Michael Hudalla plays fast and loose

Motorcycle mogul faces the music

Hudalla was an ideas guy, an entrepreneur by nature. After a while, he hatched a plan to turn his motorcycle lifestyle into a business.

Hudalla paid a visit to Marty Mataya, a gifted mechanic who owned the only Moto Guzzi repair shop in the state: a tiny, two-room affair in Anoka called Trackstar Motorsports. Hudalla proposed that they bring Trackstar to Minneapolis. The men shook on the deal.

For their third business partner, Hudalla recruited Tom Manley, a mechanic and bouncer at the Uptown who'd saved $7,000 toward opening his own cycle shop.

Mike Weston no longer speaks to Hudalla, his former business partner
Tony Nelson
Mike Weston no longer speaks to Hudalla, his former business partner
Hudalla spared no expense branding his shop
Tony Nelson
Hudalla spared no expense branding his shop

"When he approached me, I thought it might not be such a bad thing," Manley says. "This might be a more affordable way for me to go into business for myself and stop working for other people."

Manley threw his savings in, and Mike Weston—the son of the founder of the restaurant Fuji Ya—became a silent partner with a $35,000 cash investment and a $50,000 line of credit through Deutsche Financial Services.

The group bought a small, beat-up Yamaha dealership on 42nd and Cedar and painted the ceiling black. On a warm summer day in 1994, Trackstar Motorsports opened for business.

FROM THE BEGINNING, Trackstar was more than just a dealership—it was a clubhouse. Hudalla treated customers like personal friends.

"The thing about Michael is he's a really smooth operator," says Golden. "He makes you feel really good about yourself. He's a great talker, and a great storyteller."

The shop quickly developed a following. Manley and Mataya hustled in the garage while Hudalla tended the sales floor and the books. The partners all agreed to paltry paychecks of $500 every two weeks while they poured the profits back into the store.

"We were number one in Triumph and number one in Ducati sales," says Stephanie Anderson, the controller.

But underneath its shiny facade, Trackstar faced serious financial problems. Hudalla filled the showroom wall-to-wall with bikes. The longer they stayed on the floor, the higher the interest payments to Deutsche bank.

About a year after the dealership opened in Minneapolis, Manley strode to the back office to collect his tiny paycheck. But this time, the money wasn't there. Confused, he asked for an explanation. Hudalla didn't have a good one.

"It became clear that there was money coming in, and none of it was making its way back to me, or to Marty, or really, in any capacity, to any of our employees," Manley says. "There was one excuse after another why this was late, or that was late."

Then Manley found out something that really pissed him off. While he'd been living off $500 checks, Hudalla had spent $19,000 remodeling his kitchen.

Disgusted, Manley left the business in 1995. Weston, the silent partner, soon followed.

Hudalla hardly seemed bothered—in fact, he was already planning his next big move.

"We refer to Michael as 'Teflon'—nothing stuck to him," says Joe Anderson, a Trackstar salesman. "It didn't seem like anything bugged him."

One afternoon Hudalla had lunch with motorcycle mechanic Lewis Lakey, who owns Roy's Repair. Lakey described a business proposal: He wanted to build a motorcycle mall, a singular destination like Cabela's is for outdoorsmen. Lakey thought Hudalla would make a good business partner.

But Hudalla decided to do it alone. He bought the old warehouse on 32nd and Snelling that Lakey had in mind and renovated it with concrete floors and checker-plate countertops. The mall featured the new Trackstar as well as a leather tailor, an insurance dealer, and a coffee shop called the Motor Oil Café.

"You also kind of knew that he wanted to be bigger than he was," says Marty Leir, Hudalla's former roommate. "He wanted to be a wheeler-dealer."

The shop got off to a great start. One afternoon, a bus pulled up and Lyle Lovett stepped out. Hudalla attended him personally, and, his friends say, gave Lovett a hefty discount.

Long known for his outlandish tales, Hudalla couldn't resist gilding the lily in describing his motorcycle Xanadu. When a writer from a trade magazine interviewed him, Hudalla bizarrely claimed that the shop had an in-house masseuse.

"We didn't have a massage therapist," says Tom Dale, the tailor who worked at the mall. "He said we had a massage therapist, but he didn't mention Tom the Tailor!"

Even when Trackstar was floundering, Hudalla always seemed flush. He flew to Italy to see the latest motorcycle merchandise and dressed in expensive clothes, all the while driving the latest, coolest bike.

In the summer of 2001, rumors began circulating among employees that the shop was in financial trouble. A few months later, Hudalla made a big announcement: Trackstar was closing its doors. Hudalla and Mataya filed for bankruptcy.

Only after it was all over did Mataya begin to suspect why the dealership had failed.

"Probably a lot of that went into Michael's pocket," Mataya says.

One day a few weeks after Trackstar closed, Manley was flipping through his mail when he came across an official-looking envelope from Deutsche bank. The letter inside contained shocking news: The bank was suing him for $296,000.

"Michael led them to believe I was still involved in the business in 1998, and that I was still one of the guarantors," Manley says. "He sold Suzukis between April and September of 2001 that he didn't pay for—to the tune of $296,000."

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22 comments
Ron
Ron

City pages and Erin Carlyle should just join forces with Star Magazine. Gossip and all Nonsense. Highly Disturbed is right on the money. Take all the magazines and ship them back to where they came from. They will not post your comment if it talks about certain things and they get paid under the table to write the stories. Big waste of time to read anything she has written.

Guest
Guest

I have no doubt that the article is substantially accurate and that Michael did a disservice to many people who trusted him, including many friends. With that said, the article was scathing and went overboard in villianizing him. An article about him is one thing, but putting it on the front page etc went too far.

Jay6
Jay6

Why was it not revealed in this article that one of the people at the center of the story and shown in one of the published pictures, is a current City Pages employee?

Is it a policy of City Pages to pursue the personal vendettas of its employees?

EasyArtemis
EasyArtemis

Holla'!! That would be too much like real journalism.

Reader
Reader

I had to look here after reading this in print. The ending still sucks.

Highly Disturbed
Highly Disturbed

Having read City Pages for years I have become accustomed to being impressed with the excellent craftsmanship of its writers and editors. The prose is always witty and the stories, in my humble opinion, typically well researched and edited with a care for both the English language and the reader's enjoyment. Which is why I so regretted having to take all twenty copies with me out of my carwash today after reading this piece of libelous, malevolent drivel. It's nice to have a surplus of kindling, but the expense of this particular tinder is a high one that is being paid not only by Michael Hudalla, but his family as well.

Has everyone forgotten the biblical quote about throwing stones only if you yourself are without sin? Even for a group of torch-and-pitchfork-weilding artists and atheists like myself and many of the other readers of this publication the message is clear. In case this is lost on you, Erin Carlyle, and whomever approved the publishing of this fanciful accounting of this man, I'll break it down to one phrase; You should be ashamed of yourselves. Imagine this being written about your father, brother, son, friend.

As for the contributors in the article and anyone else who was once a friend of Michael's, you can count yourself if high esteem I'm sure, you should be commended even, for your pursuit of a highly moral and ethical life. Three cheers for you! It takes a real pillar of conviction to be kind to someone when they are a popular, wealthy, influential person. It takes almost as much moral fiber to kick a man when he's down and publicly tar and feather him for the world to see. Tom Petters was once a beloved member of the Edina community, I wonder how many of his friends have been to see him in prison.

I think the most demoralizing part of this poor attempt at journalism is the self-rightous tone that seems to permeate it throughout. Where on earth is the integrity? The character? Again, you should be ashamed. Villanizing people for your entertainment is petty and foolhardy, and I hope anyone involved in this smut is lucky enough to escape it in their own lives. Picture your face in place of his in that dreadful characature. Can you honestly say there is no one who would say mean things about you?

I am sorry to say that I am a grudge holder, and have a poor track record of forgiving publications that disappoint me. Minneapolis Magazine and I parted ways after an article written a few years back and I have yet to touch it again. I fear city pages may hold the same fate, but I suppose the added bonus of lining the guinea pig cages with it will soften the blow for me. I truly hope for Michael's family, especially his children's sake, that they are so easily appeased.

Ron
Ron

I 100% agree with Highly Disturbed. With the experience I know for a fact that the stories written by E. Carlyle are paid for by certain people and she does in fact except money under the table to make peoples lives a misery. I hope one day Karma does not come back to haunt her. LOL. But as one internet site shows, it is already starting to bite the tail that is wagging at the local bar for the bar fly Carlyle.

EasyArtemis
EasyArtemis

Preach on!! Pig poo is too good for this article.

Cafe Racer
Cafe Racer

The objective of the article remains a mystery to me. As noted below, lots of "idea guys" start businesses, can't manage them, live the high life/live off credit for a while, and eventually the businesses fail. That's unfortunate, but it's not unusual and it's not newsworthy.

I think City Pages could have had a better story had they explored the mortgage fraud more thoroughly. They should have spent less time on 15-year old recollections about the motorcycle business, colorful though they may have been, and dug into Hudalla's Enzo Mortgage Group and the actions of the other four co-conspirators charged in October 2010.

Finally, why is this guy still allowed to sell mortgages today? He's charged with at least two felonies and is financially stressed (low income, using a public defender, several mouths to feed and a big house to maintain). Given the above plus a long history of financial mismanagement and no compunction about stiffing his friends and business partners, he's the last guy I'd trust with personal financial data and social security numbers.

If people of Hudalla's ilk are allowed to call themselves mortgage brokers, it's no wonder the housing and financial industry are all f'd up.

EasyArtemis
EasyArtemis

I was SO WITH YOU until the last paragraph...This is still America, right? We still have a shred or two of the Constitution to cling to and claim we are a FREE COUNTRY??What happened to innocent until proven guilty? No compunction about stiffing his friends? Which friends would these be? The business partners from Trackstar? Victims of mortgage fraud are not notoriously shy about coming forward, and if all we're basing the stiffed-friends on is Brown, I assure you, he is the last person to characterize himself that way.The reason the financial industry is so f'd up is cuz of the money. Everybody's got a price tag. Congress has been bought and purchased, down to the chairman of the Senate Banking Committee Christopher Dodd, who got a mortgage through a VIP Countrywide program for 'Friends of Angelo'...as in Mozilo. As in Angelo Mozilo, Countrywide CEO who made $140 MILLION selling his Countrywide stock shares alone from 2006-7. Until we have laws & policies to make it illegal to institute the trading messes we continue to watch implode globally since 2007, that protect PEOPLE instead of risky-business policy that makes the rich richer, the housing and financial industries are likely to remain f'd up by varying degrees. Instead of hemorraging BILLIONS to bailout 'too big to fail' banks, the government should bail out its CITIZENS and close Wall Street. Hudalla is the least of anyone's problems.

kdawg
kdawg

I had a direct dealings with him and walked away based on the illegal dealings. There are 2 people in Duluth Prison and 2 more going to prison that have dealt with him. Mortgage fraud and the other charges against him are not unfounded.

EasyArtemis
EasyArtemis

I'm pretty sure I know of the Duluth dawgs you refer to, and they were practicing their own special brand of creative mortgage lending FAR before coming into contact with Hudalla.

Any person who originated mortgage loans from 2000-2007 almost undoubtedly perpetuated mortgage fraud. Loan products like 'Stated Income' 'Stated Income, Stated Asset' 'No Income, No Asset' 'No Income, Verified Asset' 'Low Doc' and 'No Doc' otherwise known as LIARS LOANS were offered by countless warehousers to be englutted by Wall Street. From the countless mortgage lenders pimping product to brokers, to the Wall Street investment banks that bundled the crap home mortgages into securities, to the ratings agencies that gave the steaming piles called Mortgage Backed Securities AA ratings, which were sold to investors and other market players - all of these players made MILLIONS of dollars in profits for most of the 2000's decade. You had Goldman Sachs betting against their own clients, CEO's making hundreds of millions by selling their stock just prior to their companies buckling under the weight of defaulting mortgage loans.

Forgive me, but this guy is no Denny Hecker.

EasyArtemis
EasyArtemis

Hudalla was 23 in 1989 – about as late 80’s as it gets, don’tcha think? Halverson’s professional opinion, then, of the guy’s moral fiber would be based on a comment made by Hudalla at 23 years of age.

If you are interested in facts, why not catch up with Mr. Brown, if you’re acquainted, and get his take on the matter? He’s fabulous and always good for shooting the breeze. While there were a few loyalists in the bunch, YES – I really REALLY *do* imagine that a good number of the folks offering up commentary (and SLIDESHOWS) would throw someone under the bus who they have spent *countless hours with*; who has been generous to them; who has offered them what help he could give when they asked for it. YES a good deal of the people quoted have not spoken to Hudalla in YEARS, but claim to know how much money he makes, his character and mental attitude, his feelings re: prevailing circumstances.Clearly I’m bitter, which shines through my commentary, but this pointless article – this piece of creative fiction strung together with *just* enough facts to make it believable, makes me SICK. To see the same people who were more than happy to dine on Hudalla’s tab, hang on his coattails to further their own interests turn on a DIME and burn the guy at the stake…it’s too much BS to swallow without spitting back.

Bob’s probably refused to serve me for rolling up on my Vespa sporting my ‘Euro Trash Girlfriend Sold Separately’ t-shirt and I still can't let it go.

EasyArtemis
EasyArtemis

Also - employing basic math, which is perhaps beyond Erin Carlyle, Hudalla would have been 14 in 1980 and 23 in 1989, so Halverson's character assault? Yeah, would be based on an exchange between guys in a BAR, 20 years ago, when Hudalla was roughly 19 years old. The Uptown Bar tending to be occupied by people DRINKING ALCOHOL, I'm sure both lads were completely SOBER at the time of the conversation.

Beemeejoe
Beemeejoe

I think that the quote from the article says late 80"S and not (1980) , which would be correct given that I worked at the Uptown at the time... As someone who knows all parties quoted and Michael very well, It's a fairly accurate time capsule that the writer has represented.. I have to admit, I don't know all of the facts surrounding the claimed damage to Mr.Brown and others, but I would stand by the time frame represented in this story....

As for your comment "Fame Whore's" really?... Do you really imagine that any of the people quoted in this story just wanted to see their names in print??.. So much so that they'd throw someone who they spent countless hours with under the bus!... Not likely.. a good number of the people quoted in this story were Michaels closest friends and companions.. Imagine the feeling of betrayal that takes place when you realize that someone you love, care for and listened to for hours has played you, Or just lacked the capacity to be honest and true.. even when it was just one on one,, to realize that you've been had for whatever reason sucks!... Like living in the same house with a stranger who leads a double life... You could be right that a good deal of the people who were quoted haven't talked with Michael in recent years.. Like Chicken little.. who got everyone together and running with excitement,, Eventually the townsfolk quit coming.. That or you lose sight of what you've told people was fact... when it was far from the truth... When you realize that burning the bridge isn't going to be enough... you blow the shit out of it leaving no trace of the island of people that you've left behind...

And lastly, As for your remarks about hypocritical,artificial sycophants, did someone from Bob's knock over your moped or make fun of your trike?.... :-)

EasyArtemis
EasyArtemis

How refreshingly consistent to see that even in infamy, Hudalla attracts the same pack of hypocritical, artificial sycophants as in the Trackstar 'glory days' - which P.S., were OVER at least a solid 10 years ago. And where are these so-called 'victims' referenced??? Some d-bag from the motorcycle era, a decade or 2 ago? Ill put money on 90% of the people quoted not having spoken to Hudalla in 5 years. These fame whores need to get a life and accept that Trackstar is gone; they can't buy their personalities off a showroom floor.

d-bag and proud of it
d-bag and proud of it

Interesting, your vile spewing about people you probably hardly knew. I knew all of these people and most were honest and hard working. "Some d-bag from the motorcycle era"... I guess you'd lump Malcom Forbes, Lyle Lovett, Steve McQueen, T.E. Lawrence, aka “Lawrence of Arabia”, Bob Dylan, Hunter S. Thompson, Charles Lindbergh, Buddy Holly and James Dean in there since the "Motorcycle Era" started when the first motorized bicycle was built. With your narrow viewpoint I don't expect you to know who these people are.

Obviously ranting is your life and style. I'll choose to spend my time with the the "d-bags" you refer to who add something to and enjoy this existance as opposed to spendnig time with people like you who wallow in self-righteousness and have no clue how the people you refer to live. My bet is they add infinately more to this culture and life than you'll ever hope to. Thanks for a rather pathetic rant, but then it does take a view like yours to appreciate that we're not all like you.

Cafe Racer
Cafe Racer

I think the writer meant the motorcycle era of Michael Hudalla, which was 10-15 years according to the article, as opposed to counting from the invention of the machine.

For what it's worth, there are two early deaths, one suicide and and at least two bi- or homosexual men in that list (Dean, Holly, Thompson, Forbes and Lawrence, respectively). Live fast and die hard.

d-bag and proud of it
d-bag and proud of it

Yeah Cafe, I got what he meant but his is problem-plagued thinking to begin with. It would be naive to think that Michael started the "d-bag" era. The Upton bike crowd was doing their thing with Italian iron and street fighters, etc way before Mike stepped onto the stage, they continue today and will in the future. Mike was a catalyst and there were hundreds of respecatable folks "hanging around" Trackstar buying product and riding with the groups including Doctors, Attorneys, Entertainers, Government employees, Educators, etc. EasyArtemis was trying to conveniently lump everything negative to him about bikes and hang it around Michael's and Trackstar's neck. Are there pissed off people who got stung? I'm sure of it, but that happens every day in business. Can EasyArtemis pass the Ten Commandments test? Remember, it's either 100% or you fail. Ha! Love to see his skeleton-in-the-closet resume.

Who knows, maybe he got stung by Trackstar or another cycle dealer. If so, he should have had his eyes open and not fallen in. I don't know where the "fame whore" came from but I was there a lot due to business and while every cycle store attracts groupies, the reality is that Trackstar was a unique space in time and people from every walk of life enjoyed the atmosphere. These people already had personalities, Trackstar didn't create them. Cudos to Mike, Marty, Mike Weston and Tom for having the vision to bring it together because it was special while it lasted. It's just too bad it didn't survive but bashing everyne who was there isn't called for either. Many people keep it alive because it was cool and retro, something I'd guess EasyArtemis isn't.

Let's face it, City Pages is a sensation rag and while serious news is in here, the tabloid twist feeds the flames of guys like this who just don't get the big picture. Bet he watches Fox news every night and believes everything Heraldo feeds him.

Cafe Racer
Cafe Racer

ETA: Lawrence counts twice: Thought to be gay and killed at a young age in a motorcycle accident.

Anon
Anon

Guy looks kind of like Chris Noth or Charlie Sheen. And he sounds like a Bernie Madoff, except since he couldn't steal hedge fund money or from rich people, he just conned the people around him; especially those who trusted him. And like Bernie, kind of unlikely they'll get anything back...?

 
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