|by Frank Viola||23 January 2017|
I first met Marlene and Les Dean in 1986. They had a wonderful and immediate impact on me.
Marlene was a graceful and wonderfully competitive racer. She even took the time to have a chat with me to teach me a little about the finer arts of the sport. When I made a mistake or two, she came over and gave me some advice on how to react better in some situations.
Above: A period pic of Marlene Dean and her famous pink Twin (pic via Frank Viola)
”Karts always spin to the outside of the track, so keep to the inside lane”. That was a great piece of advice, especially for the tight first corner at the old Wundowie Kart track. “Keep your foot down into that sweeper” or “Make sure the Kart is set up better, so that you can..."
The great John Karavas was working for Les Dean’s “Deantune” in those days and he told me about them and how honoured he was to be working for Les and Marlene Dean. I visited him once or twice at the Kewdale Kart business which used to be located on Abernathy Road.
Many people on the eastern seaboard expressed sadness on hearing about her illness. Each one of them expressed admiration of her and Les. They have many great recollections of their experiences with them at race meetings all over the country.
Marlene and Les have been involved in our sport since the very early 1960’s.
Marlene won National and State Championships in several divisions. She was the first West Australian female driver to win a National Championship back in the very early days of the sport.
Marlene is the only woman to be inducted into the karting hall of fame and we here in Western Australia consider her the “Godmother of Karting”.
To quote a few comments made on public media, Marlene is regarded as a legend of Karting, not just the “Queen of Karts”, but an “unquestionable legend of the sport, she brought a purity and touch of class to everything she did, raced wheel to wheel with the best and won more than once.” - Andrew O’Sullivan
Above & Below: Marlene at Vintage meetings (pics via Frank Viola)
She not only raced, but she took the time to coach and help drivers in their attempts to drive to higher standards and to assist them to race “truer to the code of Karting”.
Matt Morton can remember her "sitting down and taking the time to chat to his little nieces about their racing when they started, to just offer them support more than anything”.
Les pulled me aside one evening at a recent Vintage Meeting at the Hurricane Go Kart Club and told me of the night Terry Fullerton presented Marlene with an award. The great man has great memories of his time with them at overseas events. He flew to Melbourne recently to present Marlene a Lifetime Achievement Award. Les is so proud of his beautiful wife.
Jason Youd recalls the look on Les' face as she would pound that 200 Open around at a recent Vintage Meeting:
"It wasn't just a look of satisfaction for the 2 great motors and kart he had built her. It was more the comment... 'look at her go, that's my wife and I’m damned proud of her' ."
"She has left us for the race track in the sky. God help you all when she winds that Pink Twin up down the straight. You have no chance of beating her” - Jason Youd.
Rest in Peace Marlene Dean. You will be sadly missed.