Published May 2000
Longtime motorcycle enthusiast and writer Gordon Jennings died yesterday at age 69. Jennings was a former editor of Cycle magazine, and known the world over for his concise, no-nonsense writing style and opinions. Jennings died after a battle with cancer.
Jennings is best known as the former editor of Cycle magazine, a position he held for many years, He worked at the magazine on and off for twenty years and was a prolific writer, stating that he’d written “a million” stories. He, and several others at the time really started to test motorcycles in a fashion others could understand, with hard data.
Jennings authored the 1973 book (The) Two-Stroke Tuner’s Handbook, which is considered one of the best layman’s resource materials for two-stroke engines; it is highly sought after by collectors and tuners alike.
Jennings had a natural love for all things mechanical. He raced motorcycles, flew planes, raced cars and more often than not wrote about those experiences in Cycle, Car and Driver and in other magazines. Throughout his career he was the technical editor at Road and Track, the editor of Car and Driver, the editor at Cycle and also the technical editor at Cycle. His experience led him to be an expert witness after he left publishing. Jennings never attended college.
It’s not generally known or acknowledged, but Jennings was a pioneer of motorsports in the electronic media. In the very early 1990s Jennings and a group of notable colleagues (Steve Anderson, Kevin Cameron, etc.) started Wheelbase, a subscription based electronic magazine for motorcycle and car enthusiasts. It was essentially what we know know as a web site, produced before the majority of the world was aware the Internet existed. The project stopped in the mid-1990s.
Most recently he wrote a monthly column for Motorcyclist magazine.
Jennings wrote in the mid 1990s to a man who expressed to him his wish to be a writer, wondering what elements were needed to become one:
“On my 50th birthday, now long behind me, friends presented a cake that said, “Against all odds,” which probably summed up my life fairly well. When you’ve been reported dead, twice, and none of your friends thought it necessary to check to see if the news was true, you have to figure you have been strolling a little close to the edge. Let me offer you some comfort about the accretion of years: If you live a long time and pay attention, you’ll know a whole bunch of useful things; and you’ll find, in time, that old go-fast guys have no wrinkles on the inside.”
His funeral is today.