June 13, 2022
By Keaton Maisano
With the 2022 Mission Foods AMA Flat Track Grand Championship in Du Quoin, Ill., less than a month away, June’s Hall of Famer Spotlight is Ricky Graham — a three-time AMA Grand National Champion whose career included a win at the world-famous Magic Mile track at Du Quoin State Fairgrounds.
Graham was born Dec. 26, 1958, in Carmel, Calif., and started racing at a young age. At age 19, he began racing professionally in the AMA Grand National Series.
Known for his radical riding style, Graham found success quickly when he won his first National at the Indianapolis Mile in 1980. Two years later, he collected his first of three AMA Grand National titles.
Graham’s story cannot fully be told without mention of his rivalry with Honda teammate AMA Motorcycle Hall of Famer Bubba Shobert, who Graham beat in 1984 by a single point to win his second Grand National Championship. Shobert then went on to reign as AMA Grand National champion from 1985 to 1987.
Injuries and personal struggles kept Graham from adding a third title to his resume, until a six-race winning streak — a record-setting achievement at the time — in 1993 catapulted him to his third and final AMA Grand National title.
Also in 1993, Graham won the Harley-Davidson 883cc Series in its first year. His impressive season earned him the AMA’s Athlete of the Year in 1993.
Showing his versatility, Graham raced in the Daytona 200 three times as part of Honda’s factory Superbike team.
Through his years of flat track competition, Graham’s knack of holding the throttle open longer, diving into corners deeper and powering out of them sooner astounded his fellow competitors, including nine-time AMA Grand National Champion and AMA Motorcycle Hall of Famer Scott Parker. Parker once commented that Graham “could ride a motorcycle like no one else I’d ever seen.”
Unfortunately, Graham’s life was cut short when he tragically died in a house fire in 1998. He was inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame later that year.