RIP: George Morin
Toronto, ON – Canada’s first National Superbike Champion, George Morin, died on Friday, January 26, in Mississauga, ON. He was 74 years old. The former postal worker was the first Superbike racer in Canada to earn the overall number one plate, the Kawasaki-backed veteran scoring a win at the Edmonton opener and a podium at Shannonville Motorsport Park in the two-race 1980 National tour.
Morin died of complication from Haemochromatosis, a blood issue related to an excess of iron. He had received medical care for this issue for the past two years. He is survived by his second wife, Petra, daughter Savannah and son Alex.
Morin grew up in rural Quebec where his father was a local politician, before settling in the growing Toronto lakeside suburb of Mississauga. He started racing on a Triumph in the early 1970s, and soon became a winner in various production classes. Morin was also a regular front runner at the 24 Hours of Nelson Ledges, Ohio, a major race destination for Canadian top guns in the 1970s.
When the Superbike category started to take off, Morin modified his production class Kawasaki Z-1R for the first-ever Canadian SBK race at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (then known as Mosport Park) in late 1978. Although a favourite, a frustrated Morin retired early, and then went to the U.S. to purchase a built and developed Kawasaki for the 1979 season.
Along with Lang Hindle, Rueben McMurter and Bob Price, Morin was a front runner in 1979 as Superbike developed regionally. When the CMA announced that a Superbike class competitor was eligible for the overall National Championship in 1980, Morin committed to the series. At the time, a two-stroke Yamaha racer would have the best chance to win the coveted number one plate, since they would have two classes to enter against the single opportunity for the big Superbikes.
Instead, Morin won the Edmonton opener and then fought his way to second in the deciding round at Shannonville, narrowly beating rising rookie Pro Rueben McMurter for the title. Morin then opted to leave Kawasaki during an off-season rider shuffle, taking his CAM2 oil support to Suzuki.
Morin ran up front for Suzuki, winning in Nova Scotia and battling new Kawasaki number one Hindle in a July Mosport 1981 showdown. He eventually campaigned a fearsome Katana before retiring and switching to team management. His first program centered on former Flat Track start Michel Mercier, and fortunately coincided with the development of Suzuki’s ground-breaking GSX-R750.
Famed Canadian tuner Mike Crompton was a Morin favourite, and the trio of Mercier-Crompton-Morin dominated in the early GSX-R era. They had success in the U.S., and that got an invitation to the Match Races in the U.K., where Mercier earned a strong following. Morin developed key relationships with organizers and sponsors, including World Superbike founder Steve McLaughlin.
When Mercier retired, Morin worked with the Weld Rite Kawasaki program of Steve Crevier, and eventually Frank Trombino’s team at Rob Egan’s Brooklin Cycle Racing. He did some vintage racing, went on bike trips in Europe with old racing buddies including Shop owner and endurance partner Peter Hurst, and even helped winter relocation of boats and small aircraft!
Morin was inducted into the Canadian Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 2015, joining fellow early era Superbike heroes including Hindle, McMurter, Mercier and Crompton. A memorial ceremony is planned for the spring, close to Morin’s birthday.