R.I.P. David Klassen, 1963-2021
By Colin Fraser
Front-running CSBK Pro racer David Klassen, 58, has died after a six-month battle with Cancer in Alberta. Klassen passed away on December 29, 2021.
As described on the North Shore News website obituary section, Klassen is survived by his children, Zoe (13) and Logan (9), as well as his parents Robert and Lynn Klassen, his sister, Janis and brother, Mark.
Klassen climbed the RACE-sanctioned ladder in the late 1980s era of fierce competition, and big manufacturer support, on the Canadian National and Regional Road racing scene. Klassen was a front runner in Amateur big bike competition in 1988, with Suzuki support on the new, second generation “sling shot” twin-exhaust GSX-R750.
Among the racers who graduated with Klassen from the class of 1988 were eventual Muzzy-Kawasaki factory racer Jacques “Jet” Guenette, Suzuki Canada Superbike pilot Jeff Gaynor, and Superbike ace as well as multi tile National Sport Bike Champ for Yamaha, Linnley Clarke.
Klassen wanted to race in the Feature class when he turned Pro for 1989 and purchased the ex-Norm Murphy Weld Rite Racing Kawasaki GPZ750R. Discouraged by friends from taking such a big career step all at once, Klassen proved competitive in the Feature class.
However, he didn’t have the support and finances to run on a much modified bike, and was frequently struggling with mechanical issues. His best result was a RACE Eastern Canada Challenger Series victory at Sanair International, Quebec.
The next season, Klassen move to the more affordable Pro Twins class with a mostly stock, ex-Dave Hatch Honda GT650 Hawk. Throughout the season, Klassen staged a number of memorable battles for the Twins win with the legendary “Crazy Frank” Mrazek, the older veteran aboard the Ducati 851 Desmo owned by author George Jonas. Mrazek was twice Klassen’s age and near twice the fit Klassen’s size!
While Mrazek had way more bike, Klassen was incredible on the little Honda, and rode beyond the potential of his equipment to the point that the Twins races became a fan favorite. Klassen won the Championship and set regular lap records.
An electrician by trade, Klassen lived in eastern Toronto, and gradually gravitated into the circle of Pro racers based on Queen Street West at Ontario Honda and Yamaha. Owned by Murray Brown and tuner Rick Andrews, Ontario Honda decided to build a road racer powered by Yamaha’s dual sport Super Tenere big twin powerplant.
With a frame built at the shop by Andrews, Klassen showed well immediately with the unique racer, winning easily, and running near the pace of the best Superbikes. Klassen set lap records with the Yamaha, breaking the seemingly unbeatable standards he had established on the Honda V-Twin!
This helped Klassen back into the Superbike mainstream, and he earned success in WERA Sprint and Endurance National events in the U.S., on both American and Canadian (Tim Ruhl’s R.A. Racing) based squads.
Klassen also had success in 1994 with a mutt Yamaha built at Ontario Honda, a Yamaha Superbike finished in purple and named “Barney.” The remaining elements of Barney exist to this day with former Ontario Honda mechanic and Pro Superbike Feature race winning tuner Zaid Saleen of Z-1 Cycle Tech.