Randy Mamola was widely regarded as one of the most exciting and charismatic Grand Prix motorcycle racers of his generation. He was a consistent challenger for the 500cc world championship title throughout the 1980s and early 1990s, winning 13 Grands Prix and finishing as runner-up in the championship four times.
Here are 12 things you may not know about Randy Mamola.
1. As a child, Mamola trained to be a drummer and was considered a prodigy on the instrument. He gave up his musical training when he took up motorcycle racing at age 12.
2. Mamola learned to ride on a Hodaka at a small track owned by the Police Athletic League near his home in San Jose, Calif.
3. His hero was fellow northern Californian Kenny Roberts.
4. At 14, Mamola was sponsored by Yamaha and wore the yellow-and-black Yamaha racing leathers of his idol. He was even known by the semi-derisive name of "Baby Kenny" in the early stages of his career.
5. When he was 16, Mamola arranged a charity race in his hometown, using many of the hundreds of trophies he’d earned in his young racing career as prizes.
6. In 1977, he graduated from high school and began competing in the AMA 250 Grand Prix Championship. He scored three podium finishes in his rookie season and finished runner-up in the championship.
7. Before embarking on his world championship quest, Mamola won the AMA 250 Grand Prix Championship in 1978.
8. In 1979, Mamola went to England for the popular Anglo-American Match Races and scored second only to fellow American Mike Baldwin, and ahead of former world champ Barry Sheene and experienced American pilots David Aldana, Gene Romero, Rich Schlachter, Steve Baker, Wes Cooley, Dale Singleton and John Long.
9. He won his first 500cc World Championship Grand Prix race in July 1980 in Zolder, Belgium.
10. Mamola was a jokester on the starting grid for the GP races to try to relieve the tension of the racers.
11. He was one of the first GP riders to acknowledge the crowd on the cool-down lap of the race. He would throw gloves, boots and his T-shirt into the crowd.
12. During his GP racing days, Mamola got involved in raising money for African relief and is best known in the charity world for being a founder of Riders for Health, making him perhaps the leading philanthropist ever to come out of motorcycle racing.