Hall of Fame Inductee - 2011
Born into a racing family in 1951, Don Emde grew up around motorcycles. Don’s parents, Floyd & Florence owned a motorcycle dealership in National City, California. Floyd had been one of the foremost racers in the 1940s. In high school, Don started racing scrambles events and soon became a regular winner in amateur TT and scrambles events. Shortly after that, he began dirt track racing on area short track and half mile circuits. Emde quickly became one of the top racers in Southern California in the late 1960s. He also showed considerable success in road racing events.
In 1970 Don had the unique situation of having a split AMA racing license. Because of his success at road racing, he was classified as an expert in road racing, but still raced as an amateur in dirt track events. Don had some impressive outings that year, leading BSA to seek him out and sign him to its 1971 race team.
In 1972, financially troubled BSA cut its race team, including Emde. He quickly found another sponsor with Team Motorcycle Weekly. Riding a new Yamaha 350cc specifically designed for the Daytona 200, Emde felt confident in his ability to show well. Emde took the lead in lap 48 of 53 and went on to win by 100 yards. Don’s win at the Daytona 200 in 1972 gave he and his father the distinction of being the only father-son pair to ever win that race. It’s a distinction that still holds today.
After retiring from racing, Emde worked in the family motorcycle dealership until he landed a job Sales & Marketing Director at Bell Helmets. He later became Publisher of the motorcycle trade publication Dealernews, then left five years later to start his own publishing business that continues today.