Honda Hoot Kaput for 2009

Even though it was one of the best-attended motorcycle events in North America, American Honda announced in December that this year's Honda Hoot is on the ever-growing economic kibosh list. Citing the economic crunch and its likely significant impact on attendance, the company announced that it would "take this time to seek out new and innovative ways to engage with our customers so that we can continue to ride together."

If you've failed to digest the snowballing effect of this economic downturn, here's a handy example: Honda—justifiably, certainly—decides not to hold its annual rally during uncertain times because it costs them about a million dollars. It's been estimated that Honda Hooters who passed through Knoxville last year left behind more than $20 million.

Honda is probably the closest thing to common ground among American motorcyclists. No matter what they ride now—Brit, Beemer, Harley, or Hardley—almost everybody's first ride was on a friend's Honda. They've been ubiquitous since the 1970s and, aside from reality checks like this, show no sign of subsiding.

Honda gratefully acknowledged the volunteer support surrounding the event, which was launched in Asheville but migrated to Knoxville a few years back. The ride-in crowd seemed to be uniformly friendly and harmless and endlessly appreciative of things Knox and cruising the Smokies. Yet another reason to knock wood for a rapid recovery and the return of migrating Gold Wings.