On Wednesday August 11th, 2010 in a ceremony at the Sturgis Broken Spoke Campground front of a small group of Hoka Hey participants present in Sturgis and a few curious, organizers Jim & Beth Durham confirmed that Will Barclay is the winner and “the toughest motorcycle rider on the planet at the moment” and handed him out a cardboard check of $500,000. Jim Durham promised a second Hoka Hey next year, from San Diego to Nova Scotia, this time with a $1 million prize for the winner.
As a matter of fact in a press release dated July 29th, John White of Crazy Horse Motorcycles – who has previously stated that he is the owner of the Hoka Hey 2011- had already sent a press release stating that “During a polygraph test where Mr. Barclay was subjected to a drug test for sedatives and then was questioned about the safe operation of his motorcycle, the prescribed route, navigation and drug use during the Hoka Hey Motorcycle Challenge. After 3 hours of questions – he had passed” and that “The winner of the Hoka Hey Challenge William Barclay has declared that the prize money has been wired to his account.” Is it the end of the controversy surrounding the Hoka Hey cross country challenge, about its legality, its disorganization, its rules changed at the start and while the event was progressing, the way the winner was decided, the charities supposed to benefit from it, etc?
Some seem to think that having a winner stating that he received the grand prize may be enough to stop the controversy. Others continue to challenge the legality of the event in its principle (an illegal race on public roads?) and in its organization (was there an escrow account set aside containing $500,000 created before the Challenge was announced in 2009, as required by law, or did Jim Durham get some last minute help?), the way the winner was decided (no official photo finish? were the organizers in Homer at arrival of first finishers? no polygraph test was ever mentioned in the event’s rules, etc). They mention the lack of transparency and of supervision, the 2 deaths and several accidents, the refusal of Jim Durham to answer their legitimate questions and explain his contradictory statements that he denies while on a radio interview tape (I previously summarized some of the questions asked by observers in this POST).
Not surprisingly, at the ceremony, Jim Durham made another blank statement saying not to believe any internet BS and acted as there are no issues, legal or otherwise, if the grand prize is given away. Others tell me that the fact that Will Barclay declared that he received money is not convincing enough. The matter of whether any proceeds went to the charities mentioned at the start of the race is another concern. On Facebook John White declared that there is no money left to give to charities. At the ceremony at the Broken Spoke Jim Durham added “we did everything we said we would do.” Really?
As a matter of fact, the only contribution to the Pine Ridge Reservation known to this day went to Jim Durham’s Cousin named Vanessa (Oliver Red Cloud’s niece?) whose house sit in his own backyard, and who got running water in her house after APE (American Piledriving Equipment) – John White’s main business – hired A-1 Ditching & Sewer in Rapid City on July 15, 2010 to do the work. In his contract order letter to this company John White writes on APE letterhead stating that he is the President & owner of this company, and that the work has to be done urgently. Many have questioned the nature of the relation and possible agreement between Jim Durham & John White since before the start of the Challenge. John White has always stated that he has nothing to do with Hoka Hey 2010 and that he will be the owner of the Challenge only after August 11th. At the same time, since the Challege arrival in Homer, AK John has spent a lot of time every day on Facebook defending Jim Durham and trying to answer all the criticism. All this look to me like damage control. Again, many think that nothing else will ever be done beyond connecting Durham’s cousin and that it’s just a way to give some appearance and substance to the “we did everything we said we would do” repeated by Jim Durham.
Whatever the organizers are saying, including accusing the medias of unfairness, it is my opinion that they can only blame themselves for the skepticism and criticism that they still have to face. The organization should be transparent, should return calls, answer legitimate questions, and think twice before making numerous statements contradicting each other. I am told that some insurance claims by those injured and one family of a rider killed would have been already denied under the reason that the event was an illegal race and that some are contemplating legal actions.
I have reported as factually as possible and will continue to do so if a major development happens. I disclose that I have declined an offer made to me by John White to become a member of the Board of Hoka Hey 2011. And to all those who asked me by email or phone why I didn’t publish on Hoka Hey since August 11th ceremony, it’s because I guessed that the ceremony in Sturgis would not be the end of the controversy and that the situation would probably evolve in the next following days…
Last minute: I learn that following the statements made in Sturgis by Jim Durham, John White would have decided to stop any involvement with him & Beth Durham and the 2011 Hoka Hey Challenge organization. If it’s the case, I hope John White will confirm and explain his reasons in my Blog. To follow…
Added 08/21/2010: To those who have asked how to find an easy way to read all posts published by Cyril about Hoka Hey, just follow this link, then click on each headline of interest. http://www.cyrilhuzeblog.com/?s=hoka+hey