Class of 2018
Clifford ‘Corky’ Keener
Clifford “Corky” Keener competed full time in the AMA Grand National Championship Series from 1973 until his retirement in 1980. He has five wins in AMA Grand National competition.
Keener raced during one of flat track racing’s most competitive eras. He often found himself lining up at AMA Grand National races with future AMA Motorcycle Hall of Famers Jay Springsteen, Kenny Roberts, Gary Scott, Hank Scott, Steve Eklund and Rex Beauchamp.
Keener said it was “one hell of an honor” to be inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame and be listed alongside the great flat track racers he competed against.
“Those guys were the cream of the crop,” he said.
Keener was born and raised in Flint, Mich., and started riding motorcycles at age 13. He started racing soon after and showed early promise. He had to wait until he was 18 to get his novice flat track racing license. Once he did, he raced for several motorcycle owners in need of a rider, earning an expert license.
The military draft put a pause on Keener’s racing career in 1965. He got an early release, and by 1970 had saved enough money to buy a Harley-Davidson 250 and got back into racing.
Keener first raced a 750cc machine in 1971 and scored his first expert win that year at a race in Troy, Ohio. In 1973, he got his first taste of professional racing when future Hall of Famer Bart Markel offered Keener a ride.
Keener scored two Grand National wins in 1974 on half-mile tracks in Louisville, Ky., and Terre Haute, Ind., and was promoted to the Harley-Davidson factory team for the 1975 season.
In his six years with the factory outfit, Keener scored three more AMA Grand National Championship Series wins.