A Racing Father's Daughter Remembers
by Joy Cook
I am sorry to say I am learning more each day about my dad.
Unfortunately, he passed away January 1, 2005. I don't remember much of my dad's motorcycle racing career...mainly because my mom made him stop racing altogether when I was born in 1966. So his flat track, TT, and desert racing screeched to a halt after just 10 years. My dad and mom moved to Southern California in the late 50's from Connecticut.
Every weekend they trekked from Glendora to the desert races, and during the week the more local flat track/TT races. I don't even know my dad's final points standings or anything. He was a member of the San Gabriel Valley M/C and Mickey and Mel Baker were the Ma and Pa of the show. I have finishing pins on an old hat he wore all the time until the pins made it too heavy. He made it to the newspaper occasionally, won some trophies (I remember those on two rows of the living room entertainment center when I was 3 or so. At least pictures of them...), and made friends that almost lasted his lifetime.
Dad loved motorcycles and cars. He was a certified Yamaha mechanic and graduated from Wright Tech in Connecticut in automotive. He could tell you exactly how a motorcycle or car ran from when you kicked it over or turned the key, to what happened in the engine from there to make it start. He raced one last time in 1974, I believe, in the Old Man's Race in Adelanto riding his RM 250 Suzuki (too good a deal to pass up that bike..) I love that picture. He was definitely reliving some memories during that race. He won.
I started my own racing career at 12 and ended it at 13. I was too busy trying to be a girl since my brother was born a few years earlier.
My brother replaced me in the position of "son" to my father. I was still a hardcore tomboy at heart though. Still to this day, a modified version of my dad: stubborn, always right, perfectionist, but always working, and always there to lend a helping hand to someone in need. In other words, a pain in the $%#!. with a big heart.
I am finding out about another life my dad had that involved motorcycles and racing them. I never really knew to what extent my dad loved it either. I'm learning more all the time and loving it...even though it hurts inside. Like a piece is missing inside. That's probably how he felt after he stopped racing. My mom never mentioned anything or talked about it because she knew how much he missed that life, and didn't want to remind him of that missing piece.