BYKR BROZ OF MIDDLE GEORGIA
THE HISTORY AND BACKDROP OF THE AMA AND ONE PERCENT CLUBS
The foundation of the American Motorcycle Association begins around 1903 with the forming of the “Federation of American Motorcycles” and the “Motorcycle and Allied Trade Association”. Both were formed in the developmental stages of introducing motorcycles on to the scene in the early years of motorized road travel and sports events. Their purpose was to help introduce the world, particularly America, to the idea of two wheel transportation and cycling as a motorized sporting. By 1924 the American Motorcycle Association had been formally constituted for the purpose of promoting motorcycle riding and racing both on and off road. By the mid 1940’s a big part of the history of the AMA revolved around large rallies and racing events associated what were known as the Gypsy Tour Rallies. Known for both their racing events and organized conventions and rallies, these became the catalyst for the beginning of events like Sturgis, Laconia, Daytona Bike Week and many other notable traditions in the biker world. The AMA was the governing body for these events and occasions that have produced most of the “biker” traditions and practices observed still today.This includes the formation of what are presently known as “One Percent” or “Outlaw Biker Clubs”. At the heart of most activities of the AMA were the activities of local clubs. These clubs were a gathering of motorcyclist from various areas that formed to enjoy and participate in various AMA activities. A part of the rallies included contest in which these clubs participated in contest to see which club was “best dressed”. They dressed to match from head to toe. Each group would be trying to show off their club. On the back they had an embroidered patch or insignia that distinguished their club or organization. It was required to be a single patch that had the name of their club, the logo of said club, and the location of that club. Usually they had matching hats, gloves, boots, and even goggles. During one such Gypsy Rally Tour event in Hollister California July 4, 1947 thousands of bikers and their clubs converged on the small town overwhelming the local economy and police force. The often exaggerated accounts of these events resulted in the National Guard and State Police being called out to restore order in the town. This event was the backdrop for the Marlon Brando movie, The Wild One. Over the next few months the stories were embellished and became a part of biker folklore that was probably much bigger than life and reality. The president of the AMA made comments regarding the events of Hollister that were eventually etched in biker history. He said that “99 per cent” of motorcycle riders and clubs were law abiding citizen but “one percent” were “outlaws”. This resulted in a series of events that resulted in the eventual evolution and development of the 1%. Outlaw biker world as it is known today.At AMA events these groups began wearing the word “outlaw” on their clothing, resulting in an banishment of anyone wearing such a designation. By 1951 anyone wearing the inscription “outlaw” was not allowed in any AMA event. This resulted in three things. First, these clubs cut their previous club patches into three separate pieces. The top part of the patch had the name of their club on it. The bottom third of the patch bore the name of the location the club was from, and the center part of the patch was the logo that represented the club. Thus the beginning of what has become known as the three piece patch. The letters M/C were added to designate them as a motorcycle club. This also resulted in the term “cut” to describe these patches which were produced by cutting their previous one piece AMA qualified patches. In time the top and bottom parts of the patch evolved into half moon shaped rockers declaring the name of the club and the territory they claimed. A second result was the designing of a diamond shaped patch with the term “1%er” on it. (See Diagram B). This clearly identified them as being not a part of the AMA, but rather a part of the outlaw movement. This is still worn by “1%” clubs. A third result of the now separated outlaw clubs was the creation of a patch which was a mutation of the vintage logo of the AMA. This vintage patch was a triangular patch with the letters A, M, and A at the three corners representing the AMA. The center was the red, yellow, and green spiral which was the logo of the AMA. The new mutated patch was the same triangle but in the corners it had the letters A, O, and A, declaring it to be the American Outlaw Association. In the center the spiral logo was replaced with a sketch of a hand with the middle finger extended to show the contempt these groups and individuals had for the AMA.The AMA then began to require clubs sanctioned by them to clearly adorn their vest with patches that they were in fact a part of and in concert with the AMA. While there were some who did so reluctantly, and a few who even sewed their AMA patches on upside down in protest, this practice continued into the present. To this day, AMA affiliated organizations wear only single patch back patches and patches on the front of their vest clearly identifying themselves with the AMA. Outlaw clubs, 1% clubs, and clubs known as M/Cs generally do not identify with the AMA, and require a separate protocol for clubs known as “3 piece” patch clubs. The “three piece patch clubs”, “outlaw clubs”, and M/Cs are governed by a separate and distinct protocol and tradition. Usually these fall under the jurisdiction of a ruling club which has claimed that particular area as being their “territory”. Smaller subordinate clubs such as veteran clubs, law enforcement clubs, and some support or affiliated clubs are organized only after receiving the blessing of ruling clubs. Generally they fall under the jurisdiction of what are known as “the big four”. These are the four largest and most powerful M/C clubs, the OUTLAWS M/C, the HELL’S ANGELS M/C, the PAGANS M/C, and the BANDITOS M/C. There a few exceptions where smaller M/Cs have claimed territory, but these are somewhat rare as these groups are usually fiercely territorial. The practical application of this rule is that the general population tends to lump all three piece clubs into the same group requiring some governance among these organizations in a geographical area.The AMA still charters and sanctions a number of different levels of local clubs ranging from large Competition Clubs to Social/Recreational Clubs. The Competition Clubs are formed to host racing events and formal AMA events. The Social /Recreational Clubs are groups that lack the organization to put together large sanctioned events, but still like to ride and gather together as members of the AMA. These clubs fall under the governance of the AMA and its rules and guidelines. Basic guidelines being they have a required number of AMA members, they maintain an annually renewable AMA charter, and they clearly distinguish themselves as being with the AMA. Caution by these groups is important so as to not “step on the toes” of local M/Cs in such a way as to violate their perceived jurisdiction. Likewise M/Cs generally do not attempt to impose or exercise governance upon these groups recognizing their historical and practical differences.