AMA Presents Brighter Image Awards to Americade Founder

Bill Dutcher has been recognized for creating a model motorcycle event.

The American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) has bestowed its Brighter Image Award on Bill Dutcher, founder and promoter of the Americade Motorcycle Rally, which is held in Lake George, New York. The Brighter Image Award is "the AMA's highest honor for activities that generate favorable publicity for motorcycling."

Dutcher was singled out for the award because of the quality of his Americade event and its positive reflection on motorcycling. The event draws over 50,000 motorcyclists each June. Dutcher obtained the rights to use the Aspencade name from Til Thompson, who hosted an event with that name every fall in Ruidoso, New Mexico. In 1983, Dutcher brought the event to Lake George as Aspencade East. In 1986, in an effort to redefine the event as a national rally, the name was changed to Americade. The rally has grown continually since.

Recently, Dutcher has fought an uphill battle against motorcycles with loud pipes, both in general and particularly at his event. He recognizes the damage that loud pipes do to motorcycling and events. His efforts to keep them out of Americade have been motivated both by a desire to protect his event and, as he told us a few years ago, "because I live here too." However, he has been thwarted to some degree by his own success as a promoter. In recent years, the number of motorcyclists attending the premiere northeast touring event has become so large that many vendors have set up facilities outside of the areas that the Americade event controls. So, while Dutcher can ban loud pipes from the sites where the rally's core events occur, he has not been able to completely keep them from the event and the town. However, local enforcement has been rigorous, making Americade one of the quietest major motorcycle gatherings in the country.

The Americade Rally's Tour Expo site carries the following remarks on the subject of noise and behavior at the rally. "Americade is a gathering of friendly, fun-loving folks, for whom motorcycling is a social hobby, but not some form of rebellion. It's NOT the place for shows of speed, hostile attitudes, or illegally loud motorcycles. Americade supports the AMA position that 'Loud Pipes Risk Rights.'" Many of its attendees have applauded this, and it is doubtlessly what the AMA seeks to recognize with its award.

Bill Dutcher himself is a life-long motorcyclist. He was a winning enduro rider and professional roadracer, and also competed in flattrack events. He worked for the Bultaco and Can-Am motorcycle companies in the 1970s and then for Harley-Davidson before creating Americade. We once watched him work wonders with a Sportster on a very tight, challenging California road.

One of our favorite motorcycling stories involves Dutcher's graduation from Harvard, which occurred on the same day as a pro roadrace in nearby Loudon, New Hampshire. His parents insisted that he attended the graduation ceremony, which he'd hoped to skip. He participated in the graduation with his gown covering his roadracing leathers. The ensuing tale included a charge to the racetrack and concluded when a swarm of hornets were scooped up into the back of his leathers (which had been not fully zipped in his haste) in the final laps of the race as he closed in on the lead. The stinging and effects of the venom caused him to crash.

Dutcher (right) was presented with the award by AMA Chairman Rick Gray.