Hello again C2W fans,
I have been putting this off for a while, trying to figure out how I wanted to cover the legends of 2 wheels. So what I figured I would do is, tell you some names that I remember growing up with, and some facts behind them. Then maybe you can add some Dirt Bike legends , of 2 wheels that you remember and grew up with. Let’s face it without them, the sport would not be what it is today.
I can remember going to my first race as a kid like it was yesterday. The 2 stroke smell in the air, fresh dirt ripped up, always smile when I think about the race……. OK sorry I got a little side tracked day dreaming, but I remember they were not hitting the jumps, and doing the crazy stuff they are doing today. Its kinda like this, if you have ever been or seen monster trucks back in the early stages of monster trucks. They pretty much just drove over cars and revved the motor, maybe even got a small wheely. Now they are flying thru the air like the Wallenda brothers. Same thing goes for the dirt bikes, they are doing some crazy stuff that they were not back 30 years ago. It has become so competitive that they have to raise the bar all the time.
That also brings up the next issue, just like a lot of hard core sports, there is risk. Sometimes a lot of risk. But without the risk there, is no reward.
These are the once that I remember growing up the most, starting with this man….
Robert Gregory ( HURRICANE ) Hannah
ON THE EIGHTH DAY GOD CREATED the “HURRICAIN”
Bob Hannah was born on September 26, 1956, in Lancaster, California.
At 3 years old hurricane always wanted to sit on his dads bike, even when it fell on him and pinned him to his house, even this made him stronger. I actually was just talking to my mom the other day about how I used to fall asleep on my dads chopper, and how you would not even try this today, they would end up in jail over that today. I used to love the sound of his chopper, so much that it did always put me to sleep.
Hurricanes first bike was a Honda 55 steps through, the ” toilet tanker “ they called it. He and a friend modified the bike to make it more like a mini bike. they road that thing right into the ground. He would ride 5 days a week until he was 17 when he got hooked up with Suzuki, he at the time was working at a welders shop. Around two years later they would lose Hannah to Yamaha.
“ He was one of the most successful motocross racers in American history as far as I am concerned, and the name I remember hearing a lot about when I was a kid “.
It was in 1976 that team Yamaha took a chance on a 19-year old at the time, and him and his 125cc machine were off to the nationals. He would go on this year to win 5 out of 8 races in the nationals, in route to the championship. 1977 – team Yamaha and Hannah decided he would step up to the 250cc class, from there on in, he was off to the races, and winning. He would also get him a mechanic that some said was just as hard-headed as Hannah, his name was Kieth McCarthy, and he was bobs mechanic from 1977 – to 1982. 1977 He won the AMA super cross championship that year in aggressive and impressive fashion, in so taking 6 out of 10 races.
1978 bob would get 8 consecutive wins in the 250 outdoor nationals, which a record that stood the test of time all the way till he was inducted into the AMA hall of fame in 1999. 1979 would be a another dominating year, as he was just dominating the races getting wins on 6 out of ten races, giving him the glorious MX Title once again that year.
1979 Colorado River
The end of 1979 he was out for a great time on the Colorado river water skiing., when he had an accident that almost ended his career. At one point the doctor told him he was not sure if he was going to lose his leg or not, that he should go to sleep and when he wakes up, he would have his answer. When bob awoke the next morning and still had his legs attached, people said he was never the same after the accident, but they said the same thing about Tom Brady of the patriots, and we all know how that story is turning out.
Learning to fly
Hannah used his time off in 1980 well, and he took interest and a passion for something that his dad was interested in, aviation. So he took this time to learn, and then was flying himself to races, and he always liked it after that. 1981 was a hard year fighting back for a less than perfect hurricane, but if for nothing else but to prove it to himself he fought back to win in saddle back, quoting if that Kent Howerton had left me alone, and not kept bumping me he probably would have won that race. He was fresh off a year of injury but he said he had just had enough, and quoted by Hannah, saying I tee boned him, I could not take it anymore. So they went over the next jump and he drove it right through him. That corner Kent went down, but not without trying to take bob with him. Hannah was so mad over the whole thing that he let Kent by, saying that was the hardest 45 minute race of his life, but beat Kent fair and square in the last moto.
1982 goodbye Yamaha
By 1982 team Yamaha and bob were not seeing eye to eye anymore on how to win championships., so he asked them if they wanted out of the contract, and Yamaha said yes we want you out. So after a good run with the team he and his mechanic left under not the best feelings.
Luck again would come blowing the hurricane in, with a move from the color yellow to the racing red with team Honda even though when he talked to team Honda at first, they told him we don’t even have a spot for you, at any price.he said I don’t want money I want a bike.but all slots were full, a week later one of the other riders Hanson got hurt bad out in Europe, so there was now a slot opening up. So team red it was,and he took a hundred grand pay cut for that year, that he says he made that back on the first 5 weeks, grinning ear to ear. 1983 the team asked him to throw the race for David bailey, so he led the race all the way till the last corner where Hannah laid down in the last corner and basically waved to Bailey as he road by. then getting back on his bike and letting Bailey win. After the race bob was looking for the money for winning the race, and they did not pay him. At one point saying go ask bailey, he won’t mind. The 1983 season was not a good one for our legend, it was full of injuries, in fact 1984, and 1985 were not much better.
In 1986 the nationals at millville, he would see his last AMA national win on a Honda bike. This nigh was very special to the legend, for this was the night that he met his wife. She asked him to sign her jersey, and that was all it took for Hannah. So with no team for the first time pretty much in his life, and thinking of the end of his motorcycle career in sight.
Not another Mistake!
Bob went back home, where he got a call from someone who was not going to let opportunity slip through their fingers again. that’s right, he got a call from team Suzuki, and was told we need you here tomorrow to let the people know you are back on the team. So get into your plane and we will see you tomorrow.so back on the Suzuki after 11 years he won the 1986 250 U. S Grand Prix. He once again flew through the pack in one of his favorite races, Unidilla in 1989 to win Grand Prix, after this bobs career was all but over when it came to racing dirt bikes.1998 to 2000 the hurricane kept his competitive ways alive by racing planes, up until he came close to having a fatal crash. This plane was named voodoo, probably a bad idea. After he stopped racing the planes he started his own aviation business.
This man is truly a legend, that will live on till the end of days, with his 15 year career in the sport, 70 AMA National titles during these years. These titles stood tall as the best, until a young hungry Jeremy McGrath came along in 1999.
I would just like to say after looking more into the man I had heard so much about as I was growing up, there was no other that even came close whilst he was racing. There are so many Dirt Bike Legends of dirt racing, I was going to cover a few of them during this post, but I think instead of covering a bunch, and not letting you know who these men were, I figured make a Wall of Fame, that I can keep adding to….
Soon to come……A story of Roger De Coster
Thank you for reading, please feel free to leave a comment about what I have written. Or if you have a person you think should be on the wall of fame, just let me know. Until next time when in doubt, grip it and rip it.