The spring is a great time, weather wise, throughout most of the country. It is at this time of year when motorcycle fans pull their bikes out of storage to ride to their hearts content through the highways, byways, and back roads of this great country. Of course, it is also a busy time of year for motorcycle racing, as MotoGP and motocross events take place on an almost weekly basis.
On Friday, April 11, veteran American MotoGP™ racer Colin Edwards, dubbed the “Texas Tornado,” stunned attendees at the pre-race press conference for the 2014 Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas by announcing he would be retiring at the end of the 2014 season, thus ending his stellar 22 seasons as a professional motorcycle racer.
“I don’t know exactly how to say it, even though I’ve rehearsed it I don’t know how many times; 2014 will be my last of racing MotoGP,” stated Edwards.
Edwards has been racing on the MotoGP™ circuit since 2003 after eight years as a leading rider in the World Superbike series, where he won championships in 2000 and 2002. During his 11-year MotoGP race career, Edwards has ridden for five separate teams, capturing 12 podiums in the process.
“But I’m still racing this year!” he added with a warm smile.
His announcement was greeted with a hearty round of applause, as well as a standing ovation from fellow riders and media attendees alike. Edwards went on to thank several people including several of the Yamaha factory personnel who first offered him a ride in the AMA championship, as well as his family members in attendance, including his children and wife, Alyssia.
Edwards said the decision was made in part because he wasn’t able to achieve the kind of improvements he was looking for during pre-season testing with his current team, NGM Mobile Forward Racing.
“I realized with the changes recently made to the bike, I’d have to drastically change my riding style in order to make the bike work properly,” noted Edwards. “But after riding a certain way as long as I have, I realized I automatically reverted back to using certain old instincts when riding. At that point I knew that if I ever found myself in a tense situation on the track this season, I would automatically revert back to my old riding style, which just wouldn’t work out very well."
Reflecting back on his career, Edwards said probably the most memorable races in his career came during the 2002 World Superbike season when he battled with Troy Bayliss throughout the year to take the title.
His fellow riders were eager to honor Edwards for his fine career.
“I am very, very sad to hear this news,” said former factory Yamaha MotoGP teammate Valentino Rossi. “Colin is one of my very best friends in the paddock. We shared a bike [at the Suzuka 8 Hours] in the 2000 and 2001 Superbike racing seasons, and had very good success racing together. He was a terrific teammate of mine for many years during some of the best years of my career with Yamaha … so I’m sad to see him go because he’s a really great guy and a great rider, too!”
“I had hoped to race against Colin for many years, because he’s such a professional, and a really great rider. So it will be really sad to see him go. He has every right to be really proud of what he’s accomplished during his great career,” said Repsol Honda Team rider Marc Marquez. “I think he won his first motorcycle race when I was just three years old,” quipped the 21-year-old reigning MotoGP world champion.
Fellow American rider Nicky Haden, with the Drive M7 Aspar Honda team also had high praise for Edwards. “I watched Colin’s career from the very beginning and remember when he started racing AMA. He didn’t just show up, he took the series by storm,” noted Haden. “He made a huge splash and was fast immediately, riding the 250cc bike. He then graduated to Superbike, winning two championships,” added Hayden.
“After that, we were rookies together in the MotoGP series and Colin was the young hot American. But now it’s hard to believe we’ve been on the circuit together for over 10 years now. Quite often we’ll be on the same airplane, coming back to the United States, and I’ll look over at him and think, ‘Wow, that guy still has a lot of energy.’ Like the other riders have said, he’s given a lot to this sport and has every right to be really proud of the career he’s had,” added Hayden.
Born Feb. 27, 1974, in Houston, Texas, Edwards believes strongly in sticking with his roots. In 2011 he decided to help develop young riders entering the sport by building his Texas Tornado Boot Camp (TTBC) in his hometown. TTBC is a premier 21-acre Yamaha motorcycle training facility located just west of Conroe, in Montgomery, Texas.
The facility is equipped with a 5,000 sq. ft. saloon and bunkhouse for guests, a 300-foot by 150-foot covered and fully-lit arena TT-course for day or nighttime riding, a fleet of over fifty Yamaha motorcycles, and a gun range, easily making it a world-class venue, and a testament to his passion for international motorcycle racing.
Tickets for the 2014 Red Bull Grand Prix of The Americas start at $39 dollars and can be purchased at the circuit’s Grand Plaza Ticket Office throughout the three-day event. Kids ages 12 and under receive free general admission with a ticketed adult.
It is a tough road to become involved in motorcycle racing, especially on the technical side. After receiving thousands of applications, the inaugural recipient of the Ricky Carmichael Motorcycle Mechanics Institute Scholarship Program has been announced. The initiative was introduced this season between the Motorcycle Mechanics Institute (MMI), Carmichael, and AMSOIL Arenacross, featuring Ricky Carmichael’s Road to Supercross, awarded Garrett Schmidt, from Loveland, Colo a $20,000 scholarship to pursue his dream at MMI.
“Passion and dedication are two of the hallmarks of a successful mechanic,” said Carmichael. “As a rider, I know that a mechanic can be the one piece of the puzzle that puts everything over the top and Garrett showed me he has the desire to become successful. The decision wasn’t easy as we had a ton of applicants, but I just to thank everyone for the support of the Ricky Carmichael Motorcycle Mechanics Institute Scholarship Program. I can’t wait to do it again next year.”
The opportunity was open to both current and potential MMI students, and interested applicants were asked to submit a two-minute video explaining why they deserve to win the scholarship.
“We are thrilled to welcome Garrett to our MMI campus in Phoenix, where we provide specialized motorcycle repair technician training on the world’s top brands” says Kim McWaters, chairman and chief executive officer, Universal Technical Institute. “We appreciate Ricky Carmichael’s dedication to offering this scholarship so Garrett can receive an education to launch the career of his dreams.”
The 2014 season was the first in which MMI served as the Official Technical Institute of AMSOIL Arenacross, following many years of support for Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship. MMI is the nation’s leading provider of post-secondary education for students seeking careers as professional motorcycle technicians.
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