PICKERINGTON, Ohio — The awe-inspiring 1975 Yamaha TZ750 dirt-tracker ridden by flat-track and roadracing champion Kenny Roberts, and the championship-winning Suzuki RN380 piloted by motocross legend Roger DeCoster are just two of the prominent racing motorcycles that will be on display during the AMA Legends & Champions Weekend at the Red Rock Casino, Resort and Spa in Las Vegas, Nev., Nov. 18-20.
The one-of-a-kind machines ridden by these iconic Hal of Famers will be displayed alongside Roberts’ world-conquering 1980 Yamaha OW48 grand prix roadracer and DeCoster’s own 1965 CZ 360 motocrosser, like the one he rode in the Belgium national motocross races.
This is just a sampling of the historic motorcycles, from both the track and the street, that will be on display at the Motorcycle Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, presented by KTM, on Nov. 18 and at the Motorcycle Hall of Fame Dave Mungenast Memorial Concours d’Elegance bike show on Nov. 19.
DeCoster and Roberts, who both will be in attendance, will be honored as Motorcycle Hall of Fame Legends during the Motorcycle Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, presented by KTM, for the Class of 2011. The incoming class includes industry leader Fred Fox, motocross promoter Stu Peters, roadracing champion Doug Polen, early motorcycling pioneer Norbert Schickel and noted magazine editor Phil Schilling.
“Roberts and DeCoster are true legends, and to be able to see and hear them at the same public event is an almost unimaginable treat for anyone interested in motorcycling,” said Tom White, Motorcycle Hall of Fame board member and owner of The Early Years of Motocross Museum in Villa Park, Calif. “And when you consider that they will be with some of their truly historic race bikes, it’s mind-boggling.”
The 1975 TZ750 dirt-tracker is the bike that caused “King” Kenny Roberts to declare: “They don’t pay me enough to ride that thing.” It featured a TZ750 two-stroke, four-cylinder roadrace motor that pumped out 125 horsepower — 50 more than Roberts’ usual dirt-tracker.
Roberts raced it for the first time at the 1975 Indianapolis Mile, where he had trouble controlling the brute power. Despite that, he closed on the leading trio of Harley-Davidson riders on the last lap of the main event and then, in the final feet of the race, he blew past them for the win. Roberts never used the bike for a main event again.
In 1978, Roberts went roadracing in Europe and won the premier 500cc Grand Prix class three years in a row — 1978-1980. On display will be the Yamaha OW48 he raced in 1980, which features an engine derived from the same inline four-cylinder two-stroke that had carried him to his first two titles. But the frame, painted black to avoid attention, was made of square-section aluminum tubing — a first for Yamaha.
DeCoster tallied win after win aboard his Suzuki 380 in the Trans-AMA Motocross Championship Series. In fact, DeCoster won the series four years in a row — 1974 to 1977.
The other DeCoster bike on display, a 1965 CZ 360, changed the motocross world. This was a production-based racer sold to the public and campaigned in modified form in the championship by the factory works team. 1965 was the last year when a four-stroke won the 500cc World Motocross Championship. The following three years, CZ won the class with various versions of its light, powerful, 360cc two-stroke.
The AMA Legend & Champions Weekend features the Motorcycle Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, presented by KTM, on Nov. 18; the Motorcycle Hall of Fame Dave Mungenast Concours d’Elegance bike show on Nov. 19, featuring some of the country’s most impressive original and restored classic motorcycles; and the AMA Racing Championship Awards Banquet on Nov. 20, where AMA Racing amateur champions of all ages will be recognized for their 2011 accomplishments.