PICKERINGTON, Ohio — Skip Van Leeuwen, one of the best Tourist Trophy riders in the history of AMA racing, passed away today, June 21. He was 78.
“The American Motorcyclist Association extends heartfelt condolences to the Van Leeuwen family and to all of Skip’s friends inside and outside the motorcycling community,” said AMA President and CEO Rob Dingman.
Mr. Van Leeuwen was inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 1999.
Mr. Van Leeuwen dominated AMA TT competition in the mid-1960s, winning four nationals on the small dirt-track circuits that feature a jump and left- and right-hand turns. He won AMA national TT races in Houston (in the Astrodome), Castle Rock, Wash., and at his home track of Ascot Park in Gardena, Calif. He also won numerous West Coast regional championships during his racing career.
After retiring from racing in the early 1970s, Mr. Van Leeuwen went on to launch a successful motorcycle accessories business.
After high school, Mr. Van Leeuwen and childhood friend Dick Hammer bought Triumph 650s and began frequenting local speedways. Both would go on to become nationally known racers.
While TT racing was his specialty, Mr. Van Leeuwen was also a road racer. His best AMA national finish on a road course was fourth at Carlsbad, Calif., in 1967.
By the early 1970s, Mr. Van Leeuwen was concentrating more on his business interests and retired from racing in 1972.
His business, Van Leeuwen Enterprises, evolved over the years to become one of the largest motorcycle accessory companies in the country.
For Mr. Van Leeuwen’s complete biography, visit www.motorcyclemuseum.org.