ZA. Fathers and Sons

Late again. I started this page on Thanksgiving Day but was interrupted when the turkey was done. In the U.S. the Thanksgiving holiday is for families and friends to get together and eat too much, then fall asleep it front of the television during the football game.

In keeping with the family theme of Thanksgiving this week’s story has a family theme, father and son(s) racers.

Note: All images are borrowed from the American Motorcyclist Association Hall of Fame Web pages, unless noted otherwise.

Floyd Emde and Don & Dave Emde

Floyd Emde was a top racer in the 1940s and is best known for winning the Daytona 200 in 1948 on an Indian. This was when the race was still run on the beach. Floyd’s father was a motorcycle patrolman who also raced, making Floyd a second generation racer and his sons third generation racers. He was not just a road racer but excelled on flat track dirt events as well. Floyd was a member of the 1998 AMA Hall of fame inductees. More here: http://www.motorcyclemuseum.org/halloffame/detail.aspx?RacerID=43.
Don and Dad
Floyd Emde and Don Emde, 1972

Don Emde, like many top road racers, started as a kid in dirt events. When he turned pro he raced in all the AMA events: mile ovals, half-mile ovals, and TT steeplechase, but he was best known as a road racer. In 1971 he was a member of the BSA factory team. When he won the Daytona 200 in 1972 on a Yamaha 350 he and Floyd became the only (so far) father-son combo winners of the prestigious event. Don is still active in motorcycle events, recently taking part in the Cannon Ball Project, a re-tracing of Cannon Ball Baker’s trail during his 1914 coast-to-coast run across America. Don also took time to write the book “Daytona 200,” the authoritative book on the history of the race. Don was inducted into the AMA Hall of Fame in 1999: http://www.motorcyclemuseum.org/halloffame/detail.aspx?RacerID=98

Dave Emde was Don’s younger brother and a very fast road racer, especially on the Yamaha in the 250cc Grand Prix class. I still remember the time in 1976 he came to the Sears Point track for an AFM club race and set a new lap record with his TZ250. Nobody does that on their first race at that notoriously difficult track, but Dave did.
dave emde
Dave Emde, circa 1982

Dave was the 1977 AMA 250cc Champion, beating out riders like Gary Nixon and Randy Mamola. Dave also raced Superbikes in the early years and I ran against him a few times. He was 3rd in the Yoshimura 1-2-3 sweep at the Daytona Superbike race in 1979, after starting from the 63rd and final grid position because he missed the heat race. Sadly Dave was killed in a road accident in 2003, but he is not forgotten. He was inducted into the AMA Hall of Fame in 2010: http://www.motorcyclemuseum.org/halloffame/detail.aspx?RacerID=437.

John McLaughlin and Steve McLaughlin

John McLaughlin was one of the people who started the American Federation of Motorcyclists in the 1950s. The original AFMers wanted to promote European-style road racing in the U.S. At that time the AMA specifically outlawed that type of racing. Fairings were forbidden as well as clip-on handlebars. The AFM is still active today after more than half a century.
John and Dean
John McLaughlin (R) with fan James Dean.

John was not just a road racer. He raced off-road too, often on unconventional brands. Perhaps his most well-known win came at the popular Catalina Island Grand Prix in 1953 on a Velocette. He had previously won the rugged Greenhorn Enduro off-road event in 1952 on a British Ariel 4-stroke single at a time when most racers were running Harley Davidsons and Indians.

You can read more about John McLaughlin here: http://www.motorcyclemuseum.org/halloffame/detail.aspx?RacerID=22.

Steve McLaughlin
Steve McLaughlin, circa 1980

Steve McLaughlin, John’s son, was a top competitor in the late 1970s, especially in the Superbike class. Steve won the first ever AMA Superbike race at Daytona on a BMW R90s. He also got Suzuki’s first AMA Superbike race win at Laguna Seca in 1977. In 1980 Honda hired Steve to be rider/manager of their effort to win the class with Freddie Spencer as the #1 rider.

Steve was one of the people who originally convinced the AMA to try the Superbike class in 1976. Steve later took the Superbike idea to Europe, starting the very popular World Superbike Series in 1988. Steve, like his father, is also in the AMA Hall of Fame, class of 2004. You can read more about him here: http://www.motorcyclemuseum.org/halloffame/detail.aspx?RacerID=320.

Wester Shadric Cooley and Wester Steven Cooley

Wes Cooley the elder was another AFM road racer from the 1950s and 1960s (some refer to them as Wes Cooley Sr. and Wes Cooley Jr., but that isn’t quite correct as they have different middle names). In fact Wes Cooley was the AFM Chairman from 1959 to 1964. He also, it appears from old materials, to have become the secretary and treasurer as well. Wes later split with the organization to start a different Southern California road race club. The breakup was not amicable, according to sources. After he left motorcycles he went on to be a congressional representative for an eastern Oregon district.

wescooleyhead
Wes Steven Cooley, circa 1977

Wes Cooley the younger was an AMA Superbike racer from my era, racing for the Yoshimura team, first on Kawasakis then from 1978 on Suzukis. Wes was a 2-time AMA Superbike Champion, taking the title from Reg Pridmore in 1979 and defending it in 1980 against the likes of Freddie Spenser and Eddie Lawson. Wes was admitted to the AMA Hall of Fame in 2004. You can read more about Wes’ career here: http://www.motorcyclemuseum.org/halloffame/detail.aspx?RacerID=315.

Yvon and Miguel Duhamel

Yvon_DuhamelYvon Duhamel was a top motorcycle road racer in the 1960s and 1970s, riding for the Kawasaki factory team in the early 1970s. A French Canadian from Montreal, he was also a professional snowmobile racer. He was a very skilled racer, once described as “able to ride a pork chop past a hungry wolf.” The Kawasaki Class C racer of that time was known for having vicious power, a narrow powerband, and less than stellar handling. Duhamel proved to be one of the very few riders with the ability to handle the machine. He won several AMA National road races in his prime. Yvon was inducted into the AMA Hall of Fame in 1999. See more at http://www.motorcyclemuseum.org/halloffame/detail.aspx?RacerID=162.

Miguel_Duhamel
Miguel Duhamel, date unknown. Photo from Roadcarvin.com.

Yvon’s son, Miguel, was the AMA Superbike Rookie of the Year in 1990, the year he won his first AMA National Superbike event. He was AMA Superbike Champion in 1995 riding for Honda. Although he has only the one Superbike Championship he was for many years the rider with the most AMA Superbike race wins, eventually eclipsed by Mat Mladen. Miguel also took several championships in the AMA 600 Supersport and Formula Xtreme classes. Miguel was still racing in 2010 although it is safe to say by then his best days were behind him. Miguel is not a member of the AMA Hall of Fame but it’s only a matter of time.

Randy and Dakota Mamola

Randy Mamola was a top racer in the AFM and AMA series in the late 1970s before going to Europe to compete for the FIM Grand Prix championships. He started out road racing with TZ125s when he was 16 and weighed about 100 lbs. As he gained skill and size he moved up to TZ250s where he was especially successful, being the runner-up to Dave Emde in the AMA 250cc Grand Prix championship in 1977 and winning the title in 1978.
RandyMamola
Randy Mamola on the podium in Europe, circa 1986.

Randy left for Europe to do battle with the FIM racers in both the 250cc and 500cc Grand Prix classes. He is generally known as the best rider of his generation not to win the 500GP Championship. He finished in 2nd place four times. His AMA Hall of Fame page is at http://www.motorcyclemuseum.org/halloffame/detail.aspx?RacerID=221.

Dakota Mamola, Randy’s son, races in the Spanish CEV series. I’m pretty sure the CEV is Spain’s equivalent to the FIM series. Dakota races in the Q1 class. Again I’m not sure, but I think it’s close to the Moto2 (600cc) class in the FIM’s categories. I know Dakota was a substitute for an injured rider in the Moto2 class at the British GP at Silverstone during the just-completed 2014 season. Anyone who knows more about the Spanish class system is welcome to add a comment.

Kenny Roberts Sr. and Kenny Roberts Jr. & Kurtis.

Kenny_RobertsKenny Roberts is arguably the best motorcycle racer to come out of the U.S. He was AMA Grand National Champion in 1973 and 1974, winning races in all major AMA events: tourist trophy, short track, half mile, mile and road race. He particularly excelled at road racing, winning 6 of the 7 AMA National road races in 1977.

Kenny Roberts wearing the laural wreath and roses after a 500cc Grand Prix victory in Europe. Photo circa 1979.

Roberts went to Europe in 1978 and kicked ass over there as well, winning the FIM 500cc Championship in 1978, ’79 and ’80. After retiring from racing he won additional championships as a team owner with riders Wayne Rainey in 500cc Grand Prix and John Kosinski in the 250cc Grand Prix classes. Robert’s 1998 AMA Hall of Fame entry is at http://www.motorcyclemuseum.org/halloffame/detail.aspx?RacerID=88.

Kenny Roberts Junior started road racing in the 250cc class in Southern California in 1990. He learned quickly and by 1993 he was racing in the 250cc Grand Prix class for Yamaha in Europe. In 1996 he raced in the 500cc Grand Prix class with average results and Yamaha let him go. KRJR, as he was known, spent two years Racing for his father, trying to develop the unsuccessful Modenas KR3 two-stroke triple.

Kenny_RobertsJrKenny Roberts Junior in his Telefonica Movistar Suzuki leathers. Photo from kennyrobertsjr.com

KRJR got his big chance with Suzuki in 1999. He was second in the Championship behind Alex Crivillé, then won the title in 2000, making Kenny Roberts Sr. and Kenny Roberts Jr as the only father-son winners of the top FIM class of 500cc GP.

Kurtis Roberts, Kenny Junior’s younger brother, did not reach the heights of his father or older brother, but he was successful in the AMA, winning the Formula Extreme class in 1999 and 2000, and adding the 600 Supersport Championship in 2000.

Reg and Jason Pridmore

Reg_PridmoreReginald Pridmore was originality from England, but came to the U.S. and eventually settled in Santa Barbara. He was an active AFM racer and also raced a 750cc BMW in the AMA Formula 750 class in the early 1970s. Reg was one of the BMW race team in the first year of Superbikes, 1976. He was the champion that year by a wide margin, scoring on the podium in all four AMA Superbike Nationals. He raced a BMW into 4th place in the 1977 Daytona Superbike race but switched to Kawasaki when Butler and Smith, the BMW importers, abruptly pulled the plug on their racing support. He repeated his championship in 1977, holding off a strong challenge from Cook Neilson on the Cycle magazine Ducati. The winning margin was a scant 3 points. He took his 3rd and final Superbike crown in 1978. This time the championship ended in a tie but Reg won the tie breaker.

While he was racing he began instruction other riders and after he stopped racing he started the CLASS Motorcycle School to teach better street riding techniques. Class is still going strong. Reg was in the AMA Hall of Fame’s class of 2002. His HoF entry is http://www.motorcyclemuseum.org/halloffame/detail.aspx?RacerID=256.

Jason Pridmore

Jason-PridmoreImage from AMAProracing.com

Jason raced in a number of AMA classes and was champion in the 750cc Supersport Class in 1997 and the Formula Extreme class in 2002. In 2003 he was the FIM World Endurance Championship riding for the Suzuki GB Phase One team. Jason finished his AMA career with 21 Class wins and many podiums.

After retiring from racing he became the Chief Instructor for the STAR Motorcycle School, has done some announcing for the Speed network, and is polishing his golfing skills.

John and Chris Ulrich

John Ulrich was a racer/journalist back in 1973, winning AFM events in the 125cc Production class and publishing articles in Cycle News and other motorcycle publications. John raced big bikes also, for example a 844cc Suzuki GS750 in the Ontario 6-hour endurance race and later in the prestigious Suzuka 8-hour race in Japan.

In 1980 John got together with racer Bruce Hammer (who finished 2nd in the AMA Formula 1 championship that year) to form Team Hammer Endurance Racing. The team won the WERA National Endurance Championship in 1983, ’84, ’86 and ’87 and in later years as well. You can read more about Team Hammer here: http://www.teamhammer.com/.

John continued to race independently from the team as well, and was still winning races in the current decade. John also continued his journalist career, eventually becoming the publisher and editor of the magazine Roadracing World and Motorcycle Technology.

JohnConnieChrisJohn Ulrich (L) and Chris Ulrich (R) with VIR principal Connie Nyholm in 2002. Photo from Roadracing World magazine.

Chris Ulrich, John’s son, grew up around roadracing and started pro racing in the AMA 250cc Grand Prix class in 1998. He later competed in the AMA 750cc Superstock, the 600cc Supersport class, and the 1,000cc Superstock classes, collecting 2 wins, several podiums and many top-10 finishes. In 2009 Chris started
racing AMA Superbikes. His Superbike career has been a combination of injuries mixed with, when healthy, many top-ten finishes.

Chris is also a journalist, being the Racing Editor for the Roadracing World magazine.

* * * * *

There’s more Father-Son racer combinations in Europe, notably Graziano and Valentino Rossi, Ron and Leon Haslam, the late Robert Dunlop and sons William and Michael, and Sito Pons and Axel Pons Ramon. I’m also sure there are many I missed, so if you know of more please comment.

11 thoughts on “ZA. Fathers and Sons

  1. Darn, Paul mentioned Kenny and his sons the evening before he wrote this blog article. I think he just was rushing to finish and the Roberts family – a very important example of USA father-son racers – was accidentally left out. Paul, can you add to your article?
    Also mentioned were European racers such as Valentino Rossi and his dad, but it opened so many more racing families that I believe he left them out on purpose.
    Finally, there’s our personal racing family: my son Russ Granger is also the son of former amateur racers Jim Granger (desert, motocross, and drag racing an Ariel Square Four) and Dee Granger Ritter (motocross and some desert), the great-grandson of aviation pioneers and airplane racers Jim and Clema Granger. His grandfather Jim Granger also raced airplanes and his grandmother Barbara Cooper rode a “Tigerized” Triumph Speed Twin in the early ’50s that Russ’ father Jim suspects coincidentally became his first motorcycle in 1954. To round out his pedigree, Russ’ stepfather is two-time AMA Superbike winner Paul Ritter!

  2. Reg Pridmore’s son Jason had a pretty successful career with Kawasaki and Suzuki in AMA events and is still riding the World Endurance series for BMW..

    • Kevin, I’ll be damned! Reg and Jason Pridmore were in the original set of father-son combos when I thought of the article. I don’t know how they got missed. I’ll get them added to the mix ASAP. Sorry Reggie and Jason.

  3. John Clelland: I did mention Robert Duplop and sons Michael and William in the last paragraph, along with a few other European father-son combination I know of. I just don’t know enough about them to be able to say much without doing a lot of research. I’m glad you liked what I did publish.

  4. Uh, oh… another father-son combo Paul intended to write about, but missed, was that of John Ulrich and his son Chris. They even have tight connections with Paul, having published several pictures of Paul from back in the day and published some of Paul’s magazine articles.
    I guess that’s another risk of rushing to finish anything.
    But I can attest to the fact that the Roberts, Pridmore, and Ulrich families were on the list when we brainstormed the project the previous day!
    Oh, and the Dunlops were also on the list until Paul decided to limit the scope to USA and Canada.

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