Vince Warren Levers LLC
Vince Warren was born in Fontana, California and moved to Sweet Home a
small town in Oregon when he was 5 years old. He began racing mini bikes
when he was 13 years old and went through the ranks from beginner to
intermediate to expert.
During those years, Vince's one and only motocross hero was Bob Hannah, who was a great and exciting rider. Hannah had a huge influence on the sport during his championship years.
Vince's clutch lever was borne from an incident that occurred during his first attempt at big time Supercross racing in 1981 at the Los Angeles Coliseum. He was 16 years old and had just stepped from a YZ 80 Yamaha expert class to a 250 Yamaha pro class. The first time he threw his leg over the 'box stock' 250 Yamaha was on race night.
At the 1981 L.A. Supercross, Vince was assigned to the same practice session as was Hannah. He was so excited to practice and maybe dice a little with his hero. As it turned out they did pass and repass one another, however, it's likely Hannah wasn't remotely aware of this great moment in Vince's life. On the last lap, Vince was about 50 feet in front of Hannah and as they came through the peristyle they were really smoking. Vince went down the peristyle jump just a hair wide. When he landed after the double jump, he clipped a hay bail and went down hard and was knocked unconscious. Hannah meanwhile was in mid air and in line to land right on top of Vince, but skillfully jerked his bike to the left and missed Vince by mere inches.
Once Vince's bike was back in the pits, it was apparent that his clutch lever was beyond repair. Being a privateer on a very low budget, Vince didn't have a spare clutch handle and cable. He asked Broc Glover's mechanic, but received no help. Vince was even more nervous to ask Keith McCarty, Bob Hannah's mechanic if they would lend or sell him one, but they weren't able to help either. At this point, the situation was becoming desperate. Race time was rapidly approaching and it appeared that there was no help in sight. When Rex Staten was asked if he could help out with a clutch lever, he graciously went out to his shop truck in the coliseum parking lot and came up with a replacement part. Although the part was not a Yamaha item, Vince and his dad were able to fit it to the bike in time for the first moto and Vince was able to race.
Vince took the holeshot and lead for about three quarters of the first lap when he was block passed by a factory rider which took him out of the race. However, what did occur was the seed of his invention of the unbreakable lever.
Vince continued racing and never gave up his thoughts for developing an unbreakable lever.
In 1984 he moved with his mom and brother to California to pursue his love of motocross. He was limited as a privateer with one motorcycle and was his own mechanic at the races, but was able to qualify for 3 main events in Supercross.
Vince was a test rider for Honda in Simi Valley for two years and a key player in the development of Honda motorcycles under Roger DeCoster.
Vince completed the first prototype for his lever in 1989. He only had one and wasn't satisfied with it, but the concept was there. Finances didn't permit a second one.
In 1990 Vince began to lose weight and his race results weren't what they should have been. A local doctor said he had the flu and Vince having a high pain tolerance continued on. He had been ill for months and still decided to go to Sweden in June of that year to race, but his motorcycle never came out of the crate.
A Swedish doctor found that he had cancer and wanted Vince to stay and not return to the United States. He feared Vince would drown with the fluids discovered in his lungs, but Vince wanted to return home. By the time Vince arrived home he was very ill.
Vince was told by Oregon doctors that he had a tumor between his heart and lungs the size of a "Football" and if he didn't start chemotherapy, he would be dead in the morning.
Vince fought hard for two years and to the very end. He refused to give up and never complained. He always said he was fine. When the cancer metastasized causing a detached retina in his right eye Vince said, "I won't be able to see the riders coming up on my right side."
Vince had an unbreakable spirit, never giving up and was planning to return to motocross.
Frank Thomason who was the promoter of Racing Enterprises at Carlsbad raceway said, "Vince has always had the talent, but seldom did he get the breaks to crack into the motocross elite. He's a tall, slender, good-looking young man, quiet and polite. Vinnie is an inspiration to all of us who know him. What he has endured would have caused many of us to give up. His inspiration has made him a hero in my eyes."
Vince was intelligent, but humble, never overbearing or arrogant. Even though he was a perfectionist, he was easy to be around adventurous and fun.
Vince was creative and had a gift to visualize complex ideas in 3 dimensions. He had the innate ability to look at something and improve on it.
In 1991 Vince was 26 years old when he lost his battle with cancer. This was before he could put the finishing touches on his lever.
As a tribute to Vince, in 1997 his mother filed for a patent and it was granted on April 11, 2000 bringing his invincible lever to reality.
You can see in this photo Vince