RIP, Nobby Clark, Mechanic to the Stars


Nobby Clark with Team Norton Champagne

Mechanic to the stars Nobby Clark (far right) with Team Norton Champagne at the 2009 Bonneville Vintage GP. Photo credit: Stephen Clark.

Derek “Nobby” Clark. If you’ve paid any attention to motorcycle GP racing history, you know the name. A tuner and mechanic for some of the greatest riders in motorcycle racing history including giants like Mike “The Bike” Hailwood, Giacomo Agostini, Gary Hocking, Kenny Roberts, Barry Sheene, Jarno Saarinen and more, Nobby became a giant in his own right. As recently as a few years ago Nobby, who passed away last Saturday, Dec. 16, 2017, at the age of 81, was still hitting the circuit and still doing his tuning magic, making the Norton Champagne Racing Team’s 1937 and 1962 Manx kings of the vintage race scene.

Nobby Clark with Mike Hailwood

A young Nobby Clark with Mike Hailwood and the epic RC166 Honda six in 1966. Photo credit: Frank Melling.

I first met Nobby in 2006 at AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days at the Mid-Ohio race track. I had tagged along with a group gathering to meet some of the great Daytona Beach racers of the ’50s, and was standing off to the side when I looked over and saw Nobby, also standing off to the side. Although I knew I’d seen his face, I couldn’t quite place it, so finally I walked over and said something to the effect of, “You look really familiar. Have we ever met?” To which Nobby, in what I would learn over subsequent years was typical classic understatement, simply replied, “Maybe, I’ve been to a lot of races in my life.”

George Taylor
12/25/2017 10:18:38 AM

George Taylor AMA 250GP #42 I first met Knobby at Daytona in 1974. He was a regular at Daytona back in those days. In later years he came to the US and attended a lot of the Vintage meets I was still racing in with my restored 74 TZ250. Konbby was a very special guy that I always looked forward to having a chat with at the various vintage meets we both attended. God Speed Knobby! You will be missed!

12/24/2017 6:08:54 PM

He was a very cool dude, no harsh attitude, dry /wry wit, he could recall things from 50 years ago in detail. He gave a lot of insight,on the way Honda developed their engines. A very unassuming fellow , he even gave my 305 road racer a thumbs up. A good friend to say the least.

12/21/2017 1:06:23 PM

What an amazing life he had. Clark was squarely in the middle of a fascinating era of motorcycle racing.

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