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By Michael Gougis
The AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame's unprecedented decision to rescind Nobby Clark's pending induction centers on the debate - or lack thereof - by the road racing nominating committee about Clark's conviction for stealing rare historic racebike parts, according to one of the committee members.
AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame road racing nomination committee member Dean Adams told Roadracingworld.com that he brought up Clark's criminal record to other committee members during nomination discussions, and that Clark's nomination was never voted on at the committee level. Adams said that Clark's name was then placed on the ballot after the committee had finished deliberating, in a clear deviation from the established process. Other candidates were also placed on the ballot without a committee vote, Adams said.
In a follow-up e-mail to Roadracingworld.com, Adams wrote:
"I think I have been on the road race committee of the AMA Hall of Fame since it was organized in the early 1990s. Somewhere I have an old Compuserve e-mail from former AMA man Bill Amick asking me to join the process. It has always been a huge matter of pride for me to contribute to this effort, and I single out pushing for American racer Pat Hennen to be nominated and then inducted as very much an accomplishment.
"Increasingly, over the last five years or so, I have become quite mystified as to how the mechanics of the Hall of Fame were actually being accomplished in terms of the committee and voting process. Many times I have fielded comments from respected enthusiasts wondering how certain persons were able to get into the Hall in the road race category. Be that as it may, the situation that developed with Nobby Clark is one that makes me wonder whether the entire process doesn't need a bit more due diligence and some focus on what the core mission of the HOF is"”to award truly HOF level merit.
"Nobby's racing accomplishments speak for themselves. That said, the voting process that culminated with Clark being almost inducted into the HOF was slap dash and not born of a fair consensus. Seeing names on the final ballot that were never discussed by all, or voted on, or apparently giving different voting instructions to different committee members, to me, is an indication that changes need to be made at the HOF.
"I have been saying for years that the one man who should be intimately involved in the HOF is writer and photographer Larry Lawrence. I believe that Larry is the best independent racing historian that motorcycling has today, is well organized and is universally well-respected for his abilities, actions and opinions. It's a shame that his talent can't be utilized by the HOF."
At post time, neither AMA spokesman James Holter nor AMA spokesman Pete Terhorst had returned calls requesting comment.
The Inside Info section of the December, 1998 issue of Roadracing World detailed the charges against Clark, as follows:
Former Grand Prix crewman Derek "Nobby" Clark pleaded guilty September 28 in a New York State Court to stealing Honda and MV Agusta Grand Prix racebike parts, falsifying business records and improperly attempting to sell a racebike belonging to Rob Ianucci's Team Obsolete. Clark was facing trial for five criminal charges for theft, possession of stolen property, falsifying business records and soliciting a bribe when he elected to take a plea bargain deal and "fully admit his guilt to all charges in return for leniency." According to court documents released to the press by Team Obsolete in response to a newsletter item which claimed Clark had been framed on trumped-up charges, the evidence against Clark included stolen parts recovered from Clark's luggage and from several boxes being shipped by Clark to relatives in South Africa, documents in Clark's handwriting, a videotape witnessed by a NYPD detective showing actually recovery of some of the stolen parts and testimony from several independent witnesses, including a Texas attorney. A press release accompanying the court documents stated "Before reporting matters to the police, Team Obsolete had first offered Clark 30 days to return the stolen property without any penalty or disclosure. Clark denied all knowledge and refused." The release quoted Ianucci as saying "Team Obsolete takes no joy in the fact that Nobby Clark has entered a plea of guilty in this extended criminal matter. All of us were personally affected by this long criminal proceeding and we really only agreed to the reduced charge so that we as victims could get on with the business of racing historic motorcycles. You work with someone and you think you know them, but this shows that there are people who are prepared to risk prison to take motorcycles or even motorcycle parts. This might be a lesson to owners everywhere." Ianucci added that he was "issuing a worldwide appeal for the safe return of" still-missing parts, including "a GP Honda 350/4 crankshaft and for several Honda 250/6 original pistons and con rods...No questions will be asked." More information is available from Team Obsolete at (718) 596-0504, e-mail email@example.com.
Documents related to Clark's arrest and conviction can be seen below.
Clark Arrest Record
This just in from AMA, via e-mail:
Thanks for your inquiry to the AMA regarding the recent announcement about
As noted in the press release, Mr. Clark will not be inducted due to an
error in the Hall of Fame balloting process. Mr. Clark was a candidate for
induction, but was not recommended for nomination by the road racing
category committee. To preserve the integrity of the Hall of Fame, we
needed to correct this mistake immediately. We owe it to the Hall of Fame
members, and our many supporters and donors, as well as to those whose
names were intended to be on the ballot.
We are undertaking a thorough review of our nomination process and its
implementation. Changes resulting from this review will be announced at a
American Motorcyclist Association