MotoMatters.com is delighted to feature the work of iconic MotoGP writer Mat Oxley. Oxley is a former racer, TT winner and highly respected author of biographies of world champions Mick Doohan and Valentino Rossi, and currently writes for Motor Sport Magazine, where he is MotoGP correspondent. We will be featuring sections of Oxley's blogs, posted in full on the Motor Sport Magazine website, over the coming months.
I’ve just been writing about King Kenny Roberts for an upcoming edition of Motor Sport magazine – the made-from-trees version – regaling readers with some of his top tales.
Roberts is a great storyteller: dry as dust one moment, cursing the next. There’s only one problem: there’s never enough room for all of his stories, so here are a couple of my favourite one-liners from the man.
Before I go any further I should add that that The King rates as one of my top three road racers of all time. I would also put Mike Hailwood in there and probably Valentino Rossi too, though what to do with Mick Doohan and Wayne Rainey? Okay, let’s make it the top five. I’ll let you argue about who’s first and who’s fifth.
Anyway… before Roberts came to Europe in 1978 to win the 500 world title at his first attempt, even though he had never seen most of the tracks before and even though he only had one bike for most of the season, Roberts was by profession a dirt tracker. He won the AMA Grand National championship twice (and would’ve won it many more times if he’d been on a Harley instead of a Yamaha) – at a time when the AMA title was won by combining points from various different disciplines, from dirt track to TT racing (a kind of mixed-up dirt track/motocross thing) to road racing.
After he switched to road racing full-time Roberts went on to win three 500 World Championships (in 1978, 1979 and 1980), 24 Grand Prix victories and three Daytona 200s.
Now hear these words he told me when I visited him at his ranch in California a few years ago. “I never really considered myself a road racer, I just did road racing to get Grand National points”.
Read the rest of Mat Oxley's blog on the Motor Sport Magazine website.