Danny Hamel was a five-time AMA Hare and Hound National Champion, SCORE Baja 1000 and 500 overall winner and more. Between 1977 and 1995, Hamel was the only rider named both as the AMA Amateur Athlete of the Year and AMA Amateur Sportsman of the Year in the same year.
Before a crash took his life in June 1995 when a car strayed onto part of the Baja 500 course, Hamel had earned a reputation as a master at getting the most out of what many considered to be one of desert racing’s most powerful and impressive-to-ride machines: the Kawasaki KX500.
Built by Dave Pyle of Kawasaki Team Green with help from mechanic Mike Hodges and Pro Circuit, one of Hamel’s biggest sponsors, this 1994 KX500 is in unrestored race condition, just as it was following Hamel’s 1995 season.
This was the machine that powered Hamel to his 1994 Baja 1000 Championship when he was teamed with AMA Motorcycle Hall of Famers Larry Roeseler and Ty Davis. He also rode it for part of his successful 1995 AMA National Hare and Hound campaign—his fifth title on a Kawasaki.
The mighty KX500 was a powerful, intimidating open-class two-stroke, but in the hands of Hamel, it was a smooth-riding rocketship that chewed through miles of harsh desert terrain at world-class speeds.
The most distinctive feature of this motorcycle is its massive articulating headlights, designed to light up the midnight desert landscape as bright as the afternoon sun. Showing that no detail was lost on Pyle and Hodges, the mount for the lights sweeps horizontally more slowly than the bars themselves, ensuring that the forward path remains lit despite a split-second turn of the controls.
This historic KX500 is owned by Kawasaki Motors Corp. USA and is on loan to the Hall of Fame. You can see it and other machines that have shaped the history of American motorcycling at the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame on the AMA campus in Pickerington, Ohio.
The AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame in Pickerington, Ohio, features the people and machines that have defined the sport, lifestyle and business of motorcycling in America. The Hall of Fame is a 501(c)3 non-profit corporation that receives support from the AMA and from the motorcycling community.
For info and directions, visit www.motorcyclemuseum.org, or call (614) 856-2222.