There was no guarantee that Foothill resident Dick Mann would become a motorcycle racing legend.
Mann died April 26, 2021, at age 87.
Mann said he became interested in motorcycle racing when he got to high school.
“I always wanted to be a professional athlete, but in high school I found out there was no need for a 120-pound center,” he told R-C reporter Caryn Haller in 2011.
The family lived in Reno until World War II and then they moved to Richmond, Calif.
He told Haller his first motorized vehicle was a Cushmann motorscooter that he rode on a paper route.
He traded that in for a BSA motorcycle at age 16, but wasn’t allowed to ride it in competition until he turned 18.
He entered his first race after he graduated from high school, coming in dead last.
But he was determined to keep at it, and through perseverance and determination eventually blazed his path.
“It wasn’t about glory or success,” he said. I always looked at it like a profession. It was very, very hard work. It’s like singing a contract saying you will work 80 hours a week, drive 80,000 miles a year, work for minimum wage and agree to break your arm or leg every other year.
In the book, “Mann of His Time,” author Ed Youngblood described Mann as one of the most accomplished and versatile racers America had produced.
“Mann pioneered race track safety and influenced major political changes within the AMA,” Youngblood said. “He raced during a period of major transition in the motorcycle sport, and influenced many of its changes.”
Fish Springs Columnist Linda Monohan described meeting Mann in her column in 1994 at the old Pipeline Inn in Minden.
Mann, who just moved to Carson Valley the year before, appeared in the motorcycle racing documentary “On Any Sunday,” which the Monohans watched just a few weeks before.
“It was like he just stepped out of the movies and out of the history of motorcycle history,” she wrote.
Mann’s racing days were over by the time he moved to Carson Valley, but he was still restoring motorcycles for people.
In a 2005 story, Mann was given credit for restoring a 1954 BSA Goldstar motorcycle.
“Basically, I gave him the bike in a bunch of pieces and this is what came back,” Rob Poole told a Nevada Appeal reporter. “Dick’s one of the best in the business.”
The Motorcycle Hall of Fame had an exhibit honoring Mann in 2006, called “SuperMann.” Mann was inducted into the hall of fame in 1998 and returned to open the exhibit.
He was the first person in history to win every category of the American Motorcycle Association Grand National competition, was a two-time Daytona 200 winner and a two-time Association Grand National Champion.
He competed in more than 230 AMA nationals, winning two dozen of them over his 25-year career.
Mann moved to Foothill in 1993 with his wife, Kay.