Officials from the St. Patrick Hospital in Missoula, Montana have confirmed that Clifton Baldwin, "Click" as he known by his friends, passed away last night after sustaining fatal injuries in a motorcycle accident in Lolo, Montana while traveling to South Dakota to attend the 68th annual Sturgis Rally.
The well known Carolina Harley-Davidson Buell owner underwent emergency surgery Tuesday after his 2009 Harley-Davidson collided with a 1999 Honda Civic.
The Montana Highway Patrol reported the accident occurred Tuesday morning on U.S. 12 in Lolo, Montana, in front of the Traveler's Rest campground, which is about 8 miles south of Missoula, Montana. Baldwin was flown to the St. Patrick Hospital in Missoula, Montana where he was treated for multiple injuries.
Click Baldwin, who was 54 years old, was a native of Belmont, NC and he is survived by his wife Diane, daughter Chelsea and by his mother Lynn and brother Cricket . Funeral arrangements are incomplete at this time.
Baldwin, who lived in Gastonia, NC, is a well known Harley-Davidson Buell dealer. Baldwin has won various national awards for some of the many custom motorcycles his company has produced over the years. He has been featured in many national publications and covered on multiple television specials including a documentary about the "Hamsters USA" which was a motorcycle club Click belonged to and Click was included in a documentary film that followed the Kyle Petty Charity Ride.
As well as being a noted businessman, Click is a member of the "Hamsters USA", a member of H.O.G., he was an avid fan of all things mechanical, Click also enjoyed collecting "Cushman" Scooters, he had a hand in the design of many custom bikes, he was a friend of thousands, a supporter of various local and national charities and most of all he was a loving husband and father who thought the world of his family.
Click is also very well known to the NASCAR world. His dealership, Carolina-Harley Davidson, is one of the premier providers of motorcycles to many NASCAR drivers, team owners, employees and fans.
Click Baldwin has had a long friendship with Nascar driver Kyle Petty and is a big supporter of Petty's Annual Charity Ride and The Victory Junction Gang. Click was also very fond of and a supporter of General Tom Sadler and The Speedway Children's Charities plus he supported many other charitable organizations and other individuals in need. Click also helped bring Christmas to those in need as he would wear his Santa suit over his "leathers" and brighten up the lives for residents of Holy Angels, in Belmont, NC.
Though Click's and Diane's dealership was a shopping spot for some of the most elite motorcycle enthusiasts in the country it was also a shopping spot for many local Gaston area residents and there were many others from throughout the Piedmont area who would travel long and far just to do business with Click and Diane. Click never forgot any of those folks.
Click often showed his appreciation for his many customers and friends by hosting free barbecues or "Pig-Pickins" as they are more commonly known. One thing Click really enjoyed doing, and he was actually very good at it too, was standing over a barbecue smoker for hours on end trying to get the meat he was cooking "just right" before he served it.
On multiple occasions I have seen Click stand in the hot sun and serve every single person in attendance at some of his famed, Carolina Harley, "Pig Pickins" before he ever stopped to take a break or get a plate for himself. It was important to him that everyone else got served first and most of all, that they all had a good time.
Although Click was a natural businessman I knew he gave away a lot more than most people will ever know. He loved what he did and he got paid to do it. "You cannot ask for much more than that," Baldwin would say. I once asked Click when he knew he had "made it?"... His answer, "Well, I am not sure I have...so I am going to keep working on it"...but, he said, "I had a good idea I was doing something right when I was coming back from Daytona Beach and looked out of the window of Richard Petty's private jet and thought, that's not too bad for a small town boy."
Being a small town boy was what made Click the kind of person he was. Whether he was traveling deep into the heart of Africa, standing in the pits or in a sky-box at a Nascar race, meeting with someone like Willie G. Davidson (from Harley-Davidson) or with any one of the numerous "stars" or NASCAR drivers he had met along the way or whether he was just standing in the hot August sun, using his leaf blower while trying to to spruce up his lot, Click never forgot who he was or where he came from. He treated everybody the same.
Business success and financial status often changes many people and can sometimes make them less accessible or even withdrawn. But being successful in business never changed Click. If anything, it gave him the opportunity to do more for others. I can remember him saying (I know others who knew him will remember this also), if money or success came up in a conversation, Click would usually look at you and say: "Hey man, I am just a motorcycle mechanic from Belmont." He meant that , but make no mistake about it, Click was a very savvy and capable businessman. He and Diane were just the kind of team who were able to have a dream, turn it into a plan and see that plan through to a successful completion.
Click was very fun to be around and hang out with as well. I remember an incident, back in the winter of 2000, where Click and I, among others, had been "snowed in" and "iced in" after a winter storm, and we had to spend the night in a Charlotte hotel, following the Easy Rider Bike Show. The next morning the bikes had to be removed from the convention center but we could not get Click's truck and trailer close to the convention center loading docks because of the conditions.
I can remember us slipping and sliding while pushing some, very prized, custom motorcycles towards Click's hauler, which was parked about a block or so away from the convention center. As we struggled with the heavy bikes through the icy Charlotte streets a brand new, black, Lincoln Navigator sped toward us and quickly stopped. Down rolled the tinted window and the driver said, "you need any help, Click?" "Nah," Click answered...then we all had a good laugh. I recognized the driver of the SUV as being Championship Nascar team owner, Robert Yates. I said, "Click, is there anybody you don't know?" "Maybe," he said..."but I just don't guess I have met them yet, that's all."
I am asking that your thoughts and prayers would be with the Baldwin family during this time.
In closing, I remember having dinner one night, quite a few years ago, with Kyle Petty, Click Baldwin and others. One thing I remember from that night was the shared belief, they had, of trying to spend time in life doing whatever it is you enjoy or love doing. I will guarantee you that Click was doing exactly what he loved Tuesday as he and 14 other members of the Hamsters were on a trip to meet up with other riders on their way to Sturgis.
Among all the other things he did in his life Click loved his wife and he loved his daughter, mother and brother. He was always so proud of his daughter, Chelsea and he loved to tell you about her and what she was doing. His wife Diane, mother Lynn, brother Chris (Cricket) and his beloved daughter Chelsea were always first in his heart and will be forever. We are going to miss him and I know they are too.
If you would like to make comments or leave words of encouragement please use the "comments" section below and it will be passed along to the Baldwin family.
In lieu of flowers, the dealership is asking for donations towards "Bricks for Click" to be a part of their memorial sidewalk at the dealership.
Copyright July 29th, 2008