Vale Kent Youlden 1952-2023
Thursday 29th June, 2023 - 9:17am
Kent ‘The Bear’ Youlden has died after a long battle with dementia, aged 72.
A lifetime employee at Ford as a chassis development engineer, he also had a long motorsport career with numerous victories in rallycross, rallies and proved to be one of the best Sport Sedan and Production Car drivers of his era.
“He was ruthless in a race car and a gentleman outside of it,” said his son Luke. “He was a big influence on my career and got to see me win at Bathurst in 2017.
“When we [with David Reynolds] won, it took a long time for me to get back to the car where my phone was and the emotional voicemail he left will stay with me forever. He was a rock, stable and so dependable. Growing up, if I needed a lift from three hours away, he would be there.
“He would do anything for anyone, he was a genuine nice guy.”
Kent started competition in selected rallycross events in 1970 in an FC Holden and after two years, tried his hand at rallying with seven championship event victories in a Mitsubishi Colt.
After 1974, he turned to road racing in a Holden LJ Torana that he purchased from Fernando D’Alberto (Tony D’Alberto’s uncle). He raced it for three years and won many races, including a couple of Six Cylinder Sports Sedan Championships.
An expanding family and a mortgage took priority for a period before, but while working with Ford, Kent was able to procure TE Cortina body shell. He turned it into a Sports Sedan with powered by an F5000 engine and raced it from 1978 to 1981.
In 1986-87 he competed with his brother Brett in a Holden VK Commodore in Production Cars and the Commodore Classic Series. In 1990, the brothers took out the 1990 Yokohama Winton 300 by two laps in their Ford EA Falcon.
Kent won the 1990 Australian Production Car Championship and went back-to-back by winning the title again in 1991 with factory backing in EA and EB Falcons.
Three years earlier, Kent had seen that changes in the championship were on the horizon and, with a prototype EA, raced against the then-front running Mitsubishi Starions and Mazda RX-7s. It was the catalyst for a development program that reaped the championship titles when the series became a six-cylinder Ford verses Holden championship.
The brothers teamed with Ken Douglas to finish second outright at the 1991 James Hardie 12 Hour in a Ford Laser TX-3 Turbo 4WD. Two years later Kent and Brett, together with Chris Muscat, were fifth outright in the Bathurst once-around-the-clock event in a Falcon.
After his Production Car career, Kent turned his hand to Historic Touring Cars and won 11 races from 13 starts in a Holden HQ Monaro 350 and was second in the other two.
Kent had numerous great races with many victories, sometimes against superior machinery. He was also under the watchful eye of touring car drivers Dick Johnson and Colin Bond. He even tested a Dick Johnson Racing Ford Sierra at Mallala. He drove only eight laps and while mindful of bending Dick’s championship contender, was less than two seconds of the qualifying benchmark.
After he left Ford in 2007 and having already retired from racing, Kent worked in high performance driver training with Kevin Flynn’s Driver Dynamics and the John Bowe Driving School. He was part of a Ford new model launch in South Africa and spent several years travelling overseas before the illness set in.
He will be remembered as icon of the sport. Speedcafe extends its deepest condolences to wife Yvonne, children Rebecca, Luke, James and Clint, brothers Brett and Ray, and his extended family and friends in and out of his motorsport career.
There will be a celebration of his life with some of the great stories and memories on Friday June 30 at Craigieburn Sporting Club from 14:00.