Wes Cooley (motorcyclist)

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Wes Cooley
Wesley Steven Cooley

(1956-06-28)June 28, 1956
DiedOctober 16, 2021(2021-10-16) (aged 65)
OccupationMotorcycle racer

Wester Steven Cooley, (June 28, 1956 – October 16, 2021), better known as Wes, was an American former motorcycle road racer in the AMA Superbike class. He won the 1979 and 1980 AMA Superbike Championships on a Yoshimura Suzuki GS1000s. [1]



Born in Los Angeles, California, Cooley got his start on the Southern California club racing scene where his father ran a club racing organization. He honed his skills in the smaller classes before being hired by Pops Yoshimura to race a Kawasaki KZ1000 in the newly formed AMA production class. He won his first AMA superbike race in 1977. [1] For the 1978 season, Yoshimura switched to better handling Suzuki bikes and Cooley began winning regularly. He teamed up with Mike Baldwin to win the prestigious Suzuka 8 Hours race in Japan. [2] In 1980, he teamed up with Graeme Crosby to win at Suzuka a second time. [3] Cooley went on to win his first superbike national championship in 1979. [1] He successfully defended his crown in 1980 by fighting off future Hall of Famers Eddie Lawson on a Kawasaki and Freddie Spencer on a Honda. [1]

In 1985 Cooley suffered life-threatening injuries in a crash at Sears Point Raceway. [1] He eventually recovered to race again but he was never able to recapture his form. After his retirement from racing, he worked as an instructor at a riding school (WCRA) before taking up a career in the medical profession. Cooley was inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 2004. [1]


Cooley died Saturday, October 16, 2021, at his home in Twin Falls, Idaho, from complications of diabetes. [4] He was 65 years old and is survived by his partner of many years, Melody Rose, along with son Wes Jr. and daughter Alexis. [4]

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  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Wes Cooley at the Motorcycle Hall of Fame Archived 2006-12-10 at the Wayback Machine
  2. 1978 Suzuka 8 Hours results at Moto Racing Japan
  3. 1980 Suzuka 8 Hours results at Moto Racing Japan
  4. 1 2 "R.I.P.: Superbike Champion Wes Cooley (Updated)". Roadracing World Magazine. October 21, 2021. Retrieved October 22, 2021.
Preceded by AMA Superbike Champion
Succeeded by