balloting early next week."
The action follows a recommendation of the AMHF Executive Committee on Monday, July 16, when a report detailing problems with the 2012 Hall of Fame balloting process was discussed. The full report can be found at http://www.motorcyclemuseum.org/News/12-07-13/Statement_and_review_of_the_2012_Hall_of_Fame_induction_class.aspx .
Also in response to the errors in the 2012 ballot, Heininger told the AMHF board that the executive committee would convene a review panel to evaluate the Hall of Fame selection committees' structure, along with procedures to ensure the adherence to, and checks and balances within, the induction process.
"There were errors made at the staff and committee levels in the formulation of the 2012 ballot." Heininger said. "Those errors were rightly investigated, and the process must -- and will be -- corrected going forward.
"Recent events show that while the procedure for selecting Hall of Famers is sound, the implementation of that procedure leaves too much room for mistakes," Heininger said. "It is important, for the integrity of the selection process and the Hall of Fame itself, to make sure our balloting is beyond reproach."
Paul Jamiol weighs in
on the Motorcycle Hall of Fame's
As much as any other single event, it was Dave Despain's return of his Motorcycle Hall of Fame medal in protest of the treatment of Nobby Clark that catalyzed anger toward the Motorcycle Hall of Fame and the AMA officials who involved themselves in the process that resulted in Clark's "unduction." (See Motohistory News & Views 7/12/2012). At that time, Despain declared, "Something smells about the process."
Whether it is the suspicion that third-party influence was involved at the highest level of the AMA, or simply the utterly inept handling of the public relations fiasco that has taken place since the announcement that Clark would be removed for the 2012 list of inductees, many people still think something stinks.
Paul Jamiol, who usually aims his sharp cartoonist's pen toward national politics, seems to think so as well. Jamiol, a dedicated motorcyclist who has followed developments over the past week, offers his view of the current state of the Motorcycle Hall of Fame. It is a state that many still hope can be improved upon by swift remedial action by its Board of Directors at their meeting this week.
For more about Paul Jamiol's world, click here.
Beyond the Clark fiasco:
The issue behind the issue
As the AMA continues to ignore a storm of criticism over the fiasco of Nobby Clark’s induction/unduction into the Motorcycle Hall of Fame, some have begun to turn their attention toward what they see as the issue behind the issue.
In an editorial posted yesterday on the Motorcycle Classics web site about the AMA’s handling of the public relations crisis it has created, Richard Backus writes, “Unfortunately, the limited response from within the halls suggests a continued strategy of silence, the AMA apparently hoping against hope this will turn into a tempest in a tea pot and go away. Maybe, but I doubt it, because this is about much more than just Nobby Clark and the AMA’s handling of his nomination.” To read the complete editorial, click here.
Backus’ editorial is in concert with an open letterto the board of the AMHF circulated just this afternoon by former American Motorcycle Heritage Foundation Director and Motorcycle Hall of Fame committee member Dr. Charles Falco. Falco, pictured below, writes:
July 18, 2012
Open Letter to the AMHF Board of Directors
Dear Board Members,
As you approach your next Board meeting later this week, it is important to realize that whether or not Nobby Clark should be in the Hall of Fame is not the problem. It is only a symptom of the problem. The problem is with AMA/AMHF management. Management created this problem, failed to manage the still-ongoing PR disaster, and assigned blame to everyone else for the problem they caused. According to the AMA's July 13 press release, the three responsible managers are Jeffrey Heininger, Rob Dingman, and Stan Simpson, all of whom are on the AMHF Board.
Make no mistake, this issue is much bigger than Nobby Clark. The depth and breadth of the emotion expressed by a wide range of motorcyclists over the past two weeks shows a widespread distrust of AMA management. Apparently, this was festering under the surface until this latest incident caused it to erupt, because many people who are incensed with the AMA's handling of this have never met Nobby Clark. They are incensed with the AMA, not over whether or not Nobby Clark is offered a medal (which, of course, he should be, because he won a proper election; whether he accepts it at this point is entirely up to him and should have no bearing on offering it to him).
Think of recent prominent crises in the news: Fukushima reactors, BP oil spill, and Penn State. They all share two common factors. In each case people at the top lost their jobs because they screwed up. But, also in each case the CEO was out front right from the start dealing with damage control to the institution. The managers of Fukushima (Tokyo Electric) did a bad job of their PR damage control, and as a result the Japanese public are now demanding all the reactors in the country remain shut down. BP faired better thanks to their effective PR, despite a truly massive disaster (although the CEO lost his job). The President of Penn State also lost his job, but the damage control they implemented, which included appointing a trusted outsider to do an independent investigation, went a long way toward salvaging the reputation of the institution despite a disgusting situation. This PR disaster created by the AMA has been going on for almost three weeks, but so far I have not seen a single word from either the AMA's CEO or its Board Chair.
Nobby Clark was properly elected to the Hall of Fame in a duly constituted and democratically conducted election by 250+ experts, so the first order of business at your meeting in a few days should be to vote to reverse the improper action taken by management. However, at your meeting you also will have to decide which is more important: managers keeping their positions, or you taking the necessary steps to begin to salvage the reputation of the institution? In the current case, I sincerely believe the choice is between one or the other, but not both. If Jeff Heininger, Rob Dingman, and Stan Simpson have not resigned from the AMHF Board by the time of your meeting, each of you will have a decision to make. You can do nothing, and assume personal responsibility for the ongoing consequences of actions they have taken, or go on record with a vote of No Confidence in their management of AMHF activities.
cc AMA Board of Directors
Honor for Nobby,
no matter what.
Today, while AMA officials hunkered down and continued to stonewall any appeal to induct Nobby Clark into the Motorcycle Hall of Fame, a campaign was launched to create Clark a granite plaque bearing his name and likeness on the Daytona 200 Monument.
For more information, e-mail Beverly Klamfoth: email@example.com. Send your donations to Dick Klamfoth, Chairman; Daytona 200 Monument; 10213 Honda Hills Road; Thornville, OH 43076.
Any funds raised over and above the cost of the plaque will be donated to Mr. Clark’s medical care.
As the storm has swirled around him, Nobby Clark has remained silent for more than a week. Now, in an exclusive interview with Cycle News posted this morning, Clark has revealed some of his feelings.
He wonders now if he should even consider accepting induction into the Motorcycle Hall of Fame if it were offered to him. He also offers a sharp opinion about current AMA leadership.
And, yes, after how he has been treated. Nobby can still laugh.
Read it here.
The Nobby Clark affair:
has come from this
We speak the language of Shakespeare. It is malleable, changeable, flexible, and ingenious. It is not hidebound like some languages that never shift, never change, never break themselves to give birth to new levels of expression and understanding. It serves us so well. For example, in the greatest moments of stress, when we struggle to explain the bizarre and astonishing things that are going on around us, our language comes to the rescue by yielding up a new word. And when we have a new word, we and our language are all the better for it.
In a recent post, while trying to express what has happened to Nobby Clark, I asked “Is 'de-selection' a word?” Thanks to the wonder of the internet, within moments, a brilliant reader responded, “Ed, the word is ‘unduct.’”
Unduct! Yes, the English language has triumphed again!
Unduct – to get screwed, tossed out, shamed, punished, shown the door, sent packing, made redundant, shuffled off, sacked, cast aside, treated like you don’t matter.
Example of use in a sentence: “There are a couple of people at the highest level of the AMA who need to be unducted. Now!”
Where I stand on this shifting ground;
By Ed Youngblood
On Friday, I stated I would study the Dean Adams explanation and the Motorcycle Hall of Fame official report on how the Nobby Clark fiasco came about, and make a decision today about my membership in the Motorcycle Hall of Fame.
Regarding Dean Adams’ explanation of the Hall of Fame selection process, I will let Dave Despain express the feelings of us old farts. He has responded more than adequately, I believe. Sad that Dean's message was obscured by ridicule of his betters.
I consider Dean a friend, and hope this will continue to be the case. But I will add only one remark to what Dave has said: Dean, my friend, one day you are going to be a dribbling old fart like the rest of us, and you are going to have to really redouble your efforts if you hope to earn the gravitas of people such as Dick, Kenny, and Dave before you shuffle off this mortal coil.
I’ll be a little more serious about the official report. As many others have noted, there is conspicuously little information about the two-week period between Mr. Clark’s announcement of selection and his unceremonious de-selection (is that a word?) All we know is that when the “balloting error” came to Mr. Heininger’s attention, he turned to AMA Chairman Stan Simpson and AMA President Rob Dingman to determine what should be done. Why, I wondered, would he follow this course? Wouldn’t you convene your brain trust, the committee chairmen who have the knowledge and experience regarding both the history of the sport and how the Hall of Fame has functioned? Instead, he turned to the architects of what the AMA has become. Little wonder the Hall of Fame is now in a fix.
I find the report unconvincing as a whole, but there is one throw-away remark that I find deeply troubling. After blaming the whole mess on a clerical error by the staff, the report states: “Given the enormity of the error and the negative impact on both the Hall of Fame and the AMA, not to mention the anguish to which Mr. Clark has been subjected, the staff involved must be subject to disciplinary action.”
I think this is just reprehensible. First, it did not need to be said, but it characterizes a central tenet of the current AMA President’s MO. Mess something up, look for someone to blame, then punish a subordinate just because you can.
The core of the greater AMA problem today – and they are playing out their broken methods again with the Clark boondoggle – is that leadership avoids accountability at every turn. Trash someone else, blame who was here before you, blame who occupies the organization chart below you, maybe even say the dog ate it when in fact the buck stops at the desks of the CEO and Chairman, period!
As I stated above, I believe Mr. Simpson and Mr. Dingman are primarily responsible for what the AMA has become, and now they are applying their considerable leadership talents to the Hall of Fame. They should be held accountable for this as well.
I am disgusted by this affair, and the best way I can express my disgust is to do what others have done before me . . . return my Motorcycle Hall of Fame medal to Pickerington. I did that earlier today, addressed specifically to Mr. Simpson, and I did not include an explanation. They have received enough by now that he will figure it out.
But first, the weather
If it was hoped that the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame Report following an investigation of the Nobby Clark induction fiasco would bring the relief of cooler weather, the early response should be a big disappointment for its authors (to read the complete report, scroll down to Motohistory News & Views 7/13/2012). In fact, some observers feel the report has only made matters worse by making the Hall of Fame look incompetent while not addressing the issue of what happened in the two-week period between Clark’s selection and the announcement of his removal.
At the Motocross Action web site, Jody Weisel concludes that the Chairman’s report has only brought the Motorcycle Hall of Fame into greater disrepute. He states, “The fish is rotten at the head. It will take years, maybe decades, for anyone in the motorcycle industry to look at the AMA Hall of Fame in a favorable light. And, their attempts to ignore, cover-up or disguise what went wrong in the Nobby Clark incident only make them look more incompetent.”
In the motorcycle section of About.com, Basem Wasef reviews developments to date and concludes that any report issued by the Hall of Fame is behind the curve of the problem when top champions have already turned in their medals. Hash comments from readers about the AMA follow.
At Bikewriter.com, Mark Gardiner concludes that the Hall of Fame investigation report has clarified little.
While this is only a sample of responses, we note that we have not yet seen a commentary that argues that the report of the AMA’s general handling of the situation will improve the angry mood toward the AMA as it moves into its biggest weekend of the year--AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days--which will bring together the type of members whose main interest is history, heritage, and the honor of the sport and organization.
The forecast? Stormy, hot, and heavy.
Jeff Smith returns his medal
Worse still, the Hall of Fame Chairman’s report has caused another leading personality of the sport to return his medal; this time two-times Motocross World Champion Jeff Smith.
Smith had previously resigned his position as a Hall of Fame committee member (scroll down to Motohistory News & Views 7/13/2012), but the report prompted him to go even further, not only returning his medal, but canceling his AMA membership of 42 years.
Further, he demands that his name and likeness be removed from all AMA paraphernalia. While this may seem a symbolic gesture, it could in fact have material damage for the Hall of Fame. For example, its acclaimed Motocross America exhibit would have been seriously diminished by removal of the artifacts, guidance, and images provided by Jeff Smith.
It should be noted that Smith’s decision will not curtail his sporting activities since the AMA kicked the American Historic Racing Motorcycle Association out of its program three years ago.
Below is Smith’s letter of protest and resignation:
July 14, 2012
To whom it may concern:
I find Mr. Heininger’s report less than convincing, long on procedural obfuscation but short on the real question. What happened during the 14 day period between the announcement of Nobby Clark’s induction and the announcement of his exclusion.
This is the time, presumably, when the AMA Chairman and AMA President must have been in serious discussions with Mr. Heininger and the fatally flawed decision was made. These discussions hold the clue to what really happened and why.
Since there can be no credible answer to this question I have decided to return my tarnished Hall of Fame medal received in the year 2000 to the AMA with my membership card of 42 years. I expect my name and likeness to be expunged from all AMA paraphernalia forthwith.
Why I disagree with the decision
to rescind Nobby Clark’s Hall of Fame award
By Don Emde
As soon as I learned about the decision by the AMHF to rescind Nobby Clark's previously announced Hall of Fame award, I expressed my concerns about their decision and warned them that this would not be received well. I consider Jeff Heininger, Stan Simpson and Rob Dingman all good friends and sometimes it is hard to talk to your friends when you truly believe they are on a bad course. But for the good of everyone involved I tried not to mince my words. I sent an email that read: “I hope our relationship is good enough that I can praise you for your successes, but also point out when you screw up. This is one of those times.” I added, “I really don’t see anything positive coming out of this. I am sure you had the intent of ‘doing the right thing,’ but that won’t be how this will end. Nobby is well known around the world and there was great joy for him when his election was announced, especially having fought such a tough battle with cancer.” I attached a few early comments I was seeing on social media, then concluded with: “Bad call there my friends.”
It is hard to argue that any error in the election process should not be fixed. And the Hall of Fame Election Committee has traditionally met every year the week of the AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days to go over how the system is working and what might need to be changed. (It was announced last week that with all of the recent developments, there would be no such meeting this year.)
But to the point, when there are problems, yes, fix them. Were there some problems this year? Yes. But did the problems justify rescinding an award already announced for this historic racing mechanic? Absolutely not.
As a small bit of background, in 1998 I was the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the American Motorcycle Heritage Foundation, the same position that Jeff Heininger is in today. My AMHF Board decided it was time to fulfill the last part of the AMHF's Mission Statement, which was the creation of a Hall of Fame. Working with Ed Youngblood, the AMA President at the time, we organized a meeting to get things rolling. Invited participants included Dick Mann, Bill Baird, Dave Despain and others with knowledge and experience to draw on. By-laws were created and we went to work on a first year's list which included every retired AMA Grand National Champion and numerous other champions and stars of years gone by in a effort to catch up quickly on 90+ years of motorcycling history in America.
During the years from there while I was on the AMHF Board, I also served as Chairman of the Election Committee. In that latter role, I think we made good progress to shore up process issues and expanded the participation on the various committees, all in an attempt to ensure an election process void of any credibility concerns. I later left the AMHF to devote more time to my business and other projects and my predecessors on the AMHF Board added some improvements to the awards programs leading up to the gala banquets of recent years in Las Vegas.
So all seemed to be going so well until the last day of June this year when the news broke that Nobby was being, essentially, removed from this year's class of Hall of Fame inductees after it was announced that he had been voted in. The reason given was that he should not have been on the ballot. That is what I disagree with. Anyone reading this has probably read the arguments previous to it, so you know that the AMHF's position is that only two names were supposed to go on the final ballot from each of the various committees, but that a clerical error had resulted in Nobby Clark's name and a few others improperly being added as well.
Not so. In July of 2011 the annual Hall of Fame Election Committee meeting was held in the conference room at the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame in Pickerington, Ohio. I was not a sub-committee chairman, but was in town for Vintage Motorcycle Days and being a voter on the Roadrace Sub-Committee was invited to attend, and did.
I participated in the discussion at that meeting specifically about how many names could go on the final ballot from each committee. The answer given was "Two, BUT, if a committee felt strongly enough about a third name, then that was okay to include." So that was what was in my head when I participated in the planned teleconference this past January of the Roadracing Sub-Committee.
That teleconference led by Roadrace chairman Mike Vancil was complicated by the fact that it was poorly attended. So Mike decided to make some personal phone calls after our meeting to get the choices from those who could not be on the phone call. When it was all said and done, Randy Renforw and Jarno Saarinen were listed as the two highest vote getters from the committee, but Nobby Clark was shown with the third highest number of votes. Since we did not know when we hung up on the call who the others would choose, Cook Neilson made the point that Nobby has been in ill health in recent years and urged Mike to have him included on the ballot within the top three names. So it was my belief that our committee exercised the option to include the three top vote getters.
Vancil later submitted an email to the AMHF office and rather than pare it down to only the top two or three, he included every candidate who received ANY votes. So the list given was six. The order of votes received was Renfrow, Saarinen and Clark, then John Long, Rob Muzzy and Lance Weil. And thru some miscommunication, all six made it onto the final ballot.
When my ballot arrived, I noted the large number from the roadracing category and talked on the phone with Don Rosene, the chairman of the Election Committee. He told me that he had held a teleconference with all his sub-committee chairmen and that Vancil reportedly indicated our committee wanted all six. Not sure why. That actually exceeded our number of choices, but in my mind it shows that at the next higher level Nobby Clark was identified as the third highest vote getter, the number provided for in the instructions at the 2011 meeting in Ohio.
So why do I feel that Nobby should not have been DQ'd? Here are my personal conclusions:
1.Were there mistakes made with this year's ballot? Yes. But the true result was that three additional names (John Long, Rob Muzzy and Lance Weil) made their way improperly onto the ballot. So the voters had three more options to vote for. I would say that if any of those three received enough votes to be elected, then they surely were on the ballot this year due to clerical errors and/or verbal misunderstandings. But Nobby was properly on the final ballot.
2. Did having John Long, Rob Muzzy and Lance Weil on the ballot assist Nobby Clark to be elected? I don't see how he would be a beneficiary, if anything he may have lost some votes to these other roadracing candidates, but he got elected anyway.
3. Should there have been any gray area allowed in the number of names to go on the ballot? Looking ahead, I would say no. But this year there was. The instructions to the sub-committee chairmen was up to three would be acceptable. And Nobby Clark was identified as #3 in the Roadracing category. So he clearly deserved to be on the ballot.
Now, to the "people" side of all this. Like elections of any type, the intent is to have it decided clearly on paper, but sometimes decisions and judgement calls have to be made. I think the most recent "statement" from the AMHF showing their review of what happened in the election was a good thing to do. But as shown above, there were some holes in their research.
To me if some error was obvious, that's one thing. But when you have already announced a winner, it is not fair and proper to rescind their award using arguable details.
If I were the one making the decision, and I think most would agree, if someone expressed some concern about Nobby's eligibility, I would say that we had already announced him as an inductee and we would have to live with it. Yes, let's plug any holes in the system for next year, especially do not allow any gray areas. But sorry, case closed.
In the end, one bad call by the AMA and AMHF leadership was not recognizing the consequences of pulling the rug out from under a great and deserving member of the motorcycle racing community. That damage now includes the subsequent resignations of many great stars such as Kenny Roberts, Dick Mann, Dave Despain, Dick Klamfoth and others.
Let’s have justice for Nobby. Put him in the Hall of Fame where he belongs.
Life Member of the AMA
Inducted to the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame 1999
Where I stand on this shifting ground
By Ed Youngblood
It is late Friday evening, at the end of a very hectic week. Earlier today, someone asked me, “Are you going to return your Hall of Fame medal?” I said, “I have not decided. If they don’t either agree to induct Nobby Clark or give a very damned good explanation as to why not by the first of the week, I think I will.”
Since that conversation, one Hall of Fame committee member – Dean Adams – has given an explanation that I frankly think belittled some of the people who have expressed genuine concern. I, for one, think that Dave Despain, Dick Mann, and Kenny Roberts are quite capable of making rational decisions. They are not doddering old fools who do things because they are misinformed and reactionary.
Next, Motorcycle Hall of Fame Chairman Jeff Heininger issued the findings of his investigation into the Clark controversy. It is a long and detailed report.
I am going to study both of these explanations carefully over the weekend. I want to try to look past the tone of Dean’s remarks to understand the useful substance. After this, I hope to state my opinion early next week.
Also, I have developed some concern that in the raw emotion of this situation, some may be accused of trying to tear down the Motorcycle Hall of Fame. This week I have had almost more e-mails and phone calls than I can cope with, and I personally have heard no such sentiment, even from those who are furious with the Hall of Fame.
More on that topic later as well. Have a good weekend.
Hall of Fame Chairman issues
findings of his investigation
Charles Falco is not satisfied;
Klamfoth and Fisher return medals;
More committee members resign
Late this afternoon the Chairman of the Motorcycle Hall of Fame issued the findings of his investigation into the Nobby Clark controversy. It is published in its entirety below:
To: Members of the boards of directors for the American Motorcycle Heritage Foundation (AMHF)
and the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA)
From: Jeffrey V. Heininger, AMHF Chairman
Re: Statement and review of the 2012 Hall of Fame induction process
Immediately following the disclosure by the AMHF on June 30 that it would not be inducting Derek “Nobby” Clark into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame due to an error in the Hall of Fame balloting process, I asked the AMA Board Chairman and the AMA President to assist the AMHF with a thorough review of our nomination process and its implementation.
That review began immediately. We undertook an investigation into the 2012 Motorcycle Hall of Fame election process, and the sequence of events that led to errors in the 2012 balloting.
I want to reiterate that I spoke to Mr. Clark before our announcement was made on June 30, and that I apologized to him on behalf of the Hall of Fame. The error was tragic and unfortunate but had to be corrected immediately. The process by which we select nominees for the Hall of Fame ballot must stand up to scrutiny, and cannot be the result of incompetence or backroom dealings.
It is also important to note that the decision not to induct Mr. Clark was not in any way a reflection on his accomplishments. Mr. Clark, like dozens of other candidates to the Hall of Fame, remains in the pool of applicants that is considered each year for inclusion on the Hall of Fame ballot.
Understanding how the induction process works is important. Names are submitted to the Hall of Fame for consideration, and applicants are reviewed by one of eight committees focused on specific categories of motorcycle history. Each year, those committees review the sizable pool of potential candidates and offer their recommendations to a balloting committee that is charged with setting that year’s ballot. The path for people who apply to the Hall of Fame is detailed at www.motorcyclemuseum.org/induction.
The balloting committee has complete authority in setting the ballot, including the number of available slots and the selection of nominees that will go on the ballot to fill those slots. The balloting committee considers the recommendations of the eight category committees when setting the ballot.
The ballot is then voted on by existing Hall of Fame members along with members of the AMHF and AMA boards of directors, and votes are tabulated. This year, for the first time, the names of the nominees listed on the ballot were released to the public on April 6.
Many people have made statements suggesting that we ignore the serious breakdown of our process and induct Mr. Clark as we had originally announced. When I became chairman, I did so with the understanding that the AMHF needed to become more transparent in its dealings and move away from the “good old boy” reputation we had been tagged with. Our error was one of procedure, and it had very serious implications. Had we ignored this error, not only would the democratic process that our committees follow have been undermined, the nominees whose names are rightfully on the ballot would not have received fair consideration in the voting process.
Below are the results of our investigation, details of actions taken thus far, and recommendations for further action. It is also my intention to establish a task force of individuals highly respected for their integrity so that we can develop the necessary checks and balances needed to ensure that the Hall of Fame induction process is adhered to going forward.
Findings, Actions Taken and Recommendations From An Internal Investigation Of The 2012 Motorcycle Hall of Fame Balloting
A thorough review of the circumstances that led to Derek “Nobby” Clark being included on the 2012 AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame ballot has been conducted. The following represent the findings of that review and recommendations. The Hall of Fame is overseen by the American Motorcycle Heritage Foundation (AMHF), which is wholly owned by the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA).
• The Hall of Fame Road Race Committee met Jan. 17 and recommended two names for the ballot as a result of their deliberations and voting on the pool of qualified candidates that came before them. Derek “Nobby” Clark was not one of the names submitted by the committee for the ballot. Clark’s name appeared in a summary email, sent Jan. 18, reporting the voting for all the candidates’ names considered by the committee, which showed that Clark received two votes out of a possible 14 from the seven-member committee (each member having cast two votes).
• Staff consolidated the recommendations of all committees and forwarded them to the Hall of Fame Balloting Committee in advance of its Feb. 23 meeting. Due to a clerical error by staff, the materials presented to the balloting committee for consideration for the 2012 ballot included all six names voted upon by the road race committee—four more than the two officially submitted by the road race committee. The ballot error was not caught or corrected during a staff review process.
• Subsequent to the committee deliberations and voting, two members of the road race committee sent emails on Jan. 18 to committee members suggesting that it would be “brilliant if we could squeeze Nobby Clark in somewhere.”
• At the balloting committee meeting Feb. 23, both the road race committee chairman and the balloting committee chairman were aware that the road race committee had voted to recommend two names, not six. At no time in that meeting was it pointed out that the road race committee had voted to recommend only two names. The full slate of six names was discussed only briefly during the balloting committee meeting and subsequently approved for the 2012 ballot. No action was taken to correct the error, or inform the balloting committee of the road race committee’s vote or recommendations. Therefore, the balloting committee acted without a full understanding of the road race committee’s intentions.
• Once the ballot was announced, a member of the road race committee inquired as to how it was possible that Mr. Clark was on the ballot when the road race committee had not recommend that his name be on the ballot.
• After Mr. Clark’s name appeared on the ballot in error, Mr. Clark received the third most votes of those appearing on the competition ballot, and it was therefore announced that he would be inducted with the 2012 class.
Actions Already Taken
• Once it was determined that a serious balloting error had occurred in the committee process, the chairman of the American Motorcycle Heritage Foundation (AMHF) Board of Directors, the chairman of the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) Board of Directors and the AMA President & CEO met to determine the appropriate course of action. Given the egregiousness of the error, it was determined that, to maintain the integrity of the Hall of Fame induction process and the Hall of Fame itself, Mr. Clark would not be inducted with the 2012 class.
• Mr. Heininger contacted Mr. Clark and explained the circumstances, and apologized for the mistake. A release was issued noting the balloting error, and announcing the start of this investigation.
• The inclusion of the additional names on the draft ballot presented to the balloting committee was the result of carelessness on the part of staff. Given that the balloting materials presented to the balloting committee would be used to set the ballot, there should have been greater scrutiny and review by the supervisors involved. Given the enormity of the error and the negative impact on both the Hall of Fame and the AMA, not to mention the anguish to which Mr. Clark has been subjected, the staff involved must be subject to disciplinary action.
• Both the road race committee chairman and the balloting committee chairman were aware of the results of the deliberations and voting of the road race committee and the subsequent submission by the road race committee of the two names for inclusion on the ballot. Neither took any action during the balloting committee deliberations to correct the error. Both therefore demonstrated a dereliction of their duties as committee chairmen to ensure that the balloting committee knew of the true recommendation of the road race committee. Given that this situation involves the balloting committee chairman, to whom the committee chairs look to for leadership and guidance, it is clear that the entire induction process must be thoroughly reviewed and scrutinized before resuming.
• All actions and activities of all of the Hall of Fame committees should be suspended immediately, and a task force should be convened to review the committees’ structure and membership, and recommend procedures to ensure the adherence to, and checks and balances within, the induction process.
• The task force should work quickly to complete its review in order to restore faith in the process and the institution. It should make recommendations to the AMHF and AMA Boards of Directors for their consideration and approval.
• There was no evidence to suggest any irregularity or breach of process for any of the other individuals slated for induction as part of the 2012 class.
• Although Derek “Nobby” Clark did not garner enough support from the road race committee this year, he remains on the list of names eligible for consideration for future nomination to the Hall of Fame.
Dr. Charles Falco, whose previous letter demanded answers (see Motohistory News & Views 7/11/2012), responded immediately that he was not satisfied. Falco is a former Director of the Motorcycle Heritage Foundation and--until now--a Hall of Fame committee member, a position which he has resigned in his response. Dr. Falco's letter is publised below:
Dear Mr. Heininger,
Unfortunately, the press release you issued this afternoon is a model of non-transparency. Its use of the passive voice throughout completely begs the question of who actually did what.
Although the press release wraps itself in the flag of proper procedure to justify the action to exclude Nobby Clark, it does not reference any text from the published HoF selection procedure for authorization to do this, nor say who actually decided to overrule the votes of the 250+ people who cast ballots, nor say who had input to this decision. Although the press release is vague on the actual dates, there appears to be a gap of at least two months between when it says the AMHF learned there was a problem with the ballot, and when it issued a glowing press release saying Nobby Clarke had been elected. No mention is made of what then transpired between that press release and the following one just two weeks later excluding him. Given the PR disaster that the AMHF has created for itself in this one case, for the AMHF to have investigated itself and concluded it made no mistake with any other case simply has no credibility.
This press release was the AMA's/AMHF's chance to begin to restore some of the credibility lost over the past two weeks. Instead, it has eroded that credibility even further. I hereby resign from my position on the HoF selection committee.
Earlier in the afternoon, two-times world champion Jeff Smith also resigned from his position as a Hall of Fame committee member. Smith's letter Motocross Committee Chairman Tom White is published below:
July 13th, 2012
For several years I have been a member of the Motocross and Supercross Committee charged with producing nominations from those disciplines for the AMA Hall of Fame. Under your Chairmanship I believe the Committee behaves with fairness and integrity in all its deliberations. I have continued on the committee because the Motorcycle Hall of Fame is something I feel strongly about and believe is a powerful good in our sport. It is an institution which transcends time and focuses on the positive aspects of motorcyclists and helps to preserve and explain the history of our sport. Besides, its fun to recognize the very best!
It is my opinion since the recent passion play, including a crucifixion, put on by the spineless leadership of AMA in the Nobby Clark fiasco, that I can no longer support such an organization. My disagreement is with an absurd management which can act in such an unprofessional, unethical and inhuman way to hurt the very association it controls.
I learned the details of what occurred from the press and internet not from any official notification. I do not wish to continue as a committee member and therefore resign.
And two more members of the Motorcycle Hall of Fame, Ed Fisher and Dick Klamfoth, have returned their medals. Fisher wrote:
To Whom It May Concern:
The enclosed medal was given to me in 2002 when I was inducted into the Motorcycle Hall of Fame. I regretfully am returning it as I do not want to be associated with an organization that is so irresponsible. The mismanagement of the Nobby Clark induction is catastrophic! The lack of a response from the AMA Hall of Fame is appalling.
Ed Fisher/AMA #29572
Kenny Roberts returns his Medal;
Jack Mangus quits committee;
Dean Adams explains
The latest development in reaction to the withdrawal of Nobby Clark from the 2012 Motorcycle Hall of fame induction list is the decision by Kenny Roberts to return his medal. This was reported mid-day in Cycle News.
In addition, long-time Cycle News Editor-In-Chief Jack Mangus, retired, has resigned his seat on the Hall of Fame Dirt Track Committee. He writes,
Gentlemen: Please accept this email as my resignation from the Dirt Track Committee of the AMA Museum Hall of Fame. I no longer want to be associated with the AMA as it is presently staffed and managed. I believe that included in the shortcomings is the manner in which inductees are selected each year, a method that now makes individual committee's time and efforts all but useless. The recent snafu over Nobby Clark is the last straw and I hereby pull the curtain down on the association.
While word is not yet forthcoming from the AMA, Dean Adams, a member of the Hall of Fame Road Racing Committee, offers his own explanation of the Nobby Clark reversal on his Superbike Planet web site.
Dick Mann returns
his Hall of Fame medal
Editor's Note: Overnight, we received the following letter to the Motorcycle Hall of Fame from Dick and Kay Mann.
July 12, 2012
Motorcycle Hall of Fame
13515 Yarmouth Dr.
Pickerington, OH 43147
Enclosed is the medal I received when I was inducted in the AMA Hall Of Fame in 1998. This is in response to the mismanagement of the HOF Directors of the induction/non-induction of Nobby Clark.
I was one of the original committee members involved in organizing the current Hall of Fame. Lately, I have watched this organization slide into mediocrity, apparently from the lack leadership and knowledge of the history of our sport.
Due to Nobby Clark’s contributions to the sport of motorcycles, it is my opinion there is no one more deserving of being inducted in the HOF. Since that is not going to happen, I no longer want to be considered a part of the Hall of Fame.
Dave Despain returns
Hall of Fame medal in protest
Editor's Note: The following letter was transmitted by motojournalist, television commentator, and Motorcycle Hall of Fame member Dave Despain at 5:54 EDT this afternoon.
July 12, 2012
Motorcycle Hall of Fame
13515 Yarmouth Dr.
Pickerington, OH 43147
To Whom It May Concern:
This letter and the enclosed medal commemorating my induction comprise my immediate resignation from the Motorcycle Hall of Fame. I expect my name and picture to be removed without delay from all Hall of Fame materials and representations.
I take this action in response to the Hall of Fame’s unconscionable rescinding of the nomination of Nobby Clark, a motorcycling legend more than worthy of Hall of Fame membership. I believe we Hall of Famers have a special stake in the integrity of the institution and its nominating process. I have lost all faith in that process and, more importantly, in the individuals who apparently now control it.
I am deeply suspicious of media speculation that Clark’s “criminal record” is somehow grounds for the withdrawal of his nomination but given the absence of any clear and official explanation from Hall of Fame officials, that apparently is the brush with which Nobby is to be tarred. This raises a couple obvious questions: What changed in the short time between the announcement and the rescinding of Clark's nomination and why would Clark's "criminal record" be grounds for a blackball when that clearly was not an issue for a number of previous inductees who also have criminal records.
I suspect the answers to these questions, if they were truly known, would do nothing to restore my faith in the integrity of the institution but in the end my resignation does not turn on those answers. Instead it is based on a simple and inescapable conclusion; given everything Nobby Clark has accomplished in this sport, if he doesn’t belong in the Motorcycle Hall of Fame then I sure as hell shouldn’t be in there.
Integrity and the Motorcycle Hall of Fame
By Ed Youngblood
Just two weeks after sending out a press release that gave Nobby Clark (pictured here) one of the most laudatory introductions any Motorcycle Hall of Fame nominee has ever received, the AMA sent out another release saying, “Oops, sorry, check that, we’re not going to induct him after all.”
This second release claimed Mr. Clark should have never been on the ballot. It raised more questions than it answered, and turned downright ominous when Motorcycle Heritage Foundation Chairman Jeff Heininger said that Clark’s removal was necessary to protect the integrity of the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame (see our original story at Motohistory News & Views 7/2/2012).
Did this imply that the process had been so fouled up that Mr. Clark had to be sacrificed so the Hall of Fame could get its integrity back? Or did it suggest that something so awful was discovered about Mr. Clark that the powers at the AMA and the Hall of Fame could not possibly honor him? As I said, more questions than answers.
But something like an answer came shortly (July 2) at Road Racing World under the bold red headline, “Criminal Case Played a Role in AMA Hall of Fame Decision to Rescind Nobby Clark’s Impending Induction.” But wait, this may just be speculation, because in finer type were the words “First Person/Opinion.” This “opinion” was penned by Michael Goughis, not by web site publisher John Ulrich, who is also a member of the AMA Board of Directors.
We’ll take this editorial at face value, as one man’s opinion. Some might conclude that Mr. Ulrich chose to use his site to turn a negative spotlight on Mr. Clark and away from the AMA. I wouldn’t, because I trust there is an impervious firewall between Mr. Ulrich journalist and Mr. Ulrich AMA official, and that he would never use his web site as a junkyard dog on behalf of the AMA. I believe he has too much integrity for that.
But, for the sake of argument, let’s explore the ramifications of zeroing in on Mr. Clark for his “character,” as evidenced by prior legal problems. What do we do about multi-time Grand National Champion in the Motorcycle Hall of Fame who spent time in the slammer for drug trafficking? What about the Hall of Famer who went to jail for beating the hell out of a business associate with a baseball bat? What about the two guys—one a Grand National Champion—who had their AMA licenses suspended for fraud and forgery? Or the publisher and entrepreneur who went to Leavenworth for federal mail fraud? And the high AMA official who was convicted of embezzlement?
Since the Motorcycle Hall of Fame has traditionally focused on an individual’s contribution to the sport and industry, and always been forgiving of “off-track” behavior, surely “character” cannot suddenly be the issue with Mr. Clark. In fact, there are rumors afloat that a third party may have bullied AMA officials into reversing the decision of the Hall of Fame, which, flawed or not, was carried out through due and democratic process.
Surely not. Would the AMA’s CEO Rob Dingman and Chairman Stan Simpson punish an individual or even a group of members because some vindictive guy threatened them? I doubt it. I believe they have too much integrity, not to mention courage.
Some members of the Hall of Fame committees I have spoken to have been very critical of the reversal of the decision involving Mr. Clark, and some have begun to demand answers from Mr. Heininger as to who was involved and why and how (see Motohistory News & Views 7/11/2012 below). When the very experts entrusted with evaluating nominees and maintaining the integrity of the Hall of Fame don’t know what is going on, something really smells.
One committee member told me that he did not even receive notice of the reversal on Mr. Clark, and that if he had not read it at Motohistory he would not have known about it. Surely Mr. Heininger is not running roughshod over his own team of respected and knowledgeable volunteers, some of which are themselves members of the Motorcycle Hall of Fame. He places too much value on integrity to do something like that. He's just told us so.
I hope a reasonable explanation is forthcoming, and that Mr. Clark has not been the victim of either outside coercion or a sudden urge by the powers within the AMA to define the moral high ground in protection of their own “integrity.”
One thing I can tell you about people who define moral high ground then stand on it (whether they are moral or not). They are apt to find it a very slippery, lonely, and unpopular place.
My unsolicited advice? Stop this nonsense now. Give Mr. Clark his medal and climb out of this hole before you dig it deeper. That's the other thing about standing on self-declared moral high ground. You look around and discover you're really standing in a hole, and that everyone else is standing above you.
Mr. Clark's photo by Winnie Scheibe.
The Nobby Clark affair:
Hall of Fame committee member
Editor’s Note: The following e-mail was sent by Hall of Fame committee member Dr. Charles Falco to Motorcycle Heritage Foundation Chairman Jeff Heininger today. It raises the troubling issue of whether the prescribed committee process has been overruled by outside parties in the matter of Nobby Clark's removal from the 2012 list of inductees.
From: Falco, Charles M.
Sent: Wednesday, July 11, 2012 12:55 PM
Subject: The Hall of Fame election process
Dear Mr. Heininger,
I just learned that after Nobby Clark having been elected to the HoF and a press release issued to this effect, a subsequent press release issued by you two weeks later stripped him of this honor. Were the people on the HoF selection committees made aware of this latter action before it was taken? Did I miss an email asking for my input? My question isn't about whether or not Nobby Clark deserves the honor, but about the HoF election process that all of us spend time taking part in.
Are the various HoF committees actually selecting (or de-selecting) the people being inducted, or are the actual decisions being made by you alone, without consulting with us? We go through a rather elaborate and time-consuming nomination, winnowing, and final selection process to arrive at the people put forward for induction. If this is all just a façade, and the actual decisions are made by someone else, I'd rather spend my time on other activities.
Again, this isn't about the merits of Nobby Clark, it's about the HoF election process itself. Given that there were two weeks between the press releases, it appears there wasn't so much urgency in this specific matter that, say, 24 hours couldn't have been found to conduct an email poll of the voting members. Even if not everyone was able to respond in those 24 hours, at least there would have been the semblance of democracy.
I think everyone serving on all of the committees deserves a full explanation from you of what went on, who made the various decisions, and why you felt it necessary to overturn our votes without consulting us in advance. Thank you.
p.s. I don't have email addresses of everyone on all of the committees, but am cc'ing it to the ones whose email addresses I do have.
Motorcycle Hall of Fame
removes Nobby Clark
from 2012 induction list
On June 30, the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame announced that legendary motorcycle technician Derek “Nobby” Clark would not be inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2012, as previously announced.
In a terse announcement, Jeffrey V. Heininger, chairman of the American Motorcycle Heritage Foundation, which oversees the selection process for the Hall of Fame, stated that Mr. Clark’s name never should have been on the ballot. He said this was due to an error in the Hall of Fame balloting process, but did not elaborate or clarify that error. Heininger added that the action had to be taken to ensure the integrity of the Hall of Fame.
The removal of Mr. Clark from this year’s list of inductees came only 14 days after he was declared in through a release on June 16 containing extensive praise of his qualifications. That release is published verbatim below:
<< The American Motorcyclist Association Motorcycle Hall of Fame is pleased to announce the third member of the induction class of 2012. World championship tuner Derek "Nobby" Clark, whose bikes claimed 17 FIM world titles in multiple displacements from the 1960s through 1980, will be inducted into the Hall of Fame as part of the 2012 AMA Legends Weekend at the Red Rock Resort in Las Vegas, Nev., Nov. 16-17.
Don Rosene (Chairman of the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame Selection Committee and a member of the American Motorcycle Heritage Foundation) says: "I first saw Nobby Clark in 1967 at the Grand Prix of Canada.
"He was tuning for the Honda factory team and Mike Hailwood and Jim Redmond, a couple of the greatest roadracers of all time. The list of greats Nobby worked with is long, including Kenny Roberts. All great racers need great tuners. Nobby was, and is, the tuner of World Champions. We welcome him into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame."
For 25 years, Clark was one of the world's leading motorcycle race mechanics. In addition to 17 FIM Grand Prix world titles, earned in classes ranging from 50cc to 500cc, he won three Daytona 200s, one Daytona 100, four Imola 200s and eight Italian championships working with some of the greatest motorcycle racers in history.
Nobby Clark says: "This was a great surprise. It's a great honor to be inducted. With many of the guys I worked for already in the Hall of Fame, all I can say is I know I'm in good company."
Clark not only excelled at the highest level, tuning for some of history's greatest racers, but also worked with racing's most memorable personalities, including Hall of Famers Hailwood, Giacomo Agostini and Roberts.
Nobby Clark says: "Of course they all loved to race. Mike, especially, loved to race and more than Kenny and more than Ago, the money didn't come into it with Mike. He just loved to race. If he could have raced seven days a week, he would have done that. Mike also was the best at racing around problems with the bike. He would still try to win, and think he could win, no matter what.
"Kenny, I respect him for coming in from America and winning. It was different in every way, a different league, a different culture. Even the dogs, when you whistled at them, they would look at you and say, 'I don't understand that kind of whistle.' But Kenny adapted and progressed and he represented the vanguard of American riders coming to Europe."
Clark was born Sept. 29, 1936, in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia). He studied engineering at Bulawayo Technical High School and did his apprenticeship for Rhodesia Railways. As a vibrant motorcycling counter-culture developed in Zimbabwe, Clark's high-school friend, Gary Hocking, built a reputation first on the streets of Bulawayo then on local racetracks. Hocking's exploits ultimately took him to Europe, and he encouraged Clark to follow.
In 1960, Hocking got a ride with MV Agusta and hired Clark as his tuner. That year, Hocking was runner up in 125, 250 and 350cc FIM World Championships. In 1961, he won the 350 and 500cc titles on bikes tuned by Clark.
Clark went to work for the factory Honda team and Jim Redman following Hocking's death in a Formula One car crash in 1962. He stayed with Honda, where he worked with Hailwood, and then joined a Yamaha satellite team in 1971. The following year, he moved to the Yamaha factory team.
Clark is the third member of the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame class of 2012 to be announced. He joins the late Rod Bush, KTM North America president and industry visionary, and pioneering female motocrosser Sue Fish. The rest of the 2012 inductees will be announced in random order in the coming weeks. >>
As indicated by the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame’s announcement, Mr. Clark’s achievements are extensive, but may best be summarized by the reverse side of his business card, shown at the head of this story.
Updates: 3:30 pm EDT July 2: More posted on this story at
July 3: Mark Gardner weighs in at BikeWriter.com.