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Oct 31, 2007

Jake Zemke Mourns The Loss Of Merlyn Plumlee

"It's hard to find the words to describe Merlyn, because he was definitely one of a kind," said former American Honda racer Jake Zemke. "He was such a kind person, always had a smile on his face, was always so even-keeled, not someone to ever get real wound up.

"I had the great opportunity to work with Merlyn, even though it was only for one year [2005]. Unfortunately, that was the year that everything came in-house at American Honda, and there were a lot of struggles that year. As things progressed to the end of that year things got better. We were really looking forward to working together in 2006. Unfortunately, that was when Merlyn was diagnosed with cancer.

"However, he was still involved with our program right up until the end here. He was an integral part of American Honda's Superbike program. A lot of people don't realize the hours that man was putting in while he was going through his cancer treatments. They said he would get done with his cancer treatments and would come straight into the shop. He wasn't missing days because of it. The man just loved racing. That's all he knew, and I think that's one of the things that kept him going these last two years, the need American Honda had for him there at the shop.

"Beyond what he did for American Honda and for myself and the guys who rode for him, Merlyn was one of only two guys I ever met who had that demeanor about him. And I would be surprised if I ever met another one like him again. He was a very special person. There are very few people in life that you come across and say, 'Wow, I wish I could model myself after him. I wish I had more of those qualities. I wish I was more like him.' That was Merlyn.

"It's really sad to see him go. It's really tough. He's a person you would never wish anything bad to happen to. He was special. Like I said, there's no words to describe Merlyn. You had to know him and meet him to understand. If you never met him you wouldn't understand. He touched everyone he worked with, and that was what made him so special. It's so sad to see him go."