Interviews with Indiana motorcycle racing pioneers during the Indiana Motorcycle Expo at the Indiana State Fairgrounds on Feb. 18, 2017
PICKERINGTON, Ohio — The American Motorcyclist Association is pleased to announce the recipients of its 2017 AMA Awards. The individuals and organizations selected by the AMA Board of Directors have made outstanding contributions to the motorcycling community and their efforts support the AMA mission to promote the motorcycle lifestyle and protect the future of motorcycling.
The AMA Dud Perkins Lifetime Achievement Award is the most prestigious of the awards and is presented for 2017 to John Ulrich of Lake Elsinore, Calif. Ulrich, a competitive road racer, team owner and publisher, was elected to the AMA Board of Directors in 2005 and served with distinction until 2015. At the conclusion of Ulrich’s term, AMA Chair McNally-Bradshaw said, “Few grasp the intricacies of both professional and amateur road racing as John, and his contributions to the board have been extensive and long-lasting.”
Other 2017 award recipients include:
- AMA Outstanding Road Rider Award: Denny “Budman” Kobza Jr., Palo Alto, Calif.
- AMA Outstanding Off-Road Rider Award: Russ Ehnes, Great Falls, Mont.
- AMA Bessie Stringfield Award: Michelle Kumbier, Colgate, Wisc.
- AMA Hazel Kolb Brighter Image Award: Backcountry Discovery Routes, Seattle
- Friend of the AMA Award: Perry King, Kool, Calif.; Louisville Vintage Motorworks, Louisville, Ky.; Nitro Circus, San Clemente, Calif.; Kelly Inman, Huntington Beach, Calif.; David O. DeWitt, Fort Wayne, Ind.
AMA Dud Perkins Lifetime Achievement Award
In addition to his many years of service as an AMA board member, Ulrich has dedicated his life to road racing. He first competed in 1973 and has won races in five decades, including the 1983 and 1984 WERA National Endurance Championships and the 1996 WERA National Challenge Series 125cc Grand Prix Championship.
Ulrich also co-founded Team Hammer in 1980. Team Hammer has won numerous amateur and professional championships to become one of the most successful road racing teams in the United States.
In addition, Ulrich is the founder and publisher of Roadracing World magazine and the Roadracing World Action Fund, a nonprofit that advocates and promotes the use of soft barriers to prevent racetrack injuries and provides education on the value of adequate pre-race practice, rider training, and proper racetrack preparation.
“In 1969 I bought my first motorcycle, loved riding it, and haven’t looked back,” Ulrich said. “Since then I’ve made a lot of lifelong friends and had a lot of fun riding and racing, and I am thankful for the experiences I have had. It’s been a wild ride!”
Of his work to improve the safety conditions at roadracing tracks, Ulrich said: “I looked around one day and realized that the typical response to expressing safety concerns just wasn’t good enough. We did what race officials and naysayers said could not be done, and it became the not-for-profit Roadracing World Action Fund, raising well over $1.5 million for soft barriers deployed at roadracing events across the nation. I am really proud of that.”
Ulrich’s commitment to motorcycling includes his family and his business.
“I am also proud of what my family and kids and I have done in the motorcycle business, especially Roadracing World & Motorcycle Technology, now in its 27th year of publication; of roadracingworld.com; and of the success of Team Hammer, racing and winning for 37 consecutive seasons.”
AMA Outstanding Road Rider Award
The AMA Outstanding Road Rider Award is presented annually to recognize those who have contributed to the promotion of the motorcycle lifestyle and the protection of on-highway motorcycling.
The recipient of the 2017 award, Denny Kobza, has played a pivotal role in grassroots advocacy in California. Most recently, he was instrumental in the passing of the state’s lane-splitting bill. He is also a member of Vision Zero San Francisco, the first motorcyclist to be appointed to the city’s Vision Zero committee. Kobza serves on the California Motorcycle Safety Committee and the California Motorcyclist Safety Program advisory committee.
In addition, Kobza is the owner and moderator of the Bay Area Riders Forum, an Internet-based community of tens of thousands of registered members who exchange information and opinions on all things motorcycling.
“I am actually both shocked and stoked to receive this award from the AMA,” Kobza said. “This  was a big year for motorcyclists in California, and I am proud of BARF’s influence on these actions. Working with the state in the committees I am on, and with the AMA and Assemblymember Quirk on A.B.51, the lane splitting bill, was extremely satisfying and successful. Thanks very much to the AMA board for this recognition and to all the riders who supported the efforts made by BARF. It is really all you folks who deserve the kudos for allowing us to be an influence on our motorcycle lifestyle.”
AMA Outstanding Off-Road Rider Award
The AMA Outstanding Off-Road Rider Award highlights the achievements of those who have contributed to the promotion of the motorcycle lifestyle and the protection of off-highway motorcycling.
For 2017, recipient Russ Ehnes is being recognized for his nearly 20 years as the executive director of the National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council, a nonprofit organization that develops and provides programs, materials and information to individuals, clubs, associations and agencies to further a positive future for responsible OHV recreation.
Ehnes is also a dedicated OHV advocate in Montana as a charter member and officer of the Great Falls Trail Bike Riders Association and helped launch the Montana Trail Vehicle Riders Association. He continues to play active roles in both organizations.
“I am truly honored to receive this award from the AMA,” Ehnes said. “I’ve worked hard to promote safe, responsible OHV recreation, so we and our families can continue to ride now and in the future. I appreciate the recognition, but want to be sure everyone knows that it’s been a team effort and wouldn’t get done without the hard work and support of great partners and the people around me.”
AMA Bessie Stringfield Award
The AMA Bessie Stringfield Award recognizes efforts to introduce motorcycling to new or underserved markets, in memory of the accomplishments of AMA Motorcycle Hall of Famer Bessie Stringfield.
The 2017 award recipient, Michelle Kumbier, has been instrumental in leading the transformation of Harley-Davidson’s product development process through her role as senior vice president of motorcycle operations. In so doing, she has helped the company become a leader in bringing new products to new markets, with a focus on women and the next generation of riders.
Kumbier also is dedicated to activities outside of her work, including leadership for United Way activities and its Women’s Business Resources Employee Group, and she received a Safety-Training-Evaluation-Process, or STEP, award in 2014.
“I am honored to be awarded the Bessie Stringfield Award by the AMA,” Kumbier said. “Bessie Stringfield was a trail blazer and a woman who never let adversity stand in the way of her dreams, and I am proud that this recognition pays tribute to her legacy. Like Bessie, I have a passion for the sport and Harley-Davidson motorcycles, and, as a woman in the industry, I feel it’s important to be a role model for other women, so they can see what’s possible.”
AMA Hazel Kolb Brighter Image Award
Backcountry Discovery Routes, recipient of the 2017 AMA Hazel Kolb Brighter Image Award, is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to establish and preserve off-highway routes for dual-sport and adventure motorcycle travel. In so doing, BDR has generated significant positive publicity for motorcycling, honoring the award’s namesake, Hall of Famer Hazel Kolb.
The organization works with the U.S. Forest Service, land managers and other public land agencies to keep trails and remote roads open for motorcycling through a combination of education, advocacy and the promotion of responsible motorcycle travel.
“The BDR team, including Director of Operations Inna Thorn and Director of Route Development Rob Watt, is honored to receive the Hazel Kolb Brighter Image Award,” said Paul Guillien, president of Backcountry Discovery Routes. “We know the AMA does most of the heavy lifting to protect the interest of us motorcyclists, so we’re over the moon to be recognized by them for doing our small part to show the brighter side of motorcycling. We are humbled by the success our small nonprofit organization has achieved over the last few years pursuing its mission to create and preserve off-highway riding opportunities for dual-sport and adventure motorcycles.”
Friend of the AMA Award
The AMA Board of Directors selected five recipients for recognition in 2017: Perry King, Louisville Vintage Motorworks, Nitro Circus, Kelly Inman and David O. DeWitt.
Within the motorcycling community, few are more passionate about riding than Perry King. A well-known actor of stage, screen and television for more than 40 years, King is a longtime AMA member and enthusiast. For years, King has given his time and talent to both the AMA and the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame. He is a past member of the AMA Board of Directors and has also provided voiceover for numerous AMA public service announcements.
“I’ve received a lot of awards over the years, but this one means more to me than all the others put together – I’m not exaggerating!” King said. “I am so honored to receive it, and it’s because I have always considered the AMA my friend and the friend of every motorcyclist out there, member or not. Thank you again for this thrilling news.”
Louisville Vintage Motorworks is an open community of self-described gear-heads and enthusiasts. Established in 2008, the group has become a broad-based collection of riders driven simply by participation. Its followers are part of the nationwide, organic motorcycle movement that loves to modify older, less expensive motorcycles that become a visual statement for the builder.
“Being recognized by the American Motorcyclist Association with the 2017 Friend of the AMA Award is a tremendous honor and very humbling, given the vast amount of work the AMA does to benefit and advocate for all motorcyclists,” said Andrew “The Captain” Raitz. “Since its inception, Louisville Vintage Motorworks has been a tight-knit community of people sharing a healthy passion for motorcycles spanning all manufacturers and riding disciplines, from building to racing to riding and all things vintage and motorized. On behalf of all LouVin members, we would like to give the AMA our heartfelt appreciation and gratitude both for their work and their recognition of our group.”
Nitro Circus has become one of the most popular displays of riding skill anywhere in the world, showcasing the thrill of motorcycling to riders and nonriders of all ages in an exciting, yet safe, environment. It arose from humble beginnings in 2003, with co-founders Jeremy Rawle, Gregg Godfrey and action sports superstar Travis Pastrana producing DVDs from a garage in Utah.
“It’s an honor to be recognized by the organization that helped spark our desire to ride,” Pastrana said. “Most of the riders in Nitro Circus got their start racing with the AMA. Since the first time my parents got me on a bike when I was 4 years old, riding has been my greatest passion. Over the years, I’ve found other people who share that passion for riding and, collectively, we are the Nitro Circus. Our priority is to show the world the excitement of motorcycles and our way of life through innovation and safety.”
Kelly Inman is a longtime promoter of speedway racing who is equally avid in his support of the AMA and its mission. His company, Industry Racing, won the 2014 AMA Track Racing Organizer of the Year. Inman recognizes that the sport needs new, young talent to survive and has done an exemplary job putting together races for the younger riders.
“It is quite an honor to be recognized, and given the ‘Friend of AMA Award,'” Inman said. “I graciously accept the award, and need to say that this award represents my whole team at Industry Racing/Speedway at the Grand, and their commitment to help make AMA speedway so great. I have always had a great working relationship with the AMA and am proud to be affiliated with them in the promotion of world class speedway motorcycle racing. Thank you for another great award from AMA, I am truly proud.”
AMA Charter Life Member David. O. “Skip” DeWitt joined the AMA in 1962 and has worked tirelessly in his AMA-chartered club, Old Fort Motorcycle Club of Columbia City, Ind., to promote responsible riding. Now 86, he looks back with fondness on the many people who touched his life as a motorcyclist.
“I’ve dedicated myself to the AMA most of my life,” DeWitt said. “Our club was down in membership and activities at one time, but through the hard work of many, we are thriving again. The AMA has been there for us, and I am glad to have been a part of its success.”
For more information about the AMA Awards Program, to see past recipients and learn how to submit individual’s names for future consideration, please visit http://www.americanmotorcyclist.com/For-Members/AMA-Awards
John Blackstock attended the 8th annual Racers Reunion at Donelson’s Cycle in St. Louis, Saturday (January 28) and sent us in these great photos of the national number riders in attendance and the following brief report:
What began as a birthday party for Neil Keen has continued as a huge gathering of past motorcycle racers from all across the country.
There were 24 previous or current AMA national number riders at the event. Also in the group were 8 AMA Hall of Fame members.
Don Larue Jr. of www.amanationalnumber.com made custom shirts for the riders and donated 25% of all other shirts sold to the Class of 79 and Friends charity group.
93 Jim Rawls
62 Charlie Roberts
16 Ronnie Jones
12 Jay Maloney
51 Dick Woods
56 Charlie Southgate
76 Greg Thompson
72 Alex Domyan
53 Tim Mertens
36 Charlie Chapple
1 Randy Goss
19 Keith Mashburn
44 Ron Widman
99 Billy O’Brien
AMA announces competition category inductees for Class of 2016
PICKERINGTON, Ohio — Revolutionary frame builder Jeff Cole, AMA road racing legend Miguel Duhamel and desert racer Jack Johnson will be inducted into the American Motorcyclist Association Hall of Fame at a ceremony to be held in Orlando, Fla., this October.
“Jack Johnson, Jeff Cole and of course the amazing Miguel Duhamel represent the passion, focus and talent that drives motorcyclists to the competitive arena,” said Ken Ford, a member of the AMA board of directors and chairman of the American Motorcycle Heritage Foundation board. “Competition breeds success, not just for the individual and his or her team, but all motorcyclists as we benefit from technological advances discovered through racing.”
The 2016 AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will be held during the American International Motorcycle Expo, which runs Oct. 13-16 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla.
Jeff Cole was not just a brilliant fabricator, but he could translate rider feedback, whether highly technical or casual commentary, into geometric expression. In many ways, his revolutionary frame designs changed the racing landscape by accomplishing what was previously thought impossible.
C&J racing frames recorded countless AMA Grand National victories and championships since 1970, including 20 AMA Grand National Championships in a 22-year span. His designs also proved to be successful in road racing, motocross, international enduro and desert racing.
Miguel Duhamel was the AMA road racing paddock’s most dominant rider in the 1990s and early 2000s. The charismatic Canadian, who was as fast as he was popular with fans, lit up the record books throughout an era that saw some of the fiercest competition ever in the AMA road racing ranks.
At the height of his career, Duhamel was the winningest AMA Superbike racer in history with 32 class wins. He captured the Superbike crown in 1995, won the Daytona 200 five times, took five AMA Supersport titles and two AMA Formula Xtreme titles on his way to amassing 86 career AMA wins. His 40-plus AMA Supersport victories are a record-more than three times the number of the next person on the list. He is the only AMA road racer to compete for five different factories.
Jack Johnson won his first Nevada State Championship title in desert racing at age 10, but his formal career launched a decade later. Johnson was first overall in the 1973 Mint 250, 1975 Mint 400, 1976 Mint 400, 1978 Cherry Creek Hare and Hound and in the 1979 Baja 500, where he was also first in the solo “Iron Man” class.
Johnson also won first overall at the Baja 1000 with Larry Roeseler in 1978, 1979 and 1980, and in 1982 with Al Baker. He consistently won his class in the Baja 1000 from 2001 through 2007. He also was a two-time International Six Days Enduro medalist, winning gold in 1981.
Cole, Duhamel and Johnson, all from competition categories, join motorcycling enthusiast and pioneer Gloria Struck and dirt-track racer Ronnie Jones in the Class of 2016. Struck and Jones belong to the well-qualified category, which recognizes candidates whose accomplishments transcend the traditional competition and non-competition categories. The non-competition members of the Class of 2016 will be announced shortly.
The AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame induction ceremony is open to the public and, for the third consecutive year, takes place in conjunction with AIMExpo. AIMExpo brings together consumers, dealers, manufacturers, and the world press in one location for global product launches, demo rides, motorcycling seminars, and much more.
Tickets to the 2016 AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will be available soon at www.americanmotorcyclist.com.
For updates on the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, keep an eye on www.americanmotorcyclist.com/hof, as well as the AMA’s social media channels, including Facebook (www.facebook.com/AmericanMotorcyclist and www.facebook.com/AMAHallofFame) and Twitter and Instagram (@AMA_Riding).
Iconic Race Bikes Will Be Displayed at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca
COSTA MESA, CA, JUNE 27 – Continuing the celebration of 40 years of AMA Superbike racing, MotoAmerica will display some of the iconic machinery from the past during the Honda Superbike Showdown of California at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, July 8-10. Fans will have the opportunity to take a step back in time and get a closer look at some of the motorcycles ridden by past champions.
“This entire season celebrates 40 years of AMA Superbike racing and these bikes are all part of that history,” said MotoAmerica President, two-time AMA Superbike Champion and three-time 500cc World Champion Wayne Rainey. “It is truly special and a real treat for fans to have these bikes on display during the event.”
The AMA Superbike Championship was created in 1976 and has provided a playing field for professional racing teams as well as a stage for manufacturers to showcase their production-based sportbikes while developing new technology along the way.
Some of the machinery on hand at the racetrack on the Monterey Peninsula will be Wayne Rainey’s 1983 Kawasaki GPz750, a 1992 Honda RC30 ridden by Freddie Spencer, Mat Mladin’s 1999 AMA Superbike Championship-winning Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R750, the 1988 championship-winning Honda VFR750F of Bubba Shobert and many more. The motorcycles on hand are all made available thanks to American Honda Motor Co., Yoshimura Suzuki Racing, Yamaha Motor Corp., the American Motorcyclist Association and Kyle Racing.
The MotoAmerica Trackside Lounge presented by El Jeffe Tequila will be located inside the paddock and open to everyone. There will be plenty of shade and seating to get away from the elements as well as TV monitors to watch the races. There will also be drink specials provided by El Jeffe Tequila.
For more information about MotoAmerica, the Honda Superbike Showdown of California, or to purchase tickets for round eight of the 2016 MotoAmerica AMA/FIM North American Road Race Series at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, visit www.motoamerica.com.
With the recent announcement of Chris Ulrich’s retirement from full-time pro racing, I thought it would be fun to find a photo of his first AMA Pro National victory and I found one.
This shot is from when Ulrich won the AMA 750 Supersport race at Laguna Seca in July of 2001. Ulrich was a hard-working rider who it seemed was often battling back from injury. But he had his moments of brilliance such as this race at Laguna.
Ulrich also left a much bigger footprint on the sport than just his two national wins. His tireless promotion of road racing during his entire career likely brought in thousands of new fans to the sport.
Ultimately Ulrich’s racing days may be equally remembered for the two-up promotional rides he gave local media personalities and others before races as he was for his solid career and national wins.
On a personal note I’ll always remember Chris for being a trooper as we sped across the Minnesota countryside at just a bit over the legal limit to get to some TV interviews prior to the Brainerd AMA National one year when I was the media manager for AMA Pro Racing. We made it to Duluth just in time to make our rounds. – Larry Lawrence
We all know Dean Adams the racing journalist and creator of www.SuperbikePlanet.com, but did you know that Adams is also an excellent motorcycle restorer? His specialty is 1970s and ’80s Japanese sport bikes. He just completed the beautiful Kenny Roberts Tribute Yamaha RZ350 pictured here, this on the heels of finishing up a Suzuki GT550 this winter. His next project may be his biggest challenge yet, restoring a Honda NR750. (Update: After the original post Dean wrote to thank me and then sent me shots of a couple other bikes he’s done, including one of the restorations he’s most proud of, it’s a 1981 GPz550 that he bought when he was 18. He finished it last summer. Dean added: “It’s kind of odd now to be known as only a writer because I worked in a bike shop in the early 1980s—long before I ever wrote anything.”)