Monday, March 15, 2010

Jay Springsteen


Jay Springsteen is considered one of the best AMA Grand National flat-track racers of all time. Bursting onto the scene and earning the AMA Rookie of the Year Award in 1975, Springsteen won three consecutive AMA Grand National Championships starting in 1976. In 1982 he became the first rider to reach 30 wins in AMA Grand National competition. "Springer," as his faithful fans call him, compiled the longest racing career in AMA Grand National history, spanning from his 1975 rookie season to 2003, when he announced his retirement from full-time competition. Springsteen was a factory rider with Harley-Davidson for much of his career and was perhaps the racer most closely associated with the American brand from the 1970s through the 2000s. In all he raced in a record 398 AMA nationals, winning a total of 43. Over the years Springsteen became the most beloved rider in the series and nearly always received standing ovations during introductions prior to races. Springsteen was born in Flint, Michigan, on April 15, 1957. His parents both worked in the auto industry and Springsteen’s father was an amateur motorcycle racer. The middle of three brothers, Jay began riding motorcycles when he was nine and started racing soon after.

By his mid-teens, Springsteen had already gained a reputation as one of the country’s best up-and-coming young riders. He was the AMA’s top amateur in 1974 and was making a living from racing by the time he was 17, riding with sponsorship from a T-shirt company called Vista Sheen. By 1975 Springsteen moved up to the premier AMA Grand National Championship. His rookie season was one of the most memorable in the history of the series. He earned six podium finishes, including victories on the half-miles in Louisville, Kentucky, and Harrington, Delaware. He finished a very strong third in the championship and was named AMA Rookie of the Year.

Springsteen was so impressive in his first season that at just 18 years old he was signed by Harley-Davidson for the 1976 season. Future Hall of Famer Bill Werner was assigned to be his tuner. The relationship between the two proved to be a fruitful one. Springsteen would win three straight national championships during an era when AMA Grand National racing was at its peak, with competitors such as Kenny Roberts, Gary Scott, Gene Romero, Ted Boody and a number of other leading riders who would go on to become Motorcycle Hall of Fame members.

Springsteen's 1976 championship was one of the hardest-fought titles in the history of the series, and he battled with Roberts and Scott. In the end, Springsteen won five out of the last seven nationals to earn the title. In 1977 Springsteen became only the sixth rider in AMA Grand National history to win back-to-back titles. He backed that up by becoming only the fourth rider to win three AMA Grand National Championships in 1978.

Springsteen even showed promise in road racing. He often ran near the front in the 250 class, but the Harley-Davidson XR road racer was well beyond its competitive lifespan. By the time Springsteen raced the bike, he was simply doing so to score whatever points he could in the road races, which at the time counted towards the AMA Grand National Championship. Springsteen did win an AMA Battle of the Twins road race aboard a Harley-Davidson in 1983 and he finished fifth in the prestigious Daytona 200 in 1986 aboard a Super Team Yamaha sponsored by Jim France...
via : the motorcycle hall of fame


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