Bob “Hurricane” Hannah easily ranks as one of the most versatile motocross racers ever. When he was inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 1999, he had seven AMA national championships to his credit, and was one of only two riders in the history of AMA racing to win championships in 125cc motocross, 250cc motocross and Supercross.
Here are a dozen interesting tidbits about Hannah.
1. Hannah was born in 1956 in Lancaster, Calif., and grew up riding in the desert. But he didn't race until he was 18 and living on his own because his dad didn’t want him to race. “He did not mind me riding, but at the same time he didn’t want me getting hurt,” Hannah says.
2. He won his first and only amateur motocross race. After his dominating debut, local racing officials told Hannah he would have to move up to the expert ranks.
3. In 1975, his first full year as an expert, he only raced two Nationals. But a racetrack announcer at Saddleback Raceway in Southern California called him “Hurricane” Hannah and the name stuck throughout his professional career
4. Yamaha signed Hannah in 1976. In 1977, he rode a stock production Yamaha 250 and won the Florida Winter-AMA Series and the AMA Supercross Championship in impressive fashion, taking six of the 10 rounds. By the end of the AMA Nationals season, he was in contention for the 125cc, 250cc and Open Class titles, becoming the first rider to win races in all three classes in just one season.
5. Even though Hannah had numerous attractive offers to race in world championship motocross in the 1970s, he never seriously considered it. Displaying classic Hannah dry humor, he quipped that the main reason he didn’t want to race overseas was that the Europeans “served their drinks without ice.”
6. Even though he preferred racing close to home, Hannah did represent his country three times in the prestigious Motocross des Nations team competition, and was part of the victorious 1987 team when the international event was held at his favorite racetrack, Unadilla, in New York state.
7. He was obsessed with winning and trained every day, but purposely downplayed his training regimen to maintain a psychological edge over his competitors.
8. A water skiing accident in the Colorado River at the end of 1979 nearly cost Hannah his career, and the near amputation of his right leg. Hannah’s leg was broken in 12 places when he hit a submerged rock and was catapulted onto the riverbank.
9. Doctors initially told Hannah he would never be able to race again. He was forced to sit out the entire 1980 season while recuperating. During his recovery, Hannah earned his pilot’s license.
10. Hannah’s final win came in the 250 outdoor National held in Millville, Minn., on Aug. 11, 1985. He continued to race part-time with Suzuki from 1986 until his retirement in 1989.
11. Then, for almost a decade, he raced a highly modified P-51 Mustang at speeds close to 500 mph, 30-50 feet off the ground, in the Unlimited Gold class at the Reno Air Races.
12. Hannah lives in Idaho and owns an aircraft sales company.