Perhaps more than any other competitor, Kenny Roberts put his stamp of dominance on American and world motorcycle roadracing, both as an AMA National Champion, a Grand Prix World Champion and then as a Grand Prix team owner. On Friday, Nov. 18, he will be honored as one of two Motorcycle Hall of Fame Legends at the annual Motorcycle Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony at the Red Rock Casino, Resort and Spa in Las Vegas, Nev.
“In one of the most competitive disciplines in motorsport, Kenny Roberts excelled not only as a racer but as a team owner and a businessman,” said Jeff Heininger, chairman of the American Motorcycle Heritage Foundation, which raises funds for the Motorcycle Hall of Fame. “It is such a pleasure for us to honor Kenny in this way, and I know that everyone in the audience will be on their feet to thank him for everything he has done for motorcycling.”
“King Kenny” Roberts, who was inducted into the Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 1998, won his first-ever AMA Grand National race in 1972 and went on to win 33 AMA Nationals in dirt-track and roadracing, including the prestigious Daytona 200 three times. A master of the dirt oval, Roberts’ reputation grew with every season. He achieved legendary status when he fielded a dirt-tracker powered by a TZ750 two-stroke roadracer engine at the Indianapolis Mile in 1975, made a dramatic last-lap pass for the win and made the classic statement: “They don’t pay me enough to ride that thing.”
A two-time AMA Grand National Champion, Roberts then moved to the world stage and became the first-ever American to win a 500cc Grand Prix motorcycle racing world championship in 1978. In the following years Roberts dominated the World Grand Prix circuit, and by the end of 1980, he had captured three consecutive World 500 Grand Prix titles. His brilliant racing performances popularized throughout the world the U.S. flat-track style of sliding the rear wheel in turns.
Roberts is also credited with focusing attention on rider safety in World Grand Prix racing.
Retiring from full-time racing at the end of the 1983 season, Roberts formed his own World 500 Grand Prix team. In 1990, Team Roberts’ rider Wayne Rainey, who would go on to become a Hall of Famer himself, won the World 500 Grand Prix title, and teammate John Kocinski took the World 250 Championship — bringing the team a rare 500 and 250 championship season. By the end of the 1992 season, Rainey had matched Roberts’ earlier accomplishment, securing three successive World 500 crowns for Marlboro Team Roberts.
“The only thing I cared about when I raced was what other riders thought,” said Roberts. “Earning their respect was what we worked for, and it means a lot to me to be honored this way in front of my peers and friends in the industry.”
Roberts is the first of two Hall of Fame Legends to be announced and honored at the Motorcycle Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony for the Class of 2011, which includes motocross promoter Stu Peters, noted magazine editor Phil Schilling, industry leader Fred Fox, roadracing champion Doug Polen and motorcycling pioneer Norbert Schickel.
The Class of 2011 will officially be inducted into the Motorcycle Hall of Fame on Nov. 18 as part of the AMA Legends & Champions Weekend. In addition to the induction ceremony, the weekend includes the 2011 Dave Mungenast Memorial Motorcycle Hall of Fame Concours d’Elegance bike show on Saturday, Nov. 19, featuring some of the country’s most impressive original and restored classic motorcycles. The AMA Racing Championship Banquet closes out the weekend on Sunday, Nov. 20, where AMA Racing amateur champions of all ages will be recognized for their 2011 accomplishments.
Tickets for the AMA Legends & Champions weekend are now available through this online registration form: http://events.r20.constantcontact.com/register/event?llr=vw9ldxbab&oeidk=a07e3rn4juk2e3f80c1. Tickets may be ordered over the phone by calling (800) 262-5646.
The AMA Legends & Champions Weekend also includes the final round of the GEICO AMA EnduroCross National Championship Series on Saturday evening, Nov. 19. EnduroCross tickets are available at www.orleansarena.com/event-calendar/endurocross or by phone at (702) 284-7777 or (888) 234-2334.
The AMA Legends & Champions Weekend will be held at the Las Vegas Red Rock Resort, a world-class spa, hotel and casino, featuring a range of entertainment, dining and family-friendly attractions. The facility’s expansive ballrooms provide a stunning backdrop for the AMA Legends & Champions Weekend, which is certain to be memorable for the 2011 inductees, champions, families, friends and fans. Room reservations are available now at a special group rate by calling (866) 767-7773 and referencing group AMA or AMERICANMOTO. Online room reservations are available at RedRockLasVegas.com. For online reservations, use the promo code RCIMOTR.
More information about the Motorcycle Hall of Fame can be found at MotorcycleMuseum.org.