AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame announces Class of 2018
December 7 will see The AMA welcome six new inductees into its Motorcycle Hall of Fame at the Hilton Columbus/Polaris in Columbus, Ohio.
The ceremony will officially induct four-time AMA National Enduro Champion Terry Cunningham, stunt rider Gary Davis, flat track and road racing tuner Skip Eaken, MotoGP World Champion Nicky Hayden, flat track racer Clifford “Corky” Keener, and pioneering motorcyclist Mary McGee.
“The AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame Class of 2018 recognizes greatness in racing and ambassadorship, whether on the track, at the mechanic’s bench or in the court of public opinion,” said Ken Ford, a member of the AMA board of directors and chairman of the American Motorcycle Heritage Foundation board.
“In their own way, each of these individuals has advanced motorcycling for generations of motorcyclists, and we’re honored to recognize them in perpetuity as inductees into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame.”
The induction ceremony is part of the 2018 AMA Legends & Champions Weekend, December 7-9, which also includes the 2018 AMA Championship Banquet at the Hilton Columbus/Polaris on December 8, and an open house and formal instalment of Hall of Fame honors at the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame in Pickerington, Ohio, on December 9. In addition, the AMA Racing and Recreational Riding Commissions will meet to discuss rules governing amateur racing at the annual AMA Congress, also at the Hilton that weekend.
The AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame was established in 1998 by the AMHF to honor the legends and heroes of American motorcycling and highlight their achievements and contributions to motorcycling. Hall of Fame inductees represent eight areas: Ambassadors/Industry, Design/Engineering, Dirt Track, Leadership/Advocacy, Motocross/Supercross, Off-Road, Road Racing and Specialty Competition.
Terry Cunningham is a champion off-road rider (a four-time AMA Grand National Enduro Champion) who played a significant role in the growth of off-road racing in the United States in the 1980s. His efforts anchored the success of the Husqvarna Motorcycle Company throughout the decade.
His other awards included six International Six Days Enduro gold medals and a silver medal. He also was a member of the American 1982 ISDE team that finished second overall against the best off-road riders in the world.
Gary Davis, from Auburn, California, has spent more than 30 years in show business. He performed, coordinated and directed stunts in more than 280 films, 250 television episodes and 190 commercials. His longtime contributions have showcased the thrills of motorcycling to millions through the reach of Hollywood.
Davis’ motorcycle career began as an AMA professional dirt-track racer in 1969, riding alongside notables such as Hall of Famers Kenny Roberts and Gary Scott. He began exhibition motorcycle jumping in 197. In 1972, he entered the Guinness World Records for clearing 21 cars, bettering Knievel’s 19-car mark. After three years of jumping and more than 300 public jumps, he began doing stunt work.
Skip Eaken was a motorcycle racing tuner from Lodi, Ohio, who began building competitive and reliable flat track racers in the 1970s. He notched his first Grand National victory in 1983 with Ted Boody riding an Eaken-prepped Harley-Davidson.
Eaken (who died in 2012) is best known as the mechanic who worked on AMA Motorcycle Hall of Famer Bubba Shobert’s factory Honda motorcycles in the 1980s, when Shobert won three AMA Grand National Championships, collecting an AMA Superbike title and 28 Grand National flat track wins.
Known as “The Kentucky Kid,” Nicky Hayden, of Owensboro, Kentucky, was a force on the American motorcycle racing scene before taking his talent to the world stage, ultimately winning motorcycle racing’s grandest championship, the FIM MotoGP title in 2006.
Born in 1981, Hayden raced flat track and road raced Yamaha YSR50s and then Honda RS125s as a youngster. He turned pro at the age of 16. As a professional, Hayden competed in the AMA Grand National Championship, the pro flat track series, as well as in AMA Pro Road Racing.
He signed with American Honda in 1999 to race the AMA 600 Supersport class, winning the 600 cc championship that same year. Honda moved Hayden to the factory AMA Superbike team in 2000, and in 2002 he captured the AMA Superbike Championship. At age 21, Hayden became the youngest champion in the history of AMA Superbike racing.
Hayden then moved to the Repsol Honda MotoGP effort for 2003, earning his first MotoGP win at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, California, in 2005. He won there again in 2006 while on his way to winning the MotoGP World Championship. Hayden moved to the factory Ducati team in 2009, returning to Honda in 2014. He began racing in the FIM World Superbike series for Honda in 2016.
Tragically, Hayden was hit by a car while training on a bicycle in Italy on May 17, 2017. He succumbed to his injuries five days later, on May 22.
Clifford “Corky” Keener was a professional flat track racer during the 1970s. Known by the nickname “Mr Dirt,” he worked as an electrician for General Motors Corp. while he was getting his racing career started. He eventually became a factory Harley-Davidson rider and won five AMA Grand National races during his career. He raced during a talent-filled era that often had him banging bars with the likes of AMA Motorcycle Hall of Famers Kenny Roberts and Jay Springsteen.
Mary McGee was among the first women to race motorcycles in motocross and road racing events in the United States. She started her off-road career by riding a 1962 250 cc Honda Scrambler in an AMA District 37 enduro. She began riding Baja events in 1967 and, in 1975, rode solo in the Baja 500.
During the 1970s, she worked for Motorcyclist magazine and joined editors Jody Nichols, Brad Zimmerman and Rich Cox for a 24-hour road race in Las Vegas, in which the team changed riders every hour on a 650 cc Suzuki.
In more recent years, she has returned to competing in select vintage races, while speaking out in support of women racers and recreational riders getting started in motorcycling.