Premier class frontrunner Randy Mamola has been inducted into the World Championship Hall of Fame at the Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas in Austin, Texas. Mamola is a multiple Grand Prix winner and podium finisher, making him one of the most successful American riders in the history of the Championship. He has also been an important figure in the paddock off track as well as during his career as a rider.
Mamola burst onto the world stage in 1979, taking podiums in both the 250 and 500 World Championships. In 1980, the American gained even more traction and took his first victories – two 500 Grand Prix wins for Suzuki – and added a further pair of rostrum finishes to end the year runner up in the Championship. The following year Mamola took to the top step twice more with even more visits to the podium, and he finished up 1981 second in the standings once again before a slightly more difficult season the year after.
Mamola was third overall in 1983 as Freddie Spencer and Kenny Roberts fought it out at the top, before then moving to Honda the following season and taking runner up in the Championship once again. After 1985 brought another victory and one of the most spectacular saves in history, the American switched to Yamaha for 1986 and took yet more wins and podiums.
Another impressive campaign saw the American crowned runner up for the fourth time in 1987, and Mamola finally retired from Grand Prix racing at the end of 1992 after another two podiums. That makes a total of 13 wins and 57 rostrum finishes taken throughout his illustrious career, with 2018 marking the 39th year the American has been part of the paddock, having remained a key figure in the sport beyond competing on track.
“It’s a big pleasure to have Randy here with me today” said Carmelo Ezpeleta, CEO of Dorna Sports, as the induction ceremoy began. “When we created MotoGP Legends, it was to create a Hall of Fame for the MotoGP World Championship. We have been nominating many World Champions and this is the first time we’ve nominated someone who has not been World Champion. This is because all his career and all his time with us has made him a legend. It’s for that reason we’ve nominated Randy Mamola.”
“For his years in the World Championship and collaborating with us later on in many programmes, he’s a real legend of MotoGP. His collaboration with Riders for Health and now, Two Wheel for Life, have made him that. We’re very honoured to nominate him here in America, in front of a great number of American riders and Champions, many of them MotoGP Legends.”
“It’s a great honour to be appreciated by the sport” begins newly-inducted MotoGP™ Legend Mamola. “When I got the call, it was a huge shock and even since then trying to come up with a speech or something I want to talk about…there’s too much to write. It’s a great honour. I know I impacted a lot of people and raced for a lot of teams.”
The American then explained how his career began as a dirt tracker and how the road led to Grand Prix racing, naming Kenny Roberts as his mentor and as someone who played a big role in his career.
“The unique thing about my career was that I stood on the podium in three decades, the 70s, 80s and 90s, in the 500 class” he continued. “That was unheard of when you think about the American riders that came over to Europe. Today’s Moto3 or Red Bull Rookies have more experience on these tracks than we did when we showed up to race against the Europeans!”
“My mother and father, who are 92 and 88, said it’s about time you’re becoming a Legend. They’ve been married 68 years. They’re strong and that’s what’s made me strong. My father also told me he’d kick my butt if I ever thought I was above anybody, and that’s why my feet are firmly on the ground. I’m one of the best riders who ever raced, I’m one of the best who put my leg over a screaming 500. My father also always said, be grateful for what you have.”
On that subject, Mamola then spoke of his work with Two Wheels for Life, the official charity of MotoGP™ that works to save lives in Africa – using motorcycles.
“And I’ll mention Two Wheels for Life, which was Riders for Health. My trip, my donations, the help of the riders and everyone that did things to get it to that point… Princess Anne told me I had to go and see how it was being spent and me and Barry went to Somalia before the civil war… We now reach more than 15 million people using motorcycle. Besides my friends and family, the motorcycle is the hero in my life. It has given me and these Champions the passport to travel the world, to represent their country and/or brands and sponsors, in a sport that’s one of the greatest things people can watch or be a part of.”
Mamola has now joined a long list of greats that have been made MotoGP™ Legends that includes Giacomo Agostini, Mick Doohan, Geoff Duke, Wayne Gardner, Mike Hailwood, Daijiro Kato, Eddie Lawson, Anton Mang, Angel Nieto, Wayne Rainey, Phil Read, Jim Redman, Kenny Roberts, Jarno Saarinen, Kevin Schwantz, Barry Sheene, Marco Simoncelli, Freddie Spencer, Casey Stoner, John Surtees, Carlo Ubbiali, Alex Crivillé, Franco Uncini, Marco Lucchinelli and the late Nicky Hayden. South African Kork Ballington will join the ranks later this season.