Hall of Fame News Racing

Wayne Rainey Returns to the Saddle of 1992 YZR500

By Kali Kotoski

July 1, 2022

Three-time 500cc Grand Prix champion Wayne Rainey was reunited with his 1992 championship-winning YZR500 in an emotional display at this year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed in West Sussex, England.

The event marked the first time Rainey — one of Yamaha’s most iconic champions — had ridden a race bike since his 1993 career-ending crash paralyzed him from the chest down. Rainey rode up the famous hill climb aboard a specially modified version of his 1992 YZR500.

“I was quite nervous about riding the YZR500, as when I rode the R1 it was all quite straightforward as the bikes these days have so much electronics on them but it’s a bit different with a 500cc Grand Prix bike,” Rainey said. “But to be honest, it felt like an old friend.”

The 1992 YZR500 was specially adapted by Yamaha Motor Company engineers in Japan, who modified the gear shift system so Rainey could change up and down the gears by controls on the left handlebar.

“It was always a challenge to race the bike at that level, fighting for race wins and championships, but being here 30 years later, being able to get on the bike and ride it up the hill in a nice, easy gentle setting is fantastic,” Rainey said. “The bike was there for me back then and it’s there for me today, so I’m thrilled.”