LAS VEGAS — Six legends took their places among motorcycling’s best and brightest Friday at the 2013 AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony presented by Husqvarna.
Hosted by actor, motorcyclist and AMA board member Perry King, the event honored the Hall of Fame Class of 2013: AMA Supercross and Motocross Champion Ricky Carmichael; AMA and desert racing champion Danny Hamel; racer, promoter and motorcycle industry icon Norm McDonald; AMA Road Racing Champion Randy Renfrow; and motorcycling fundraisers and Ride For Kids founders Mike and Dianne Traynor.
In addition to the class of 2013, the induction ceremony celebrated the outstanding careers of two existing Hall of Famers as Hall of Fame Legends: Mark Blackwell, a pioneering American motocross racer, six-time AMA championship race team manager and industry executive; and Torsten Hallman, a four-time FIM World Motocross champion who was instrumental in introducing the sport of motocross to America and later founded the Thor brand.
The 2013 inductees were honored with videos chronicling their careers and moving induction speeches. The presentation of the official Hall of Fame rings was sponsored by Zero Motorcycles. In addition to the honorees, several luminaries from the world of motorcycling participated in the ceremony.
Ricky Carmichael has more combined AMA Supercross and AMA Motocross National wins than any other rider in history. From 1997 to 2006, Carmichael won a championship series title each year.
Known as the Greatest of All Time, Carmichael has re-written the record books in the sport of AMA Motocross. In 2002, Carmichael recorded the first perfect season in AMA motocross history by earning 24 straight moto victories for 12 overall wins in the premier class — a feat he repeated in 2004. When he retired, he had 150 AMA National wins.
“The first people I want to thank are my parents, for the sacrifices they made so that I could race motorcycles,” Carmichael said. “I love this sport, and I love giving back to this sport because I don’t think it gets the recognition that it deserves. I also want to thank my sponsors for always sticking with me. Without them, this sport wouldn’t be where it is today. Thank you.”
Danny Hamel accomplished much as an off-road racer: five-time AMA Hare and Hound national champion, multi-time Baja 1000 and 500 overall winner and more. Between 1977 and 1995, Hamel was the only rider ever named both as the AMA Amateur Athlete of the Year and AMA Amateur Sportsman of the Year in the same year.
Hamel died in June 1995 while racing the Baja 500 when a car strayed onto the road that was part of the course and Hamel collided with it. Hamel was represented at the event by Team Kawasaki Manager Mark Johnson and Mike Hodges, Hamel’s mechanic.
“To describe Danny as an individual we could use many words: fun loving, intelligent, caring, humble, good teammate and true professional,” Johnson said. “I believe that one of Danny’s greatest assets of which he and I talked many times about was his relationship with his family. On behalf of the entire Hamel family, Danny’s friends, fans and followers, thank you for this award honoring Danny Hamel.”
Added Hodges: “I stand center stage giving tribute to Danny with tears in my eyes and a heavy heart but couldn’t be prouder. Danny, today is your day to savor as well as the rest of the inductees, for it is your accomplishments that brings us together once again. I love you, brother.”
Norm McDonald has been an ambassador for motorcycling his entire life as a racer, promoter, teacher, sponsor and advocate for motorcyclists’ rights and safety. In 1957 he opened K&N Motorcycles — a motorcycle shop — with Ken Johnson. By 1965, they created K&N Engineering and in 1966 the K&N Air Filter was introduced. Over the years McDonald sponsored hundreds of racers, with more than 30 of them going on to the national level.
“What a great honor to be inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame with such a special group of people: Ricky, Randy, Danny, Mike and Dianne,” McDonald said. “I want to thank the ones that made this possible by putting the package together and getting me nominated: my sons and daughter-in-law, Cindy, and all of the people that voted for me. Thank you.”
Hall of Fame Legend Malcolm Smith was hired as a teenager by McDonald, and presented McDonald with his Hall of Fame ring in an emotional tribute.