by dean adams
In the realm of motorcycle journalists
there is an entire gamut of persons and personalities, a tiny microchosim
of society as we know it. From shameless egotistical posers interested
in only printing stories about themselves and their supposedly fascinating
lives and surreptitious word spinners twisting the truth to suit their
own predicament, to arrow straight scribes who sleep like babes with an
unburdned concinse, to glorified pr men with blinders so huge its a wonder
they can see to walk, in bike writing we all survive in a enviorment of
And then there is Kevin Cameron.
Not fitting easily into any catagory or lable, Cameron the near twenty-year
contributing editor of the now defunct Cycle magazine is easily one of
the most well read and well known motojourno scribes on the planet. His
column--TDC--is read with interest each month by everyone who facnies himself
a serious mover or shaker or even serious enthusiast. From Marlboro Roberts
mechanics in Europe to a quiet woodworker in LaCrosse Wisconsin all read
his columns in Cycle World and Motorcycle International, addicted to the
We chatted in Erv Kanemoto's trailer
at the USGP in 1994.
Q. How have you acclimated to
life after the demise of Cycle? Which was your favorite period there?
A. You get accustomed to a life and
you get accustomed to dealing with people in a certain way and then one
day it has changed. It wouldnít do to yell or tear out one's hair, time
has done that to me anyway. There were people who worked at Cycle
that took it very hard and are still taking it hard. I can understand that.
But Iím not a businessman, I donít have to make the decision as to which
of two magazines makes more money. Those people who interest themselves
in those matters come up with their decisions and that is their lot.
I suppose to a Cycle connoisseur, and I never was one, the Cook
Neilson years are regarded highly but I really donít have an opinion. I
never was involved in the production so I never really evaluated the magazine.
I enjoyed working with Steve Anderson
because he being an engineer he had interests that paralleled my own fairly
Q. Do you see a time when you
might publish a book of TDCs?
A. I think it would be an interesting
thing to do. Iíd like to run it up the pole once to see what response I
was given. Itís probably better to self-publish something like that and
I just donít have the money nor can I see myself fumbling off to the post
office each morning with twenty-eight little packages or loading my computer
memory with address or cutting my tongue with uncountable stamps. But if
I could turn everything over to a publisher - sure. Nice thing about books
is they stay written whereas magazine articles have to be written every
Q. Will you ever actively tune
for a 250 rider again?
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A. The problem with that of course
is that when you are young you can pay yourself in your own enthusiasm.
A person who is twenty-five years old thinks that working for a week with
possibly as much as three hours of sleep a day to get ready for Daytona
and then driving straight through and then working four more days without
sleep is kind acceptable means to an end. But if you have a family and
if you are old enough to know better you might not make those same choices.
In any case I think that people who
are trying to accomplish something by working two shifts or three shifts
are simply admitting that they are badly organized. You can see race teams
here or at any AMA race that are trying to do business on that basis and
they will make mistakes.
Q.You had a very close association
with the AMA for a long time in being the acting technical inspector on
the roadracing scene ...
A. The years of doing AMA tech were
a valuable transition for me. I had gone off and worked in industry for
a while making X-ray detectors and when I came back I dropped my engine
building business. I tried to get that back going again on a business-like
basis and it was un-satisfying to me.
Going to the races was a priority
for me because I did not want to be divorced from all the people I knew
and all the activities. So doing tech was a good way for me to be on the
scene, plus at the time the Roger Edmonson mediated revolution was in progress.
The elderly gentlemen with the bellies and the attitudes were on their
way out and a younger group, people I considered more competent and more
motivated to produce good quality racing had come in. People who had come
up in club racing, that was the time of fusion, the AMA kind of realized
there was some valuable dynamic in regional racing. The aligned themselves
to it and solved the problem of the one way start group. But I am afraid
that my goals and the AMAís goals were not parallel. One of the other tech
inspectors summed it up one day when he said, Kevin you know the thing
that you donít accept is true nevertheless - thereís them and then thereís
He was, I think, to a considerable
extent right. Itís not proper for somebody who is part of the regulatory
apparatus to think like a rider, to think like a builder.
A fellow came
in the garage at one point and asked if he could grind a stand lug off
of his bike because it was grounding at Loudon. The other tech inspectors
grabbed their rulebooks and started rippling through the pages like people
looking for a Biblical quote.
I said to the guy, do you have a
body grinder? He said yeah.
I said ĎWell, hold the body grinder
at the angle of mother earth and grind the stand lug off so that the lines
of the grinding simulate those of the roadway and whoís to know the difference?
And donít ever come in here with trivial problems like this that you should
be able to solve.í
When he left that was when they
said, thereís them and thereís us and that what I had done was a very bad
thing to do, etceteras.
I thought this is the day that I
should be out of here, and shortly after that they decided they should
go their way and I should go mine.
Q. You have named one of your
sons after Erv Kanemoto, which must be seen as a deep measure of respect
and admiration you have for the man ...
A. The idea that a person could relentlessly
pursue an abstract goal and remain a fine person at the same time is what
makes me admire Erv. In racing as in any other endevor, for example politics,
there are too many examples of people who relentlessly pursue their goals
while turing into shits. And Big Ervís steadfast interest is that he has
a life that he wants to have something to happen, he makes it happen and
that is admirable in itself; but even more so is to be able to remain a
fine human being.
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