Cypress, CA – Yamaha Motor Corporation, U.S.A, yesterday, celebrated its 60th Anniversary with a special, employee-focused event that included the induction of 10 racing legends onto its “Wall of Fame” and a special display of some of Yamaha’s most successful and iconic racing machines.
Commenting during the event, Keith McCarty, Motorsports Racing Division Manager for Yamaha Motor Corporation, U.S.A., said, “As we celebrate Yamaha’s 60th Anniversary, we’re proud to have 10 of our legendary racing champions here today and to unveil their commemorative plaques on our Wall of Fame. These 10 riders brought a lot of racing success to the Yamaha brand, with their many victories and championships. It’s great to be able to honor them here today.”
Bob Starr, General Manager of Communications for Yamaha U.S. Motorsports Group, added, “What a great day for Yamaha! We’ve got 10 legendary Yamaha riders here, along with four iconic Yamaha racing machines on display. Racing has been an integral part of Yamaha since the Motor Company was founded in 1955, and we’re so happy to be able to celebrate our 60th Anniversary with our employees, who are the real reason for our success.”
The ten Yamaha legends, whose plaques were added to the Wall of Fame, include:
Bob Hannah, one of the most successful motocross racers in American history. During his 15-year career, Bob won a total of seven AMA National Championships, and he became the all-time wins leader in AMA motocross/Supercross history, with 70 AMA National victories during his career. His overall wins record stood until 1999. Bob was inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 1999, and in 2000, he was inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America.
Rick Burgett, one of Yamaha’s original “Fast Four” of factory Yamaha riders, which also included Bob Hannah, Broc Glover, and Mike Bell. In 1978, riding a Yamaha YZ400E, Rick won the AMA 500cc National Motocross Championship, which was the premier class in AMA motocross racing during that era. His Championship was an important part of an all-Yamaha sweep that year, in 125cc, 250cc, and 500cc Motocross, and also in Supercross.
Broc Glover, who won six AMA National Motocross Championships for Yamaha, which was a record that stood for nearly two decades. He tallied 45 career AMA National wins in both motocross and Supercross. In 1977, Broc’s very first full year of riding as a pro, he won the AMA 125cc National Motocross Championship, and he defended his title the following two years, in 1978 and 1979. Broc moved up to the 500cc class in 1981 and won the AMA National Championship in his first year in that class. He added two additional AMA 500cc National Championships to his tally in 1983 and 1985. When he retired after the 1988 season, Broc held the AMA all-time wins record in both AMA 125cc motocross and 500cc motocross. He was inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 2000.
Mike Bell, who rode for Yamaha during the entirety of his professional racing career, and he was one of America’s leading motocross and Supercross racers of the late 1970s and early '80s. In 1979, Mike notched four wins in the AMA 500cc National Motocross Championship and finished the season just three points shy of winning the title. The following year, “Too Tall” won the 1980 AMA Supercross Championship and, in the process, racked up seven wins in a single season, which was a record that would not be broken for the next 11 years. In seven pro racing seasons, he compiled a total of 20 AMA National wins. He was inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 2001.
Rich Oliver, who is a five-time AMA Pro 250 Grand Prix National Champion and the only rider in AMA road racing history to post a perfect, undefeated season, which he did three times. In 1996 and 1997, Rich won 20 consecutive races. When he retired in 2003, he had won 71 AMA nationals, which, at the time, was more than any other road racer in AMA history. Rich competed in virtually every AMA road racing class before retiring, including Superbike. He also was a WERA 250 National Champion, and he famously won the Formula USA Championship on a Team Roberts Yamaha YZR500 Grand Prix machine.
Eddie Lawson, who is a four-time 500cc Grand Prix World Champion. In 1983, Eddie became Kenny Roberts’ teammate on Yamaha’s GP team and, in 1984, he won his first 500cc title. Steady Eddie went on to win two more 500cc GP world titles for Yamaha in 1986 and 1988. In 1990, he teamed up with Japanese rider Tadahiko Taira and won the Suzuka 8 Hours endurance race on a Yamaha FZR750RR OW01. Eddie also won the Daytona 200 in 1986 and came out of retirement to win it again in 1993. He was inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 1999.
Wayne Rainey, who won three consecutive 500cc Grand Prix World Championships for Yamaha and was a two-time AMA Superbike Champion. In 1988, Wayne and his Team Roberts Yamaha teammate Kevin Magee won the Suzuka 8 Hours endurance race. He was inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 1999, was named a Grand Prix "Legend" by the FIM in 2000, and was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2007. Today, Wayne serves as president of the KRAVE Group, which manages the MotoAmerica FIM/AMA North American Motorcycle Road Racing Championship.
Ty Davis, who was one of the most versatile motorcycle racers of the 1980s, 90s, and early 2000s. Growing up in the high desert of Southern California as the son of racer and industry pioneer Terry Davis, Ty was destined to ride. He grew up riding on the trails of Hesperia before shifting his focus to the motocross track. Ty’s motocross career culminated with him winning the 1990 AMA Supercross 125cc West Region Championship. Soon after, he made the switch to off-road racing where he has collected an impressive list of accomplishments, including three National Hare & Hound Championships in 1997, 1998, and 2002; two National Enduro Championships in 1995 and 1999; and a WORCS championship in 2003. Ty’s success hasn't been limited to the racecourse. In 2001, he started Zip-Ty Racing Products, selling high-performance, specialized parts for off-road race bikes. Ty was inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 2012.
Jason Raines, who compiled an impressive list of off-road motorcycle racing wins and Championships during his professional career, including six National Hare Scrambles titles, two GNCC Series runner-up finishes, and three ISDE Gold Medals. A woodsman from the Pacific Northwest, Jason grew up dreaming of becoming a professional off-road racer. At age 20, he moved to Pennsylvania to take his shot. Within two years, he became a podium contender in the GNCC series, and that’s when Randy Hawkins came calling with a Yamaha factory ride. Jason rose to the challenge and became a dominant rider in several disciplines of off-road motorcycle racing. In fact, he’s one of only a handful of riders who have won a hare scramble, a GNCC race, and a national Enduro on three consecutive weekends. Today, Jason runs the well-known Raines University, which is an intense training course that covers everything from warming up and working out your body to racing tips for the trail. He also runs Yamaha’s off-road demo program, and helps manage Yamaha’s GNCC team in the 250 class.
Bill Ballance, who is widely known as the best cross-country ATV racer of all time, and for good reason. In 2000, he began a reign of nearly a decade atop the Pro ATV class where he racked up a total of nine consecutive GNCC ATV National Championships during an era that included the transition from two-stroke ATVs to four-stroke machines. And, all the while, Bill just kept on winning, eventually creating his own Yamaha off-road team called Ballance Racing. By the time he retired in 2010, he had won more GNCC ATV races than anyone in history. Also an entrepreneur, Bill developed his own Ballance Edition ATV racing products ranging from exhausts to tires and, in his honor, Yamaha even produced a special Ballance Edition Yamaha YFZ450R.
The four iconic Yamaha racing machines on display during Yamaha’s 60th Anniversary employee celebration included:
1979 Yamaha YZ250 OW40 as ridden by Bob Hannah in the AMA Motocross 250cc Championship (6 overall wins)
1980 Yamaha YZ465 OW41 as ridden by Rick Burgett in the AMA Motocross 500cc Championship
1986 Yamaha YZR500 OW81 as ridden by Eddie Lawson in the FIM World Grand Prix 500cc Championship (7 race wins)
1990 Yamaha YZR500 OWC1 as ridden by Wayne Rainey in the FIM World Grand Prix 500cc Championship (7 race wins)