Saturday, March 2, 2013

I had a rough day Thurs. when I found my good friend, Henny Ray Abrams, dead in his apt.  He was only 58.
Henny's day job was a press photographer working as a stringer for AP.  He covered a lot of sports (baseball, football, basketball, tennis), but everything else, too.  A speech at the UN General Assembly, the opening bell on Wall St, the perp walk into the Federal Court house.  But, his passion was motorcycles and esp. motorcycle road racing.  He was the longest contributor to Cycle News, but also wrote for Sport Rider, Australian Motorcycle News, and MCN in the UK.  He wrote features for race programs.  He wrote press releases for Honda and Monster Energy.  He covered just about every AMA roadrace and about half the MotoGPs.
He was a tireless worker.  He spent an incredible amount of time in airplanes, not easy for a guy who was 6'5" tall and wore size 15 shoes.  He'd make the effort to get accurate info from the horse's mouth.
I don't remember exactly how or when we met, but it was probably through our mutual friend Rich Schlachter.  Rich was a friend I met through my brother in Old Lyme, Ct.  We all roadraced for the first time together at Bridgehampton, Memorial Day weekend, 1972 at Bridgehampton, Long Island.  Rich went on to be twice US F-1 road race champion and race in the 250cc World Championship in '81 & '82.  Henny met Rich in Europe when Henny was based in Brussels working for UPI and they became good  friends.
As for when Henny and I met, it was at least by late 1988 when he came to Team Obsolete and wrote a profile of me that was published in the Jan. 1989 issue of the now defunct Road Racer Illustrated ('Rappin' with the Rope').  At that time, AHRMA had vintage races at the AMA Nationals and I'd see Henny there.  Some time later, Henny got interested in cooking and became a brilliant cook.  He started inviting me and other friends over to his apt. for dinner.  It was always a high point of the week.  The meals were exceptional but, for me, more importantly, the company was exceptional.  We'd talk arts, politics, travel and more, but I would generally stay on a bit after the others had left, and we'd talk racing and racers.
He was a character.  He was a world class curmudgeon, berating everyone and every institution.  I often wondered what he said about me behind my back.  Not that I would have been offended, because I know it would have been very funny, spot on, and I never doubted the affection we shared.  He berated everyone, including himself, because he worked and lived to a very high standard of competence and ethics.  He was incredibly generous and would go out of his way to help all his friends.  And he was extremely funny with a wonderful way with words.
Man, I'm going to miss him.
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