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AMA Hall of Fame Member Dick Mann Passes Away

Known primarily as a Flat Track racer, Dick “Bugsy” Mann was also an accomplished roadracer. Photo courtesy AMA Hall of Fame.

Two-time AMA Grand National champion and Daytona 200 winner Dick Mann has passed away at the age of 86. Known as “Bugsy”, Mann was a likeable but fierce competitor winning on both the dirt and roadrace tarmac during his professional career.

MD expresses its condolences to the family and friends of Dick Mann. Here is the press release issued by the AMA earlier today:

PICKERINGTON, Ohio — Dick “Bugsy” Mann, one of the most versatile racers to ever throw a leg over a motorcycle, passed away on April 26 at the age of 86.

Mr. Mann, born June 13, 1934 in Salt Lake City, Utah, was a two-time AMA Grand National Champion (1963 and 1971), and became best known for being the first person to achieve a motorcycle racing Grand Slam, which involved winning across all five types of circuits included in the Grand National Championship: road racing, TT, short track, half-mile and mile. When he retired from racing in 1974, Mann had 24 national victories, which — at the time — placed him second in all-time wins within the AMA Grand National Series.

While Mann got his racing start in scrambles, he soon got hooked on turning left on dirt ovals, and after some time learning his trade, headed to the professional racing circuit in 1954, turning expert in 1955. He achieved his first national win at the Peoria TT in 1959, quickly establishing himself as an elite racer in the series.

Mann also helped pioneer the sport of motocross in the U.S., competing in several of the early AMA professional motocross races in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Perhaps Mann’s most fulfilling national win was his victory in the 1970 Daytona 200 aboard the then-new Honda CB750. He’d been racing the Daytona 200 for 15 years and finished second three times, and in 1970 finally got to the top step of the podium, holding off rising stars and future Hall of Famers Gary Nixon and Gene Romero, as well as former world champion and Hall of Famer Mike Hailwood. That win wasn’t just Mann’s first victory at the 200, but the first time a Honda had won an AMA national.

Despite retiring from professional racing in 1974, Mann returned to his trail-riding roots in 1975, qualifying for the United States International Six Days Trial team, competed for the U.S. on the Isle of Man, and brought home a bronze medal.

Beyond being a legendary racer, Mann’s mentorship of the next generation of American racers and future Hall of Famers like Dave Aldana, Mert Lawwill and Kenny Roberts, was just as important.

In 1995, Mr. Mann was presented with the AMA Dud Perkins Lifetime Achievement Award, recognizing his significant contributions to the sport. He was inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 1998. Look for more coverage of Mann’s legacy and career in future issues of American Motorcyclist.

20 Comments

  1. dino says:

    RIP to a Legend…

  2. Kendall says:

    I remember an article from the late 60’s probably in Cycle World when he was asked how does someone start racing. His reply as I remember it was “just do it, you don’t have to be told how”. Meaning that if you want to race you will find a way. I have always believed that taking personal action is important to fulfilling my dreams.

    • Mick says:

      Racing never crossed my mind until I was thirty and a friend asked me if I wanted to join him at an Enduro. Since then I sort of made the rounds and raced events mostly to gain access to their venues. I raced endudo, dirt track, ice, motocross, observed trials, and supermoto.

      I never got around to road racing because it’s ridiculously expensive compared to just about anything else. I also felt that automotive based race tracks looked boring to race motorcycles on. The road racers that I knew basically said that cheating is a way of life in most classes. If you follow the rules, you finish dead last. Basically because of the automotive based race tracks. Nope! Not for me. Give me a nice venue that a good rider can win on a lackluster bike and good people and I might sign up.

      The good people thing is kind of strange. Some forms of racing are filled with fantastic people. Others have more than their share of real jerks.

      • Motoman says:

        All valid points Mick. But I think you’re missing out on the pavement venues through track days. And you can do them pretty cheap if you get a 20 year old race bike set up in a smaller displacement.

  3. NOMADAK says:

    Godspeed MR. MANN!

  4. mickey says:

    Unfortunately the state of motorcycle racing in the United States practically guarantees there will be no more ” all arounders” like Mann. Like Mick says, all we have these days are specialists. It’s not like there aren’t some American motorcycle racers that have the talent, it’s just that they dont have the opportunity to show it.

  5. motomike says:

    R.I.P. What a Mann

  6. redbirds says:

    I watched him race on the mile at Atlanta in the early 70’s. A fierce competitor and great at all disciplines of motorcycle racing including motocross. RIP sir.

  7. Al Banta says:

    On top of being a great rider Dick Mann was a gentleman. Dick was very humble about his accomplishments, just one of the guys.

    • dino says:

      That is a great video!!
      (I do wonder why his leathers had duck tape covering the zipper?? noticed that on the shot just before the race start).

      • Bart says:

        The tape is there to keep the zipper from blowing open when he pops up out of the bubble at the end of fast straights.
        Air goes down the collar at speed and tries to make the rider look like Michelin man.

        If zipper blows open at speed it becomes a parachute that can pull rider off the bars or the bike.

        (Ask me how I know all this!)

  8. Mick says:

    They just don’t make racers like Mann anymore. Like the bikes, the racers have become very specialized.

    May you be in heaven before the devil knows you’re dead. Lord knows he’s fast.

  9. Ric says:

    I understand this quote was attributed to him: “It’s better to ride a slow bike fast than a fast bike slow.” Amen.

    • mickey says:

      are you sure he didn’t say “it’s more fun to ride a fast bike fast”?

      I don’t think he rode any slow bikes

      • TimC says:

        All I know is when Excellence mag street-tested a Carrera GT, they said “yeah the saying is a slow car is more fun blah blah etc” and then they said “but it’s more fun to drive a fast car fast”

    • Motoman says:

      I thought it was Burt Monro. Suppose its best to assume such claims are urban legend stuff unless verified some way.

      BTW, I have a poster with Dick Mann, Gene Romero and Gary Nixon signed by all three riders in my wife’s, father’s (he died in 1972) Honda/Triumph/BSA dealership in about 1970. Very cool stuff.

  10. mickey says:

    A legendary racer in his time. I was 20 when he won the Daytona 200 on the Honda CB 750. Saw the same bike years later at the AMA museum in Pickerington.

    RIP Mr. Mann

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