Darrel Krause, American Kawasaki History, History of Kawasaki, AKMC
American Kawasaki, Opal Krause, Karene Krause, Paul Collins

Darrel William Krause
You can 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 are welcome.

    Darrel 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 Mechanical Engineering.

 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 such as
Walt Fulton.

 Darrel administered 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 the Accessory' 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 the first use of Microfiche machines in the parts departments of dealerships.
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 Consultant
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 Derek.
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 & back
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 retail leather
stores in Laguna Beach, CA with Opal as manager/owner  (including LOVE Leather)
and also co-owned/managed AJA Enterprises (started by Harvey Aschenbrenner from
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 brought 
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 1978~1985. 

 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 national awards.

 He was a very loved member and elder at 'Lutheran Church of Our Savior' 
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 sources.

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.

We urge all to please support the fight against Cancer.

Last updated Sept 2014


Opal Krause, Kawasaki history, Rapid city, Kawasaki records, experimental motorcycles,
experimental snowmobiles, Kawasaki-to-me-baby, Sankyo Group, Taiwan, Hong Kong,
Laguna Beach, Dana Point, Edina, 1268 Anacapa way, Elco speedway, Village Tannery,
Z1 903cc, N100, Samurai 250, Avenger 350, Coyote, Jet Ski, H1, H2, Z2, S3, S2, S1,
Aloa 34, Clipper 26, Transpacific Marine, Transpac, Krause Studio, Groton, SD,
Aberdeen, SD, History of American Kawasaki, Krause Construction, Bill Krause,
Duane Krause, Kent Krause, Darrel Krause.