RIP: The Great Yvon DuHamel


Al Ivins

 

The always fierce Yvon DuHamel passed away this morning. He was 81 years old and fast almost to the end.

DuHamel is survived by his wife, Sophie and three children. Mario, Miguel and Gina. Yvon raced well into his 70s and during his career raced nearly anything with an engine in it. He raced AMA roadrace, World Endurance, Canadian roadracing, Grand National dirt track, ice-racing, NASCAR and of course snowmobiles. He was closely linked to Kawasaki and Ski Doo in his career. DuHamel impressed a generation of fans on the green Kawasaki triples in AMA and Formula 750 races which he raced all over the world. There are a million stories of Yvon’s determination to “not lose”; stories of him finishing races with a clip-on broken off, a smashed hand or bodywork flapping in the wind. In endurance and early Superbike races (Yvon raced for Yoshimura in the early days of the Superbike class) it was almost common to see Yvon pass 25-30 riders in the opening laps. In an Endurance race at Ontario Motor Speedway once he passed 33 riders in one lap. His then racing partner (Pat Alexander) crashed the bike on his stint. After the bike was repaired Yvon went back out, passed 30-odd bikes again and put the bike back into the lead.

A great wit and gregarious to a fault, Yvon was hilarious but like many French Canadians he remained a guy you did not want to ever stick your finger in his chest to make a point or a threat.  At the St. Louis round of the 1995 AMA Superbike championship, on Friday after the program at the track had ended, most were heading to the hotel. I happened to look over while stopped at a stoplight. Two men were giving a reasonably serious beat down to some bikers on the St. Louis sidewalk. If you’ve seen the film this was a “now youse can’t leave” level beat down on the bikers. The two handing out the beating were Miguel and his dad; apparently the bikers had said something unkind to Miguel’s mom when they were stopped at the light, and guess what nobody talks to a DuHamel like that …

 


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