Roxy Rockwood was the voice of AMA racing during the 1960s and ‘70s. Rockwood was the announcer at most of the major races of the day, including the Springfield (Illinois) Mile, the Laconia (New Hampshire) Classic and the Daytona 200. Rockwood was renowned for his excellent memory for detail. He had a tremendous knack for bringing up pertinent statistics and could pick out the details of a multi-rider pack like a consummate play-by-play man.
Rockwood was born in Iowa in 1929 and as a youngster moved with his family to southern Minnesota. Rockwood’s father was a motorcyclist and Indian enthusiast. The Rockwoods enjoyed buying dilapidated motorcycles and fixing them up to sell. Rockwood rode motorcycles from his teenage years.
In 1952, after a particularly rough stretch of Minnesota winter weather, Rockwood came home and told his wife Donna that they were moving to Southern California where it was warm. The Rockwoods settled in Gardena and were just a half-mile down the road from Gardena Speedway. Rockwood, who got a job as a motorcycle patrolman, began attending the races and writing race reports for the local paper. He got to know J.C. Agajanian, who was promoting motorcycle races at the speedway. One night, the announcer could not make it to the race and Rockwood was asked if he would sit in. He did so well that Agajanian hired him to be the new announcer.
Rockwood’s booming baritone voice was easily heard over the roar of motorcycles and the fans enjoyed the inside stories he would tell during the breaks in the action. He began to announce motorcycle races at other tracks and became the announcer at the famous Ascot Park Speedway. Ascot Park was a hotbed of Southern California racing and, starting in the late-1950s, hosted annual AMA nationals.
By the early 1960s, Rockwood began traveling around the country announcing AMA nationals. He had the distinction of announcing the last Daytona 200 to be held on the old beach course. He also announced the very first AMA Superbike race, held at Daytona in 1976.
Keeping fans informed was something Rockwood took seriously. His tools for the trade included a microphone, a pen and notepad to keep lap charts and notes, a stopwatch, a walkie-talkie and a good set of binoculars.
In a 1973 interview, Rockwood recalled a humorous experience at Daytona Bike Week in 1962. He’d called so many different events during the week that he woke up on Sunday morning, the day of the Daytona 200, totally hoarse. He found that the only way he could talk at all was by pressing on his throat, so he spent the entire race holding a microphone in one hand and squeezing his throat with the other.
In addition to race announcing, Rockwood served for years as master of ceremonies for the annual AMA awards banquet. He wrote numerous feature articles for a number of motorcycling publications, and even dabbled in competition, earning a trophy in a Canada to Mexico Three Flags Run in 1960. Rockwood’s sons raced and Tom became a top-ranked AMA national rider in the early-1970s.
Rockwood left the police force to take a job working in Yamaha’s public relations department in 1967. He later joined BSA in the same capacity during the early 1970s.
Rockwood retired from announcing in the early 1980s. He died on July 29, 1990 at 61 from a heart attack. He was honored with the AMA’s prestigious Dud Perkins Award posthumously on September 29, 1990 in a special ceremony at the last Ascot Park AMA national.
Inducted in 1999