During his racing career in the 1970s and 1980s, David Aldana was a top AMA Grand National Series competitor and road racer. In fact, during his long career, Aldana competed in nearly every form of motorcycle racing, including motocross and Speedway.
Here are 12 things you may not know about Aldana, who was inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 1999.
1. Aldana’s father was a motorcyclist and his uncle was tuner for AMA national racer Skip Van Leeuwen.
2. As a child, Aldana attended Southern California scrambles races but most of the time he would hike off into the woods looking for lizards and frogs instead of watching the races.
3. He got his first bike around the age of 14, and 80cc Suzuki that he stripped down to ride in the dirt.
4. At age 16 Aldana bought a 90cc Honda and began racing all over Southern California. He started working at motorcycle shops and earned a factory-supported ride from BSA in dirt track and a factory ride with Ossa in scrambles/motocross, all by the time he was 19.
5. By the late-1960s, Aldana was the star of the Ascot TT races.
6. In 1970 Aldana became a rookie expert on the AMA Grand National circuit riding for BSA. He appeared in the classic motorcycling documentary “On Any Sunday,” conveying his brash and carefree attitude.
7. Aldana earned a reputation as a crasher in his early years on the professional circuit. At the same time he earned a nickname “Rubber Ball” because he always seemed to easily bounce up after spectacular crashes.
8. He gained notoriety from wearing his skeleton leathers: a set of racing leathers he designed that featured a black leather suit with a contrasting human skeleton on the front.
9. In 1975, Aldana secured a ride on the factory Suzuki road racing team, but suffered a slew of mechanical problems with the team that year. He won the 1975 Superbike Production race at Daytona on a Suzuki. That race was a direct predecessor of the AMA Superbike Series, which officially kicked off the next year.
10. In 1980, Aldana was hired by Kawasaki to team with Eddie Lawson in the AMA Superbike Series. He finished the year ranked fourth in the series behind Wes Cooley, Lawson and Freddie Spencer.
11. Honda recognized Aldana’s obvious talent on Superbikes and hired him to race in the World Championship Endurance Series. Aldana teamed with Mike Baldwin to win the Suzuka Eight Hour in 1981, which Aldana says was a highlight of his racing career.
12. When not racing in Europe and Asia, he raced in select races in America. In 1983, he finished third in the AMA Superbike race at Daytona aboard a works Honda. He retired from racing after the 1985 season.