Dal Smilie was an advocate for motorcycling during the 1980s to the early 2000s. He worked to promote the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) and its efforts to protect the rights of all motorcyclists.
Smilie, who holds a law degree, was elected to the AMA Board of Trustees (now the Board of Directors) in 1982 and was one of the youngest ever to serve on the Board. He was still serving in that capacity when inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 2004.
Smilie was also an avid rider and racer. He earned mileage awards from the BMW Owners of America and won four national vintage motocross awards after the age of 50.
Born in Battle Creek, Mich., in 1948, Smilie grew up in the small farming community of Paris, Ill. He first became enthralled with bikes when he was taken to a flat-track race as a child. The Japanese motorcycle invasion was in full force in the early 1960s and Smilie, like many kids of the era, was swept up in the motorcycling craze.
He took up amateur motocross and hare scrambles while in high school, and trail riding while in college. Meanwhile, governmental regulations began taking a toll on motorcycling in the 1970s and Smilie started getting involved on the local level to protect the rights of motorcyclists.
By the mid-1970s, Smilie had moved to Montana and was named an AMA Field Rep (then called Road Rep). He volunteered to work at AMA events across the country. It was during this time that Smile began signing up new members to the AMA, something he would continue to do for years to come.
In 1982, Smilie, then only 33, was elected to the AMA Board. He was heavily involved in the formation of the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame, initially called the Motorcycle Heritage Museum. He served as chairman of Hall of Fame Board for 14 years.
While involved in a variety of activities advocating for motorcycling, Smilie still found time to rack up miles on his road bikes. When inducted into the Hall of Fame, he had ridden over a half-million miles on his motorcycles. He twice won the BMW Motorcycle Owners of America annual high mileage contest, logging more than 50,000 miles in a six-month period.
In September 2007, during Smilie's term as Board chairman, the AMA uncovered a pattern of unsubstantiated expense reimbursements to Smilie. Smilie offered his resignation from the Board in November of that year. It was accepted and the Board of Directors undertook a third-party review to document the scope of unsubstantiated expense reimbursements.
In February 2008, the Board voted to report the results of the review to the appropriate law enforcement authorities, and it released a statement to the public. Smilie subsequently settled with the AMA, and a separate criminal prosecution ensued.
On Feb. 22, 2010, Smilie was sentenced to eight months in prison and two years probation after pleading guilty to felony counts of grand theft by deception and of receiving stolen property.
For more information, see http://www.amadirectlink.com/news/story.asp?id=1775