May 3, 2010: Dealer becomes an off-road voice

By David Halsey

Special for Powersports Business

Dick Lepley may be the only powersports dealer who came to the business via radio. Now, after more than 40 years of talking to customers at his Pennsylvania dealership, his voice is being heard across the country in a new DVD on saving and building off-road trails.

Lepley has the perfect voice for radio. At age 21, he was a disc jockey hosting a teen dance show for a radio station in Akron, Ohio. It was the mid-’60s. The show was sponsored by a local motorcycle dealer that sold Honda, BMW and Triumph. It wasn’t long before Lepley started working at the shop. Today, at age 66, he has fond memories of those years, including the night he met Edison Dye, considered by many to be the father of U.S. motocross. “There was a knock on the door, and there stood Husqvarna guru Edison Dye,” said Lepley. “Edison was setting up dealers, driving around the country in a van full of Huskies. He left in that van lighter by a few Huskies, the shop I worked at being one of his new dealers.”

In 1967, tiring of broadcasting, Lepley rented an abandoned gas station and opened a store of his own, partnering with his wife’s parents, selling Yamaha and BSA motorcycles. Today, his dealership, Street Track ‘N Trail in Conneaut Lake, Penn., has 55 employees and sells all major brands of motorcycles, ATVs, side-by-sides and a line of cars. “We’re probably the only dealership in America that sells Harley, Honda, Yamaha, Kawasaki, Suzuki, Polaris, KYMCO and Honda cars all under one roof,” said Lepley.

He also has a 40-year track record of advocating for off-highway vehicle recreation. He’s a life member of the American Motorcyclist Association, has served on the board of the Blue Ribbon Coalition, is the Pennsylvania State Partner for the National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council (NOHVCC) and is aligned with the Americans for Responsible Recreational Access (ARRA).

Lepley regularly uses his experience and his voice to promote off-road initiatives. Recently, he spent more than 40 hours recording the voiceover for a new DVD titled “The Public Land Advocacy Workshops Series DVD.” Created by NOHVCC and based on its successful in-site workshops and webinars, the 14-chapter DVD is designed to help off-road riders and clubs save their trail systems, as well as plan, design, manage and maintain new trails.

Lepley believes the new DVD is one of the best tools NOHVCC has ever created.

“Everywhere I go, I hear off-road club leaders say they had no idea how complex it is to work with the government and how frustrating and even how absurd it is at times,” said Lepley. “Dealers are terribly busy. It’s tough for them to take the time to delve into off-road issues. Here is a DVD that a dealer can show his staff, look at himself and invite his customers in to see. It’s going to make a huge difference in understanding this mountain of bureaucracy all of us are climbing when it comes to motorized recreation.”

Off-road riding in Pennsylvania also has benefited from Lepley’s activism and voice talent. “Our state association has found, in most cases, many land managers, legislators and local government agencies don’t understand Pennsylvania motorcycle code. They react with their gut and end up getting themselves into bad situations,” said Lepley. “I put together a PSA (public service announcement) encouraging responsible, ethical, safe use of OHVs. It ran in a local market for a couple months, and helped stave off a possible ordinance that would have hurt off-road riders. The City Council was moved by it, and asked if it could be left on the shelf and brought out again this spring. I know that kind of approach can have a lot of positive impact where people are trying to deal with these sorts of issues. ”

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