Where Are They Now: Ronnie Tichenor

May 4, 2006 12:27pm


Ronnie Tichenor was one of the fastest 125 supercross riders of the mid- to late 1980s. He grew up riding Yamahas for his father Ron’s shop, then switched to Team Green Kawasaki toward the end of his amateur career. His first AMA 125 Supercross win came on a KX125 at the 1986 Pontiac SX, then he won three races the next year when he switch to Team Suzuki. The Floridian was highly recognizable from his bushy, blond hair, flashy Fox Racing gear, and equally stylish riding technique. Tichenor was even featured in one of the cooler advertisements of the era with the “Ronald or Ronnie” theme that showcased a picture of Tichenor (stylish teenager) and Ronald Reagan (stylish ex-president).

As the 1987 East Region Supercross Champion, Tichenor moved to the premier class in ‘88 and didn’t find the success he enjoyed in the tiddler divisions. He managed to put together some strong rides in supercross, the most impressive of which saw him holeshot the 1989 Miami SX and open up a huge lead over Ricky Johnson but suffer a big crash on a triple he had used to earn his lead.

Check out Ronnie in 1992 riding for Tuff Racing
photo courtesy of Supercross '92
After a few decent seasons with Team Suzuki as a factory rider, the door of opportunity in America appeared to close on RT, but another one was opening up in the land of the rising sun. Tichenor packed his bags and began a three-year stay in the Orient, riding for Factory Suzuki Japan and earning two championships along the way.

Ronnie decided he had gotten his fill of the Far East and moved back to the States to begin working with some of the Japanese riders who had dreams of American motocross success. It was during this time that some of the 125 teams noticed Tichenor’s speed was as good or better than it ever was, and soon Ronnie was back on the scene at the 125 Nationals for Dave Antolak’s Tuf Racing team. But once again, Tichenor fell on hard times, suffering a knee injury at his first race back at the Troy, Ohio, event.

A few years down the road, Ronnie found himself back at his native Florida and began conducting motocross schools. He also did a little vet-class racing at Loretta Lynn’s, riding a Suzuki and winning two classes in 2000, a full 17 years after his last minicycle championship from the Ranch in 1983!

Ronnie with his wife, celebrating his two Loretta Lynn's titles in 2000
photo: Davey Coombs
Today, Tichenor is highly regarded as one of the best coaches and trainers in the business, and he currently works with some of the biggest names on the amateur circuit. Future stars like Dominic Izzy, Adam Cianciarulo, Matt Boni, and the Trettle brothers have been honing their skills under the expert tutelage of Tichenor. He also helps his wife, Brandi, with their successful Bent Frame store (bentframeclothing.com) on the west coast of Florida.

Regarded as one of the original “cool guys,” Ronnie Tichenor remains a solid part of the motocross machine, now as an instructor to future champions.