Just like the book written by Ed Youngblood suggests, Dick Mann truly was a “Mann of His Time.”
And even at age 81, the Carson Valley resident still has a crystal clear view — not to mention countless memories — of a sport in which he attained Hall of Fame stature during a professional career that spanned from the early 1950s to the mid-1970s.
Mann will speak with longtime motorsports columnist Roger Diez during a question-and-answer event Saturday at Shelby’s Book Shoppe in Minden. The event is free of charge and starts at 6:30 p.m.
Mann, who won 24 national events from 1958-72, with 12 wins on dirt and 12 on road courses, is remembered as one of the most versatile and talented motorcycle racers ever.
Those who know Mann are also familiar with his world class modesty. Just consider what he said when asked about the best moment in his life.
“I don’t know. I never looked for peaks and valleys … as long as it’s stable, I’m happy,” he replied. “If I had any different attitude I’d have never turned out to be a professional racer. I wasn’t that talented. It was dedication and being hard-headed that was the key to the success that I had.”
Mann noted his work in tuning and preparing the bike was probably as big a part of his success as his riding talent.
“Like all sports, there was much more to the racing than the talent,” he said. “It’s how you prepare your bike, learning what kind of tires work on a certain track, the gear ratios were important and many things like that. I could usually finish ahead of riders that were much better than me, they just didn’t do it right on that particular day.”
In 1971, Mann became the first rider to complete motorcycle racing’s grandslam by winning in all forms of AMA Grand National Championship racing — mile, half-mile, short track, TT and road racing.
Mann, who retired from professional racing in 1974, insisted that he didn’t race for glamour nor did he race for fun. Motorcycle racing was, quite simply, his livelihood.
“I never looked at it as fun. I wanted to be a professional athlete and I could do the best on motorcycles,” he explained. “But it was very serious. That was how I made my living, and every dollar I made was important. It was the money. I didn’t get into the glamour part, it was for the money.”
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