In the history of Grand Prix racing, seven Americans have won premier-class titles, including an incredible period of 16 years between 1978 and 1993 when Americans won the 500cc GP championship all but three times. Norm DeWitt's book Grand Prix Motorcycle Racers: The American Heroes profiles each of those riders in depth: Kenny Roberts, Freddie Spencer, Eddie Lawson, Wayne Rainey, Kevin Schwantz, Kenny Roberts Jr. and Nicky Hayden. Additionally, the book covers America's pioneers in the world championships, including Gary Nixon and Steve Baker and their exploits in the F750 class, as well as Pat Hennen, the first American to win a 500cc GP.
At first glance, Grand Prix Motorcycle Racers appears to offer simply a short biography of each of the riders, but within just a few pages of reading it is obviously much more than that. Current interviews with each of the champions and people that worked with them offer considerable insight into each rider's championship seasons, and their comments are often refreshing given the sometimes years of hindsight. What's especially interesting is reading one viewpoint of a certain race or time in one rider's profile, then later reading a second and sometimes contrasting viewpoint. For example, Kenny Roberts discusses his views of the controversial 1983 Swedish GP in which he and Freddie Spencer clashed on the last lap, essentially deciding that year's championship; in a later chapter, Spencer reveals his side of the story. Both offer some interesting insight given the years that have passed since. Likewise, Wayne Rainey and Kevin Schwantz talk about some of their epic battles in the Transatlantic Match races and various GP events.
DeWitt also goes into detail concerning each rider's life after the championship years: Kenny Roberts as team owner and father of another champion in Roberts Jr., Wayne Rainey dealing with a long and painful recovery after his accident at Misano in '93, and Roberts Jr. riding for his father's Modenas/Proton/KR team. The main rider profiles are followed by a chapter covering riders that didn't win a world championship but deserve mention, including Randy Mamola who finished second in the 500cc championship four times. The final chapter is devoted to America's six World Superbike champions and their careers. Grand Prix Motorcycle Racers: The American Heroes is a great look at Americans in world championship roadracing and deserving of a spot on any roadracing fan's bookshelf.
Grand Prix Motorcycle Racers: The American Heroes
By Norm DeWitt
What We're Testing
Aerostich Transit Suit
One of the icons of the textile riding suit world, Aerostich has branched out to leather riding gear with its unique waterproof/breathable Transit leather suit. Its GORE-TEX(r) Pro-Shell leather not only repels water, but is also claimed to wear about 30 degrees F cooler than conventional leather in sunny weather.
Alpinestars Scout Jacket And Touring Pants
A 3/4-length waterproof jacket and pants combo that is tailored for both everyday commuter use and long-distance journeys, the Scout DryStar jacket and pants look to be just the ticket for the type of all-around riding duties we'll be encountering this coming winter.