AMA: Champions reign at Caesars Palace Las Vegas
16 December 1999
Posted By Terry
PICKERINGTON, Ohio -- American Motorcyclist
Association (AMA) National
Champions reigned over Caesars Palace in Las Vegas on Saturday night. The
star-studded AMA National Champions Awards Banquet featured trophy
presentations for all AMA Pro and amateur racing champions, and was capped
off with the presentation of AMA Pro Racing's most prestigious honors: the
AMA Speedvision Athlete of the Year Award; the AMA Sportsman of the Year
Award and the AMA Mechanical Excellence Award.
Motorsports Editor, The Auto Channel
Nicky Hayden, of Owensboro, Ky., was presented with the AMA Speedvision Athlete of the Year Award for outstanding performance in four different race series across two disciplines.
Hayden had already received the AMA Ricky Graham Grand National Rookie of the Year Award, the result of his remarkable first season in the 1999 AMA Grand National Championship, where he won the Hagerstown, Md. race, took three second-place finishes, and had two more Grand National top-five results. By season's end he was ranked ninth in the field of 45 Grand National riders. Hayden's ninth-place national ranking was all the more remarkable, considering that he entered just 12 of 19 Grand National races while simultaneously competing in the AMA's Pro Honda Oils 600 SuperSport Championship and Sunoco Race Fuels Formula Xtreme road racing series.
Hayden also experienced great success in his 1999 road-racing season. The 18-year old won the highly-competitive AMA Pro Honda Oils 600 SuperSport championship with five wins, and was the runner-up for the 1999 AMA Sunoco Race Fuels Formula Xtreme series, where he took seven wins. Hayden further impressed road-race fans when he entered the AMA MBNA Superbike series season finale at Pikes Peak International Raceway and took third place for his Erion Honda team.
Hayden was selected from a field of nominees including 1999 AMA 250cc Mazda Truck Motocross Nationals Champ Greg Albertyn, 1999 AMA Grand National Championship presented by Drag Specialties Champion Chris Carr, 1999 AMA Supercross Champion Jeremy McGrath and 1999 AMA MBNA Superbike Tour Champ Mat Mladin.
The AMA Sportsman of the Year Award was presented to the riders of the Grand National Championship main event held at the DuQoin, Ill. Mile, last July.
Tragedy struck the Grand National Championship series in DuQuoin, when rider Davey Camlin, of Rock Island, Ill., perished in a crash during qualifying. Riders Kevin Atherton, Brett Landes, Johnny Murphree and Gary Rogers were injured in the same crash.
Reeling with grief over the loss of Camlin and their injured fellow racers, the remaining riders agreed to cancel the Grand National Championship race, and instead held a non points-paying, 10-lap exhibition race for the fans.
Prior to the start of the exhibition race, the riders left the pit area one at a time, and in tribute to Camlin, headed in the reverse direction of a regular race. The riders then came back to the start and rode a full-on, 9-lap race for the fans. On the last lap, the leading riders positioned themselves in a straight line, crossing the finish line at the same time.
The riders then returned to the front-straight, lined up facing the crowd, and removed their helmets as Camlin's Gardner Racing teammate, Dan Stanley, and his mechanic, Greg Crow, took a checkered-flag lap aboard Camlin's backup bike. Following that lap, nine-time Grand National Champion Scott Parker recounted Camlin's career, and informed the crowd that the riders were contributing their purse money to Camlin's family.
Suzuki was presented with the AMA Mechanical Excellence Award, in recognition of the manufacturer's three AMA Pro Racing National Championships this year. First, Greg Albertyn captured the AMA 250cc Mazda Truck Motocross Nationals Championship with three overall wins and four additional podium finishes. Then Mat Mladin followed up with the MBNA Superbike Championship, earned with a win at Sears Point and six additional podium finishes. Suzuki's dream season was capped off when Joe Kopp won the inaugural AMA SuperTrapp Supertracker Championship with five wins and two additional podium finishes. In addition, Suzuki took second and third-place in the SuperTrapp SuperTracker Championship with riders Steve Morehead and Glen Schnabel.
Other highlights of the evening included the announcement of Progressive Insurance as the new title sponsor for the 2000 Progressive Insurance AMA U.S. Flat Track Championships, which will tour with the Progressive Insurance Grand National Championship, the Harley-Davidson Sportster Performance and SuperTrapp Supertracker series. Progressive Insurance debuted a new program which rewards Grand National riders with bonus money when fans call 1-800-FLAT TRACK for insurance rate quotes.