How do you sum up someone’s life in five minutes? It’s quite hard to do, especially for someone with a list of accomplishments like Ricky Carmichael or Danny Hamel. Two remarkable riders, each credited as being among the great untouchables, have a trove of stories to tell, but their accomplishments can only truly be appreciated by those who have witnessed their careers as they unfolded. A five-minute video, at its very best, can only scratch the surface.
The AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame induction committee was charged with the task of doing just that for the dinner ceremony held in Las Vegas, Nevada, last weekend, where Hamel and Carmichael were both inducted. Summing up the life of one of the greatest talents in motorcycling – even one as tragically short as Hamel’s – is indeed tough to do, but the AMA did an admirable job of honoring his memory at the ceremony.
As someone who never had the pleasure of meeting Danny, but is well aware of his accomplished career, the touching tribute gave me a new perspective of his life, a more personal one than I had known. The most impressive were the clips of him desert racing – like a figure skater at a hockey game (a lumberjack-sized figure skater), he just floated across the terrain, wringing out his KX500 like it was a 125. What a sight that would have been in person.
I’ve had the privilege of watching Kurt Caselli screaming a 300cc two-stroke at LACR, tripling down into the pit, and shooting up the other side while barely touching the ground in between. As impressive as that was, I can only imagine adding another 200cc on top of that, and watching Danny manhandle his way across Lucerne Valley at 100 mph.
As good as I thought the video and award presentation for Danny was, it all came into contrast when it was Ricky Carmichael’s turn. His video was also impressive, but as someone who witnessed much of his astounding career, I was left thinking, “That was it?” I could easily have sat through another hour of his career highlights and not lost interest. But how much greatness can you cram into five minutes? This was not by any means a shortcoming of the AMA’s – quite the opposite, it was a stark reminder we are only getting a glimpse into the lives of these amazing people.