Brian Slark is one of motorcycling’s true Renaissance men. Not only did he help establish the sport of motocross in America, but he has created works of motorcycling art that have found a home in the country’s leading motorcycle museums.
Born in London, England, in February 1938, Slark was a moving force in the creation of a vibrant motocross-racing community in the United States during the 1960s. He helped organize motocross tracks, and promoted the sport by teaching famous people—including then-teen heartthrob Bobby Darin—to ride motorcycles. He also imported and built Rickman Metisse and Cheney motocrossers.
Slark later assisted the late Dave Mungenast—who is also a member of the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame—in the creation of a motorcycle museum in St. Louis. He then helped create the world-class Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum in Leeds, Ala. Slark also played a key role in setting up the bikes for the immensely popular “The Art of the Motorcycle” exhibit at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York City in 1998.
“As my wife said, for once I was absolutely speechless,” Slark says about learning of his Hall of Fame induction. “[Working with motorcycles is] something I’ve been doing nearly 60-plus years and I love it. I never ranked myself in the league of other people in the industry.”
Slark says he is humbled to be inducted into the Hall of Fame where his longtime friend Mungenast is also honored.
“Dave was an incredibly multi-talented person,” Slark says. “He did so much for kids and everybody. He was a mentor. He was a wonderful guy and a good friend. To be in the same league as Dave is an incredible compliment. I can’t express how I feel.”
Slark’s motorcycling career spans more than 60 years. It began in 1957 when he started work at Associated Motorcycles (AJS and Matchless) in London, England, testing and evaluating bikes.
In 1964 he spent a year in California riding desert events and helping organize motocross tracks. His experience prompted him to move to California the following year.
In 1969, Slark managed the service and competition departments for Norton and AJS at the west coast factory facility. Later, he became marketing communications manager for Norton-Villiers and advised designers on models for the North American market.
He also did the teardown and assembly of bikes from 1971 to 1984 for Clymer manuals.
Slark decided to strike out on his own in 1976, and he opened a British bike shop in Southern California. Two years later he became the volunteer technical editor for the International Norton Owners Association.
In 1986, Slark sold his bike shop and moved to St. Louis. Ten years later, he joined the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum as technical director.
Brian Slark was inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 2012.