Dunlop’s Jim Allen Set To Retire
To say that Jim Allen is a fixture in AMA road racing would be an understatement. From the graying beard, the black shorts and the Dunlop shirt, to the Canadian accent and friendly laugh, Allen was always there. As of April 1, he won’t be there anymore. And if you do see him at the races, he won’t be elbows deep in tires.For the majority of his 31 years at Dunlop, Allen was the man at the AMA road races, but on April 1 he’ll ride his mountain bike off into retirement. The paddock won’t be the same without him.”I certainly don’t consider myself to be an old guy, but you and I have both been around the racetrack long enough to see old farts hanging around who have been around too long,” Allen said. “It’s not a pretty sight to see some old bastard hanging around who has outlived his usefulness and still thinks he’s useful. I think I contribute still and I know what’s going on, but I never want to be that guy. It’s the same when I raced: I never wanted to be the guy running around at the back of the pack. And I don’t want to be the old guy hanging around the track that’s outlived his usefulness.”Allen came to Dunlop in 1979 as a test-tire coordinator after road racing successfully in his native Canada and the U.S., and his career with the tire company flourished. In 1998 he was promoted to senior manager/motorcycle road racing – a title most believed he already had. Along the way, Allen has worked with AMA champions from Fred Merkel to Mat Mladin – and everyone in between.But all good things must end and Allen says that time is now.”It’s the perfect time for me,” the 64-year-old Allen said. “I’ve done the Dunlop thing for a long time now and we’ve got a really good guy to come in and take over and I’m not just blowing smoke. Sabastian Mincone is a firebrand. The guy is really good. He’s a good guy, he loves Dunlop and he loves racing.”Like most who are involved in racing at the highest levels, Allen lives for the competition. But the recent introduction of spec-tire rules has taken that away from a tire engineering standpoint and, even though Dunlop is the spec tire for the AMA series, it just doesn’t feel much like real racing to Allen anymore.”The racing we have now has changed – it’s not about kicking somebody’s ass anymore,” he says. “It’s about making the numbers make sense, making sure everybody has a good safe race… everybody’s got the same stuff. For me the detective work that I love, learning something new every time you do a new tire or trying to keep individual riders happy… and even having the other guys kick your ass from time to time for not doing a good enough job, that’s the stuff I love. And it’s not there under the new formula that we have. The formula has changed and it’s a good time for Sabastian [Mincone] to move into taking over and to do it the way it needs to be done under the new formula. I couldn’t be happier.”For now Allen is going to spend his time making up for weekends lost.”I’m going to enjoy those weekends that I missed with my buddies while they were out riding their mountain bikes and I had to go to a race, or the motorcycle trips I didn’t get a chance to do when I was working all the time,” Allen says. “Anne [his wife] and I bought a cabin down south of Buffalo and we are really enjoying that and there’s some work I want to do around there in the short term. In the long term, at the end of this year sort of thing, I would be up for doing short-term assignments with other people if I can help. The industry isn’t in great shape right now so that’s not a likely possibility, but there’s some stuff I want to do and I’m sure as hell am going to keep busy. I’m not worried about that.”So what will he miss the most?”The thing I love about the racing, as well as the detective work, is the people. If I miss anything, it will be that. There are some really, really good people in racing. For the most part, the people that you work with in racing are really good people. So that’s what I will miss if I miss anything.