1935 - 2007
Bartlett David "Bad Bart" - Of Flint, age 71, died Saturday, February
3, 2007 at his residence. Cremation has taken place and a memorial
service will be held at a later date. Those desiring may make
contributions to "The Aid for Injured Riders". Bartlett was born in
Flint, Michigan on August 19, 1935. He served in the U.S. Marine Corps.
He married JoAnn Overton on February 21, 1959. Mr. Markel was a 2 Time
Golden Glove Boxing Champion, 3 Time AMA Flat Track Motorcycle
Champion. He was a member and had been inducted into several Hall of
Fames, including Michigan Motor Sports Hall of Fame. Mr. Markel retired
from AC Spark Plug Division. Surviving are daughter, Stacey and husband
Bob Kelly of Flint; son, Bart, Jr. and wife Susanne of Enterprise,
Alabama; grandchildren, Bobby, Steven and Kara Kelly, Jason Farr, Bart,
III, Malyssa and Joseph Markel; sister, Melody and husband Al Dyer of
Edgewater, Florida; brothers, John Markel of Flint, Don Long of
California and Delbert Ritter of Ohio; several nieces, nephews and a
host of special friends. He was preceded in death by his love of his
life, wife, JoAnn; parents, David and Everyl; brother, Ron Long;
granddaughter, Michelle Markel; sister, Sharon Luna and special niece,
Robin Prevo. A special thanks to all of his special friends for their
help thru the years.
A private memorial service is to be
held in Flint. Those desiring may
make contributions to "The Aid to Injured Riders" www.air-fund.com.
That main event up above is getting
bigger by the day. I just got word
from Dee Johnson of Dee's Leathers
that Bart Markel passed away at his
home this afternoon in Mich.
GOD SPEED #4
I had the pleasure of meeting him in
1968 and 1970 at Ascot.
A gentle man.
One of the true legends. A real
"Intimidator", sans roll cage. Wish I
could have seen him ride more. RIP Bart
My deepest sympathy to the Markel
family, RIP Bart,
When I was a wee lad there were 3
names spoken with complete reverence
in my house. Those names were Gary Nixon, Dick Mann and Bart Markel.
Gary was the most determined. Dick was the smartest and Bart was the
bravest. Put 'em all together and you get a trio that was far more
super than all the super-hero cartoons characters I was watching on
Saturday mornings. These guys were real. Sometimes too real for their
own good. Just to say I was there when Bart won his last national in
Columbus '71 means the world to me. I have thanked my parents many
times for dragging my butt to all those races when I was little. I've
always hated quitters and these guys never quit though eventually the
sport changed so much around them there wasn't much room for them on
the track. 1971 was such a different time. Sure, you had Harley guys
but you had those pesky Triumph and BSA guys too not to mention the
brash Yamaha guys and the stylish Norton guys etc. Bart's passing will
only serve to bolster my precious memories.
I had the pleasure of knowing Black
Bart back in the late 50s and 60s
he was a fine guy to be around he will truly be missed R.I.P.
RIP-- you were the introduction for me
to the GNC/dirttrack excitement
in the 60's when you won a San Jose 1/2mi. You were my hero in my
teens--you still are.
Prayers to the family and friends.
Our deepest thoughts and condolences.
Having just lost our father the
week before, makes this very difficult. One of my treasured photos is
of my father in first, Bart in second and Dick Mann in third. Somehow
it is comforting to know that dad is once again at a new starting line
with an old buddy. Here's to a great new race for the good old boys!
Art Barda Family
Anyone that knew or raced against Bart
has some great stories.
Here is mine....
would try anything to get an advantage. Back around 1972 there was a
promoter who ran something like 28 indoor races on concrete over a 2
month period. Everyone ran 2-stokes except Market...he rode a Harley
Sprint. I swear, he could be anywhere on track but that damn four
stroke sounded like he was getting ready to put a wheel on you and take
The key to going fast on concrete was
tires clean. He showed up one week with a way to fasten steel brushes
to the front fork and rear frame rubbing against the tires to keep them
Everyone would be so serious when
pushing out bikes to
the line... everyone except Bart. He had that grin on his face like he
just enjoyed being there to race.
Back in 68 I was on my way to Daytona
and stopped of at Savanna for a
short track. What I didn't know was they were running a short track on
a half mile. All the gearing I had for my BSA C25 was for short track,
so I put my tallest gear on and raced. In my heat was #4 Bart Markel.
He would pull me on the straights and I would catch him in the corners
and when I put my front wheel beside him he would look to see who was
there, he won the heat and I got second. That's the closest I would
ever run to Bart, by the end of the day every ring would be broken in
the engine. I finished last in the main.
Old age is a terrible thing. Can't
remember s#@%! As some of you know,
Bart was a former boxing champion. I think it was while he was in the
service. This wasn't even at a race track. Bart, Gary Nixon and I were
having a cocktail in some joint, and Gary and I were checkin' out the
local ladies. Bart told us..."pick one out, and if her boyfriend has a
problem with that...send him over to me and I'll handle it."
really missed a show if you never saw Bart ride at the old Laconia
National Road Race. He had a problem doing anything with his right hand
except turning on the horsepower. Because of that, Bart had the clutch
and front brake levers both on the left side one year in the early
60's. At the end of the long downhill straight leading into the 90%
left turn (and the finish line)...there was a small scoring tower.
About every 4th time I would go by...Bart would be pulling his Harley
out from under the stand. He kept getting the levers mixed up. It's
hard to downshift when you grab a handful of front brake...and it's
even tougher to use the front brake when you put the thing in neutral.
I was at Columbus in '71........it was
cool, it made my dad and his
buddy happy that the "old guy" won...back then 30+ was old for a m/c
I'm impressed by the fact that Bart
kept a "regular guy" day job all
those years. .....
Bart was an original....one of a
kind.....too bad, motorcyle racing and
this old world in general could use more like him.
I have been thinking about call Bart
the last couple of day to see how
he is doing???
first time I saw him race in person was at the 1969 Detroit National at
the old Detroit Race Course. Bart was always doing things "Differently"
as Mike noted above. I had heard about his reputation for being a no
holds bared racer, Black Bart.. So here is this guy, Bart doing Daimond
shaped turns, while all the other racers were racing an oval. Bart
would come in low, shoot across the grove, nail the cushion up against
the guard rail, square it off and blast back across the grove. Every
lap it was a will of nearves seeing who would back off at the crossing
point, and 99% of the time it wasn't Bart..
Those are some great photos of Markel.
Seeing the photos of Boody and
Markel reminded me of another story.
were at a limestone track somewhere in Ohio. Back then for time trials
it was first come...first serve. I remember several times I would have
Sandra take my bike to the Time Trial line, while I was in practice on
This particular race Boody was in
front of me for
time trials. Before Boody went out for his lap, Markel was cutting
Boody's rear tire with a knife! Not a razor blade, but a rather large
When I cut my tires, I was always very
to where I thought the cuts had to be perfect and all look alike. Not
Markel. He was cutting chucks and chucks of tire, very fast. As Boody
would roll forward keeping in line, Markel was cutting away. When
finished the tire looked like a knobby!!
I don't remember the outcome of the
race, but Markel showed me how to
cut a tire a lot quicker.
I am so sorry this sport lost Bart
I kinda senced this was coming, after
I got off the
phone with you last week but never
it would be a matter of days.
I hope he got the chance to read my
"Bart Markel Roast" - "Michigan
bit that I wrote &
maybe got a chuckle or two out of it.
The only chance I ever got to meet him
was at a
race in Philly at the
Spectrum in 71 or 72 on the concrete
on his Sprint.
I remember Stevie Hernandez won that
year on his DMR but
Bart was definately my hero all day on
that silly-ass sprint!
Probably the only 4 stroke on the
track that day
going up against guys like Gary Hodges
Suzuki Hustler 250 twin!
What a contrast in sound down the
When I was a kid-racer I got the book
"The Bart Markel Story" by Joe Scalzo
still have it to this day!
I honestly have to say--
that a stupid-ass bar exists today
in a stupid-ass baseball town
pushing a sport that means more to me
than any baseball fan could even
comprehend as a
direct result of heroes from my youth
that led a
lost kid down a path that he would
"The Best Years Of His Life"!
Freddie Nix, Rex Beauchamp & Bart
will always be remembered in the
"Lost & Found" department of this
punk-ass kids memories!
In raising kids--
my best fatherly advise was always--
"Be Careful Who You Emulate"
I know the heroes I held dear to me as
I have no regrets!
GodSpeed to all my heroes!
To the Markel Family
With the Greatest Respect &
Racing fans, family remember motorcycle legend
THE FLINT JOURNAL FIRST EDITION
Wednesday, February 07,
By Todd Seibt
email@example.com • 810.766.6315
FLINT - Bartlett D. "Bart" Markel, the
of flat-track racing in Flint and one of the greatest racers
in American Motorcyclist Association history, died on
Saturday. He was 71.
"My dad's theory of racing was if you
win the race, you better fall down trying," said his
daughter, Stacey Kelly of Flint. Kelly was with her dad when
he died quietly at home. He had been in poor health for a
while, she said.
"He just had no fear - he had no fear.
probably why he did so well (racing)," she said.
Markel, who spent decades as an AC Spark
skilled trades worker, leaves behind many friends, family,
admirers and racing enthusiasts in the Flint area.
But it was in the dirt, sliding
around racetracks at high speed, where the Flint native left
major national marks.
Teamed with sponsor Bert Cummings of
Harley-Davidson in Flint, Markel helped fire up a slew of
famous Flint-area racers -including Jay Springsteen, Scott
Parker and Randy Goss - in the gritty arena of
Markel, Springsteen, Parker and Goss
collectively won 17
Grand National titles, according to the AMA.
Markel competed in more than 140 AMA
Grand National Series
races before retiring in 1972. In 1998, he was inducted into
the AMA's Hall of Fame.
He won the AMA Grand National
Championship three times
during the 1960s.
The former Golden Gloves boxing
riding style earned him the nicknames "Black Bart"
and "Bad Bart," according to friend and fellow
racer John Zwerican, 63, of Clio.
At one point, Markel was suspended from
racing for his
rough riding style, according to the AMA.
Quoted on the Motorcycle Hall of Fame
Museum Web site,
Markel said he just "didn't like following
anybody," and if they gave him an inch on the track, he
took a foot.
That's exactly how Zwerican
remembers him - a fierce
competitor. Zwerican was 15 or 16 when he met Markel, and
the two became friends and racing companions over the years.
Parker and other Flint area riders will gather Tuesday evening, 6:00 pm
at Brick Street Bar and Grill, located at 1223 E. Grand Blanc Road,
Grand Blanc, Mich., to remember and trade tales about Bart. Brick
Street is just east of Fenton Road and just west of Dort Hwy. Coming
from US-23 take Exit #88. Coming from I-75 take Exit #109.
Thanks to the Flint Racing "Family" A
very special honor was paid to Bart
and his family at a small
It seemed fitting this bike - one of
Bart's "KRs" - was among the
crowd; along with many famous Dirttrackers.
We know Bart would have been proud.
Ray & Deb Gorney 48x
Photos by Ray Ninness http://www.f8photos.com
Motorcycle Hall Of Fame
Motorsports Hall Of Fame
Motorsports Hall of Fame
By Harry Miller