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From Motorcycle Racing to Retirement Gary Whitehead is a Lifelong K&N Filters Fan

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In 1969 Gary Whitehead purchased a Yamaha 250cc DT-1 motorcycle from K&N and is seen here racing in Riverside, California

In 1969 Gary Whitehead purchased a Yamaha 250cc DT-1 motorcycle from K&N and is seen here racing in the Canyon Crest area of Riverside, California in a Hi-Jinx motorcycle club race

Gary Whitehead began racing on a 50cc Honda C110 motorcycle in 1963 at the famed Perris Raceway and Prado Park

Gary Whitehead began racing at 10-years-old on a 50cc Honda C110 motorcycle in 1963 at the famed Perris Raceway and Prado Park

K&N was formed by Ken Johnson and Norm McDonald in the early 1960’s. The duo ran a motorcycle dealership selling Yamaha and Indian motorcycles as well as their own line of motorcycle accessories. Ken and Norm were avid motorcycle racers and they channeled their passion for the sport into a rather large K&N race team. In those early days K&N helped foster the careers of many influential names in the world of motorcycle racing including 3-time world grand prix champion Kenny Roberts, and the legendary star of Bruce Brown’s On Any Sunday, Malcolm Smith.

Gary Whitehead was an aspiring motorcycle racer in the early days of motocross. He began racing at just 10-years-old on a 50cc Honda C110 motorcycle in 1963. At that time Gary did most of his racing at the famed Perris Raceway and Prado Park; home-turf of the K&N racing team. In 1969 Gary looked to the K&N motorcycle dealership when he decided to step up to a new 250cc Yamaha DT-1 motorcycle. At its introduction in 1968 the Yamaha DT-1 almost single handedly defined a new market for off-road motorcycles and K&N, one of the oldest Yamaha dealers in the nation, was perfectly situated in Southern California’s hot bed of motorcycle racing.

Gary Whitehead aboard his 1970 Husqvarna (Husky), that he purchased from the K&N motorcycle dealer

Gary Whitehead aboard his 1970 Husqvarna (Husky), that he purchased from the K&N motorcycle dealer, racing in the Lamb Canyon area of Beaumont, California

Gary Whitehead’s passion for performance never waned despite his technology focused career

Gary Whitehead’s passion for performance never waned despite his technology focused career and in 1991 he decided to build a kit car based around a 1933 Ford Victoria

As Gary says, he began racing in the very early days of motocross. Early motocross tracks were composed of natural terrain, unprepared, and marked out across the terrain of the area. Many times motocross tracks went through grass fields and narrow cow trails. The now fabled Saddleback and Carlsbad tracks of the area were just beginning to emerge. It was also during this time that K&N invented the high-flow washable and reusable K&N air filter to meet the air filtration needs of early motocross and desert racing pioneers. Gary Whitehead was invited to be a K&N racing team member in 1969 and used one of the earliest K&N air filters in his 1969 Yamaha DT-1. Gary described the filter as being housed in a gold colored round aluminum case that replaced the factory Yamaha unit.

After racing the DT-1, Gary Whitehead moved on to a 1970 Husqvarna (Husky); also purchased from the K&N dealership. Unfortunately Gary’s serious racing efforts were put to an end in 1971 when he broke his leg at Saddleback Motocross Park. However, it seems as if Gary was always on the verge of new and promising industries. After attending college Gary entered the computer industry. He spent the last 19 years of his career as a Chief Information Officer before retiring in July of 2014. According to Gary, “Retirement has been fun. I bought a street bike and ride at least twice a week. I also take my street rod out on the weekends.”

The filters work well and are easy to maintain. The hot rod, like the motorcycles, has a K&N air filter.

Gary Whitehead has become a lifelong K&N fan saying, “The filters work well and are easy to maintain. The hot rod, like the motorcycles, has a K&N air filter.”

Retirement has been fun. I bought a street bike and ride at least twice a week. I also take my street rod out on the weekends.

According to Gary Whitehead, “Retirement has been fun. I bought a street bike and ride at least twice a week. I also take my street rod out on the weekends.”

Gary’s passion for performance never waned despite his technology focused career. In 1991 he decided to build a kit car based around a 1933 Ford Victoria. The body, frame, and interior pieces came from a now defunct company based in Florida. Gary gathered the engine, transmission, suspension, steering and all the other pieces from junk yards or parts stores. It took him about 6 months to build the car and get it on the road. He’s been driving it around town ever since. “I enjoy driving the car and the people involved in the hot rod community are fun to be around,” said Gary. He has also remained a loyal K&N fan through the years. Of K&N Gary commented “The filters work well and are easy to maintain. The hot rod, like the motorcycles, has a K&N air filter.”

The K&N brand has stood for performance for over 45 years. K&N offers performance motorcycle air filters, motorcycle air intake systems, and high-flow motorcycle oil filters. To find K&N performance products for your car, truck, motorcycle, or semi-truck use the search by vehicle tool. To find an authorized K&N dealer near you, use the Find Dealer search function.


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K&N Engineering in Riverside California is the world's leading manufacturer of washable performance air filters and air intake systems. K&N invented the reusable high flow cotton air filter in 1969 and has been perfecting the technology ever since. K&N is a world class filtration company selling air filters, oil filters, and intakes in over 30 countries. K&N sells over 5,000 products designed for cars, trucks, motorcycles, engines, and industrial applications. From their Million Mile Warranty to their Consumer Protection Pledge, K&N stands behind their products and their consumers 100%. The distinctive K&N logo represents performance from one of the original performance companies. For more information, visit knfilters.com.