Champions crowned in AMA Vintage National Championship Series, presented by JT Racing
July 24, 2013
Terry Cunningham (Photo: Yve Assad)
Steve Ellis (Photo: Yve Assad)
The AMA congratulates the champions crowned at the season finale of the AMA Vintage Motocross and Hare Scrambles National Championship Series, presented by JT Racing. The series wrapped up at BikeBandit.com AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days, July 19-21, at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio.
Racers travelled from as far away as California to contest the five-round series in its inaugural year. Rounds were held in Ohio, Kentucky, Michigan and Illinois before the final round at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
"In previous years, our national vintage champions were determined by the single-event AMA Grand Championship format," said AMA Vice President of Operations Jeff Massey. "Dirt track evolved to a series a few years ago, and for 2013, motocross and hare scrambles also made the transition. We're pleased that more vintage riders were able to participate thanks to the additional rounds, and we're looking forward to gaining even more momentum next year."
Vintage racing features motorcycles from the past competing on period-correct tracks. Competitive balance is achieved by machine- and era-based categories, as well as by age and skill divisions.
"Vintage motorcycle racing has a very broad appeal," Massey said. "It's easy to see why. The relatively low expense of older dirtbikes makes vintage competition an affordable option, while the historical significance of the bikes themselves, and nostalgia for our glory days, brings out riders of all kinds -- including some of the sport's biggest legends."
This year's AMA vintage national champions included off-road icon Terry Cunningham. Cunningham, who won four AMA Grand National Enduro Championships in the 1980s, competed in the hare scrambles Super Senior A class.
"I have not done much vintage racing before this year," he said. "In 2010, a friend from Wisconsin, Craig Hayes, lent me a WR 430, like the one I race now. I tried it and decided to compete for the title this year. I wanted to win the series. That was my goal. I'm happy to win, but what I really enjoyed was seeing old friends and finding out how much the other racers still remembered me from my championship days."
Cunningham discovered that fans never forget their heroes. Those who followed him during his professional career frequently approached him at the vintage races.
"It was great to interact with the fans again, and a series like this is great for the sport, especially when former pros come to the events," Cunningham said. "When the AMA brought out this series for 2013, I really wanted to be a part of it."
Cunningham says he's now hooked on vintage racing and that he plans to return to the series in 2014 to defend his AMA No. 1 plate.
"I'll be back to race next year," he said. "I love it."
On the motocross side, Steve Ellis from Irvine, Calif., won two AMA vintage motocross national titles: the Super Senior A title and the 201-250cc A title.
"I decided to attempt another national championship 40 years after my first one, which was in 1973," said Ellis, who competed on a 1973 Honda CR250. "This is the 40th anniversary of that event. The 40th anniversary of the Honda Elsinore and Gary Jones won the pro championship on the Elsinore 40 years ago when the bike came out, so I pulled it all together, you could say."
Another coincidence that Ellis didn't plan occurred during the awards ceremony. The Michigan native was presented his series AMA No. 1 plate by AMA Motocross Manager Kip Bigelow. In 1973, Kip's father and AMA District 14 (southern Michigan) representative Dick Bigelow gave Ellis his award.
"Vintage racing gives people an opportunity to get back to something that they did in their youth, enjoying the golden era of motocross," Ellis said. "To come back to vintage racing, get those juices flowing, and have a great series like this AMA championship, that's awesome."
Photos from individual rounds of the AMA Vintage Motocross and Hare Scrambles National Championship Series, presented by JT Racing, and more information about vintage competition can be found at www.americanmotorcyclist.com/racing/nationalchampionships/vintagenationals.aspx.