DEREK ‘NOBBY’ CLARK was found dead in bed at his home in Dover Plains, New York State on 17th December, aged 81. He had been in ill health for three years and was being treated for cancer in a nearby clinic. Nobby was born in Bulawayo, Rhodesia and trained as a mechanic on the railways, but in 1960 he teamed up with his school mate and fellow countryman Gary Hocking at MV Agusta, where Hocking became double World Champion in 1961. When Hocking quit motorcycle racing suddenly in 1962, Nobby found work in London as a car park attendant to earn his fare back home. But after being contacted by Jim Redman he decided to spend the 1963 season working on Redman’s Hondas, where he made contacts in the works Honda team. It was a one season arrangement and soon he was back in South Africa, working in copper mines in Zambia, but that too was short-lived and for 1964 he joined the Honda works squad where the riders were Redman and Luigi Taveri. Clark soon moved to Japan where he became fluent in the language – a major asset to the team in addition to his mechanical prowess. He continued with the works team in 1966 and 1967 when Mike Hailwood joined, and when Honda withdrew from racing at the end of 1967 he continued with Hailwood’s private team. For 1969 he was again a free agent and switched to cars, working for Bill Ivy and Australian Paul Hawkins. 1970 saw him back on bikes, working for Kel Carruthers, continuing with Yamaha after Carruthers quit Europe for USA. He spannered for Giacomo Agostini in 1975 when Ago won the 500 title for Yamaha and later for Kenny Roberts via the American Yamaha squad. When Mike Hailwood made his famous comeback to the Isle of Man TT in 1978, Nobby Clark was recruited to assist in the preparation of the 250cc, 500cc and 750cc Yamahas. He always claimed Hailwood to be his favourite rider. In his later years, he moved to USA and worked for Rob Iannucci’s Team Obsolete, fettling a huge range of exotic bikes.
Nobby Clark with Mike Hailwood prior to the 1978 Senior TT. (Photo credit: David Messant)