Hideo “Pops” Yoshimura founded “Yoshimura”, in 1955 in Japan. Yoshimura was trained as an airplane mechanic during the war. Pops knew how to modifying planes, cars, and all manner of other combustion engine powered vehicles, but motorcycles were his true love.
While working as an aircraft mechanic, Yoshimura developed a large and well-earned reputation for building power for motorcycles. Customers flocked to Yoshimura looking for a competitive edge and Yoshimura delivered it. The company was a great success, but Pops was much more ambitious.
Yoshimura had a goal of racing at the Daytona 200. In 1971 Pops added to Yoshimura Japan by opening Yoshimura Research and Development of America, Inc. in Los Angeles, CA.
Yoshimura began building engines, but selling sportbike exhaust pipes quickly became the primary focus of the business. An engine’s ability to make horsepower is largely determined by how quickly it can exhaust spent gasses. In the beginning, the first piece to be modified was the exhaust system.
In 1976, the first official AMA Superbike series was established and the first race was Daytona. The Daytona 200 was reserved for two-stroke 500’s and this was a great chance for Pops to showcase his magic.
Yoshimura initially focused its efforts with Kawasaki motorcycles and a racer named Wes Cooley. Wes had a unique style of riding. The 1976 Kawasaki KZ 1000 didn’t handle very well, but with Yoshimura’s modifications it had more than enough power, so Wes Cooley used a method of a two wheel power slide and powered his way out of corners. The Yoshimura team finished in 4th place that year.
In 1977, Yoshimura moved one step closer to victory with a third place finish. In 1978, Yoshimura switched from Kawasaki to Suzuki and the results were immediate. The new Suzukis made much more power and handling was much greater than Kawasaki. Steve McLaughlin won the Daytona Superbike race on a Yoshimura built Suzuki GS1000.
In 1979, Team Yoshimura racers Ron Pierce, Wes Cooley and Dave Emde finished in first, second and third at Daytona. This unbelievable win was the first time an entire race team swept the podium in an AMA Superbike race. From 1978 through 1981, Yoshimura and Suzuki won four straight Daytona Superbike races. This had never been done before and the legend continued to grow. Wes was successful in the series and won the 1979 and 1980 AMA Superbike titles.
Yoshimura’s innovative engine building methods and racing success quickly built a larger following. All of this was going on while the top Japanese manufacturers created lightweight, high-powered sport motorcycles. Yoshimura was in the right place at the right time. The company was growing at a rapid pace.
Yoshimura has invested millions of dollars to keep up with advancing exhaust technology. CNC cut-off saws cut pipe-work to specific lengths while multi-level CNC tube benders shape pipes to exacting tolerances. Yoshimura also uses computer-controlled robot welding machines for accuracy.
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