July 23, 2003
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Bill Amick
PICKERINGTON, Ohio -- The AMA Horizon Award was established in 1997 to give more recognition to riders who are trying to make the transition from the amateur ranks to the world of professional racing. One of the purposes of the Horizon Award is to help make the difficult move from amateur to pro just a little easier for the AMA’s aspiring young racers. The recognition received in getting the reward could attract a sponsor, or make the factory teams aware of a rising talent. The award is only in its seventh year, but already many past recipients have made a successful jump to the pros.
As the 2003 AMA Road Racing Grand Championships begin at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course we take a look back at some of the past winners of the Horizon Award to find out what they’re doing today.
The class of 1997, the very first year of the AMA Horizon Award, set a standard that would be difficult if not impossible to match. That year Nicky Hayden (Dirt Track), Eric Wood (Road Racing) and Nicholas Wey (Motocross) were the three recipients of the award.
Hayden has gone on to be the most successful of all the Horizon winners. Always a two-sport rider (dirt track and road racing), Hayden, from Owensboro, Ky., became very successful in both disciplines. In 1999 Hayden won the Pro Honda Oils Supersport Championship riding for Erion Honda and also earned the AMA Ricky Graham Rookie of the Year Award for his accomplishments in the AMA Progressive Insurance U.S. Flat Track Championship. Hayden was a throwback to the days of Carroll Resweber and Kenny Roberts – a rider who excelled in all forms of motorcycle racing. For his incredible athleticism across disciplines, Hayden was awarded AMA Pro Racing’s highest honor in 1999, the AMA Speed Channel Athlete of the Year Award. Hayden’s career skyrocketed from there. In 2002 he became the youngest rider ever to win the AMA Chevy Trucks U.S. Superbike Championship and was the leader in AMA Grand National wins that season, with a notable victory in the prestigious Peoria TT. He and his brothers Tommy and Roger Lee also became the first brother combination to sweep the podium at an AMA national in May of 2002 in the Springfield (Ill.) TT. Hayden now rides for Honda in the Motorcycle Grand Prix World Championships.
Roger Lee Hayden followed in his brother’s footsteps in 1998 to win the Horizon Award, like his older brother, in the dirt track ranks. The youngest of the Hayden boys continued racing in the U.S. Flat Track Championships, but again made his name in road racing. Today he is a leading factory-supported rider with Erion Honda racing in Lockhart-Phillips Formula Xtreme and Pro Honda Oils Supersport.
Jason DiSalvo went from winning the Horizon Award at Loudon, N.H., in 1999 to road racing in Europe. Former World Champion Freddie Spencer recognized DiSalvo’s talent and convinced his family to bring him back to race in America. It proved to be a good move. DiSalvo now rides for Yamaha in the Pro Honda Supersport Championship and is considered on of the top up-and-coming riders in the sport. That same year Tony Meiring was co-award winner in the Dirt Track Grand Championships. Like DiSalvo, Meiring is a leading rider in the AMA Supersport and Superstock racing with Team Kawasaki.
Texan Ben Spies made a big splash at the Road Racing Grand Championships in its first year at Mid-Ohio in 2000. He was presented the Horizon that year by past winner Nicky Hayden and just a few days later Spies made his AMA pro racing debut at Mid-Ohio, finishing a solid seventh in AMA Superstock (then called 750 Supersport) on a Valvoline EMGO Suzuki. Today Spies rides for the Factory Yoshimura Suzuki squad and leads the Lockhart-Phillips Formula Xtreme Series.
These riders illustrate the realization of the talented recipients of the AMA Horizon Award. On Thursday at Mid-Ohio another rider will be presented the award and here’s hoping that he or she has as bright of a future as their predecessors and they are able to follow the footsteps of previous AMA Horizon winners.
Issued July 23, 2003
About the American Motorcyclist Association
Since 1924, the AMA has protected the future of motorcycling and promoted the motorcycle lifestyle. AMA members come from all walks of life, and they navigate many different routes on their journey to the same destination: freedom on two wheels. As the world`s largest motorcycling organization, the AMA advocates for motorcyclists` interests in the halls of local, state and federal government, the committees of international governing organizations, and the court of public opinion. Through member clubs, promoters and partners, the AMA sanctions more motorsports competition and motorcycle recreational events than any other organization in the world. AMA members receive money-saving discounts from dozens of well-known suppliers of motorcycle services, gear and apparel, bike rental, transport, hotel stays and more. Through its Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum, the AMA preserves the heritage of motorcycling for future generations.