We were saddened by the recent news about the passing of AMA Hall-of-Famer Doug Bingham, who had a long and illustrious career on motorcycles. But we weren’t nearly as affected as Paul Garson, MO’s long-serving contributor who had gotten to know Bingham over many years of covering his sidecar events.
A few days ago we posted a news item about Bingham based on a press release issued by the AMA, but the sidecar legend’s story deserves fuller exposition. We’re happy to run Garson’s homage to Bingham below. —Kevin Duke, Editor-in-Chief
You could say Doug Bingham cast a long shadow – the good kind – across not only the USA but worldwide thanks to his more than half century’s worth of passionate dedication to the sport of “sidehacking” and all things relating to sidecars. He designed, built and raced “flying chairs,” and brought them to the public’s attention and fought for their rights and safety. His work with sidecars included TV work which earned him multiple Emmy Awards for Outstanding Videography and Live Event Coverage highlighted by the broadcast of the 1984 Olympics in L.A. in which he provided the mobile camera platform.
Doug also responded to the call of the U.S. military to design off-road machines, taught untold numbers of people how to pilot sidecars – often transforming their two-wheeled street bikes to three-wheelers – and steered them into a whole new form of motorcycle appreciation.
In addition to being a 50-year AMA and Charter Life member, Doug was recognized for his many contributions when chosen for the 1998 AMA MVP Award for advancing the cause of motorcycling. In 2003, he was inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame. Additionally, he served as the Director of the Sidecar Industry Council.
This rider/writer had the great pleasure of knowing Doug for the long run and was able to cover the annual rally he organized. I could always count on a call from Doug checking on how I was doing and to see if I could attend the rally. He often extended an invite to the pre-event dinner where he was joined by his longstanding sidehacking friends, many of whom he had literally put on three wheels, several passing on the sport to their children and grandchildren.
Since 1969, Doug brought fans of 3-wheeling together for the annual Griffith Park Sidecar rally, the most recent this past October 2015, its 44th event. But in this case, everyone was asking, “Where’s Doug?”
Word circulated he was in the hospital but was doing okay and would be back on his feet and on three-wheels in no time. As it turned out, it was “no time,” as Doug passed away on January 27, 2016 at the age of 76.
Naturally, we can just see Doug blasting around whatever three-wheeling event he’s moved on to, and he’s no doubt leading the way as always. We’ll miss you, Doug.