PICKERINGTON, Ohio — The AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame inducted its 2023 Class on Thursday, honoring five new members during the 2023 AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony.
The AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame Class of 2023 includes Rita Coombs, Ryan Dungey, Barry Hawk, Grant Langston and Travis Pastrana, all of whom received their Hall of Fame Rings and gold jackets during the ceremony.
“We’re truly delighted to gather here in Pickerington, Ohio, home of both the AMA headquarters and the esteemed AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame, to celebrate this historic occasion,” AMA President and CEO Rob Dingman said when addressing the crowd. “Unlike some previous years, this year’s inductees have the privilege of personally experiencing the hallowed grounds where they will be forever immortalized and celebrated as honored members of the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame.
“But this event is far more than a banquet and ceremony designed to honor the remarkable individuals who have made significant contributions to our beloved sport,” Dingman continued. “It also serves as a unique opportunity for us to unite in our shared mission of safeguarding motorcycle history for generations yet to come.”
Leading this year’s ceremony were emcees Perry King, a well-known actor and director, and motocross rider, sidecar enthusiast and sideline reporter Laurette Nicoll, who guided the audience through the life and accomplishments of the Hall of Fame inductees.
The AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame also recognized the memories of Hall of Famers who passed away during the last year: Earl Bowlby, Fred Fox, Ronnie Rall and Peter Starr.
Supporters and partners for the 2023 AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony included IronLilly.com, National Powersports Dealer Association, Dealernews, MX Sports, Feld Entertainment, Bromley Powersports, KTM, Yamaha and Broc Glover.
The AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame Class of 2022
Each member of the Class of 2023 was officially inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame on Thursday, and after receiving their rings and jackets, the inductees addressed the audience through a speech and Q&A session with the emcees.
Born in 1941, Rita Coombs had no idea she would one day be a leading voice in motorcycle racing. Although her initial career path was to become a teacher, Coombs — along with her husband Dave — found her calling in the world of motorcycles after seeing On Any Sunday in 1972.
On Any Sunday had a profound impact on the Coombs, who soon after began their pursuits in the world of motorcycle race promoting. In 1973, the Coombs began promoting their own AMA amateur events and opened their own track, Appalachia Lake MX in Bruceton Mills, W.V.
The Coombs created the AMA Grand National Cross Country series, which is the largest and most prestigious off-road series in the world, and the AMA Amateur National Motocross Championships at Loretta Lynn’s Ranch in Hurricane Mills, Tenn. Since its inaugural running in 1982, the AMA Amateur National Motocross Championship has grown into the premier amateur event in the sport.
After her husband’s passing in 1998, Coombs continued to run the family business at a high level alongside her children, Carrie Jo, Tim and Davey. “I am forever grateful,” an emotional Coombs said. “I just want to thank all the riders and our fans who come see us every weekend and who love racing as much as we do!”
Possessing one of the most noteworthy 10-year runs in motocross/Supercross history, Ryan Dungey’s induction into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame comes as little surprise to motorcycle racing enthusiasts.
From 2007-’17, Dungey produced four AMA Supercross 450SX titles and a trio of motocross championships in the 450 class, emerging as one of the greatest competitors the sport has ever seen. Beyond his accomplishments in the United States, Dungey also spearheaded Team USA to three straight Motocross of Nations titles from 2009-’11.
Dungey holds the AMA Supercross record for most consecutive podium finishes, landing in the top three in 31 consecutive races across the 2015 and 2016 seasons.
Now, Dungey gives back to the community through the Ryan Dungey Foundation, which aims to help children lead healthy lives and support those who are battling cancer.
“First and foremost, congratulations to Grant, Barry, Rita and Travis,” Dungey said from the Hall of Fame podium. “It’s an honor to be up here being inducted into the HOF with all of them. Just being up here is a dream come true…I’m grateful for all the people in my life who helped me get here, and this one’s for you guys. You deserve all the credit!”
Across his 20-year racing career, Barry Hawk displayed a multi-disciplined racing ability that few could emulate.
An eight-time AMA Grand National Cross Country Champion, Hawk cemented himself as one of the greatest off-road competitors the sport has ever seen, capturing seven titles aboard an ATV and an additional championship on two wheels.
Beginning his professional career in 1990, Hawk raced his way to seven consecutive GNCC ATV championships from 1993-99 while also claiming his GNCC Bike Championship in 2003. To this day, Hawk is the only racer to win GNCC championships on an ATV and bike.
Hawk now serves as the team manager for the Coastal Gas Gas Factory Racing Team, where he has supported many racers to GNCC victories.
“Wow, just wow,” Hawk said. “I am so honored and thankful to be here. Thank you to everyone here, thank you to everyone that voted for me…and thank you to all the great people that have helped me through the years…it truly means a lot.”
As the only racer to win a World MX title, an AMA MX Championship and both AMA Supercross Regional Championships in the 125/250cc divisions, Grant Langston’s impressive career led him to the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame.
Hailing from Durban, South Africa, Langston moved to Europe when he was only 15 years old to begin his professional racing pursuits. Just two years later, Langston secured the 2000 FIM 125cc World Motocross Championship, which resulted in him receiving a deal to compete on the AMA Supercross circuit in 2001.
In 2003, Langston claimed the AMA 125 National Motocross Championship and added regional 125/250cc Supercross Championships in 2005 and 2006. One year later, Langston clinched the AMA 450cc Pro Motocross Championship, snapping Ricky Carmichael’s seven-year hold over the series.
Unfortunately, Langston’s career was cut short after a tumor was found in his eye during the 2008 season, causing Langston to experience vision problems. Since then, Langston has opened his own multi-brand motorcycle dealership and served as a race commentator.
“I’m very humbled, very thankful…I’m lost for words,” an emotional Langston said during his speech. “I’m stoked to have my name as a part of the legacy of the Hall of Fame!”
Whether he was racing his way to victories on the motocross track or completing stupefying stunts, Travis Pastrana captivated audiences while aboard two wheels.
After starting out in motocross, Pastrana became a stunt rider and lead personality behind the Nitro Circus brand, which spans reality TV, movies and live performances. Now, Pastrana is set to become an AMA Motorcycle Hall of Famer.
At just 16 years old in 1999, Pastrana became the then-youngest racer to claim an AMA Pro MX title after winning the AMA 125cc National MX Championship. Pastrana added the 2001 125cc East Supercross title to his resume before setting his sights on the X Games — where he produced 17 medals, including 11 golds.
As the founder of the Nitro Circus brand, Pastrana helped grow one of the largest entertainment entities in motorsports. Sparked by his childhood hero Evel Knievel, Pastrana also followed his pursuits to become a successful stuntman.
“Racing is hard,” Pastrana said. “Racing takes a lot of people and a huge sacrifice from everybody. To get to be the best is amazing…It means so much to me that you would think to honor me here tonight, and this is something I’ll remember and appreciate for the rest of my life.” The Class of 2023 exhibit, featuring bikes and memorabilia from the 2023 Hall of Famers will be available for the public to view starting Friday, Sept. 15.