Yvon DuHamel

October 17, 1939
Yvon DuHamel,
photo credit: Cédric JANODET via photopin cc
World Champion Snowmobile racer and Canadian Motorcycle racing legend, born in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. 

 An avid bicyclist, Duhamel established a small bicycle shop when he was just 13 years old. In the course of running the shop, he became the owner of two Whizzer bikes (bicycles with small motors attached to them). He rode the Whizzers all over Montreal, getting his first taste of motorized transportation. 

At 15, a friend gave him a ride on his Triumph and Duhamel was so impressed with the acceleration of the machine that a week later he went out and bought his first motorcycle, a 500cc Triumph T-100. In 1957, when Duhamel was 17, he began ice racing. The next year, he tried his hand at dirt-track racing and by 1959 he began racing in earnest on a BSA Gold Star. Soon, Duhamel was racing in all forms of competition and quickly established a reputation as a hard-charging rider. He supported himself and his racing in the early days by working long hours at his brother's service station.

He won the World Championship Snowmobile Derby in 1970. Yvon carried the No. 1 plate in every form of motorcycle racing in Canada from dirt track to road racing – in most cases, a number of times. Five times, he won the White Trophy, the highest award in Canadian motorcycle racing. He won the 250 cc Daytona Classic in 1969, won a World Championship race at Assen, Holland, in 1974, and the Grand Prix of Canada in 1981. He was also a very active ice racer, using hockey shin pads to allow him to lean over farther, scraping his knee on the ice rather than merely sliding his foot as did speedway racers.

Duhamel is best remembered as a member of the Kawasaki factory racing team during the 1970s along with team-mates Gary Nixon and Art Baumann. He made famous the #17 on the neon green factory Kawasaki, a number now honoured by his son Miguel.

Following in the footsteps of motorcycle legends Joe Weatherly and Paul Goldsmith, Duhamel raced a NASCAR Winston Cup race at the North Wilkesboro Speedway in 1973, finishing tenth for Junie Donlavey in the #90 Truxmore Ford after starting 15th, completing 381 laps of the 400-lap Gwyn Staley 400.

Never officially retired, Duhamel raced the 24-Hour World Championship in 1988 with his sons Miguel and Mario becoming the first father-and-sons team to compete in that historic event and continues to race in the Vintage series to this day. 

Yvon was inducted into the Snowmobile Hall of Fame in 1988, both the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame and the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 1999, the Canadian Motorcycle Hall of Fame  and the Panthéon des Sports du Québec in 2007. 

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