Story by Michael Marino
For Daniel Clepper, working as the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame’s collections manager is a dream job.
He grew up working on vintage motorcycles, earned a degree in history, and now works full-time overseeing the Hall of Fame museum’s collection of vintage motorcycles, historical artifacts and memorabilia.
Clepper grew up in Cincinnati in a motorcycling family. He said his father, Bruce Clepper, worked as a motorcycle mechanic before Daniel was born, but gave up motorcycles when Daniel’s elder sister was born. Parenthood couldn’t keep the father away from motorcycles forever.
“After my youngest sister was born, my dad bought a Honda Shadow off my grandpa, then got into bike flipping,” Daniel said. “I used to go out to our garage and help him work in the bikes he fixed up.”
At the age of 13, Daniel got his first motorcycle, a 1964 Sears Allstate Puch 250. He rode it around the parking lots and driveways at his father’s job.
While Daniel’s interest in motorcycles started young, his interest in museum work didn't begin until he was in college at Ohio University. He was working toward a bachelor’s in history, and it was a career fair during his junior year that helped steer him onto his current path.
“They told me my career choices were either teaching or museum work, and I knew I didn’t want to teach,” he said.
Clepper began searching for an internship for his senior year and found one at the Southeast Ohio History Center in Athens, Ohio.
After graduating from college, Clepper joined the AmeriCorps program, working assignments with a traveling history presentation group and at the Southeast Ohio History Center. He joined the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame staff in March.
Clepper said his first priority as collections manager is to raise the profile of the Hall of Fame within Ohio’s museum community and emphasize what makes the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame different from other motorcycle-themed museums.
“It’s great working at an institution that is all about the people who have contributed to motorcycling in America, not just the machines,” he said.