Hur­ley Wil­vert

Old Bike Australasia - - UNDER THE CHEQUERED FLAG -

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.

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