R.I.P. Former Yamaha Racing Manager Kenny Clark

R.I.P. Former Yamaha Racing Manager Kenny Clark

© 2022, Roadracing World Publishing, Inc. By Don Emde.

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news that former U.S. Yamaha Racing Manager Kenny Clark has passed away. His daughter Kim confirmed to me that he died at his home in Idaho in the last week of December. In addition to the sadness of losing a long time friend to so many of us–especially those in the Yamaha world–but as the president of the Trailblazers club, we were planning to honor him at our upcoming banquet in April with an induction to our Hall of Fame.

The list of his accomplishments in motorcycling is long. He raced at the pro level for a time in the 1960s, but then found his niche in the sport as a manager and organizer of both marketing and racing programs.

In his early years, he worked with Dick Mann and others on the development and creation of the legendary Yankee motorcycle.

In the early 1970s he joined Yamaha and spearheaded the factory level motocross team headed by Perre Karsmakers. Soon after Yamaha held national titles at both the 250cc and 500cc levels.

He left Yamaha for a few years in the mid-1970s to help Carroll Shelby develop a line of cast motorcycle wheels.

In 1977, Yamaha convinced him to return to run its entire U.S. racing program. From 1977 to 1989, he guided Yamaha to 21 national championships.

In 1978, thanks for Clark’s support and others, Kenny Roberts went to Europe to contest the world Gran Prix championship and he would win three world titles in his career. All together, 14 FIM world championships were achieved under Clark’s leadership.

In addition to Kenny Roberts world road racing title won in 1978, that same season saw Yamaha dominate both motocross and supercross racing the United States with Bob Hannah, Rick Burgett and Broc Glover.

One of America’s most successful racing managers is now gone, but not forgotten. As we did just last year after the passing of honoree Steve Johnson, the Trailblazers will continue with our plans to honor Kenny Clark at our 77th annual banquet in Carson on April 2nd.

Godspeed, Kenny Clark.

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