BATHURST at Easter used to be a mecca for Australian motorcyclists - until the actions of the
New South Wales' police finally killed it.
By 1988, the cops almost outnumbered the paying spectators on Mount Panorama.
First they set up check-points. They said this was to randomly check for licences (both drivers and vehicles) - but we all noticed it was only motorcyclists they pulled over. Having antagonised the staunch Aussie motorcyclists who rode sometimes vast distances to attend the Bathurst races, the NSW storm troopers added insult to injury by building what they fondly described as a 'police station' (but which everyone else called 'the compound') on top of Mount Panorama and when the lads were just getting into full party mode, out would come the jack-booted (yes!) storm-troopers and lay into them with their clubs.
Let us now fast-forward to the state of Utah, USA.
It is Superbike World Championship weekend at Miller Motorsports Park near Tooele outside Salt Lake City, May 29-31, 2010.
So what does the local brains trust that calls itself a police force do?
Why, it sets up a road block between on the road leading from the track to Highway 80, closes one lane of traffic and conducts a "motorcycle safety inspection" on every single motorcycle trying to leave the track after practice.
What does this do for motorcyclist-police relations?
What does it do for traffic flow?
Well, on the latter score, the meat-heads in charge of the Utah Highway Patrol who ordered this "safety inspection" caused a long back-up of traffic (some estimates said it took between 40 to 60 minutes to get past).
As a result the race track officials called the Utah Governor Gary Herbert and asked that the "safety inspections" be halted ASAP.
The Utah Governor is a motorsports fan and not long after the complaint was laid, the Utah Highway Patrol check point near the track was canceled, the police left and traffic levels returned to normal.
According to track PR man John Gardner, the local branch of the Keystone Cops (my term)received a federal grant to run a six-hour motorcycle safety check point.
Gardner said he understood, "they were going to pull over a few motorcycles at a time and give them a pamphlet to promote safe motorcycling, talk to the riders a little."
He added that it was a well-intended, but poorly implemented exercise.
You can see why this bloke is in PR! What a masterful piece of understatement.
"It was supposed to take maybe ten minutes and just a few bikes would be pulled in," Gardner added. "Obviously, it went differently. We called our contacts in a local Commissioner's of Public Safety's Office and the checkpoint was shut down. We were assured that it won't happen again," he said.
Miller Motorsports sources first expressed disbelief and then frustration upon learning about the motorcycle-only checkpoint.
"We do so much to try and attract motorcyclists to our event, it's just unbelievable that this happened," said one.
Could it be that the mentality of the average oinker in the Utah Highway Patrol is even lower than that of the pigs in New South Wales?
As soon as they see a mass of motorcycles, they see swastikas in their minds, their palms sweat, they push their thumbs down inside their belts, and they swagger like Hitler's favourites.
Hard to believe that any outfit that calls itself Police could be of lower intellect than those who volunteered to 'police' Bathurst at Easter.
Take a bow, Utah.