Werner is a legendary, AMA Hall of Fame, racing mechanic. From 1966 to 2004 he worked for Harley Davidson's race department, wrenching the motorcycles that carried Gary Scott, Jay Springsteen and Scott Parker to a total of 13 AMA Grand National Championships and 150 total wins.
Harley aficionados claim when Werner was born on April 26, 1944, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, it wasn't merely fitting - it was an omen. Werner's interest in motorcycling was sparked when a friend talked him into going up to nearby Cedarburg Fairgrounds to watch AMA National Champion Carroll Resweber. He was barely 16, watching Resweber that fateful day, when destiny stepped in. Shortly after he embarked on his own racing career.
Werner began by running in local scrambles events, but soon progressed through the ranks as a novice, junior and ultimately earned his expert license. He never raced as an expert though, looming responsibilities and injuries saw to that. Racing did however lead him to meet Ralph Berndt. Berndt was the tuner for Resweber. And the rest, as they say, is history.
"Well, yes, being involved with flat-track racing and being born in Milwaukee helped create opportunities for me. I was a neighbor of Ralph Berndt who was Carroll Resweber's tuner during the years when he was number one, even though he worked for the Harley Factory. He built all of Resweber's equipment at home and was a kind of mentor to me. He helped me get a job at the Harley factory in the Racing department, which created many opportunities for me to get involved with people like Jay Springsteen, Scott Parker, Bryan Smith, and many more in the flat-track world," recalls Werner.
Some say that luck, or fate is merely preparedness intersecting with timing, Werner however calls them accidents, which is how he says his relationship with Kawasaki happened.
"I was at the Daytona Road races in 2007 to help my old friend Jay Springsteen in the endurance series there. He was riding a Kawasaki Ex 650 Ninja and I volunteered to carry tires back and forth to get mounted. Before you know it, I got recruited to do more than just carry tires. Within a few weeks after that race I was approached to be the crew chief for the team. With Jay being involved I just couldn't say no."
"I knew nothing about the bikes, but thought heck it's a motorcycle, I guess I will just muddle through it and figure it out. Shortly after that I got a call from Ken Saillant at the AMA, who asked me if I would build a dirt tracker for the new Basic Twins Class that was being introduced to flat-track racing. And again, I couldn't say no."
"I chose the Kawasaki because I thought it was a neat little engine and easy to work on. Next thing I knew I was even more involved in racing than ever before, building road racers and dirt trackers. So much for retirement," quips Werner.
"I had the opportunity to meet several people from Kawasaki at the races - Jeff Herzog, Jan Plessner and Bruce Stjernstrom. And before you know it I was getting some support for my racing activities. I can't tell you how great the people at Kawasaki have been to me. During a visit to their headquarters I ran into Walt Fulton, an old factory Harley racer who works there, small world this motorcycle fraternity."
For 2010 Werner's plans include fielding a new flat track team along with his good friend Springsteen. Springsteen's contribution will be as a mentor and test rider in the AMA Grand National Twins Series and the AMA Grand National Singles Series, and his nephew Chas will be a a rider in the AMA Pro Singles Series.
"We are going to announce the team riders as soon as we finish with all the commitments with sponsors. That way everyone can get the recognition they deserve. I can tell you that all riders will be on Kawasaki's though," adds Werner.
"My relationship with K&N started back in the early '70's, when we first put a set of air filters on a Harley XR750, and were thrilled with the results on the dyno and flow-bench. We made more power with the air filters on, than with no filter at all. Anyone that knows something about the XR 750, and its cams, will understand how this is possible. Currently I use the air filters and oil filters on all my race bikes and in my transporter as well. I think they are the best - period," concludes Werner.
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