IRVINE, CA – March 31, 2022 – (Motor Sports NewsWire) – Mel Harris was part of the foundation, the bedrock of the modern-day powersports industry. His passing in March has many in the business recalling his many contributions during a long and successful career, and remembering the man that he was in person. Harris’s LinkedIn page chronicles his nearly 30 years with Suzuki, climbing to vice president of the motorcycle division in the U.S., and his most recent executive position with SSR Motorsports as VP of operations.
Harris went beyond brands with his efforts at the MIC, as a board member and as a longtime subcommittee member of Discover Today’s Motorcycling, the media and influencer focused image-enhancement and market-expansion program. His work at the association, while not as well known to many across the industry, benefited the entire world of powersports and riders everywhere.
Mel Harris memorial, open to all:
Pole Position Raceway
1594 E. Bentley Drive, Corona, California 92879
April 24, 10 am to 2 pm – or longer if needed
Donations can be made in memory of Mel Harris to the American Cancer Society
But Harris himself was known, very well, to many colleagues across the years, as well as dealerships, district and regional sales managers, racing organizations, teams, and dozens of top-ranked and aspiring racers on both pavement and dirt.
Just a few of them share their thoughts here.
Jeff Li – General Manager, SSR Motorsports
“Over the last seven years, I saw Mel lead SSR by laughter, iron fist, and fatherly love. Most notable is his devotion to his work in the industry. In good health, he worked long hours and kept an open door policy to the staff and dealers 24/7. When he fought cancer, he talked more about selling motorcycles on the phone than his health from the hospital bed. As an industry professional, I wish others to remember Mel’s big heart and work ethic and to honor his dedication to this industry. As a friend, I wish him a well deserved rest and will forever remember the influences he’s had in my life.”
Kerry Graeber – Vice President, Division Manager
Motorcycle/ATV Sales and Marketing
Suzuki Motor USA, LLC
“There wasn’t anybody like Mel Harris in our industry. He was passionate about the motorcycle business and had a tireless work ethic. Mel and I shared a common love for motorcycle racing and motorcycling in general and worked together over many years. Mel was first and foremost a salesman and was absolutely committed to Suzuki’s success. He will be missed.”
Tim Buche – Former MIC President and CEO
“I was fortunate to work with Mel starting in 1984 and I am grateful for his friendship, support, and all the memories. He was a leader, friend, advocate, competitor, and family man. Mel made friends and kept them. He was quick to ask about your family and provide updates on his. He could also tell you about ‘his’ dealers’ families, their kids, their sales figures, and more. His advocacy for ‘his’ dealers, teammates, brands, race teams, and our industry is legendary. His competitiveness extended from racing circuits to retail sales goals, and even to local softball league tournaments. The powersports business benefited greatly from Mel’s work on the industry’s collective efforts.”
Larry Little – Former executive, Cycle World, and former MIC Chairman
“Mel was both a genuine character in the best possible way, as well as being very serious about the overall business of powersports. I got to witness both while serving together on the MIC Board of Directors over a number of years. He had a passion for racing, and many champions across a spectrum of motorcycle racing wore the yellow and blue of Suzuki under his leadership. He also had a remarkable relationship with Suzuki dealers that is legacy to this day. There’s no question that the business of motorcycling and powersports was a genuinely better place because of Mel Harris. Godspeed, Mel.”
Gary Christopher – Former executive, American Honda Motor Co., Inc.
Chairman of the Discover Today’s Motorcycling Subcommittee
“Perhaps best known for his sales and marketing expertise, Mel also had a keen understanding of all facets of the business from product development to production, and on through the supply chain from wholesale to retail. He had a strong kinship with the dealers and advocated for them. His work with the MIC and its sister organizations was crucial for the protection and success of the industry. Mel was a true motorcycle enthusiast and loved racing. He had a keen eye for emerging talent and helped scores of young racers move from amateur to the professional ranks – and many on to championships. I had the privilege to work with Mel on several MIC projects and I’ll always remember his keen industry insight along with his cheer and good humor. Mel was a treasured colleague and he was my friend.”
ABOUT THE MOTORCYCLE INDUSTRY COUNCIL
The Motorcycle Industry Council, under its marquee market expansion brand, Ride With Us, is working to introduce everyone to the incomparable thrill of riding a motorcycle. The MIC is a not-for-profit trade association representing motorcycle manufacturers, distributors, aftermarket companies, dealers, retailers, and a variety of related organizations providing vital support to the powersports industry. The MIC advocates for fair policy and regulatory environments, works to deliver valuable data to the industry, and strives to bring the joy of riding to everyone, everywhere.
Established in 1914, the MIC is headquartered in Irvine, Calif., with a government relations office in metropolitan Washington, D.C. Keep up with the industry association on Twitter @followMIC, online at MIC.org, and through the weekly MIC RideReport.
Source: Motorcycle Industry Council