The highlight of the banquet was the announcement of the AMA Pro Racing SPEED Athlete of the Year Award recipient. Last year, Ricky Carmichael became the first rider in AMA history to win the Athlete of the Year Award for a fourth time. Last night he became the first to win the award for a fifth time.
Carmichael and Team Makita Suzuki took six victories in the 2006 AMA Amp’d Mobile Supercross Series on the way to winning the championship title. During the 2006 AMA Toyota Motocross Championship presented by FMF, Carmichael earned nine overall wins and clinched the title with two rounds remaining on the schedule. In 2006 he also set a record of 70 career AMA Motocross wins, and completed yet another record-setting, dual-championship year – the sixth of his career.
Carmichael was selected from a field of nominees including: Chris Carr, seven-time AMA Ford Quality Checked Flat Track Champion and FIM World motorcycle land speed record holder; Josh Hayes, the 2006 AMA Lockhart-Phillips USA Formula Xtreme Champion; Ben Spies, the 2006 AMA Superbike presented by Parts Unlimited Champion; and Ryan Villopoto, the 2006 AMA Toyota Motocross Lites presented by FMF Champion.
The 2006 AMA Pro Racing Rookies of the Year were recognized, including Sam Halbert, the AMA Ricky Graham Flat Track Rookie of the Year; Roger Lee Hayden, the AMA Superbike Rookie of the Year; and Ryan Villopoto, the AMA Supercross/Motocross Rookie of the Year.
The 2006 Motocross of Nations Champions - Team AMA USA members James Stewart, Ivan Tedesco, Ryan Villopoto and Ricky Carmichael - were also honored.
Awards were also presented for Sportsman of the Year, Mechanical Excellence, and Advertising.
Infineon Raceway Vice President of Facilities Jere Starks was named the AMA Pro Racing Sportsman of the Year. Starks organized and promoted the 3J’s benefit track days at Infineon Raceway, which raised $95,000 for injured racer Vincent Haskovec, who was in attendance.
The Award for Mechanical Excellence was presented to Rick Hobbs. Hobb’s has built bikes for six championship riders, including the Erion Honda ridden by 2006 AMA Formula Xtreme Champion Josh Hayes.
AMA Pro Racing Advertising Awards were presented to three recipients. One Industries won the Award for Best Ad. The Award for Best Campaign went to The Creative Works for their work with Suzuki. A special Advertising Recognition Award was presented to Dailey and Associates for their work with Honda.