Pennsylvania-born HURLEY WILVERT burst into the big time with third place in the 1974 Daytona 200 behind winner Giacomo Agostini and Kenny Roberts. It was however, destined to be the highlight of his career. His connections with Bob Hansen led to a place in the Kawasaki squad in AMA racing, initially as a mechanic to Yvon DuHamel, but Hurley wanted to race, so he was allowed to use parts worn out by other riders for his H2R. In 1973, he was part of a team of eight riders who set a 24 Hour motorcycle speed record on a new Kawasaki Z1 at Daytona. In 1974 he met Warren Willing at Daytona and with Warren’s help, came to Australia for the Sandown International in July. In the dry practice Hurley broke Ron Toombs’ lap record, but race day was soaking wet and he had scarcely ridden in the rain before. Nevertheless, he managed seventh in the Milledge Trophy and third in the Unlimited Feature. The following year he was back in Australia to compete at Bathurst, but crashed in practice and broke a collarbone. He remained in Australia for the Sandown International on his own TZ750 Yamaha, but again crashed on the first lap of the main race. Later in the year he teamed with Warren Willing in the Castrol Six Hour Race at Amaroo Park, the pair making the running until a puncture put them out of contention. His stay may not have been successful, but Hurley impressed everyone with his quiet, easy-going nature. On August 13th, 2018, he was involved in an accident near his home in Sandia, New Mexico, on a road bike and died from his injuries. Since the end of his main racing career, Hurley had continued to dabble in Historic racing on a Honda CB350. His friend Dave Roper, Isle of Man TT winner, visited him in April and said that Hurley had received concussion in a race crash at a local Historic meeting, and “had been feeling a bit wobbly since then. He talked of riding his street bike a lot, including riding it to Boston to visit his daughter. Not long after this, I was talking to Jim Allen, the retired Dunlop race boss and a great racer in his own right, and Jim recalled in 1973 asking Hurley what he would do with all his prize money from his 3rd place at Daytona. Hurley told Jim that he had bought a house. Jim, the young ambitious race junkie, remembered thinking what a stupid thing to do with the sudden windfall. Of course, now he saw the wisdom of it. Another example of what a sensible, practical guy Hurley was.”
ABOVE At Sandown in 1974, Hurley Wilvert dices with Cliff Carr. BELOW Hurley Wilvert at Daytona in 1974, scene of his best AMA result.