Nobby Clark

Old Bike Australasia - - UNDER THE CHEQUERED FLAG -

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)

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