1950s-’60s flat track racer, tuner was 88
PICKERINGTON, Ohio — Cyriel “Babe” DeMay, an AMA Grand National competitor who raced from the early 1950s to the late 1960s before becoming a leading tuner and team owner on the AMA Grand National circuit, died Oct. 26 at his home in Rossville, Tenn. He was 88.
Mr. DeMay won the flat track national at Lincoln, Ill., in 1966 and was a Harley-Davidson-supported rider for most of the 1960s. He was inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 2001.
He was the owner of DeMay’s and Memphis Shade’s Motorcycle Race Team and also retired from Dial Soap Co. in Illinois and The International Corp.
Mr. DeMay’s first exposure to motorcycling was through his older brother, who owned a 1948 Indian Chief. At 13, Mr. DeMay got his own bike—a Whizzer—for a paper route. He then got a Cushman, but didn’t like the fact that he couldn’t jump curbs with it.
He started motorcycle racing in 1952, competing on an Indian Warrior. The following year, future fellow Hall of Famer Bill Tuman mentored Mr. DeMay, who finished the year among the top novices in the nation.
In 1960, Harley-Davidson racing chief Dick O’Brien gave Mr. DeMay a factory-built KR to race. He rode for Harley-Davidson until 1969, when he retired from racing and started helping Harley build racing engines.
Mr. DeMay’s work at Harley-Davidson in the early 1970s put a series of young champions on fast machines, including Garth Brow and Dave Sehl and future Hall of Famers Mark Brelsford, Corky Keener and Rex Beauchamp.
Read Mr. DeMay’s complete biography at motorcyclemuseum.org/halloffame/detail.aspx?RacerID=156.