2000 premier class World Champion Kenny Roberts Jr. has been inducted into the MotoGP™ World Championship Hall of Fame at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, TX, with Carmelo Ezpeleta, CEO of Dorna Sports, leading the ceremony at the Americas GP on Friday.
Roberts Jr. made history with his title win in 2000, becoming half of the only father and son duo to both win 500cc World Championships. The American debuted in the 250cc World Championship at Laguna Seca in 1993 – an impressive top ten – before moving up to the premier class in 1996 and joining Suzuki in 1999. The following year the Japanese factory were celebrating their first title since Kevin Schwantz in 1993 and motorcycling history was made like father, like son. Roberts Jr. then joined his father’s Honda backed outfit in 2006, claiming two podiums and many top six finishes before his retirement in 2007 – after eight GP wins and 184 World Championship starts.
Roberts Jr. joins a long list of greats that have been made MotoGP™ Legends, including Giacomo Agostini, Mick Doohan, Geoff Duke, Wayne Gardner, Mike Hailwood, Daijiro Kato, Eddie Lawson, Anton Mang, Angel Nieto, Wayne Rainey, Phil Read, Jim Redman, Jarno Saarinen, Kevin Schwantz, Barry Sheene, Marco Simoncelli, Freddie Spencer, Casey Stoner, John Surtees, Carlo Ubbiali, Nicky Hayden, Alex Criville, Franco Uncini and Roberts Jr’s father, Kenny Roberts.
Carmelo Ezpeleta, CEO Dorna Sports: “This is a special day today, and a very special moment for us because it’s the first time that a father and son have become members of the MotoGP World Championship Hall of Fame. I think it’s great for Kenny Roberts Senior to also be here with us and to share this special moment. They have both contributed to growing MotoGP. Kenny was one of the first to try and change motorcycling, and he did many things to change our world. Later, Kenny Roberts Jr was one of the crucial parts of creating one of the things we’re most proud of – the Safety Commission. When he was in the Championship he was a crucial man in that. So I want to say thank you to both Kenny Roberts and Kenny Roberts Jr – and it’s an important moment for all of Dorna to give you this award.”
Kenny Roberts Jr: “I haven’t been up here for a long time! This is an extremely special moment and I didn’t write a speech or anything because I wanted the raw emotion of the day, with my dad and Carmelo up here. Now, being able to celebrate here with my wife Rochelle and our kids, her family, some of my family and friends, my dad…words don’t help because you can’t describe it. As a dream you say ‘I have this dream to do this one day’ but then maybe it doesn’t work out or the right people aren’t there that you want to be there when something like this finally happens, in 20 or 25 years.”
Text and images courtesy of MotoGP.