Ted Boody, Jr. was a leading AMA Grand National Championship racer from 1976 through 1988. Boody was a versatile rider, earning national victories on miles, half-miles and short tracks. Easy to spot in a crowd of racers, Boody stood over six-feet-two, which earned him the nickname of "Too Tall Ted."
Though he spent the majority of his career racing has a privateer, Boody did ride for the Harley-Davidson factory team in the late 1970s and later was instrumental in helping Honda develop its flat track racing machine, which became successful during the 1980s. Boody was twice runnerup in the AMA Grand National Series and won a total of eight nationals during his professional racing career, which spanned just over 12 years. Sadly, Boody died during his prime from injuries he sustained in a crash at the Ascot Park Half-Mile in Gardena, California, in May of 1988.
Ted Boody, Jr. was born on August 11, 1958, in Lansing, Michigan. Ted, Sr., owned a motorcycle dealership and was an amateur racer as well. That area of the country was a hotbed of dirt track motorcycle racing and young Ted started racing both motocross and dirt track as a teenager.
In 1975, he won the AMA Midwest Regional Championship as a junior. He was also a leading ice racer, something he would continue to do throughout his career in the off season to stay sharp.
In 1976, Boody made a successful rookie debut on the national circuit. He scored his first AMA national points in May of 1976 at the Oklahoma City Half-Mile, where he finished second. He earned his first AMA national win in June of that year at the indoor Short Track held in the Pontiac (Michigan) Silverdome. At the time, he was the youngest rider, at 17, to win an AMA national.
Former racing great Bart Markel served as his tuner and coach that first season. Boody was so impressive in his rookie season that he earned a few rides on a factory Harley-Davidson at the end of the year. He ended 1976 ranked sixth in the national standings, but lost AMA Rookie of the Year honors to Steve Eklund, who finished 13 points ahead of Boody.
In 1977, Boody was given a full factory ride with Harley-Davidson. It turned out to be an excellent sophomore campaign for Boody. He scored an amazing 18 top-10 finishes, including wins at the Harrington (Delaware) Half-Mile and Indy Mile, and was runnerup in the championship to teammate Jay Springsteen.
Boody returned with the Harley-Davidson squad in 1978, and even though he scored a solid fourth in the series standings, he tallied no wins and was dropped from the team at the end of the year. He came back to prove a point in 1979 and started the season’s opening weekend with a victory in the Houston Astrodome’s Short Track riding a Yamaha. Unfortunately, Boody was forced to miss most of 1979 after suffering a hard crash at the Loudon (New Hampshire) road race national in June.
Boody went through a three-year lull, from 1980 to 1982, where he scored no wins. He was, however, helping Honda start its dirt track racing program, and in 1981 he gave Honda its first national points on a half-mile. While Mickey Fay had won a TT national for Honda, the top finish by Boody on the bigger track was perhaps even more significant for Honda, as it set out to challenge Harley-Davidson’s dominance in AMA Grand National dirt track events.
Things began to turn around for Boody in 1983. He and his young family moved to his wife’s hometown of Sapulpa, Oklahoma, where he got a lot of help from his wife’s family, who were also into racing. That year, he scored national points in a career-high 20 races. He also scored his first victory in over four years when he won the Hamburg (New York) Half-Mile on a Harley-Davidson. He finished the season ranked seventh, his best showing in five years.
Boody reached another career milestone in 1984 when he scored a victory on the legendary Springfield (Illinois) Mile. He also won on the Louisville Half-Mile that year, continuing his strong comeback season.
His comeback was made complete in 1985 when he scored a remarkable nine podium finishes, including a victory on the Ascot Park Half-Mile in May of that year. He finished runnerup to Honda’s Bubba Shobert in the season standings, matching his career-best ranking he obtained eight years earlier.
Ironically, Ascot Park was the site of both Boody’s final AMA national victory, and his tragic death three years later. On May 7, 1988, Boody crashed in a freak accident on the final lap of the national. He died from the injuries. Boody was 29 and survived by his wife Terry (the sister of popular AMA Superbike racer Sam McDonald) and two daughters. He will always be remembered as one of the most respected and versatile AMA racers of his era.