Cycle News has learned that Art “The Dart” Baumann, the rider who gave Suzuki its first American road race National victory at Sears Point Raceway (now Infineon Raceway) in September of 1969, passed away earlier this month.Baumann, who called San Francisco home, emerged as one of the leading road racers of the late 1960s and early ‘70s. He scored a podium finish (third) in the Daytona 200 early in his pro career, serving notice of his considerable road racing talent. Baumann became one of Suzuki’s first factory riders in 1969, along with teammate Ron Grant. Baumann and Grant showed that the relatively new Suzuki TR-500 road racing machine had potential when in August of that year the paired both scored on the podium (Grant, second; Baumann, third) in the National road race in Indianapolis.A month after the Indy race, Baumann put the Suzuki atop the podium in Sonoma at the newly built Sears Point Raceway to give Suzuki its first AMA National victory. He won the race in oppressive 100-degree heat and passed early leader Cal Rayborn on the factory Harley-Davidson six laps into the race and pulled away to a convincing victory.Baumann stayed with Suzuki through 1972. That year he famously won the pole for the Daytona 200 averaging 110.363 mph in qualifying. While he ran up front and even led many races, he suffered a rash of crashes or mechanical DNFs throughout much of his career. He scored one more podium (third) with Suzuki at Talladega Motor Speedway in 1972. Baumann then moved to Kawasaki where he again had some successful runs only to be thwarted by a slew of mechanical gremlins. He scored one national podium with Kawasaki, at Ontario (California) Motor Speedway in September of 1973.In addition to his impressive domestic racing record Baumann was also part of three American teams in the Transatlantic Match Races during the early 1970s. He scored a podium finish in the prestigious American vs. Great Britain competition at Oulton Park in 1973.Baumann left racing in the mid-1970s.
Art Baumann Passes
Larry Lawrence | Archives Editor
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