DON LEIB TELLS HIS SIDE OF HIS AMA NATIONAL BAN
On May 27, four days after the Glen Helen 250/450 National, MX Sports declared that Don Leib and his associate would have their AMA Pro Racing credentials suspended indefinitely. The two would be prohibited from entering the pits at any Lucas Oil Pro Motocross event until further notice. According to MX Sports, “Violation of this prohibition will be deemed trespass and subject to criminal prosecution.” This situation is vaguely reminiscent of the Tony Alessi affair —with the father of a rider getting banned from the races. Although in this case, the issues seem to be over an unpaid, although unconfirmed, debt.
At the time of the MX Sports announcement, MXA offered Don Leib the opportunity to tell his side of the story. We have not edited or redacted Don’s comments in any manner and run them to their fullest. This is the other side of the three-sided story involving Don Leib, Cade Clason and MX Sports. Here is Don Leib’s statement.
“A lot has been said on the Internet about what happened at Glen Helen on 5/23/15 and like all controversies there are two sides of the story. Initially I had planned to let it take its course while I sat out my suspension but there has been a lot said that is not accurate. Here is my statement.
“I respect and accept the penalty handed down by MX Sports and the AMA. Their point of view is that if somebody else’s property is in their “house” the property owner has no right to come and get it and or alter it regardless of the history of the bike.
“My point of view is that the property in question was not paid for, was not going to get paid for, is technically mine. They went to great lengths avoiding me, altering the equipment and forced me to deal with it at the race.
Cade Clason (92) borrowed a bike from Nick Schmidt for the Glen Helen race, and MX Sports re-ran it through tech inspection after Clason’s black box was disabled in the pits after qualifying. Clason finished 31st on the borrowed Suzuki.
“Of course the situation is more complicated than that. Following is my side of what happened and how this led up to the events at Glen Helen.
“The motorcycle in question was built for my son to race at the Monster Energy Cup last year and was purchased by a friend of our family who lives in Italy. He has purchased one bike a year for the last three years. The title is in my name. I had no intention of selling the bike until right before the 2016 models are released. Nothing was spared in the build. It’s a 67 hp easy to ride rocket ship. Cade hole shot a semi at A2, I believe, finished second behind Tickle and transferred to the main on the bike.
“AG Motorsports, which is run by Al Albiker, based their operations out of the Rocket Performance shop in Winchester, CA from early December through early February when the east coast rounds start up. Kyle Cunningham, Cade Clason and my son have contracts with the team. Cade’s contract calls for AG to supply him a race bike, not Rocket Performance. By the time Cade got to California AG had not secured a race bike for him. Al asked if Cade could try our bike. He loved it. Initially AG was to trade me a stock engine and just pay for the engine mods but after a week of Cade riding the bike Al asked if he could buy the entire bike. I reluctantly agreed if he could pay for it by years end, which was about a week.
“Cade had been riding and racing the bike during December and January based on AG Motorsports agreeing to buy the bike and pay for it before the end of December. Sponsorship money for AG was “coming in a few days” is what Al would tell me. This went on through Jan. Early Feb the semi was getting packed up to head to Dallas and I had not been paid for the bike. I had let AG know that the bike could not go without payment. On Thursday, the day before the truck was leaving for Dallas, I got a phone call from Debra Poole. One of the mechanics called her to let her know of the situation.
“I sold the motorcycle to Debra Poole, Cade Clason’s grandmother, and was happy to have an agreement with Debra so that Cade could continue to race the bike. Our agreement (see below) was made literally hours before the AG Motorsports semi was leaving my shop for Dallas and the east coast rounds of Supercross. The terms were simple; the bike was to be paid for in three payments over the course of the next three weeks, before the end of March. We discussed in great detail the fact that I was selling her the bike and not AG Motorsports.
“This is the wording from our text message confirming the deal. “Don, I’m taking your word that bike will be on the semi and in Dallas as you are taking mine that you will be paid. Is that our deal?”
“Yes Debra, your word is plenty good for me. I have already instructed my guys at the shop to not interfere and help in any way we can. Please don’t worry.”
“Over the next few weeks Debra Poole and I exchanged many text messages. She was very thankful that I was trusting. She also asked that I did not share this information with anybody because she did not want her grandson to know about it. I obliged. Getting the first two payments took much longer then our agreement and I knew I was in trouble. When I asked Debra Poole about the final payment she informed me that AG Motorsports was going to make the final payment. I reminded her of our agreement and the fact that my agreement was with her and not AG Motorsports. AG was not, is not and in my opinion then and now will not be in a position to pay for the bike. Debra Poole cut off all communication with me. They continued to race the bike and ignore my requests for payment. I was extremely frustrated. They had my bike and were refusing to communicate with me only to say that AG would make the final payment when I had specifically discussed with Debra Poole that I would not do business with AG. The story I’d get from AG was still the same…… his sponsor is close to getting him money and please be patient.
“I contacted an attorney to explore my options. It was a civil matter and given the unknown whereabouts of the bike and the lack of a notarized bill of sale I was advised there was not much I could do. I continued to call and text Debra Poole and had numerous discussions with AG Motorsports all for not.
“At Hangtown a friend of mine went to their pit and asked about the bike. Cade had said that his race bike was not the bike in question. I would have to wait till the following week at Glen Helen to determine this myself.
“I had hoped to see the mechanic and or the bike the week leading up to Glen Helen but the mechanic avoided coming to the Rocket Performance shop. Normally the team would base themselves from our shop when on the west coast. Knowing full well that once the bike left California after Glen Helen I would never see it again I went to Glen Helen on Friday to talk to them and try to come to terms. I did not want to deal with this on race day. I waited almost five hours for them to get to the track and late in the afternoon I left. They forced me to deal with the situation the morning of the race at Glen Helen.
“Our electronics technician, who is an independent contractor and is owed money related to the bike, has a good rapport with the mechanic and the rider. He went to the pit Sat morning to look at the bike. They talked about the track and altering the power delivery and at that time he confirmed that the frame had been changed and that the serial number on the engine case had been removed. This was beyond acceptable and an obvious attempt to conceal the origin of the engine. When he was invited by the mechanic to hook up his computer to the bike the computer immediately recognized the Vortex ECU and the specific maps that control the electronics. We were 100% certain it was the engine out of the bike in question.
“When he had the computer hooked up to the electronics he set the rev limiter to 5000 rpm, which is just above idle. This made the bike not rideable and in no way unsafe and provided me some leverage to negotiate the final payment of 7K or take back the engine and call it a day.
“I entered the pit, they did not know of the change that was made. I was met by Debra Poole who did not want to talk to me. I informed her that the bike was not rideable and I asked her to honor her commitment, do what’s right and Cade could race. The police were called to the pit. I had already discussed this with an officer and knew the outcome. The police were unable to help either party based on the fact that the frame had been changed and the engine did not have a serial number. If the serial number was on the engine I was likely to get my engine back. It was a civil matter.
“Debra Poole recently stated to MX Sports and the AMA that she did not pay the final invoice because all of the parts on the invoice were not on the bike. When it left my shop on Feb 5th it had a complete set of billet wheels. When the bike got to Dallas AG Motorsports took the wheels off the bike and put them on another team member’s bike. This is clearly not my problem or responsibility to correct and is just another facet of the theft.
“As of today I still don’t have the money or the bike and or the engine. People are entitled to their opinion and at the end of the day there will be people on both sides of the fence. Shame on me for trying to be good guy and letting the bike go without full payment so that Cade could complete the SX season. That was my mistake. Knowing that Debra Poole, who states “I have deep pockets” has ample funds to pay for the bike. I honestly never questioned her character.
“Why did I choose to deal with this situation like I did? First and foremost I trusted Debra Poole. Second, the lengths they went to avoiding me and altering the equipment further flamed the fire. Lastly, I had exhausted every possible way to resolve the debt but the family had stated many times that they were not going to pay for it. Contrary to what people might think we are a small company of three people. We fund our own racing efforts competing with teams and companies that are much bigger and have endless resources. Fact is the amount of money owed to us will go directly back into our company and back to the racetrack.
“This has been a very emotional ordeal. In the end I feel sorry for Cade who is a fine young man and is very talented young rider. It was a very difficult decision. I’m not proud of what happened at Glen Helen as our family has been dedicated to educating young racers and trying to grow rider’s careers, this was counter-productive to what we stand for.
“As we move forward we simply look to being “Paid in full” per the terms of our agreement and get back to helping racers meet their goals on and off the track.”