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AMA Honors Best of the Best at National Champions Banquet in Las Vegas

2 December 1998

WESTERVILLE, Ohio -- The American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) honored champions and industry professionals at the AMA National Champions Awards Banquet, held last weekend at the Flamingo Hilton Las Vegas.

AMA professional and amateur national title winners in all disciplines received their 1998 championship trophies during the lavish awards banquet, capped off by the presentation of the AMA's most prestigious prizes: the AMA/Speedvision Athlete of the Year Award; the AMA Award of Mechanical Excellence; the AMA Sportsman of the Year Award; the AMA Amateur Athlete of the Year Award; the AMA Lifetime Achievement Award; the AMA Brighter Image Award and the AMA Prestigious Partner Award.

Motocross Champion Doug Henry was presented with the 1998 AMA/Speedvision Athlete of the Year Award. Henry wrapped up the 1998 250cc Mazda Truck Motocross Nationals championship with a 63-point lead and one race still left on the season schedule, becoming the first rider in history to win the title on a four-stroke motorcycle. Henry took overall victories this year at Washougal, Wash.; Budds Creek, Md.; Binghamton, N.Y.; Delmont, Penn.; and his hometown track in Southwick, Mass. He had four additional podium finishes and finished in the top five at every race of the season.

Henry is admired by motocross fans worldwide for his perseverance, genuine personality and dedication to the sport. Over the course of his 10-year professional career, he has collected the 1993 and 1994 125cc National Motocross championships and the 1993 125cc Eastern Region Supercross title.

Henry was selected from a field of nominees which included: 1998 MBNA Superbike Champion Ben Bostrom; World Team Cup Speedway champions Greg Hancock, Billy Hamill and alternate Sam Ermolenko; Jeremy McGrath -- the 1998, 1996, 1995, 1994 and 1993 Supercross Champion -- who also won the 1995 National Motocross Championship and received the Athlete of the Year Award in 1996, and nine-time Grand National Dirt Track Champion Scott Parker. Parker has won the Athlete of the Year Award three times in the past -- in 1994, 1991 and 1988 -- more than any other rider in the history of the award.

Roadracing veteran Randy Renfrow was presented the AMA Sportsman of the Year Award for his professionalism both on and off the track, and for serving as a mentor to up-and-coming riders. Renfrow also volunteered to be one of the inaugural members of the newly-formed AMA Track Review Advisory Committee (TRAC) this year.

Renfrow retired from full-time competition at the end of the this year's road-racing season. During his 18-year professional career he earned the 1989 AMA Pro Twins series championship, the 1986 AMA Formula One series championship and the 1983 AMA 250 Grand Prix title.

The AMA Award of Mechanical Excellence was presented to Yamaha for the success of the YZ400F four-stroke -- the same machine Doug Henry rode to capture the 1998 Mazda Truck Motocross Nationals championship.

Barry Hawk Jr. of Smithfield, Penn., took home the AMA Amateur Athlete of the Year Award for his unprecedented versatility by winning on two and four wheels. Hawk won his sixth-consecutive ATV title in the AMA Grand National Cross Country Series, and was also a class winner in the AMA National Reliability Enduro Series.

Kenny Roberts was presented with the first-ever AMA Lifetime Achievement Award. This year marks the 25th anniversary of the first of two AMA Grand National Championships Roberts won. He earned the 1973 and 1974 Grand National titles -- in the pre-Superbike era -- when riders competed for the coveted Grand National trophy on a mixed series of paved road courses, oval dirt-tracks, short-tracks and tourist-trophy courses.

Roberts went on to win the 1977 AMA Formula One road-acing championship before storming into the Federation Internationale Motocycliste (FIM) World 500cc Grand Prix Championship series. In 1978 he garnered world-wide respect -- and stirred the pride of U.S. riders and fans -- by becoming the first American to win a World 500 Grand Prix title. In the following years Roberts dominated the world grand prix circuit, and by 1980, he had captured three consecutive World 500 Grand Prix titles.

Roberts retired from full-time competition in 1983, but continued to have great impact on the grand prix scene. He formed Team Roberts, which won three World 500 Grand Prix titles with rider Wayne Rainey and a World 250 Grand Prix title with John Kocinski. In 1997 Roberts took on a new challenge and developed his own grand prix machine, the Modenas KR3. A man of talent, courage and vision, Kenny Roberts has had great influence on the shape of motorcycle racing, both at home and around the globe. As a rider, team owner and manufacturer, the American legend has always had the ability to see to the next level.

Mazda's Jack Stavana -- an AMA member and amateur motocross rider -- received the AMA Brighter Image Award for developing the Mazda Truck sponsorship of the AMA National Motocross Series and for integrating motocross into Mazda's national ad campaigns.

Chet Burks was presented with the AMA Prestigious Partner Award. His company -- Chet Burks Productions -- produces the MBNA Superbike Tour broadcasts for Speedvision and Fox Sports Net, and has also produced the video highlight presentations for the AMA National Champions Awards Banquet for the past several years.

The AMA National Champions Awards Banquet was sponsored by the following partners of the motorcycle racing industry. Platinum Sponsors: American Honda Motor Co., Inc.; Harley-Davidson Motor Company. Gold Sponsor: Speedvision Network. Silver Sponsors: American Motorcycle Institute; Discover Today's Motorcycling; Kawasaki Motors Corp., USA; Seals Communications. Bronze Sponsors: American Motorcyclist Magazine; American Suzuki Motor Corp.; Bricker & Eckler, LLP.