The Repsol rider continues to improve from his vision problems though he is not yet fully recovered. Read more.
One thing that sets AMA Superbike apart from many racing series over the years is the fact that the class was not a marketing idea or a championship that was artificially forced upon the fans and manufacturers. Superbike racing sprang up naturally from the grassroots level and had such momentum by the early 1980s that it became the de facto premier class of American professional road racing, although it wasn’t officially recognized as so until 1986.
Just about every leading road racer in America since the late 1970s came through the AMA Superbike ranks. Kenny Roberts (both Senior and Junior), Randy Mamola and John Hopkins are the only notable exceptions. Even riders like Rich Oliver, John Kocinski and Jimmy Filice, all more closely associated with 250GP racing in this country, all raced AMA Superbike during their careers.
Arguments as to the greatest AMA Superbike rider of all time are numerous. Some say Eddie Lawson, who had the highest winning percentage of any rider in the history of the series (he won nearly half the races he entered) and went on to four Grand Prix World Championships. Those who point to Lawson often point not only to prime years of his remarkable AMA Superbike career in the early 1980s, but his triumphant one-off returns to the series in the 1986 and 1993 in the Daytona 200. Lawson’s last-lap duel with Scott Russell in the 1993 Daytona 200 was one of the most riveting AMA Superbike races of all-time.
Others point to Wayne Rainey and Kevin Schwantz, who brought the series its most intense rivalry during the memorable 1987 series before going on to world titles. Some say Fred Merkel, who dominated in the mid-1980s. Merkel was the first rider to 20 AMA Superbike wins and held the record for the most wins for 12 years. His 1984 record of 10 wins in a single season was not eclipsed for 21 years! Merkel then went on to win two World Superbike Championships for good measure.
Doug Polen, Doug Chandler, Scott Russell, Miguel Duhamel, Nicky Hayden and Ben Spies all have records that one could make a good argument for them being the best. Polen could have thrown up gaudy numbers, but in his prime chose to go after the money and went to Japan for a couple of seasons (winning that country’s championship) before returning and dominating on a Ferracci Ducati to the extent that rules were changed mid-season to try to slow him down. Chandler had two distinct AMA Superbike eras, pre and post-GP career, and won titles on either side, beating Miguel Duhamel in an epic battle that came down to the final event in 1996. Scott Russell was amazing during the 1991 and ’92 seasons and of course was nearly unbeatable at Daytona during the 1990s. Duhamel had a stunning 1995 campaign, winning six straight a record that would hold for 13 years. Hayden was the youngest ever to win the title and promptly left for MotoGP. Spies threw down outstanding numbers while battling Mat Mladin. Perhaps one of the most jaw-dropping stats in the history of AMA Superbike was the fact that Spies finished on the podium in 92 percent of the times he raced, this in addition to setting the record for the longest winning streak ever.
Regardless of how you slice it though, it is very hard to deny that Australian Mat Mladin is indeed the best AMA Superbike racer in history. Mladin’s numbers are simply awesome. The most championships (double that of any other rider), most wins, most poles, the first, second and third most wins in a single season. Mladin accomplished all this during a time when there was the highest amount of factory participation in series history.
Some argue Mladin ran up the score in the AMA by never making the jump to MotoGP, but keep in mind he tallied these amazing numbers against riders like Doug Chandler, countryman Anthony Gobert, John Kocinski, Neil Hodgson, Miguel Duhamel, Nicky Hayden and Ben Spies, not to mention a slew of other talented factory riders like the Bostrom brothers Eric and Ben, Jamie Hacking, Jake Zemke and Aaron Yates. He faced the best.
Mladin raced against and defeated much deeper Superbike fields than Lawson, Rainey or Schwantz dreamed of – considerably stronger than Merkel, Polen and the rest.
The history of AMA Superbike racing is rich with great races, teams and riders, but Mladin stands alone as the best AMA Superbike rider of all time.
LAS VEGAS, Nev. — The American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) welcomed a full house of AMA champions and their families, friends and fans to the Red Rock Casino, Resort and Spa in Las Vegas, Nev., on Sunday, Nov. 20, for the AMA Visa Card from Capital One Racing Championship Banquet. The banquet celebrated racers’ championship seasons and awarded a number of special awards that acknowledge the standout performances of top competitors.
Speaking at the banquet, Stan Simpson, the chairman of the AMA’s Board of Directors, thanked all AMA racers for their contribution to making motorcycle racing the exciting sport it has become.
“On behalf of the board of directors of the American Motorcyclist Association, our AMA staff, and each and every AMA member, I congratulate all of you for your successful seasons,” Simpson said, addressing the crowd. “Your skill and determination have earned you a place among this elite group of champions and taken you to the top of amateur racing. The AMA has its roots in amateur motorcycle racing. But not only are you our past, you also represent the future of motorcycling. You are the backbone of the AMA.”
Hundreds of top competitors, in disciplines ranging from land-speed racing to motocross to woods racing and everything in between, received their national championship trophies and No. 1 plates at the banquet. Special awards included AMA Athlete of the Year honors.
The AMA’s highest competitive honor, the AMA Athlete of the Year, has evolved for 2011. The award now includes two categories of outstanding AMA racers. One award recognizes an athlete who stands atop an AMA National Championship Series, and another honors one of the amateur racers who has proven his mettle at an AMA Grand Championship event.
The AMA National Championship Athlete of the Year award was won by Russell Bobbitt, the overall champion of the 2011 AMA Racing Rekluse National Enduro Championship Series, presented by Moose Racing. Bobbitt won four rounds of the 10-round series. Notably, the FMF/KTM rider overcame a mid-season injury to battle back in the highly competitive series and ultimately dominate the final round in a must-win scenario to capture the title over his teammate and defending National Enduro Champion Charlie Mullins.
“I really didn’t think I was going to get this at all,” Bobbitt said. “I’m kind of blown away right now. With all the other nominees — Kurt Caselli, Taddy (Blazusiak), Charlie (Mullins) and (Pat) Smage — all those guys are really good. So many of them are on KTMs, and I just think it’s amazing what everyone’s accomplished. It was a great year for me. I’m really excited about this, but I want to congratulate all the other riders for their stellar years. I’m looking forward to next year. I know we have a great team behind us.”
Daniel Bromley won the AMA Grand Championship Athlete of the Year Award. The Pennsylvania dirt-tracker has earned 36 AMA amateur national championships in his career. In 2011, his last season as an amateur, Bromley won the AMA Dirt Track Horizon Award; the 250cc Modified Two-Stroke, 250cc DTX Grand Championships; the 250cc DTX Short-Track, 250cc DTX TT, 250cc Modified Two-Stroke Short-Track, 250cc Modified Two-Stroke TT, and 251cc-500cc DTX TT National Championships. He also competed in the AMA Racing Winter Dirt Track Championship Series where he won the 250cc DTX championship.
“I’m pretty speechless. It’s a pretty big honor,” said Bromley, who competes on KTM motorcycles with his older brother, Joseph. “Having a brother to race and compete with is really helpful because he’s out there helping me on the track, and I’m helping him. His lines are usually better than mine, so that helps. Having someone there supporting you on the track and off the track is really important. My goals for 2012 are to hit Daytona and most of the short-track and TTs. I want to make the (AMA Pro Racing) Pro Single mains because that’s where it begins.”
The AMA ATV Athlete of the Year Award was won by the most dominant rider in the history of XC2 Pro-Am class competition in the Can-Am Grand National Cross Country Series: Yamaha rider Walker Fowler. Fowler, of Rogers, Ohio, won every round of the off-road racing series against the fastest ATV riders in the country.
“It was just a crazy year for sure — a dream season,” Fowler said. “I don’t think I’ll ever be able to do it again. It’s every racer’s dream to be able to do something that no one else can. But there are a lot more goals in front of me that are the same thing, and that’s what keeps us racers going. I just want to thank the AMA for giving us all these series to compete in and letting us go out and do what we do.”
The Can-Am Grand National Cross Country Series also delivered the AMA Female Rider of the Year: KTM’s Maria Forsberg, from Brier, Wash. Forsberg had a phenomenal year in the GNCC series, where she won 11 of 13 races in the Women’s class.
AMA Veteran/Senior Rider of the Year was Tim Shephard. Shephard, of Sugar Grove, Ohio, was the AMA Senior Off-Road Vintage Grand Champion at the AMA Racing Vintage Grand Championships.
Austin Lee, the Super Mini National Champion from the AMA Racing East Hare Scrambles Championship Series, was the AMA Racing Youth Rider of the Year. Lee, from Bedford, Ind., won three rounds of the 10-round series.
The AMA Sportsman of the Year was presented to Claudia Danielewicz of Oxford, Mich. Danielewicz has been instrumental in advancing racing opportunities for women in AMA-sanctioned off-road competition.
“Claudia Danielewicz has been an AMA member and racer for more than 10 years, and she has helped change the face of female competition in off-road racing forever,” said AMA Director of Racing Joe Bromley. “Claudia has been instrumental in helping to get more female riders active in AMA Racing. She has helped promoters align class structures so that we have a girls youth class, as well as a ranking system to move them up through the women’s classes. She is the 2011 AMA Sportsman of the Year.”
Other special awards included:
AMA Racing Media Award
Shan Moore, off-road photographer and reporter
Motocross Organizer of the Year
Feld Motor Sports, AMA Arenacross
Off-Road Organizer of the Year
Source Interlink Media, GEICO AMA EnduroCross Championship
Track Racing Organizer of the Year
Steve Nace Racing, Dirt Track
ATV Organizer of the Year
Racer Productions, Can-Am Grand National Cross Country Series
Recreational Road Riding Organizer of the Year
Sound Rider, Sportbike, Dual-Sport, Touring, Scooter Rallies
Recreational Off-Road Organizer of the Year
Dirty Dabbers, Great Adventure Dual Sport
Club of the Year
Cheaha Trail Riders
AMA Legends & Champions Weekend
The AMA Legends & Champions Weekend was a three-day celebration of motorcycling’s greats held at Las Vegas’ Red Rock Nov. 18-20. In addition to the AMA Visa Card Racing Championship Banquet, the celebration included the AMA Visa Card Motorcycle Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, presented by KTM, and the annual Motorcycle Hall of Fame Dave Mungenast Memorial Concours d’Elegance bike show, which featured some of the country’s most-stunning original and immaculately restored classic motorcycles.
About the American Motorcyclist Association
Since 1924, the AMA has protected the future of motorcycling and promoted the motorcycle lifestyle. AMA members come from all walks of life, and they navigate many different routes on their journey to the same destination: freedom on two wheels. As the world’s largest motorcycling rights organization, the AMA advocates for motorcyclists’ interests in the halls of local, state and federal government, the committees of international governing organizations, and the court of public opinion. Through member clubs, promoters and partners, the AMA sanctions more motorsports competition and motorcycle recreational events than any other organization in the world. AMA members receive money-saving discounts from dozens of well-known suppliers of motorcycle services, gear and apparel, bike rental, transport, hotel stays and more. Through its support of the Motorcycle Hall of Fame, the AMA preserves the heritage of motorcycling for future generations. For more information, please visit AmericanMotorcyclist.com.
SONOMA, Calif. (Nov. 22, 2011) – Infineon Raceway distributed nearly 10,000 pounds of non-perishable food items to Friends in Sonoma Helping (FISH), St. Vincent de Paul Sonoma and the Redwood Empire Food Bank in Santa Rosa on Monday following the raceway’s 11th annual Thanksgiving Food Drive.
In total, the raceway distributed 9,657 pounds of food, bringing the 11-year total to more than 37,500 pounds of non-perishable food items delivered to area food banks.
“With so many people out of work, we’re getting more and more calls for food,” said Vicki Schnurpfeil, FISH volunteer coordinator. “This donation will help us get through the holidays and feed those who need it most.”
FISH (www.friendsinsonomahelping.org) has been helping Sonoma Valley residents in times of need since 1970 and provides not only food, but clothing, transportation and emergency rental assistance to Sonoma Valley residents in need.
The Redwood Empire Food Bank’s service has grown to meet the rising need for food assistance and has expanded to focus on providing as much healthy food as possible. The Food Bank, which opened in 1987 and assists more than 78,000 Sonoma County residents each month, also includes nutrition education as an integral part of many of its programs.
“The raceway delivered 2,920 pounds of food today, which will allow us to distribute 2,300 meals and make a huge difference this year,” said Billy Bartz, food drive and events coordinator at the Redwood Empire Food Bank.
“We are so grateful to Infineon for the donation,” said Diane Klauber of the St. Francis Solano Parish in Sonoma, which houses the St. Vincent de Paul food pantry. “We have a line of people out the door already to receive food, and this made the difference between these people having food or not.”
Infineon Raceway was not alone in its efforts. It was joined in the food drive by Innerstave; Pedroncelli Motorsports; Destination RKA in Windsor; Rodoni and Sons Trucking; and support from the STP Wednesday Night Drags and Sonoma Drift powered by NOS programs. Sonoma Gourmet of Cotati also made a generous donation of gourmet food items.
For more information about Infineon Raceway community events, call 800-870-RACE (7223) or visit www.infineonraceway.com.
This week’s Cycle News has an interview with Grand National team owner George Mack and a look back with 1980s motocross star Scott Burnworth. Click on the photos to go to the features.