The AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame selection committee has a relatively straight-forward job. It selects potential candidates, debates their merits, and votes whether to enshrine them in the Hall. Something went wrong with the process this year, resulting in some embarrassment for the Hall and a review of how candidates get chosen.
It all started back in April when the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame released a list of 26 candidates who were nominated for induction for 2012. The list included several good candidates including Derek “Nobby” Clark, a championship-winning race tuner who has worked with the likes of Mike Hailwood, Kenny Roberts and Giacomo Agostini. This marked the first time the Hall released a shortlist of candidates. Previously, the Hall only announced those who were eventually selected.
Months later, the Hall began announcing those who had been selected for the Class of 2012. On June 11, the Hall announced Clark had been chosen, releasing a full press release with quotes attributed to Clark about being selected.
All seemed well until June 30 when the Hall announced there was a mistake and Nobby Clark was mistakenly advanced by a subcommittee to the final ballot for voting from the entire selection body. Clark received enough support from the overall vote but because he wasn’t supposed to be on the ballot, the Hall decided to rescind his selection.
Many of Clark’s supporters disagreed with how the whole episode was handled, with SpeedTV personality and Hall of Fame member Dave Despain writing to the Hall saying Clark was being unfairly blackballed and asking for himself to be removed from the Hall. This led to fellow Hall of Fame members Roberts, Dick Mann and Charles Falco to also ask to be removed.
Seeking to make things right, the American Motorcycle Heritage Foundation said it would hold a supplemental vote to decide whether to induct Clark with the 2012 class. Seeing as how Clark received enough support in the initial vote, it was no surprise the supplemental vote decided in favor of inducting Clark.
In November, Clark was finally inducted to the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame alongside the late president of KTM America Rod Bush, off-road racer Ty Davis, former Supercross Champion Jimmy Ellis, female motocrosser Sue Fish, motorcycle restorer Brian Slark and “Airborne Al” Wilcox, the longtime AMA racing flag man who passed away in 2011.
The AMA and the American Motorcycle Heritage Foundation later formed a task force to review the Hall’s selection process and suggest changes.