The international thrill ride of motorcycle racing is something that few people have experienced and even fewer have mastered. This dangerous but rewarding sport has been graced by some impressive racers over the years and those racers have come from all over the world. Motorcycle racing is a difficult sport to judge, as there are many facets and classes that racers can make their mark in, which makes ranking them difficult. That being the case, we can still discuss some of the top motorcycle racers of all time, based on the impact they have made on the sport and on our hearts.
As the first winner of the American Grand Prix Championship, Kenny Roberts was an instrument of change in motorcycle racing. He had an unorthodox way of riding for that time-period, wrapping duct tape around his knees to “drag a knee,” in order to take a turn sharper. While having knee pads to race is normal now, back then it was barely heard of, let alone a standard piece of racing equipment. He was a great racer but also a brave one, riding bikes that we would consider antiques and are about as safe as you would expect from an older motorcycle. Winning championships and titles in many classes, tournaments, and countries, Kenny Roberts proved just how good of a racer he was and changed the sport for the better during his career in the 70’s.
A top motorcycle racer that was known for record setting and record breaking was Mike “the Bike” Hailwood. He was one of the only racers to dominate in Formula One, as well as on a motorcycle. His races never seemed to be what you would consider average, always turning into something special. For example, one time he rescued another racer from his burning vehicle and in another race drove a four-cylinder 85 HP Honda against one of his rivals, catching up to him and setting a lap record while winning the race. He is forever a legend in motorcycle racing, considered to be one of the bravest racers in the sport.
Joey Dunlop has a name that is synonymous with motorcycle racing, as he has raced or won nearly every Grand Prix he raced. He won 26 races at the Isle of Man, which is a record still unbeaten in 2015. He won the first Ulster Grand Prix in Northern Ireland and then won it another 23 times throughout his career. Joey Dunlop was built for racing the fast-paced motorcycle races and died doing something he loved. His legend continues, arguably one of the greatest motorcycle racers of all time