Cycle News is reporting that Kenny Roberts Sr., the Godfather of American Road Racing, is leaving the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame, after getting wind that Dave Despain and Dick Mann had made similar gestures regarding their status with the Hall of Fame. The blowout comes after Derek “Nobby” Clark was inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame, only to have his name withdrawn from the organization’s list of distinguished members. The reason given by the AMA was that there was an error in the balloting process for submitting Clark’s name to the voting ballot, though some outside the AMA say the reason Clark was removed was because of his criminal record, or for other reasons.

Working on the race bikes of motorcycling greats like Kenny Roberts Sr., Giacomo Agostini, and Mike Hailwood, the support for Clark has been resounding in the old-guard of American motorcycling, which is where the resignations from Despain and Mann come into play. This of course has created a cascade effect, where now King Kenny has also voiced his desire to leave the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame. Others are sure to follow suit with King Kenny after the delicious quote he gave Cycle News: “I just emailed Chris Carter and asked him where I send my shit back. I don’t get it. If Dick Mann is resigning from the Hall of Fame, I don’t need to be in it. It’s bad that it has to come to this, but what are you going to do. If Nobby doesn’t deserve to be in there, nobody does.”

Like everything with the AMA, the issue with inducting Clark into the Hall of Fame is a convoluted one at best, as it shows an interesting dynamic to the old-boy network that is alive and well within the American motorcycle community. On the issue at hand, Roadracing World published an interesting play-by-play of what happened behind the scenes regarding Nobby’s induction, balloting, and removal, which included some quotes from Superbikeplanet‘s Dean Adams.

Adams, who sits on the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame’s Roadrace Committee, has his own interesting dissection of what transpired, which includes his own analysis of the movings and shakings inside the AMA and the AMA Hall of Fame. It paints a disturbing picture of either wanton or willful negligence as to how the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame operates, as well as how the inner-cliques of the industry work with and against each other.

Depending on what side of the fence you sit on regarding Nobby’s place in the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame, the situation may strike you differently. However, there are a few universal takeaways from the situation, namely that the AMA, and its various entities, continues to act like a real-life version of Lord of the Flies — I am still not certain to this day what this organization does, if anything.

It certainly sounds like the manner that Clark, and likely many other Hall of Famers, was inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame was at the very least without proper process, or at the very worst, downright unethical. And it should shock no one that the AMA, like any large organization, has its factions of parties and cliques of cool kids. Lastly, it is not a surprise that the AMA’s handling of the situation lacked anything remotely close to what could be described as finesse — even if the organization acted correctly in rescinding Clark’s induction to the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame.

From where I sit, it is unsurprising that the publications leading the charge on the issue, and doing the heavy journalistic lifting (kudos to them by the way,) are the stalwart publications of the old-guard in American motorcycling — it just seems that the industry can’t but help show its age when it comes to issues like this, and then act accordingly.

As a newcomer to the motorcycle industry (and by definition an outsider), I have had only just a passing interest in the whole story as it has unfolded over the course of this week, as many of the men involved in this story made their names and had their careers well before I was even born (I can’t even begin to comment on the validity of the arguments of whom should be in the Hall of Fame, and who shouldn’t be).

Maybe I should have a better understanding regarding the history of American road racing as it existed before I did, but then again the sport the way it was back then looks nothing like how it does today, both from a technical and sociological perspective. It is just s shame that the old guard hasn’t realized the level of change that has occurred around them as well, and changed with the times accordingly.

While more learned players will debate the finer merits of what is going on here with Nobby Clark, I can’t help but wonder about how many younger riders are being disenfranchised by the whole debacle that is still unfolding. We may not know the names, or even really care about the actors involved, but we can see plain as day that the AMA, and American motorcycling as an institution, has serious issues internally and externally.

If you ever want to know why the motorcycle industry is having a hard time finding fresh meat for the grinder, here is a great example why rider demographics in the 20-40 age bracket continue to struggle. It’s not our cause, it’s not our fight, and some might just make it not our sport.

Source: AMA, Cycle News, Roadracing World, Superbike Planet

  • Campisi

    I became disenfranchised with the AMA when, as a twenty-two-year-old, I realised they were more interested in removing helmet laws than advocating for lane-splitting or rational motorcycle parking regulations.

  • Pat Walker

    Do a internet search for
    stupid enough to f’k up a wet dream
    and the ama’s home page pops up.

  • Edward

    I thought I was reading about the republican party until I woke up and saw the AMA.

    Even though it is exactly the same thing.

  • pooch

    What an effing beautiful piece of sculpture. I want that for my living room – now!

  • 76

    +1 Exactly

    Some of these guys in the AMA need to get shown the door, but I even question that statement, I dont know if the AMA needs to continue when its stuff like this that bothers them and gets them to act. I applaud the Riders who stood up for Knobby, I dont even know the story other than how ridiculous it sounds but I’m going to automatically side with the riders.

  • Slangbuster

    During the last forty years, I have watched the AMA make some pretty stupid moves but this one takes the cake and exposes the underbelly of one of the most inept organizations I have ever seen. They are only overshadowed by their consistency of those bad decisions and their arrogance. Right now, the AMA is in a mode of damage control that resembles “The Eric Holder School of Tap Dance”. Charlie Sheene and Britney Spears could make better decisions and be more accountable than these morons. The AMA is an embarrassment. So far, you have Dave Despaine, Kenny Roberts and Dick Mann all resigning from the AMA Hall of Fame and it does not look like it’s even close to being over….looks like it’s just getting started.

  • Pingback: Dave Humphreys()

  • I get their feeler letters every year about joining the AMA, and they go right in the round file, unopened. I’ve never agreed with the ‘helmet-less’ laws stance. And their unending snafus (like this) just make me distance myself from them even more.

    If ONLY the AMA were more like the NRA. Say what you will about the NRA, but they are a bulldog when it comes to advancing their cause(s) and standing up for their members. In many ways, motorcyclists are not that different from gun owners when it comes to legislation or presence in the DC. We could use way more than this AMA offers.

  • DareN

    I thought I was reading about the AMA issues and I woke up and saw Huffington Post web site…

  • joe

    If Dick Mann and Kenny Roberts Sr say someone is important enough to be there, they should be. Who can question them?

  • Norman Gaines

    While it is obviously true that the AMA has again managed to make a huge mistake where none was called for, the really revealing part of the actual article – you did read it, didn’t you? – is the writer’s whole snotty “why should younger riders care about this old-guy stuff” attitude. Just because the names mentioned happen to be famous – no, legendary – figures in US and world motorcycling, gee, who cares about that? After all, Mr. Beeler says “We may not know the names, or even really care about the actors involved..”.

    Man, that’s shallow.

    You ride a motorcycle but have never heard of, say, the only two men in history who ever won at least one of each type of Championship event in the AMA professional championship calendar? You’ve never heard of the rider whose championships uniquely came 7 years apart,further apart than any other pro rider? Ah, boring old history, huh?

    Perhaps the real problem here is that American motorcycling has been putting too much time into trying to get people involved who just really don’t care about motorcycling per se at all. Because if you don’t know or care about where it’s been, you can’t help it get anywhere, either.

    And then there’s the whole “’s not our cause and it’s not our fight” junk. Yeah, why care about whether someone is done dirty or not? Let somebody else do something, while you stare into your Smartphone.

    Just sayin’.

  • JoeD

    I have also put those AMA papers in the round file. 40 years of riding and 40 years of AMA bungling. It is a shame that the group has the say in what happens over here. I remember the way the commitee tried to keep George Kerker and his Guzzi out of racing because the bike was a threat to that overly hyped brand HD. That was back in the sixties and there are other examples of the group propping up favorites and stifling honest competition. Maybe it is time for the good ones at the org to form another entity with honesty, openess and credibility as the guiding standards. What we have now is far from it. Thank You Mr. Roberts. It shows there are still good men with a spine and the will to do what is right.