AMA Motorcycle Hall of Famer Bob Hansen has died
February 19, 2013
AMA Motorcycle Hall of Famer Bob Hansen, 93, has died. The racer, tuner and team manager was inducted into the Hall in 1999.
Hansen was a key figure in motorcycle racing during the 1960s and ‘70s. He is best known for running the American racing teams for Honda and, later, Kawasaki. Under Hansen’s direction, Honda won its first Daytona 200 in 1970 with Dick Mann at the controls of the CB750.
Born in Racine, Wis., on Oct. 15, 1919, Hansen first became interested in motorcycles when he was in high school. His first bike was a 1931 74-cubic-inch Harley-Davidson totally disassembled in a bushel basket. Hansen never completed the restoration, but he got close enough that a Racine Harley-Davidson dealer allowed him to trade in the partially completed bike on a newer 45-cubic-inch model.
Hansen joined the local motorcycle club and started racing. Within two years, Hansen was competing in just about every form of motorcycle racing, from hillclimbing to TT and flat track races.
Hansen started tuning, and by 1960, he had opened a motorcycle dealership in Racine and was one of the first dealers in the Midwest to sell Honda motorcycles. Hansen became a Honda dealer and was soon asked to set up a regional parts warehouse, which he did in Racine. For a time, Hansen was in charge of setting up many of the earliest Honda dealerships in the Midwest.
When Honda introduced its revolutionary CB750, it wanted to prove the speed and reliability of the new machine by racing in the 1970 Daytona 200. Hansen headed up the successful effort and just a few months after that victory, he accepted an attractive offer to work for Kawasaki. Under Hansen’s guidance, Kawasaki won its first AMA national with Yvon DuHamel, and became a powerhouse in U.S. racing.
While at Kawasaki, Hansen also served as vice president of the AMA's competition committee, the rules-making body for racing. Hansen was also the U.S. delegate on the F.I.M. road racing committee.
By the mid-1970s, Hansen had moved out of the motorcycle industry. After a short stint with the Italian manufacturer, Laverda, Hansen made his living in real estate.
When inducted in 1999, Hansen kept up with his interest in motorcycles by restoring collector bikes and acting as a consultant for Heritage Racing, Honda’s vintage racing division. He also is in demand at various racing gatherings to give talks on his days in racing.
The AMA and the American Motorcycle Heritage Foundation, which oversees the Hall of Fame, offers sincere condolences and heartfelt sympathies to the Hansen family and friends.