Dick “Bugsy” Mann, one of the most versatile racers to ever throw a leg over a motorcycle, passed away on April 26, at the age of 86.
Mr. Mann, born June 13, 1934 in Salt Lake City, Utah, was a two-time AMA Grand National Champion (1963 and 1971), and became best known for being the first person to achieve a motorcycle racing Grand Slam, which involved winning across all five types of circuits included in the Grand National Championship: road racing, TT, short track, half-mile and mile. When he retired from racing in 1974, Mann had 24 national victories, which — at the time — placed him second in all-time wins within the AMA Grand National Series.
While Mann got his racing start in scrambles, he soon got hooked on turning left on dirt ovals, and after some time learning his trade, headed to the professional racing circuit in 1954, turning expert in 1955. He achieved his first national win at the Peoria TT in 1959, quickly establishing himself as an elite racer in the series.
Mann also helped pioneer the sport of motocross in the U.S., competing in several of the early AMA professional motocross races in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
Perhaps Mann’s most fulfilling national win was his victory in the 1970 Daytona 200 aboard the then-new Honda CB750. He’d been racing the Daytona 200 for 15 years and finished second three times, and in 1970 finally got to the top step of the podium, holding off rising stars and future Hall of Famers Gary Nixon and Gene Romero, as well as former world champion and Hall of Famer Mike Hailwood. That win wasn’t just Mann’s first victory at the 200, but the first time a Honda had won an AMA national.
Despite retiring from professional racing in 1974, Mann returned to his trail-riding roots in 1975, qualifying for the United States International Six Days Trial team, competed for the U.S. on the Isle of Man, and brought home a bronze medal.
Beyond being a legendary racer, Mann’s mentorship of the next generation of American racers and future Hall of Famers like Dave Aldana, Mert Lawwill and Kenny Roberts, was just as important.
In 1995, Mr. Mann was presented with the AMA Dud Perkins Lifetime Achievement Award, recognizing his significant contributions to the sport. He was inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 1998.
Look for more coverage of Mann’s legacy and career in future issues of American Motorcyclist.