Class of 2018
In 1984, Terry Cunningham was about to begin the most important season of his career with the deck stacked against him. He had one good leg, sure, but the other one was held together with a metal plate and 14 screws.
Just two seasons earlier, Cunningham was on top of America’s off-road world. He had won the 1982 AMA Grand National Enduro Championship and played a key role in the U.S. team’s second-place finish at the International Six Days Enduro.
But 1983 was different. Cunningham lost the title to his Husqvarna teammate Mike Melton and then he shattered his femur while training in Wales for that year’s ISDE. Doctors in England bolted Cunningham’s leg back together, and the plate was to stay there, for a year, while the bone healed.
Few people, especially Cunningham’s doctors—who warned him he could lose his leg if he crashed with the plate in place—expected the Ohio native to race. But Cunningham had other plans.
“If you’re down, if you’re able to do something, you can’t just stop because somebody tells you to,” Cunningham told American Motorcyclist at the time.
Cunningham did race, of course, and he won the title in 1984 in one of the most physically demanding motorsports in the world.
Maybe even more impressive was a race win that, for the record, was pointless. Despite having already clinched the championship, Cunningham lined up for the last round in 1984, and he won that race, too.
“I just like to ride motorcycles,” Cunningham said to explain his decision to race.
Cunningham’s love of racing put him back on top, and his skill and drive kept him there for two more years. He successfully defended his championship in 1985 and again in 1986.
Since retiring form professional racing, Cunningham has continued to work in the industry and represent Husqvarna at various events. This past summer, he raced a vintage Husqvarna at AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days, winning the Evolution 2 title in the Super Senior 50+ class.