It is impossible to talk about the golden days of AMA Superbike and not mention Wes Cooley who, sadly, recently passed away.
A rider who was liked and respected by all fellow competitors, Cooley eventually retired following injury and worked in the medical profession for the remainder of his years eventually succumbing to diabetes complications, a condition that he suffered from for the majority of his life.
Most remembered for his association with suzuki in the US street bike series that ultimately spawned WorldSBK, Cooley also built up an enviable reputation with iconic tuner, “Pops” Yoshimura. Together, the courteous and well liked – but hard riding Cooley - and obsessive engineer Pops, were a formidable race winning partnership. The suzuki GS1000 (which was a pivotal bike for the company) garnered Cooley back-to-back AMA Superbike championships in 1979 and ’80 cutting his teeth with the suzuki/Yoshimura combination by winning the gruelling Suzuka 8hrs in 1978 which he was to win again in 1980.
As popular with fellow racers as fans, his contemporary, Eddie Lawson, said of him ““When I came into Superbike with Kawasaki in 1980, Wes and Freddie Spencer were the guys to beat. We had some great battles and it was always fun racing with him. He was always a real nice guy and it always seemed like he was having a good time”. Just goes to prove, nice guys do win sometimes!
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issued: Friday, January 28, 2022
updated: Friday, January 28, 2022
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