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The Nobby Clark Fiasco: Waiting for the dust to settle

by Richard Backus


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Outrage. That one word probably best describes the atmosphere surrounding the embattled American Motorcyclist Association Motorcycle Hall of Fame and its mishandling of the Nobby Clark fiasco. In an utterly botched series of moves, the Hall of Fame announced Nobby Clark’s induction into the Hall of Fame then abruptly made an about face and said it was all a mistake, stripping Nobby of the announced honor.

This has played out like a bizarre soap opera, with parties left and right of the episode dishing out their opinions of what went wrong and why. Outrage over the affair has prompted a handful of motorcycling’s greatest icons to resign or otherwise remove themselves from the Hall of Fame. The list includes greats like Kenny Roberts, Jeff Smith, Dick Mann, Ed Fisher, Dick Klamfoth, former AMA president Ed Youngblood and motor journalist Dave Despain. That doesn’t include many other important players in this drama, including Hall of Fame committee members Jack Mangus and Charles Falco.

The AMA has done a remarkably poor job of damage control, choosing to obfuscate and otherwise deflect responsibility for a situation for which it is wholly responsible. While opinions flare and vary concerning the nature of the AMA’s sin – was it one of omission or commission? – there is no circumventing the essential issue that the AMA has failed to create a transparent, believable and reliable organization in its stewardship of motorcycling rights, responsibility and culture.

We’d like to think that the powers that be within the AMA are reeling at this series of blunders, how this situation got so out of control so quickly and what they should do to contain it. 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. It’s about the entire culture of the AMA and its privileged position to represent the community and culture of motorcyclists.

Importantly, we’re only just hearing from the man at the center of this debacle, Derek “Nobby” Clark, who has been understandably quiet on the subject. He didn’t start this fire, and it’s not really his to put out. Be that as it may, in an interview today with Cycle News Nobby condemns the AMA for its handling of the entire affair.

Much has been written on this unfolding drama, and some of the best information available is on Ed Youngblood’s Motohistory.net site, which contains links and references to almost every important discussion – pro and con – relating to the fiasco. Click here to read more at Motohistory.net Richard Backus