Neil "Peaches" Keen

May 14, 1934 - January 25, 2014

Neil Keen, of Wentzville, Missouri, died on Saturday, January 25, 2014 at the age of 79. Neil is a retired Professional Motorcycle Racer. He is survived by his loving wife of 28 years, Kim Keen; beloved son of late Clifton and Nell Keen; devoted father of Helen Keen, Stephen (Teanna) Maddox, and Vyla (nee: Keen) Brooks; cherished grandfather of Elijah and Jenna Maddox and Wendy (nee: Andreson) Gonzalez; treasured son-in-law of Carl and Kathy Donelson; and dear brother-in-law of Debbie (Harry) Willey. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Siteman Cancer Center.

Excerpts from the Flat Track Forum

It is with deep sadness to inform the flattrack community that Neil passed away this morning, between 8:30- 9:00 a.m. Due to complications with heart and pneumonia. God Bless Neil.               

                                                                                                                                David "A" 


Godspeed Sir and thank you for everything you've done.                               WT


A person that departs from this earth never truly leaves, for they are still alive in our hearts and minds, through us, they live on. Please accept our condolences, Neil you will not be forgotten. 

                                                                                                               Goodpeed Bill & June Sparks Mendota, IL


A great man, spent a rainy afternoon at Weedsport "Days of Glory" talking Gold Stars with Mr Keen. Changed my life!

                                                                                                Hugh Mackie, Sixth Street Racing.


Very sad news. Neil was a special dude, and I'm thankful I could call him a friend. I remember the first time I ran into him and a 17 year old (or so) kid named Dennis. Everyone thought the kid was just there to help load and unload the bike. Little did they know that the kid was the tuner...right Mr. Mahan? What a run they had while together. I got to visit with Neil at the Trailblazers Hall of Fame dinner in Carson, CA. He gave us a wave as he left the parking lot of the hotel. When he was at the track, you knew that if you were going to do anything at all...Neil was one of the riders you had to deal with. GODSPEED #10. You will be missed. My thoughts and prayers are with Kim and the family. 

                                                                                                                    Digger


Damn, I'm not even sure how to reply. We lost an icon for sure. My condolences to family and friends. Neil Helped me understand how things worked back in the day and not to just copy everybody else. Thanks Peach !  

                                                                                                                               Stan


It was a sad moment when Carl had to announce it today at Neil's party.


We have lost a great member of the flat track family. My sincere and heartfelt condolences to Kim and the Keen clan. Neil was not only a champion racer but a fearless spokes person for all riders. He fully supported vintage racing and openly shared his skills and wisdom with all riders. As has been already said, "gone but never forgotten". R.I.P. Neil Keen. 

                                                                                                                              Tommy Robertson


I didn't know Neil well. I only talked to him on the phone a few times but he actually gave me a great piece of advice once when I posed a problem to him. He said, "do whatever Gary Nixon tells you to do". I took it to heart and always did. Todays is Gary's birthday and I believe they are celebrating together.  

                                                                                                                                     Nick

My Sincere Condolences to the Family and Friends.

We've Lost One Of The GREAT ONES.

REST IN PEACE NEIL KEEN, NUMBER 10.

Gone But Not Forgotten.

                                                                                                                                     Wild Will


Godspeed Neil Keen.                                                                         Greg Pearson


It has been a sad day at the party. RIP Neil Keen!                                                              Larry Van


If there was a listing in every single encyclopedia throughout the whole entire world describing what a real "Born in the USA Dirt Track Racer" really was.........

There should & would be a picture there of Neal Keen AND a complete description of Neil Keen's life there as well.

There is no one ,(that I know of), that exemplifies what a real motorcycle Dirt Track Racer really is more than Neal Keen. He did it all, lived to tell about it, got married, had a family & lived a very full life.

Figuratively speaking Neal has "been around the Dirt Track World twice & walked it once".

He has done it ALL & helped others in whatever way he could while doing it.

My sincere and heartfelt condolences to Kim and the entire Keen family.

Mia & Chew's pic & words above says it all.

Godspeed Neal Keen........

Another great rider has finished his race with father time here on this earth. 

                                                                                                                                                      Royal Sherbet


Below is a link to an album on my Facebook page with pictures of Neil's birthday parties for the last four years. You don't have to be a member of Facebook to use the link, just click on it. It is Neil's friends and memorabilia. Please leave comments if you like.      www.facebook.com/tinkerertoo/media_set?s...97.1070861813&type=3

                                                                                                                             Tinkerer

     So sorry to hear this... Godspeed, Neil.                                        Chew and family 

I especially like the story or how the "non-regulation" #10 plates came about. Neil Keen will live on forever through his contribution to the sport.
                                                                                                                           Greg

The October 1969 Cycle World ran article/interview with Neil with text by Dan Hunt. I read the article so many years ago and acquired another copy to replace the one "of many" magazines I did not save. I anticipated having Neil autograph my new acquisition on Saturday. My disapointment in hearing Carl gives us in attendance the news was shared by all in attendance. God bless Kim, Kathy, Carl and the entire family.  

                                                                                                                                  Tom


So sad to hear about Neils passing, To me a racing and British bike enthusiast he was a true inspiration and living in Sweden it was so great that he would help out with knowledge in the restoration of our BSA gold star flat track racer. Neil also donated several items to our BritBike Museum. Neil most kindly said ok to use his famous pose on a shirt we made about 6 years ago. At the time of his passing I was awaiting answer about a rear wheel set up Neil and others used in the 50's-60's. Our deepest condolences to his family and friends from across the pond. here is the image we used for the shirt.

                                                                                                                                   Brit Bike

I was at the party when Carl told us all about Neil's passing. I talked to Carl later and could not find the words to express myself, I still can't. Neil is a legend and Legends never die, he will live forever in the hearts and minds of men. Rest in peace My Friend! 

                                                                                                                                     Jim Henry # 90n


Well said Jim. Godspeed, Neil- My friend.                                                                David Atherton


I know there are hundreds of upcoming racers that Neil Keen helped during his lifetime. I am proud to say that I was one of them, and I would like to share with you a story that illustrates how much of an impact he had on my career. Neil was an icon of Flat Track Racing to so many folks in our sport, and he was a true friend and mentor to me. Early in my career, I was forced to recover from injuries that left me laid off for a year. No one would have anything to do with me. They considered me washed up. I’ll never forget meeting up with Neil in Decatur, Illinois, with my TT bike--and not much else--in the back of my El Camino, to race a TT and then head right back home to California. Neil offered me a ride on his spare Yamaha Short Tracker to race Granite City Tuesday nights and Santa Fe Speedway on Wednesday nights for the rest of that summer. His kind gesture helped me regain my skills in racing and a positive mental attitude. I owe a lot to Neil for taking me under his wing and helping me when I needed it the most as well as his continued guidance from that point onward. My heart and prayers go out to Kim and Neil's family. Rest In Peace Neil, 

                                                                                                                                            Gene Romero


To all of you that were friends with Neil and raced with him we that were neither missed a great experience and for that we share your pain for this loss.Prayers to friends and family. 

                                                                                                                                  Tony S.


I First met Neil Keen # 22x at Norton Ks in 1957. The weather that day (kansas style ) was 98 degrees at 10:am at the Riders Meeting. I was sent out there to help SAMMY TANNER # 59 who was riding out of the BSA SHOP HERE IN Kansas City , Ks ..Ray Hendrshot OWNER. During the early ridrs meeting our AMA REF: Dick Gardner said " Be sure to Drink a lot of water today riders, as I have a rider already with HEAT STROKE PROBLEMS, does anybody know how to help him ? I said that I knew how to help him where is he?

While walking over to the place the down rider was located , I told Ref. Gardner that this was going to be a long process and I will need to get my hands on all the ICE I can find . Dick took me over to the Infield Concession Stand and told the LADYS WORKING THERE..GIVE THIS GUY ALL THE ICE HE ASK FOR ALL DAY.

We then walked over to this canvas covered area was on the Infield, where the sick rider was laying . At that time I noticed a BSA GOLDSTAR # 22x setting alongside the entry to the sick riders Canvas covered area was located. I only knew he was from CALIF. because of the x on HIS NUMBER PLATE. Ducking under the OPENING to ENTER my first view of the rider was " Oh My, one sick fellow here for sure. His eyes half rolled back in his head etc. I ask what is your name and he said "Just call me PEACHES". Well I got Lucky and found a Bucket to put the ICE IN and started many, many trips to the Concession stand for more ICE. ICE does not last long outside at 90 plus degrees. I cut up a TEE SHIRT TO HOLD THE ICE and the process began to get this guy "PEACHES " FEELING BETTER. Now a few hours had passed and "PEACHES' ask what my name was , so I said George but just call me the "INDIAN". PEACHES knew and liked INDIAN'S I came to find out from him later in life. Well now its getting MED -DAY and CALIF. RACE RIDERS Dick Mann, George Everett & other Calif. Comp Riders were coming by to check out how "Peaches" was doing. Ahhh, The Race Track ANNOUNCER JUST SAID ON THE "P-A System " TIME FOR THE FINAL RACE OF THE DAY" It at that time when Peaches said the words that I had been waiting to hear all day,when he said "INDIAN I'AM FELLING A LOT BETTER NOW" ! NEIL KEEN during my racing days , would always make a point to walk over in the pits and see if I needed any help.

So I think the Bestway for me to close MY MANY NEIL KEEN#10 MEMORIES WITH THE WORDS OF THE SONG BY GARTH BROOKS "THE DANCE"... I COULD HAVE MISSD THE PAIN..BUT I WOULD HAVE MISSED THE DANCE!  R.I. P NEIL KEEN # 10

                                                                                                                 George " Indian " Holter # 60k


So sorry to hear about the passing of my friend Neil Keen. My thoughts are with Helen and Kim

                                                                                                                               Larry Darr


This the saddest news I have had to cope with for a very long time; Myself and my wife Dorothy first met Neil back in 1978, when our oldest son Kelly was a 1st year novice. The the next year our son Shaun was a novice and we would stop by Neil's and camp in his backyard. For the next several years when we were back east, we would stop at Neil's. To say he was a friend can not start to convey how our whole family felt about him. I remember one year, He and my wife and myself rebuilt both our XR750 motors in his back yard. Neil was probably the most helpful person our family had ever met. We also often would travel to Garage sales around the ST Louis area while we were there. I even found him a few Samiri Swords (spelling)? I was just getting ready to call him about his birthday party when I heard the sad news. I am so sorry for his friends and family. He will always be in our hearts and minds. We could have not raced flat track with out his help since 1978. 

                                                                                                                    The Larkin Family


I was at ascot in the grandstands the night Peach won the National. He became one of my heroes. We became friends a few years later when I started my professional career. He was always one of those guys that if you had any sense at all you looked up to him. Lots of giggles and laughs. Now he's at peace with the other racers in the sky with no dust. Godspeed Peach. Thanks for all your good advice and friendship. It was great!

                                                                                                                      Eddie #12


I don't know if I can do this justice,

but I'll try as best I can to detail

...yesterday...as a guest :) :(

I purposely just hit the Happy-Sad Smiley Faces

as a good place to begin this thread!

Brenda & I walked in the back door with a bunch of Astro parts to

deliver to Trevor & Brian so our Astro assembly line continued to flow &

I was immediately noticing & thinking to myself...

"something is different?"

Trevor shuffles me back out the door & says..."Neil Just Died!"

(Now... I'm on the same page with the other 100 plus people in the room):unsure: :huh: :blink:

I can't begin to describe the disorienting sense of...

"What Do You Do & What Do You Say...

What Can You Say?...it's Neil's Birthday Party?" :pinch: 

I won't pretend to speak for everyone in attendance,

but I can certainly describe observations of a

somber reality truly reflecting...

Who Neil Keen Was,

Who His Friends & Loves Were &

What His & Our Lives Are

Essentially All About!

(Regardless of circumstance)

The "Gathering" continued &

remained a "Celebration Of Neil's Life" &

in a grander sense...

A Celebration Of All Our Lives

very much under the guidance of &

at the insistence of &

the example set by...

The Entire Donelson Family!

Carl, Kathy, Kim & Debbie are truly

(((Spectacular People))) !!!!!!


With the greatest respect, admiration & condolences

                                                                                                    Art, Brenda, Artie & Annie Randall

1961 Ascot Half-Mile Keen Wins from the Back at Ascot

GNC Round #6 of 12    Date: July 22, 1961   Type: Half Mile  Venue: Ascot Park, Gardena, Ca

Purse: $3750     Surface: Dirt    Course Length: Mile   Laps: 16    Distance: 8 Miles

Neil “Peaches” Keen, virtually unknown outside of California, especially Ascot; zapped all the GN stars and Ascot regulars to score his first and only GNC win. His come from behind win, passing National champ Resweber in the closing laps, thrilled the overflow Ascot Park crowd. His Dennis Mahan/self-tuned BSA was in top form. Resweber “settled” for second again. It was the third year he controlled the race only to lose the advantage late in the race. Darrel Dovel finished third for one of his best National finishes.

Carroll Resweber’s fine second place against the Ascot regulars again gave him a little breathing room over Leonard, 30 points to 21. Leonard put in a solid ride at Ascot, but was two places out of the points. Leonard never won at Ascot. Dick Mann held onto 3rd in points with 18. Keen’s two impressive California finishes vaulted him to 4th in points with 14 points.

Time Trials and Heats

Sammy Tanner (Tri), the 1959 race champ set fast time at 24.03. The rest of the top 5 were; Keen (BSA) 24.09, Resweber (HD) 24.38, Johnny Gibson (HD) 24.46 and Stu Morley (BSA) 24.48.

National #24 Jack O’Brien (BSA) bested Tanner, Gibson and Don Hawley (HD) in Heat 1. In Heat 2, Keen won the fastest heat over Morley, Dick Mann and rookie Dick Hammer, all BSA mounted. Resweber remained unbeaten in Ascot heats taking Heat 3 in front of Darrel Dovel (Tri) and Johnny Muckenthaler (Tri). Al Gunter, the 1960 winner was having an off night and did not transfer.

National

Resweber again looked like a good bet for a non-Californian to finally win at Gardena, jumping out to an early lead. Keen on the other hand was next to last off the line. As Resweber stretched his lead to half a straight, Dovel, Gibson and Morley were battling for the next positions.

Keen really got rolling, passing riders at a rapid pace; he was noticeably faster than every other rider thru Ascot’s tacky turns. By all accounts, he never backed off the throttle. He broke thru the battling pack up front on lap 9, taking 2nd place. Resweber still had a big lead, but Keen was gobbling up territory in the corners. Coming out of turn 4 on lap 15, Keen zapped a surprised Resweber at the line. Keen continued to stretch his lead with Resweber a solid 2nd. Dovel bested his handlebar rattling buddies for 3rd, with Johnny Gibson having another good National finish in 4th and Morley in 5th. Rounding out the order was, O’Brien, Tanner, Leonard, Hawley Hammer, Muckenthaler and Mann.

With Keen’s riding and tuning abilities, it seemed more GNC wins would come. It was not to be, Keen preferred the steady Ascot and fairgrounds money. He would continue to have other great runs around the circuit and was particularly successful at the Sante Fe, Ill short track.

Results   Race: 8 Mile National   Race Time: 8:12.79

Rank Rider Number Make

1. Neil Keen, Pasadena, Ca 10 BSA

2. Carroll Resweber, Cedarburg, Wi 1 HD

3. Darrel Dovel, Ft. Worth, Tx 45 Tri

4. Johnny Gibson, Duarte, Ca 5 HD

5. Stu Morley, Los Angeles, Ca 8X BSA

6. Jack O’Brien, Santa Monica, Ca 24 BSA

7. Sammy Tanner, Bellflower, Ca 7 Tri

8. Joe Leonard, San Jose, Ca 98 HD

9. Don Hawley, Inglewood, Ca 6 HD

10. Dick Hammer, Lakewood, Ca 17X BSA

11. John Muckenthaler, Garden Grove, Ca 83 Tri

12. Dick Mann, El Sobrante, Ca 64 BSA


Race: 7 Mile Amateur Final       Race Time: 6:15.17

Rank Rider Number Make

1. Preston Petty, Woodlands, Ca 68Y BSA

2. Jimmy Plain, El Sobrante, Ca 25Y BSA

3. Bob Skibsted, Riverside, Ca 57X HD

Grand National Points Standings after Round 6

Rank Rider Pts

1. Carroll Resweber 30

2. Joe Leonard 21

3. Dick Mann 18

4. Neil Keen 14

5. Dick Klamfoth 12

6. Don Burnett 10

7. Roger Reiman 9

8. Ralph White 8

9. George Roeder 7

9. Bart Markel 7


*Extra Extra*

• Neil Keen had 10 straight regular season Ascot wins before the National.

• The “BSA Wrecking Crew “era was beginning. Neil Keen, Al Gunter, Stu Morley, Jack O’Brien and soon Sammy Tanner, rode highly-tuned Gold Stars that were perfectly suited to Ascots unique surface. They would be nearly unbeatable for a decade.

• A screaming SRO 8,000 strong crowd was present.

• Future fender King, Preston Petty took the Amateur win.  

                                                                                                             Greg Pearson

RIP - NEIL KEEN 1934 - 2014...... Active for 20 years as a professional dirt track racer, AMA National Number 10 Neil Keen is an innovative and articulate man who never settled for the status quo, either with engine development, chassis design, or the politics of racing. In each of these fields, he contributed to a golden era of American racing by improving machine performance, safety, and the treatment of riders. In the hotbed of Southern California racing, Keen won Ascot 11 times in a row in 1961 while winning more than half the finals of the 29-race season. Later, he helped develop the modern dirt track racing frame, contributed to a two-stroke revolution, and consulted on Yamaha’s dirt track program, where Kenny Roberts would earn points toward his two AMA Grand National Championships. Well educated, outspoken, and articulate, Keen also served as an official representative of the professional racers in the AMA Competition Congress. Neil Keen was born in Lakeland, Florida on May 14, 1934. When his parents divorced in 1941, he moved with his mother to Valdosta, Georgia, then to Atlanta in 1948. Keen’s first motorized two-wheeler was a Doodlebug, purchased at Western Auto when he was 14. “Next,” he says, “I had about ten Whizzers. They were of pretty fragile construction,” he says, explaining the number of replacements. In 1950, he bought a Harley-Davidson 125 and his competitive career began that same year at a paved local stock car track called Peach Bowl Speedway. “I was 16 – I was supposed to be 18 -- and I won the first race I ever entered, beating older guys on big Harleys and Nortons,” Keen recalls. Modestly, Keen attributes the victory only partially to his riding ability. “The little two-stroke was more suitable for the track than the bigger machines,” he says. But the experience was enough to convince him that racing was something he wanted to do. In 1953, Keen and a couple of friends lit out for California in a new Ford convertible with a dismantled BSA Gold Star flattracker in the trunk. “I fell in love with California," he says. "Everything seemed so clean and shiny and new.” The Gold Star was jointly owned by Keen and one of his buddies, but a couple of nights of flattracking caused its co-owner to decide he had better give up and return to Georgia. Keen kept the motorcycle and hired out for $2 per hour as a courier for the Rapid Blueprint Company. “My first race in California was in 1954 at Willow Springs," he recalls. "BSA dealer Louie Thomas sold me a used BSA A7 twin factory racing bike, and I ran off the track.” Keen raced only twice in 1954, but in 1955 he applied for his AMA Novice professional license. Racing regularly at Gardena, Culver City, and Carroll Speedway, he quickly progressed through the ranks, earning Amateur status in 1956 and his Expert license in 1957. Keen’s ambition, however, was not to become a national caliber racer. “My idols were the great tuners like Tom Sifton and Gene Rhyne," he says. "I was a good mechanic with a good aptitude for chassis setup and building fast engines.” In 1957, Keen started building for George Everett, whom he still believes was one of the most talented riders of all time. “I continued to race, but I was just having fun while really focusing on George’s equipment, and my desire to give him the tools to prove he was the best.” But Everett was killed in 1959, a tragedy which, oddly, turned Keen into a dedicated, fulltime professional racer. “When George was killed, I looked around and didn’t see anyone I thought was even close to his talent. There was just no one I wanted to build for, so I decided it was time to concentrate on my own equipment and developing my own skills. Jimmy Phillips became my mentor and taught me how to race.” Keen came into his own quickly on the fast surface of the legendary Ascot Park, winning the last two races of the season in 1960. He continued that success in 1961 by winning more than half the main events of the 29-race season, riding Dennis Mahan’s BSA. “Except for two races," Keen says, "Albert Gunter and I won every race that year.” Keen won the first two races, Gunter took the next two, then Keen reeled off a stunning string of 11 main events in a row. “I won thirteen of the first fifteen races, then finished the season with a total of sixteen wins,” he says. Ascot Park was a nightmare for the AMA Grand National regulars. The locals raced there 29 times a season and had the track so dialed in that they usually humbled the Grand National regulars when they ventured there. “Bart Markel was about the only rider from back East who could win at Ascot and he was a little scary. When a normal half-mile racetrack in those days was 29-31 seconds, the best at Ascot would lap it in 23 seconds,” Keen says. “And it wasn’t because it was a smaller racetrack. It was because the surface was tacky and in good condition and the men ran almost wide open all the way around. It was terrifying if you weren’t up to the task.” Keen was making a good living from the Friday night Ascot Park program. “I averaged $1,500 a week,” Keen said. “And that was in the days when a new Ford Ranchero was $1,900. We got paid a percentage of the gate then and when I won the AMA national I took home $3,700. I had a nice four bedroom house out in the suburbs.” He did so well racing in Southern California that Keen didn’t see a big need to chase the Grand Nationals. He made the occasional foray back to the Midwest to race the fair circuit and to take in Peoria and Springfield. He finished a career-high fifth in the AMA Grand National standings in 1961, in spite of not racing a full national schedule. Southern California weekly tracks were producing a high level of injuries and far too many fatalities in the 1960s. Keen thought he knew one of the reasons, which was the fact that all classes – Novices through Experts – competed aboard big 500cc and 750cc machines. “Fatalities among the Novices were appallingly high, and some of us thought they should not be racing the big equipment," Keen says. "Most brands by then were producing 250s, which we knew would be more manageable.” Late in 1962, Keen, Gunter, and Dick Mann appeared before the AMA Competition Committee, proposing a package of rules to make racing safer. As a result, the AMA imposed a 250cc limit for Novices, and fatalities declined significantly. This successful foray into the politics of racing would be only the first step in Neil Keen’s long career of working to improve the sport. In 1963, he teamed up with Gary Nixon to petition for better purses and medical insurance for the riders. In 1968, he became a delegate to the newly formed AMA Congress, serving for several years as an official representative of the riders. Keen, a well-read and articulate public speaker, has been sought out throughout his career by professional riders seeking guidance, support, and representation. After a serious crash in 1963, Keen relocated to Illinois in 1964. “I started riding out of John Lund’s shop in Decatur," he says. "From one corner of the state to the other, there was a hotbed of short track competition. I had never ridden a short track, but I picked it up very quickly.” Keen’s knowledge of chassis design and how to set up a good handling racer proved a great asset on the lightning-quick quarter-mile ovals. He was high-point racer at Santa Fe Speedway in both 1969 and 1970, and practically owned the podium at Granite City, just across the river from St. Louis. Collaborating with Ray Hensley, Keen began to develop and market high-performance racing frames in 1967, first known as Sonic Weld then later marketed under the Trackmaster brand. “I sold my trail bike and a .38 pistol to buy our first chrome moly tubing to get started building frames,” he recalls. With his tuning and designing skills in high demand, Keen set up Neil Keen Performance in 1969. In the mean time, John Lund, who was a Bultaco dealer, believed that the quickly emerging two-stroke engines might have a future in short track racing. Lund assembled two Bultaco-powered short trackers, and Keen hauled them to Daytona in 1967, where Dick Mann won aboard one of the machines and Keen finished second. Back at the Midwestern short tracks that season, Keen began to refine the bikes and techniques – including use of a compression release for rapid deceleration – that would launch a two-stroke revolution. His performance attracted the attention of Yamaha, which was on the verge of introducing its robust and versatile DT1 two-stroke single. Dennis Mahan, who had helped Keen maintain his motorcycles during his early career in Southern California, was now working for Yamaha, and arranged for Keen to receive pre-production engines for the 1968 season. “They didn’t even have real serial numbers on them," Keen recalls. "My engines just had #1, #3, and #4 stamped in the cases.” These Yamahas, in Trackmaster frames, now with swinging arm rear suspensions, would propel Keen to his high-point seasons at Santa Fe in ’69 and ’70. To get optimum power from the engines, Keen reconfigured Yamaha’s motocross expansion chamber to make it suitable for flat track racing. “Yamaha saw that pipe and loved it and how I had tucked it down under the engine,” he says. Furthermore, Yamaha was making plans to challenge Harley-Davidson and the British brands at the top tier of American dirt track racing, and Keen would become a key player in this campaign. With its new overhead cam XS650 vertical twin, introduced in 1970, Yamaha began to pour money into a program that would provide equipment for up-and-comers such as Dan Haaby, Keith Mashburn, and finally their world-beater Kenny Roberts. Keen consulted on the development of the motorcycles, both for chassis design and conversion of the engines to full-on 750s. The Yamaha twins did not become permanent fixtures in American dirt track racing, but they worked well enough to provide valuable points toward Roberts’ 1973 and ’74 Grand National Championships. After a 20-year career, Neil Keen retired from active professional competition in 1974, but has continued as a consultant and supplier with Neil Keen Performance, where he has served as a mentor for subsequent generations of racers. Innovative, articulate, educated, outspoken, colorful, and brutally honest, Keen has contributed on the track, in the shop, and through regulatory processes to the improvement of American dirt track racing. He was inducted into the Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 2000.    

                                                                                                                                  Tinkerer






Motorcycle Museum Hall of Fame




Neil Keen and Tom Horton at Trailblazer Banquet 2012