Derek "Nobby" Clark, who played a key role in capturing 17 world roadracing titles across multiple displacements over three decades, died Sunday after a long illness. He was 81.
"The American Motorcyclist Association extends its condolences to Nobby Clark's family and friends," said AMA President and CEO Rob Dingman. "His results in the world of road racing placed him among the elite in his field."
The greats Clark worked with include AMA Motorcycle Hall of Famers Mike Hailwood, Giacomo Agostini, Kel Carruthers and Kenny Roberts. In addition to the 17 FIM Grand Prix world titles that he earned in classes ranging from 50cc to 500cc, Mr. Clark contributed to winning three Daytona 200s, one Daytona 100, four Imola 200s and eight Italian championships.
Clark was born in September 1936, in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia). He studied engineering at Bulawayo Technical High School and did his apprenticeship for Rhodesia Railways. As a vibrant motorcycling counterculture developed in Zimbabwe, Clark's high-school friend, Gary Hocking, built a reputation first on the streets of Bulawayo then on local racetracks. Hocking's exploits ultimately took him to Europe, and he encouraged Clark to follow.
In 1960, Hocking got a ride with MV Agusta and hired Clark as his tuner. That year, Hocking was runner-up in 125, 250 and 350cc FIM World Championships. In 1961, he won the 350 and 500cc titles.
Clark went to work for the factory Honda team and Jim Redman, following Hocking's death in a Formula One car crash in 1962. He stayed with Honda, where he worked with Hailwood, and then joined a Yamaha satellite team in 1971. In 1972, he joined the Yamaha factory team.
Clark was inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 2012.