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Honda Hoots No More

This economic crisis we’re having is like watching one of those fogbound 47-car pileups in slow motion. The latest Ford Fiesta to crash into the burning overturned tanker truck? The beloved Honda Hoot.

On December 19th, American Honda announced it would not host the annual Honda Hoot rally, ending a 15-year run of successful motorcycle rallies. The Hoot is a gathering of Honda motorcycle owners in Knoxville, TN each summer. Honda says it’s not sponsoring the event because of “economic uncertainty” . . . the same reason it’s not fielding a factory Superbike team for AMA competition in 2009.

I attended the 2008 Hoot and was amazed at what a wholesome, well-organized and fun event it was. An army of volunteers (over 1300) organized the events, parking, gear storage and a thousand other details with military-like precision. Lavish programs and ride sheets were available for every event. There was something for everybody; brisk rides through the Smoky Mountains, fish-fries and even a raucous evening of rock-and-roll on the river landing in Knoxville. Hoot attendees were friendly, enthusiastic riders who welcomed other motorcyclists regardless of bike style or brand.

Let’s hope 2009 is the last year we’ll have to go without a Hoot. Here is the press release from American Honda:

Torrance, CA: American Honda announced today that the 2008 Honda Hoot will bring to a close 15 years of what has been one of the most successful motorcycle rallies in history. Over the years, almost a quarter of a million guests attended the Honda Hoot which was born in the hills of Ashville North Carolina and eventually moved to Knoxville, Tennessee. At the first event, a little over 3000 attendees enjoyed what would grow to become one of the largest rallies in North America

The Hoot set new precedence for what a motorcycle rally should be, offering not only a wonderful opportunity to test ride new products but also focusing on family fun and growing the industry from the ground up. Based on the current economic crunch which may have significant impact on our customers during 2009, American Honda will take this time to seek out new and innovative ways to engage with our customers so that we can continue to ride together.

American Honda extends our deepest gratitude to the more than 1300 volunteers who helped make the Honda Hoot a success and to all our event sponsors, to our two host cities, Knoxville, TN and Asheville, NC, and especially to all the good people who helped make the Hoot such a great event.