on the road. That meant Harth lost the race and
Suzuki money by default.
Harth was steamed, but that circumstance alone
wasn’t what set him off. What tripped his fuse was
when his girlfriend, a pretty German he’d met while
racing in Macau, approached Ulrich to find out
why his team had protested her boyfriend. Ulrich
finally frustrated with the language barrier said “He
cheated!” With that the girlfriend went back and
told Mike what had happened.
When Harth heard that Ulrich had called him a
cheater, that was it. Blood was in his eyes as he
walked down pit lane towards Ulrich. As Harth approached he yelled to Ulrich, “Prepared to defend
yourself you four-eyed mother#@$%&,” and he laid
into Ulrich grabbing him around the neck, knocking him back over the pit wall and onto a bike stand.
A group of bystanders grabbed Harth to hold him
back and it took every one of them to keep him
from continuing his assault.
In spite of his volatile personality, no one could
stay mad at Harth for long. He always had a crew
of friends who helped him and his bright smile apparently melted girl’s hearts.
Harth’s victory in the Daytona 750 Supersport
in 1992 was unexpected. He’d paid $600 for a
junkyard Kawasaki ZX-7R, rebuilt the bike himself,
came to Daytona and scored the biggest win of his
career. But shortly after his triumph things began
going downhill. Less than two months later he suffered a serious head injury at Charlotte when the
front tire blew on the Dutchman Racing Suzuki during the closing stages of the EBC Endurance race,
sending him into the outside wall of NASCAR turn
two at 120 mph. Remarkably, in spite of his head injury, Harth made a rapid recovery and only a week
after the accident he checked himself out of the
hospital. But things weren’t right. Harth had excruciating headaches and neck pain and it was only
later Harth found that he’d also broken his neck in
the crash and it went undiagnosed.
Harth continued to race after the Charlotte
crash, but he was in constant pain. In the early
MIke Harth helped Team Suzuki Endurance win a
WERA title in 1987.
2000s Harth, now in his early 40s, was at Daytona racing again when a rider crashed in front
of him leaving him nowhere to go. This time he
suffered more serious injuries, landing him in the
hospital for three months. That was it for Harth.
He came back and did a few local club races for
fun, but his days of serious racing was over.
Harth’s body had taken so much abuse that
according to his son Dustin, he was close to be-
ing disabled because of pain. The number of pills
progressively increased over the years as he tried
to deal with the aches of his past injuries. “His
body was starting to shut down unless he had
some form of pain relief,” Dustin recalls. “And,
of course, everyday average pain relief could not
begin to touch it. It unfortunately seemed to get
the best of him the last couple of years.”
One night in early January 2004, Mike and
his brother Joe were at a bar watching a football
game. He came home around midnight, said hel-
lo to his wife Jennifer and ate a bowl of cereal.
Later Jennifer woke up and went into the kitchen
to discover Mike’s lifeless body on the floor. No
one knew for sure what caused his death. Ac-
cording to Dustin, it was likely a lethal combina-
tion of alcohol and pain medication.
As WERA owner Evelyne Clark aptly put it,
“Mike was his own man. When he smiled he
beamed. He was an awesome rider and I’m happy to have known him when he was with us. His
legacy lives on with those who knew him.” CN