The latest motorcycle racing sensation on the world circuit is Ben “Elbowz” Spies, who took a World Superbike title in his rookie season and now races in MotoGP.
Rider: Ben Spies
Nicknames: Elbowz, Texas Terror
Born: July 11, 1984 in Germantown, Tennessee
American Ben Spies won his first race at Pikes Peak International Raceway in 2001 aboard a Valvoline Suzuki GSXR and since then has enjoyed a meteoric rise to stardom. First, the Texan took over the AMA Pro Road Racing series after turning pro in 2000 and racing in the AMA Superstock Championship for two years. For the 2002 season he competed alongside Jason Pridmore in the Formula Xtreme Series, which he became champion of the following year. Spies tallied a three-year stint in the Supersport class as well, but matured into one of the top riders in the AMA paddock with the Yoshimura Suzuki Superbike team.
Aboard the Yosh GSX-R1000 the young Texan’s talent provided the ultimate pay-off when he bested the seemingly unbeatable Mladin in 2006 for the Superbike title. Spies proved his dethroning of Mladin wasn’t a fluke by repeating the feat in 2007, and again in 2008. Ben capped his AMA career as only the fourth rider in the history of AMA Superbike to win three consecutive titles and sits third on the all-time AMA Superbike wins list with 28
victories. Spies posted an unrivalled 90% podium finish rate for racing, the highest for any AMA rider in the history of the championship.
The future of Spies was presumed to be MotoGP, with three GP wildcard entries to his credit aboard the Rizla Suzuki GSV-R. First, he started in place of injured Loris Capirossi at the British GP, finishing 14th and scoring his first MotoGP points. His next GP stints were in the American rounds, achieving eighth at Laguna Seca and an even more impressive sixth at Indianapolis.
Surprisingly, instead of GP Spies joined the World Superbike series in 2009 and continued his domination. During his rookie season, “Elbowz” set the record for the most Superpole wins and won the championship aboard the Yamaha R1. Besting rival Noriyuki Haga, Spies scored the first title for Yamaha in the World Superbike series.
Spies’ stay in SBK was short-lived, however, as he got promoted to MotoGP aboard the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 M1, where he campaigned the 2010 season next to fellow Texan, Colin Edwards. Once again Spies shocked the racing scene by quickly learning GP circuits and consistently finishing within the top-10. He landed MotoGP rookie of the year and finished the season in sixth, picking up two podium finishes and a pole victory along the way.
For 2011 the Texan signed with the Factory Yamaha team, joining 2010 MotoGP Champion, Jorge Lorenzo.
The move proved to be fruitful as Spies had an even better year in 2011, taking four podiums in total, one of which was his first career race win in MotoGP at the Assen TT. He finished the year in fifth overall.
After a promising 2011 season with the Yamaha factory team Spies had his worst in 2012 finishing in 10th overall.
Things began to deteriorate for the Texan during the 2012 season. Mechanical failures and crashes plagued Spies throughout the season, and he was eventually forced to sit out the final two rounds following a severe high-side at Sepang. Spies later underwent shoulder surgery to reconstruct the ligaments that had been torn in the accident.
Spies’ lackluster performance in 2012 resulted speculation that he would leave MotoGP following the end of the season. Rumors were given added fire after Spies posted a cryptic message on his Twitter account saying, in effect, that 2013 would be much different and that he was excited about his prospects. Two months after his Twitter announcement, it was revealed that Spies would remain in MotoGP, but would move to the Pramac Racing team to ride the satellite Ducati alongside new teammate Andrea Ianonne.
2013 – 21st MotoGP – Ducati
2012 – 10th MotoGP – Yamaha
2011 - 5th MotoGP – Yamaha
2010 - MotoGP Rookie of the Year
2010 - 6th MotoGP – Yamaha
2009 - 20th MotoGP – Yamaha
2009 – 1st WSBK – Yamaha
2008 - 19th MotoGP – Suzuki
2008 – 1st AMA Superbike – Suzuki
2007 – 1st AMA Superbike – Suzuki
2007 – 1st AMA Superstock – Suzuki
2006 – 1st AMA Superbike – Suzuki
2006 – 14th AMA Supersport – Suzuki
2005 – 4th AMA Supersport – Suzuki
2005 – 2nd AMA Superbike – Suzuki
2004 – 5th AMA Superstock – Suzuki
2004 – 4th AMA Supersport – Suzuki
2003 – 1st AMA Formula Xtreme – Suzuki
2003 – 9th AMA Supersport – Suzuki
2003 – 54th AMA Superbike – Suzuki
2002 – 6th AMA Formula Extreme – Suzuki
2002 – 9th AMA Supersport – Suzuki
2002 – 55th AMA Superstock – Suzuki
2001 - 3rd AMA 750 Supersport – Suzuki
2001 – 86th AMA Superbike – Suzuki
2000 – AMA Horizon Award Winner
2000 – 9th AMA 750 Supersport – Suzuki
1999 – 3rd WERA 125cc GP National Challange – Honda
1998 – 2nd WERA 125cc GP National Challange – Honda