On August 17, 2021, one of the greatest Candian motorcycle racers of all time, Yvon Duhamel, passed away at the age of 81. Duhamel’s career started in the 1960s, competing in Canadian Motorcycle Association (CMA) sanctioned ice races and dirt track events. His skills went beyond the dirt oval and frozen circuits though. The multi-discipline rider also excelled in trials and motocross competitions.
In the late-’60s, Duhamel went south of the border to race in AMA flat track and road racing events. Aboard the Deeley Yamaha 350 two-stroke, he won the AMA Lightweight races at Daytona in 1968 and 1969. The Canadian also became the first two-stroke rider to finish on the Daytona 200 podium in 1968 before nabbing pole position at the event just one year later.
Sticking with road racing, Duhamel later transitioned to ride for Kawasaki. In 1971, he piloted a Kawasaki two-stroke triple to the brand’s first AMA National road race victory at Talladega Superspeedway and collected five overall AMA National wins through 1973. Along with his AMA success, Duhamel’s international reputation grew following his fifth-place finish in the 1975 250cc Grand Prix World Championship race at Assen.
Duhamel hung up his helmet and leathers in the late-’70s as he helped his sons, Mario and Miguel, start their own racing careers. The lure of the raceway was too strong, however, with Duhamel joining his sons Bol d’Or 24-hour endurance race in 1988. He would continue competing on a modified Kawasaki KZ1000s at Le Mans and Bol d’Or for several years. In his 50s, the accomplished rider also raced a Harley-Davidson Sportster in AMA races and participated in vintage classes.
In 1999, Duhamel was recognized for his contributions to the sport when he was inducted into the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame and AMA Hall of Fame. He joined the Canadian Motorcycle Hall of Fame nearly a decade later, in 2007. While the family hasn’t released details concerning Duhamel’s death, he is survived by his sons Mario and Miguel.