The American Motorcyclist Association Motorcycle Hall of Fame is pleased to announce the third member of the induction class of 2012. World championship tuner Derek “Nobby” Clark, whose bikes claimed 17 FIM world titles in multiple displacements from the 1960s through 1980, will be inducted into the Hall of Fame as part of the 2012 AMA Legends Weekend at the Red Rock Resort in Las Vegas, Nev., Nov. 16-17.
“I first saw Nobby Clark in 1967 at the Grand Prix of Canada,” said Don Rosene, chairman of the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame selection committee and a member of the board of directors of the American Motorcycle Heritage Foundation, which raises funds for the Hall of Fame. “He was tuning for the Honda factory team and Mike Hailwood and Jim Redmond, a couple of the greatest roadracers of all time. The list of greats Nobby worked with is long, including Kenny Roberts. All great racers need great tuners. Nobby was, and is, the tuner of World Champions. We welcome him into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame.”
For 25 years, Clark was one of the world’s leading motorcycle race mechanics. In addition to 17 FIM Grand Prix world titles, earned in classes ranging from 50cc to 500cc, he won three Daytona 200s, one Daytona 100, four Imola 200s and eight Italian championships working with some of the greatest motorcycle racers in history.
“This was a great surprise,” Clark said. “It’s a great honor to be inducted. With many of the guys I worked for already in the Hall of Fame, all I can say is I know I’m in good company.”
Clark not only excelled at the highest level, tuning for some of history’s greatest racers, but also worked with racing’s most memorable personalities, including Hall of Famers Hailwood, Giacomo Agostini and Roberts.
“Of course they all loved to race,” Clark said. “Mike, especially, loved to race and more than Kenny and more than Ago, the money didn’t come into it with Mike. He just loved to race. If he could have raced seven days a week, he would have done that. Mike also was the best at racing around problems with the bike. He would still try to win, and think he could win, no matter what.
“Kenny, I respect him for coming in from America and winning,” Clark continued. “It was different in every way, a different league, a different culture. Even the dogs, when you whistled at them, they would look at you and say, ‘I don’t understand that kind of whistle.’ But Kenny adapted and progressed and he represented the vanguard of American riders coming to Europe.”
Clark was born Sept. 29, 1936, in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia). He studied engineering at Bulawayo Technical High School and did his apprenticeship for Rhodesia Railways. As a vibrant motorcycling counter-culture developed in Zimbabwe, Clark’s high-school friend, Gary Hocking, built a reputation first on the streets of Bulawayo then on local racetracks. Hocking’s exploits ultimately took him to Europe, and he encouraged Clark to follow.
In 1960, Hocking got a ride with MV Agusta and hired Clark as his tuner. That year, Hocking was runner up in 125, 250 and 350cc FIM World Championships. In 1961, he won the 350 and 500cc titles on bikes tuned by Clark.
Clark went to work for the factory Honda team and Jim Redman following Hocking’s death in a Formula One car crash in 1962. He stayed with Honda, where he worked with Hailwood, and then joined a Yamaha satellite team in 1971. The following year, he moved to the Yamaha factory team.
Clark is the third member of the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame class of 2012 to be announced. He joins the late Rod Bush, KTM North America president and industry visionary, and pioneering female motocrosser Sue Fish. The rest of the 2012 inductees will be announced in random order in the coming weeks.
The class of 2012 will officially be inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame on Nov. 16 as part of the AMA Legends Weekend. The weekend also includes the 2012 AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame Dave Mungenast Memorial Concours d’Elegance on Saturday, Nov. 17, featuring many of the country’s most impressive original and restored classic motorcycles.
In addition to the current class, the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame induction ceremony shines the spotlight on two previously inducted members of the Hall of Fame, reminding the motorcycling community of the amazing careers of these Motorcycle Hall of Fame Legends. For 2012, the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame Legends will be 1998 inductees Malcolm Smith, a pioneer in off-road motorcycling and a star in the motorcycle documentary “On Any Sunday,” and Mert Lawwill, the 1969 AMA Grand National Champion whose title defense was the central theme of the timeless film.
Tickets for the AMA Legends Weekend are now available through this online registration form: events.r20.constantcontact.com/register/event?oeidk=a07e5r7zy8ea4316694&llr=vw9ldxbab or by calling (800) 342-5464.
The AMA Legends Weekend will be held at the Las Vegas Red Rock Resort, a world-class spa, hotel and casino, featuring a range of entertainment, dining and family-friendly attractions. The facility’s expansive ballrooms provide a stunning backdrop for the AMA Legends Weekend. Room reservations are available now at a special group rate by calling (866) 767-7773 and referencing group code RCIAME or AMERICAN MOTORCYCLIST. Online room reservations are available at www.redrocklasvegas.com.
More information about the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame can be found at www.motorcyclemuseum.org