Another year has passed by and with it has gone the finest year in the history of motorcycle sport. From January 1, 1935, to January 1, 1936, it has been an un-ending series of motorcycle activities that have embraced every phase of the sport. It has been a year of keen competition; a year in which many records were broken; a year of real achievements; and a year that has firmly entrenched motorcycle sport in the minds of the public. It has also been a year that has furnished a lot of “headaches.” However, it all evens up and we can safely say that your organization, the American Motorcycle Association, has traveled far along the road which will eventually make it one of the greatest and finest organizations in the world.
There has never been a year to better bring out the wonderful support and cooperation that is the real reason why your organization is growing. No one man can do the job and it has been the work of a lot of untiring individuals, who by their efforts and loyalty, have built up the A.M.A and sport activities in their territory. It would not be fair to pick out certain individuals, but each of these fellows know what they have done and each of them are the type that wants no loud acclaim for their efforts. They have not had time to devote to continual criticism of the A.M.A. nor have they used the A.M.A. as an alibi for any of their short comings or failures. They have realized that we cannot be right all of the time and have worked just that much harder to help build the sport and to profit by experiences that united we stand, divided we fall.
During this past year, the A.M.A. has made mistakes. What organization doesn’t? We are mindful of that slogan “to escape criticism-be nothing, do nothing and say nothing.” The secretary has been the most cussed fellow in the country, for trying to make the A.M.A. something real; for trying to tell the world that the A.M.A. represents the “Greatest sport in the World.”
We have been cussed for nearly everything. We realize that we cannot please everyone. We get disliked by Indian riders when the decision favors Harley-Davidson riders. We are disliked by Harley-Davidson riders when the decision favors Indian riders. We are immediately placed in the category of being either pro- Indian or pro-Harley-Davidson. In the case of a local faction decision, we are either a swell guy or a “heel,” depending on which way the wind was blowing. If a rider loses a contest, the best alibi in the world is that it was the fault of the A.M.A. If weather caused the postponement of an event, it is our fault because we granted the sanction; if the sanction had not been granted it would have caused several caustic letters to the effect that we “let the club down.” Some sections of the country want more and more of those meetings which are held along with moving pictures and general whoopee; other sections figure that the meetings are not so good and we should be doing something else for the benefit of the sport. One group is not keen for taking the moving pictures, another group thinks they are the “berries” and so it goes.
These are the “headaches” that must be a part of any sport and we are mighty proud of the fact they are in the minority. That is why I said at the beginning, it has been the wonderful help and support of hundreds of fellows that has made possible the record compiled this past year. They overshadow those who feel that everything that we do is wrong, with their help we are bound to grow substantially to bigger and better things.
We cannot commend too highly the efforts of the various factory travelers who, although they have a thousand and one things to do when they call on the various dealers, always have time to talk A.M.A., help solve the problems that confront all of us and assist in the organization of the clubs that are springing up in every section.
Then, there are the individual dealers, who have seen the picture and realize just what we are endeavoring to do for the sport. They have seen that every effort they have put forth in behalf of the A.M.A. has been brought back to them in the way of increased sales and real enthusiasm in their territories. These fellows sure have done great jobs in their territories and are the ones who will show real sales record this next year. They are the same chaps who haven’t time to do anything but boost.
There are the riders, who have neither factory nor dealer affiliation, but who simply love the sport and their unceasing efforts to build the A.M.A. are much appreciated. They are the fellows you find in most every club that is a real up and coming club. In many cases they carry the club on their back. Usually they are not appreciated nor do they get a “thank-you” for their work. The boys figure “let George do it” and he does. We know what these unsung heroes are doing and our hat is off to them. They are the fellows who are making motorcycle history and to them goes loads of appreciation for their efforts.
All of these factors have been the reason for the growth of the A.M.A. and for the great year of sport activities that we have gone through.
Several worthwhile services on the part of the A.M.A. were added this past year. Probably the most important was the Club Activity Contest that we sponsored for the clubs. It was the means of retaining many clubs which otherwise might have dropped out or disbanded due to lack of interest on the part of members. We were able to combat this situation through the Activity Contest and it was the means of stirring up more enthusiasm and interest in club life than ever before. Hundreds of letters from clubs taking advantage of this contest attest this fact.
In general Club attendance at the regular meetings increased to a point near 80% of the club membership. Most every club reported dues were paid almost one hundred per cent. The increase in the number of boys taking part in club sanctioned events was three times that of the preceding year. To top it all off, those trophies the A. M.A. donated made a hit with the winners. We know of riders who traveled a great many miles in order to keep up around the top on the contest for his club. The total mileage traveled by the members of clubs in the contest would give the rubber companies heart failure.
This help to the clubs, the library of motion pictures, and the other services we were able to render to them at absolutely no charge, sure made a hit and it has been the means of increasing our club registration to a new high. Also we retained a lot who might have gone by the boards.
The service pin idea met with great favor on the part of the individual members and the three-year pin will be ready for the fellows as they renew in 1936.
From a legislative angle, we were able to devote considerable time to the things that have been adverse to motorcycling. We were able to help keep compulsory insurance out of Ohio and to be a party to a new law that places a premium on safe riding without paying a great big insurance fee. The same applied to the State of Pennsylvania. This matter of compulsory insurance is coming up in most every State, but fortunately we have been able to work with the A.A.A. on this and kept it out. We still have the one terrible headache in Massachusetts and everything has been done that can be done to rectify this grave situation. We hope that the efforts put forth for the past 6 years will eventually get some results. There have been several things happen that we didn’t know about and which had we been informed possibly could have been helped. One was the sidecar fee in New York and the other was the commercial fee in Illinois. We hope that when the legislative bodies in these States meet again, we can be of some help to the boys.
In competition, motorcycle sport really went to town. It was the best year of all, and there was not a section of the country that didn’t have a major event and in some sections the boys were on the go from Spring to Fall. With the exception of polo, every form of activity showed a fine increase. Attendance was greater by far than in 1934 and the number of riders taking part in sports was many times greater than the previous year. In fact, this past year, 3,221,000 spectators witnessed motorcycle events in which 22,470 contestants took part. Every section of the country should take part in this great parade of motorcycle events and sport.
One of the real gains in 1935 was the fact that clubs are doing everything possible to dress up their show and make it more interesting from that angle in the eyes of the public. We have a wonderful show in every type of the sport and the problem that confronts every club is that in the past they have catered to slipshod methods, dirty unkempt officials and riders. I always think that a motorcycle event is just the same as a theatrical performance. The actors are dressed up and everything is done to make the public satisfied. You have seen these great big musical shows with the fine costumes and noted how popular they were and you have also seen a dirty fly-by-night troupe that wasn’t drawing enough attendance to wad a shotgun. Think in terms of “what can we do to make our public pleased,” instead of “the public be damned, let’s get it over as soon a s possible.”
You are not a “panty-waist” if you appear as an official in white pants and a necktie on a white shirt; nor is the contestant looked upon as something terrible, if he appears with a clean sweater and helmet. This past year, thanks to the efforts put forth in night speedway racing, most every activity took on a clean look and the results were immediately shown by the fact that the public came in larger numbers than ever before. Get some showmanship into the sport.
Applause on the part of the public should be recognized by the contestant, instead of deliberately turning his back to them. Don’t come rushing down a hill and grab the referee and shout to the house tops that you have been “gypped” and immediately become the center of a milling group, all talking at once. That sure doesn’t look good to the public and they soon tire of it. It is just as easy to gain consideration on some point involved by doing everything in a businesslike manner. You can inform the referee his decision has been questioned and then take up the matter after the climb is over and thus keep this sort of thing away from the public. These things make for a better feeling on the part of those paying the tariff and after all that is what you want, both clubs and contestants.
In the various types of our sport, endurance runs and T.T. racing showed the greatest gain this past year. This proves that more private owners are getting into the sport and that is what we want. We want to see every rider who owns a motorcycle get into some type of activity with his road machine. Of course, the biggest and best endurance run was the national championship at Lansing, Mich., which is as it should be. It was an outstanding event in every respect. There was a wonderful entry list taking in a larger territory than ever before; the run was well conducted and rounded out a fine season of endurance runs. We feel that there will be still more events of this type in the coming year. There were several other fine sectional and district championships held. We hope the day will come when we can have a district championship in every section. Then, the winners go to Lansing or wherever the national might be and compete against each other for the road championship of America. We think that day is not too far distant. Fine big events were conducted by the GWAKS Motorcycle Club of Minneapolis, Minn.; Buckeye Motorcycle Club of Columbus, Ohio; Hartford Motorcycle Club of Hartford, Conn.; Reading Motorcycle Club of Reading, Pa.; Frontier Motorcycle Club of Buffalo, New York; The Monadnock Motorcycle Club and Al’s Riders Motorcycle Club, both of Keene, N.H.; and the Milwaukee Motorcycle Club of Milwaukee, Wis.
More and more are the clubs getting active in miniature T.T. racing. It is a form of sport that is easy to arrange and you are sure of a good entry list at all times as the boys can use their own motorcycles. The national championship at Marion, Ind., was a fitting climax to a year of activity. It had a real representative list of riders from all sections of the country. Waco, Texas, had a big affair; in fact Texas and New England led all territories for the number of T.T. events held. This type will be very popular in 1936 as more of the clubs are getting interested.
Hillclimbing came back with a bang, and from the requests for sanctions we are going to have many more this next season. The Hornell Motorcycle Club put over a real championship event, hotly contested and with a swell attendance. Practically every club reported a big increase in attendance. There was a decided effort to put on a good show and that augurs well for the coming year.
Dirt track racing went to town. The big championship at Syracuse was the greatest in the 14 years races have been held at that fine track. Nashville, Tenn.; Richmond, Va.; Reading, Pa.; Milwaukee, Wis.; and Frederick, Md., had championship events. Each reported a good attendance. With the coming of several foreign jobs into this Class A racing, we are going to see even more competition the coming year.
Night speedway racing again held popular interest. The season wound up in a fitting manner with two wonderful final events-the sectional championship at Union, N.J., and the national championship at Fresno, Cal. The boys are still talking about both of them and from the standpoint of sheer interest, heart throbs and tingling spines these two events will rank high for many years to come. New tracks are being lined up just as rapidly as there are riders and equipment to take care of them. The sport has leveled off to a solid and substantial business and gotten away from those early rapid strides that it took. The get-rich-quick angle has left and in its place comes more the attitude of a business proposition. Riders are sensing the fact they are a group of showmen and that is making a hit with the public. Attendance held up in fine shape in most sections and the sport has no fear of the future due to the fact it was early found the thing that would please the public was a fast-moving, clean-cut show.
In class C competition-in the long distance events-we had more activity than ever before. Many things were brought out that will enable this branch of the sport to grow this coming year. No one ever dreamed that we would be having 75 to 100 entries for an event of this type. Yet at Keene, N.H., 106 riders faced the starter which was the largest entry list ever gathered together. Regrettable situations arose due to this unprecedented entry list. Otherwise it would have been the greatest event ever held. As it was it was marvelous from the angle of rider interest. We all live and learn by experience. We can look forward to a swell event at the same place next year.
The 200-mile event at Jacksonville, Fla., last winter; the 200-mile at Oakland, Cal.; the 100-mile at Langhorne Speedway were all splendid affairs. From the requests we are getting you are going to see many more long distance events in 1936.
There were many outstanding individual achievements, performances that will live long in the records. Each of them were a standout in their class and there were more of these in 1935 than any previous period. Noteworthy was Joe Petrali in winning every dirt track championship, something that has never been equaled and probably never will again. Along with that was the record smashing performance at Syracuse when three records were broken and every race on the card was won. Then to go to the national championship hillclimb the next day and win two Professional events; that is, becoming the national champion in those two events by reason of his point standing.
Cordy Milne, in winning the national night speedway championship for the second consecutive year; Woodsie Castonguay at Langhorne Speedway; Jim Young at Oakland, Cal.; Al Chasteen at the same place; Rody Rodenberg at Jacksonville, Fla.; Les Myers coming from Wichita Falls, Tex., to win the National Miniature T.T. Championship at Marion, Ind.; Oscar Lenz in winning the Jack Pines; Red Paulson of Washington, D.C.; in winning the Class B at Lansing with a score that was right up with the best Class A riders, and last, but certainly not least that wonderful dash that Earl Robinson made in crossing the continent, solo mounted in 77 hours and 53 minutes-all are outstanding individual accomplishments. Sheer pluck and stamina! We wish there was space to permit the mentioning of all events held; the many things that happened and all of the other accomplishments that made the past year one that we will think about for a long time to come.
With all of the motorcycle activities, there were very few outlaw events. These are becoming more and more in the discard. Very few dealers assist or take part in them and it has simmered down to a few promoters who don’t want to run under rules that would cramp their style. We have a few fellows who think they got by, that they could go out under an assumed name and compete in an outlaw race and then back into an A.M.A. event. Yes, they got by for the moment, and possibly some of the loyal members wondered whether it was worth while to stay with the A.M.A. They need have no worry on that score as we finally catch up with these fellows and the competition committee will take care of those cases this winter. There are only a few this year and each of them may be assured that they need not plan on riding in A.M.A. competition this coming year. The factories are 100 per cent behind the A.M.A. and when a dealer or his mechanic takes any part in this sort of thing he is actually nullifying all of the work that his factory is doing for him and his business.
What of the new year? Business conditions are improving and that means more motorcycles and more riding; both manufacturers have done themselves proud with their new line for the coming year; clubs are in much better shape than ever before; and requests are coming in for all types of activities. Already we have an application for the 200-mile event at Keene, N.H., for July 19th; we have applications for most of the dirt track championships with Syracuse all set for Sept. 11th or 12th. We have four applicants for the national championship hillclimb; 6 for the Miniature T.T. race championship; and we have three applicants for the night speedway championship. We have any number of requests for dope on long distance races and other events, so it looks like a big year from that angle.
We have a lot of plans in the making and hope to announce them right after the first of the new year. We hope to again sponsor the Individual Club Contest; we have an entirely new plan for Gypsy Tours and big Rallies; we have plans that will enlarge the scope of the A.M.A. and do many more things that will prove beneficial to the clubs and to the individual members of this great organization. We want you to feel proud that you are a part of it and doing your bit to make it bigger and better. The work that any organization can do is limited only by its membership.
We ask for the continued support of all of our members and the hope that they will help get many more to join this band of motorcycle enthusiasts. In return we pledge every facility in our hands and every day in the year to help make the sport better and to help every fellow realize that we have the “greatest sport in the world.”
The many friends of Louie Balinski, the 1934 dirt track champion, and one of the best dirt track racers in the sport, will sure be pleased to know that Louie has “ankled up the aisle”-there is now a Mrs. Louie Balinski. Yes sir, he took a “flyer” and the interesting part of it was the fact he kept the info away from those dirt track villains. Anyway, Louie, congratulations and every fellow in the motorcycle sport wishes you the same a hundred times over.
We now have a life member in far-off Japan. Who? Well, none other than our good friend and yours, Uncle Al Childs, the Harley-Davidson dealer in Tokio, Japan. Al was a visitor at the Harley-Davidson convention and “Jay-Jay” Balsom immediately sold Al on the idea that he should be a member for life and in that way he would not be embarrassed every time he came in contact with the secretary of the A.M.A. That sure is fine, and we thank both Al and “Jay-Jay” for their interest in the A.M.A.
To Have Three-Year Pin
The new service pin for 1936 will certainly be a wow. In other words it will be the three-year pin, going to riders who are renewing their membership for the third time. This past year, the boys who renewed for the second time got the two-year pin. Next year, they will get the three-year pin. Now for you loyal fellows who have been members of the A.M.A. for say four, six, eight, ten or even fifteen years, we are working on a veteran pin for you, something that will distinguish these real old-timers from the regular service pins that will be given each year.
Kalamazoo Has Novel Insignia
Here is one. The Kalamazoo Motorcycle Club have a swell set-up for their Club sweaters. They advertise the Kalamazoo Motorcycle Club and also the fact that they are 100 per cent A.M.A. Get it, “KalAMAzoo” Motorcycle Club. That is a bright idea and we thank you.
A word of warning sometimes helps. We just received the nice little club paper which the Seattle American Motorcycle Association of Seattle, Wash., gets out and right at the top was an impressive warning to all motorcycle clubs: “We are going to drop her in high cog for 1936 and want the world to know that the winner of the National A.M.A. Club contest will be none other than the Seattle A.M.A. This may sound like a pretty broad statement to some of the other clubs, but if you even come close to matching the extensive sport program as well as civic co-operation, you are going to have a man-sized job and frankly we don’t think that any of you clubs can do it.” There it is, fellows, and knowing a lot about those northwesterners, they generally do what they set out to do. Even to the point of arranging cougar hunts for unsuspecting secretaries.
That seems to be the spirit of a lot of the clubs and is the thing that typifies the general attitude for 1936 in all sections of the country. The stove league and the street corner speed demons won’t have much chance next year; you are going to have to go places, do things and see people!
World Registration Increases
A bulletin just received from the Department of Commerce at Washington shows that the world registration of motorcycles increased 3.1 per cent as of January 1, 1935. The estimate is 3,002,410 units. Germany showed the greatest gain of 16 per cent and the United States second with a gain of 2 per cent. United Kingdom showed a decrease of 2.5 per cent. In the order of position as to the number of motorcycles, Germany ranks first, United Kingdom second, France third, Italy fourth and the United States fifth.
Hold a New Scavenger Hunt
Clubs wanting something novel to do, better try this one. It is called a Scavenger Hunt. Several of the clubs have held the event and it sure has gone over in swell style. Here is the set-up of one held recently in San Antonio, Texas.
1. Get an Indian head penny.
2. Get a 10-penny nail.
3. Get a bread wrapper.
4. Get a picture of a black cat.
5. Get a piece of mistletoe.
6. Get a 1910 nickel.
7. Bring a needle with two threads through the eye.
8. An edition of Sunday paper.
9. Get a pair of step-ins.
10. Get a used postage stamp.
11. Get a shoe buttoner.
12. Get a Chinaman’s signature in Chinese.
13. Bring a piece of licorice candy.
14. Bring two minnows.
15. Bring a theatre stub.
16. Bring an empty Lifebuoy soap box.
17. Bring a burnt-out light bulb (house).
18. Bring a “For Rent” sign.
19. Bring a tamale shuck.
20. Bring a package of Mexican cigarettes.
21. Bring a red necktie.
22. Bring an ice cream box.
23. Bring a Four Roses whiskey label.
24. Bring a 1934 calendar leaf.
25. Bring a 1935 Almanac.
A master sheet is made up with points for each article. The harder the article is to get, the more points you get.
Time-Two hours to get as many artices as possible.
One point for each minute late will be deducted from your score.
It sure is a lot of fun and will keep the boys on the go for a couple of hours and what I mean they will be busy.
Is Our Face Red
We are somewhat of a football fan along with being “nuts” over motorcycles. A very unfortunate circumstance took place this past Fall when the boys from Notre Dame came down and walloped the devil out of us. Many were the messages containing the well known “Bronx cheer” sent to us from every section of the country. Well, we took it and liked it. But the worst one of all happened during a recent visit to Milwaukee. We happened to drift out to the home of Joe Ryan and during the visit, Joe, Jr., showed us all of the pennants that he had gathered from far and near. We mentioned the fact that he did not have an Ohio State pennant and the answer came back, “Never heard of them.” Brothers, was my face red!
Merry Christmas to You
We would like to list the names of all of the dealers, riders and clubs who so kindly remembered us with cards during the holiday season. Uncle Chester would surely be scratching those few hairs on his dome, as that would require space, something that is at a premium with all of the more interesting things the boys like to read about. We certainly appreciate the thoughts expressed by all. It makes one really proud to be a part of an organization that is bound together with lasting friendships. We have our ups and downs and in the heat of competition everyone gets those “nerves,” but after it is all over, these things are forgotten and we are all better for it. To each and everyone of you, all I can say is “right back at you” and the hope that you will have the best and most prosperous New Year that you have ever had.
The National Club Contest
The national championship club contest is over for another year. Along with that we have completed the fourth of the quarterly contests and the winner of the final one, running through October, November and December is the Victoria Motorcycle Club of Victoria, B.C. There is a club that is a long ways off; in fact they are almost isolated from the rest of the country, as they are located on Vancouver Island, away up by the Northwest corner of the States. They are a great bunch of fellows, every one a member of the A.M.A., every event conducted under A.M.A. sanction. Congratulations, Victoria Motorcycle Club, and your Honor Roll Banner will be in your hands very shortly.
Here is the standing for the month of December. You will note several new faces.
Our next job is to sort out all of the data that we have on each club and check our records for the year. Out of this will come the national champion motorcycle club for the year of 1935. I mean it is going to be a tough job. Some of them were small in number but they sure made up for it in enthusiasm and efforts put forth to better the sport and to create favorable public comment. The winner as well as the nine next highest clubs in the country will be announced in the next issue of The MOTORCYCLIST.