Darrel Krause, American Kawasaki History, History of Kawasaki,
Kawasaki, Opal Krause, Karene Krause, Paul Collins
Darrel William Krause
click on the word links below to see related pictures.
This bio is a bit slanted
towards the events I found most interesting,
and I do not know all the
stories or facts, so your comments
was born to William & Verna Krause, a South Dakota farm family in 1938.
This was no ordinary farm
family, however. The Krause farm was featured
(with photos) in newspapers
more than once for some 'futuristic' improvements
and inventions the family
had added to their small farm & residence.
William Sr. later switched
to home building (now 'Krause Construction' in FL)
and built a large number of
homes and apartments in eastern South Dakota,
After a brief stint
in the army
reserves, Darrel married classmate Opal and they
started a Photography
studio in Redfield, SD. Later, while managing the
park concessions of Pactola Lake (in the Black Hills) Darrel attended the
South Dakota School of Mines
& Technology with his brother Bill Krause Jr.
in 1964~1965, Majoring in
Darrel partnered in
the first Kawasaki/Suzuki dealership in Omaha, but was
soon hired directly by the
fledgling 'American Kawasaki motors Corp.' as one of
their very first corporate
employees in the states, under the direction of
Yoji "George" Hamawaki.
One of the earliest things Darrel did for them
was to commission a US
marketing plan for Kawasaki (Their first? 1966).
Darrel took some of
their early 250cc models to Bonneville the next year and set
2 AMA world speed
records himself in 1967. I believe these were likely
Kawasaki's first US motorcycle
records set as an official company effort.
Darrel also oversaw
Kawasaki's earliest official road racing team in the US.
At the earliest races Bill Bastian helped tune the bikes and great riders
stateside testing of
the first 500cc H1 60 hp two-stroke triple.
The test rider was Tony Nicosia,
mid-way in his career to becoming a legend in racing.
Code-named N100 (1968), it
was the 'World's Fastest(quickest) production motorcycle.
The success of the H1
encouraged an entire line of 'triples' that, along with the
1972 903cc Z1, firmly
established Kawasaki in the American marketplace to stay.
Darrel helped start
their US Engine Division in Minnesota, which supplied nearly all
of the engines for
major snowmobile manufacturer 'Arctic Cat' for several years,
and served as an R&D
facility to develop other applications for ATVs, generators,
outboards, and even a
low-cost snowmobile-engined race car, known on the internet
now as the Kawasaki Race Car. The
prototype of only about 68hp could
actually keep up with
conventional V8-powered cars on short oval tracks and came
within a hundredth of a second of the unlimited track record at Elco Speedway.
Most of these projects were
executed by race car builder Harvey Aschenbrenner
Darrel also started
Division in California, which produced impressive
revenues for Kawasaki
in just it's first couple
years. During this time Darrel had a
part in introducing
use of Microfiche machines in the parts departments of
This may have been their
first use in the industry.
The accessory division
played a role in the development of the original Jet Ski, (1973)
which was the
first mass-produced craft of it's kind. It
sparked the huge
'Personal Water Craft'
industry as we know it today.
He was at one time,
one of only a couple of westerners trusted to be
on the otherwise
all-Japanese board of directors of American Kawasaki.
This trust was earned even
before he was employed by them, when Darrel
sacrificed his own early
business prospects with the Omaha importer/dealer
to prevent Kawasaki from
being stiffed for the balance of funds due on the bikes.
As an engineering major and proving to them to be business-minded, someone
at Kawasaki offered him a
job. In this fashion, Darrel became one of the first few
Americans hired by American
Kawasaki Motors Corp. to help build their presence
in the US, particularly in
the west and Midwest.
At this early point in
AKMC's history, Darrel often delt with a Marketing
named Paul Collins. Mr
Collins wife worked as a secretary for Actress Ann Margaret.
Paul had beautiful daughters. One many people recognize as Actress-Model Bo
Paul also became instrumental in the success of Hobie Alter (Hobie Cat Catamarans).
Eventually after several
years of criss-crossing the Pacific to the far east
on behalf of AKMC, Darrel decided
to leave Kawasaki in 1975 to spend more time
with his wife Opal and their
children Karene & Jeff.
Darrel fostered many
enterprises ranging from commercial importing, 2
stores in Laguna Beach, CA
with Opal as manager/owner (including LOVE Leather)
and also co-owned/managed
AJA Enterprises (started by Harvey Aschenbrenner
Kawasaki days) Harvey
designed and hand-built built the above Kawasaki Race Car.
Darrel was an avid sailor;
starting with day-sailers in Minnesota. He
his passion for it with him
to California where his family, friends and his
employees enjoyed several
trips with him and Opal as hosts to Catalina Island.
They lived aboard their Transpac 49' custom ketch 'Encore' from
Once on shore again in
Santa Maria (1986), Darrel dabbled as home loan agent
just to 'pay the bills'
while working on a
product venture, but that quickly snowballed
into becoming manager of a
startup office for American Residential Mortgage Corp.
(Now Chase/JP Morgan).
Chase/JP Morgan has hundreds of mortgage offices, but
true to Darrel's talents his
little Santa Maria office soon won many
He was a very loved member and elder at 'Lutheran Church of Our
In Santa Maria, CA. Darrel
constructed and hosted their first web site as well.
Darrel rarely sought
recognition for the things he has accomplished.
To the extent that I have had to piece together most of this from other
It was fun seeing how people
would discover and begin to admire Darrel for
his intelligence, kindness
and service, without ever knowing his past credits.
The simplest way I can
describe Darrel was that he willingly served
as both an 'anchor' and
'compass' for so many, many people.
Darrel will be very dearly
missed, but always remembered.
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Last updated Sept 2014