Legendary racers and tuners who helped forge Kawasaki's reputation for performance in American motorcycle racing will be at AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days, featuring Riders of Kawasaki, July 7-9 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio.
Co-Grand Marshals Tony Nicosia, Steve Johnson, Gary Semics and AMA Motorcycle Hall of Famer Jeff Fredette will provide rare insight into both the development of Kawasaki production models, as well as what it took to win on the track.
"This will be such a treat for Kawasaki fans," said Mitch Boehm, long-time motorcycle journalist and a member of the American Motorcycle Heritage Foundation Board of Directors, which raises money for the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame. "If you've ever been wowed by the raw sound and fury of an H1, here's your chance to meet H1 and H2 legendary racer and tuner Tony Nicosia.
"Then there's Steve Johnson -- crew chief extraordinaire who built dozens of championship-winning bikes, including the famed GPz750 that Wainey Rainey used to slay a grid full of next-generation Superbikes in 1983," said Boehm. "In motocross, former AMA Supercross Champion Gary Semics has become one of the sport's most recognizable trainers. And, of course, the unmatched competitive longevity of Jeff Fredette's 33 Six Days medals speaks for itself."
The AMA affinity group for Kawasaki riders -- ROK, Powered by the AMA -- will be front and center throughout the event. Special ROK, Powered by the AMA, giveaways will take place all weekend. Both ROK and AMA members will also receive extra opportunities to win a new Kawasaki Z125 PRO that the AMA will give away on Sunday.
An annual fundraiser for the nonprofit AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame, AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days, featuring Riders of Kawasaki, offers vintage motorcycle racing, bike shows, seminars, demo rides, a swap meet with hundreds of independent vendors and much more.
Here's more on the co-grand marshals of 2017 AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days, featuring Riders of Kawasaki.
As a rider and part of the development team, Tony Nicosia helped put the Kawasaki H1 Mach III on the map as a two-stroke performance machine.
Tony Nicosia had a varied and successful motorcycle racing career that stretches from mid-20th Century scrambles racing in Japan to road, drag and land-speed racing back in America. But he's best known as a key figure in the development of one of the most legendary production motorcycles ever made: Kawasaki's two-stroke triple, the H1 Mach III. Nicosia joined Kawasaki in 1968 to work on the then-secret H1 project, but he was not just a test rider. He competed prodigiously on H1s and set well over 100 drag- and land-speed racing records. Kawasaki went to great lengths to promote Nicosia's success, and the lessons learned through Nicosia's racing continually improved the model line, which added the 750cc H2 Mach IV in 1972.
Steve Johnson has tuned for championship-winning factory Kawasaki teams in road racing and motocross.
Long-time Kawasaki test rider and mechanic Steve Johnson is one of motorcycle racing's most experienced tuners and crew chiefs. His career started impressively enough -- turning wrenches for Phil Read's 1971 250 Grand Prix title -- before he went to work for Kawasaki's factory motocross team, tuning the open-class KXs that powered Brad Lackey to the 1972 500cc AMA National Championship and Jimmy Weinert to the 1974 title. Johnson stayed active in road racing, developing the KR250 parallel twin throughout the mid-1970s. He became crew chief for Eddie Lawson in 1980-82 before engineering arguably the biggest tuning upset in AMA Superbike history. Working for the legendary Wayne Rainey's championship 1983 AMA Superbike campaign, Johnson coaxed enough mechanical talent out of the then-dated Kawasaki GPz750 to beat the next-generation Honda Interceptors. Johnson's success continued throughout the 1980s and 1990s with riders such as Dave Sadowski, Scott Russell and Doug Chandler.
Former 500cc AMA Supercross Champion Gary Semics is one of the sport's best-known trainers of both pro and amateur racers.
Gary Semics started racing in his early teens and was a factory rider by the age of 18. After winning the 500cc AMA Supercross title in 1974, he started racing for the factory Kawasaki team. Semics continued to win AMA Nationals, finishing second and third in points in the 500cc class in 1976 and '79. He raced on the U.S. Motocross and Trophee des Nations teams in 1977 before taking his talent and rigorous training regimen to the Motocross World Championship circuit. Semics retired from professional racing in 1985 and immediately launched his training school. Semics became one of the sport's premier trainers, working with amateur and pro racers alike, including Ryan Villopoto, Jeremy McGrath, Ezra Lusk and Steve Lamson. His popular video training series and books introduced his methods to the masses. Semics continued to compete in sportsman classes, and in 2012, riding a Kawasaki, he swept all three of his motos at the AMA Amateur National Motocross Championship at Loretta Lynns to win the AMA amateur national title in the Masters 50-plus class.
Jeff Fredette is perhaps more associated with the Kawasaki brand than any other off-road racer in America.
Perhaps no off-road racer is more synonymous with Kawasaki than AMA Motorcycle Hall of Famer Jeff Fredette. Fredette started racing Kawasakis in 1983, and has barely slowed down since. Although he is best known for his 33 medals in International Six Days Enduro competition, Fredette, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2002, won the 1989 126-200 A class title in the AMA National Enduro Championship, the 2004 Senior 40-plus A class enduro title, and has collected more than 15 AMA Ice Race National Championships since 1984. He was named AMA Racing Sportsman of the Year in 1993 and the AMA Racing Vet/Senior Rider of the Year in 2010. Fredette has won numerous AMA Vintage Championships competing at AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days -- all on Kawasakis.
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