By Larry Lawrence
Over the years you’ve probably found that one of the most popular pastimes for motorcyclists – especially those involved in racing – is AMA bashing. It’s good clean fun for everyone and I myself haven’t been above partaking in this honored tradition. In fact I could fairly be viewed as “Basher in Chief” at times. That being said, when the AMA gets something right, or at least tries to, it’s only fair that we give them a little bit of praise.
The July 1st release announcing that Derek “Nobby” Clark would in fact, not be inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 2012 after all, was a clear case of the AMA trying to do the right thing.
This morning my email lit up like a Fourth of July fireworks show. People were asking me about the Clark release, or wanted me to join in a little AMA bashing. I must admit, at first I thought this was prime bashing territory, but after making a few calls and getting a more complete story I realized the AMA was simply trying to make the best of a bad situation.
In fact they took the high road in this case.
Famed tuner Nobby Clark was announced as a 2012 Motorcycle Hall of Fame inductee on June 11. I don’t know the exact procedure that gave Clark the nod into the Hall of Fame, but it sounds like he was not elected in by the normal voting process.
Then there was the unfortunate revelation that 14 years ago Clark pleaded guilty to stealing historic race bike parts when he was contracted by Team Obsolete. Friends of Clark say that it was a trumped up case and he was innocent, but the bottom line was he pleaded guilty in the 1998 case.
Upper management of the AMA apparently did not know, or was not made aware of this case until after the announcement of Clark’s induction was made public. Then when later presented with this evidence they faced a conundrum.
The AMA could have swept this under the carpet and quietly not inducted Clark into the Hall of Fame, but they knew ultimately there would be questions.
So they decided to face up to the problem and announce that a procedural problem was the cause of Clark not being inducted into the Hall of Fame. In other words they tried not to throw Clark under the bus by mentioning the theft charges.
I think it was an admirable thing – to acknowledge that mistakes were made in the election process and leaving it at that certainly left a lot of questions in the Clark situation, but it was probably the best way to handle it given the circumstances.
As I said before, the AMA tried to do the right thing, even though they knew they would look bad in the process.
It’s a tough situation all the way around. Could it have been avoided? Perhaps, but I have to say I’m very encouraged by the fact that the AMA owned up to a mistake, stated that they are taking steps to correct those mistakes and made those pronouncements publically.
Bash if you will, but this is the kind of openness and honesty that AMA members and others in the industry have been calling for and I applaud them for doing the right thing.