Jimmy Filice was one of the most versatile AMA professional racers from the 1980s to early 2000s, racing flat-track and later making his mark in roadracing.
Here are a dozen facts about Filice, who was inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 2000.
1. Filice was born in San Jose, Calif., in 1962. As a grade-schooler, he was picked on a lot due to his small size, but he never backed down. As a result, he was often in trouble for fighting.
2. His father told him if he would focus on his school work and stay out of trouble, he could get a motorcycle. It was an offer a 9-year-old couldn’t refuse. He got a Yamaha 60cc and started riding and competing in local minibike races around his hometown.
3. It wasn’t long before he was one of the top young riders in the highly competitive Northern California circuit that included riders such as future AMA Motorcycle Hall of Famers Randy Mamola, Fred Merkel, Doug Chandler and Chris Carr.
4. 1981 was Filice’s rookie expert season, and he landed on the Roberts/Lawwill team, which brought together an all-star squad made up of AMA Motorcycle Hall of Famers: owners Kenny Roberts and Mert Lawwill, and Dick Mann as suspension specialist. Filice went on to earn the AMA Flat Track Rookie of the Year Award.
5. In 1981, he also found success on the road racing circuit, winning the AMA 250 Grand Prix at Pocono and finishing second to future AMA Motorcycle Hall of Famer Eddie Lawson in the final standings.
6. Filice joined the AMA Superbike series in 1985, as part of the Super Team Yamaha sponsored by Jim France (of Daytona and NASCAR fame).
7. In 1988, legendary GP tuner, team owner and future AMA Motorcycle Hall of Famer Erv Kanemoto called Filice and asked if he would be interested in filling in for an injured GP rider and racing in the 250GP event at the United States Grand Prix at Laguna Seca, just two weeks away. Filice agreed and rode a 250 Grand Prix machine for the first time in five years: a factory Honda NSR25. He not only won, but also turned in the race of a lifetime and took the checkered flag by a 12-second margin.
8. During the next few years, Honda began grooming Filice for Grand Prix racing. He became a factory test rider for Honda’s racing arm, HRC, and he raced select Japanese, U.S. and world championship races. In 1990, Filice was set to tackle the world championship full-time when, as a passenger, he was involved in a serious automobile crash. The crash left Filice with numerous and serious injuries. It would take him more than a year to recover.
9. In 1991, he won the AMA 250 Grand Prix title and took home the title again in 1993.
10. In 1996, he accepted the job of running the Kenny Roberts Training Camp in Barcelona, Spain.
11. In 2001, Filice decided to race a full season in AMA 250 Grand Prix for the first time since 1993. Filice won the title over Rich Oliver by a single point. It marked the closest championship battle ever in AMA 250 Grand Prix racing and the third national title for Filice.
12. Filice attempted to make the move to AMA Supersport racing in 2002, but without a great deal of manufacturer support. While his results were not what he hoped, Filice will always look back at fondness on his final season of pro racing, since both his retired father and his son traveled with him to the races as part of his race team.