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Who the hell was Bob Hannah?

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For those of you who have asked that question I found the following which I am inserting here. The AMA Hall of Fame post along with pictures can be found here.

I kind of forgot how he came out of nowhere and put the MX world on its ear because to me in his prime he was the best there was. During the early part of his career deep down I wanted someone to beat him but after the water skiing accident I had to cheer him on all the way until the end of his career. He and I were the same age and I quit MX after 2 broken collar bones and the realization that I could not afford to go to college, have a normal life and race expert level MX at the same time. So as I let that dream go at 18 suddenly there was this new rider they called the Hurricane. To me Bubba is similar because he was not on my radar until he turned pro at 16. Can you imagine if some guy never raced until he was 18 and then he appeared in his first full season National race and beat Bubba. :cry: That is close to Hannah's legend. Read on.

Bob Hannah will go down in history as one of the greatest American motocross racers of all time. He won a total of seven AMA national championships and when inducted in 1999, Hannah was one of only two riders in the history of AMA motocross racing to win championships in 125cc motocross, 250cc motocross and Supercross.

Hannah easily ranks as the most versatile motocross racer of his era and perhaps of all time. During his 15-year racing career, Hannah won nationals in the 125cc, 250cc and 500cc categories as well as Supercross and Trans-AMA. When he retired from racing, Hannah held the record for the most career wins in both the AMA Supercross and AMA 250cc national motocross.

Hannah was born on September 26, 1956 in the rugged Mojave Desert town of Lancaster, California. His father was a motorcyclist and Hannah grew up riding on the handlebars of his dad’s bikes. When he was 7, Hannah got his own bike and rode countless hours in the high desert surrounding his hometown. The one thing Hannah did not do in those early years was race. He explains:

"My father was against racing. He did not mind me riding, but at the same time he didn’t want me getting hurt. So I never raced until I was 18 years old and living on my own."

By the time Hannah hit the motocross tracks of Southern California, he was more than ready. Even though he didn’t have racing experience, he had practically lived on a motorcycle since grade school and likely had more hours on a bike than any of his fellow competitors. Hannah won his first and only race in the amateur ranks. After his dominating debut, local racing officials told the young Hannah he would have to move up to the expert ranks.

In 1975, his first full year as an expert, Hannah rode in just two AMA nationals. His best finish was sixth overall in the AMA 125cc National in San Antonio, Texas. Not bad for a rider with less than a year’s racing experience under his belt.

In 1976, Yamaha took a chance on the 19-year-old Hannah, who was largely unknown outside of the local Southern California motocross circles. Yamaha signed Hannah to race the 125cc outdoor nationals. He started out the year with some success on a 250cc machine in the AMA Supercross Series, but his real strength was on the 125cc bikes at the outdoor motocross circuits.

The AMA 125cc National Motocross Championships were only two years old when Hannah launched into his first full season in the series. Honda and its rider, Marty Smith, dominated the 125cc nationals for the first two years. Smith was gunning for his third-straight title and he was the heavy favorite coming into the ’76 season. At the first round of the 125 MX series, the famous Hangtown Nationals in Plymouth, California, Smith made the early laps of the first moto look like a replay of 1974 and ‘75. Eight laps into the relatively dull race the crowd came to its feet when Hannah, on his No. 39 Yamaha, came bouncing through the field to grab second. Hannah had picked off 21 other riders in his charge. On the next lap, Hannah took over the lead from Smith, leaving the tens of thousands of Northern California fans stunned. Smith tried to get back past Hannah, but fell in the process and finished a distant second. Hannah came back to win the second moto in even more decisive fashion. It was one of the most stunning debuts for a factory rider in the history of AMA racing. The journalists of the day noted that young upstart Hannah came in like a hurricane and the moniker stuck. He was forever to be known as Bob "Hurricane" Hannah.

Hannah proved that his 1976 opening round victory was no fluke. He went on to win five of the eight 125cc nationals that year en route to the championship. In 1977, Hannah hopped aboard a Yamaha 250 and won the AMA Supercross Championship in impressive fashion, taking six of the 10 rounds. Hannah poured his all into every race and became the first genuine superstar of Supercross racing. He would go on to win the AMA Supercross title for three straight years.

In 1978, Hannah moved up to the 250cc ranks in the outdoor nationals with devastating results for his competition. Hannah's riding was nearly flawless. He won a record eight consecutive 250 outdoor nationals, a record that still stood at the time of Hannah’s 1999 Motorcycle Hall of Fame induction. He continued his impressive streak in the fall Trans-AMA Series, winning four nationals in that series and winning the championship. In 1979, he came back and dominated the 250 outdoor nationals again, handily winning the 250 MX title by earning victories in six of the 10 events. By the late 1970s, Hannah was in a class of his own.

Even though Hannah had numerous attractive offers to race in world championship motocross, he never seriously considered it. Displaying classic Hannah dry humor, he quipped that the main reason he didn’t want to race overseas was that the Europeans served their drinks without ice. Even though he preferred racing close to home, Hannah did represent his country three times in the prestigious Motocross des Nations team competition and was part of the victorious 1987 team, when the international event was held in New York State.

Hannah’s training methods were unique. Instead of riding countless practice laps on motocross tracks, he went back to his roots and trained by riding in the desert. In a 1981 interview with British journalist Chris Carter, Hannah explained his unusual training regimen.

"There’s no better place to practice than out in the desert. I ride there anytime I can. Out there the unexpected happens quickly and you have to sharpen your reactions to stay on the bike."

Water sports were the recreation that Hannah participated in to relax. A water skiing accident in the Colorado River at the end of 1979 nearly cost Hannah his career. His right leg was broken in 12 places when he hit a submerged rock and was catapulted onto the riverbank. Doctors initially told Hannah he would never be able to race again. He was forced to sit out the entire 1980 season while recuperating. During his recovery Hannah earned his pilot license and for the first time in his adult life found interests outside of motorcycle racing.

Whether it was his injured leg or other seemingly endless injuries that Hannah suffered during the early 1980s, or perhaps the loss of his one-time single-minded approach to racing, Hannah never was quite able to capture the magic he had during the 1970s. While he won 20 nationals during the 1980s, he never was able to capture another championship. His best results in the ‘80s were a second-place finish in the 250 MX series in 1981 and third in the same series in 1983, after switching from Yamaha to Honda. Hannah’s final national win came in the 250 outdoor national held in Millville, Minnesota, on August 11, 1985. He continued to race full-time until 1987 and then raced occasionally in nationals until retiring in 1989.

In his 15-year career, Hannah had become the all-time win leader in AMA motocross/Supercross history, having won 70 AMA nationals during his career. That record would stand until Jeremy McGrath broke Hannah’s overall win record in 1999. Hannah’s record of 27 250cc national wins still stood as of his 1999 induction.

Multi-time world champion, and Hannah’s team manager for the winning 1987 U.S. Motocross des Nations team, Roger DeCoster, said of Hannah: "He was a rider of tremendous determination. Sort of a tough guy, like John Wayne. He didn’t make excuses and he had a good rapport with the public."

After retiring from racing, Hannah continued to be a test rider and consultant for Suzuki and later, for Yamaha, through the early 1990s. Hannah was the bridge between racing generations, competing with the earliest AMA motocross stars and then the even bigger stars of the 1980s. Hannah’s popularity helped the sport grow by leaps and bounds.

Hannah continued to seek the adrenalin rush even after his motorcycle-racing career ended. After leaving motocross, Hannah took up the sport of airplane racing in the unlimited class. When inducted into the Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 1999, Hannah was living near Boise, Idaho, running a sport aviation sales company.

© 2004, American Motorcyclist Association

Year Inducted: 1999

Achievements:

1976, '78, '79 AMA Motocross Champion

1977-'79 AMA Supercross Champion

1978 Pro Athlete of the Year

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My 17 year old son for one. He asked that very question when he saw me post that famous shot of Bob barely in control at Unadilla. Too many around here think MX began with Jeremy McGrath. Sometimes a history lesson is a good thing. :cry:

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Just watchin yer back Chiefan. Chief Fan! Well damit, I'm a Raider fan, thats it, this is war. :cry:

Hangtown_76_01.jpg

The picture tells it all. Photo courtesy of MXA all rights reserved. :cry:

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Who ever asked who was Bob Hannah should be banned from this site until they are versed in Motocross history. IMHO.

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:cry::cry: I guess you never bothered to look too closely at my avitar. Right click and save it on your PC to look at it. I swear I never ride in shorts but it was July in Texas and I only had the X for about a week. I didn't think about the shirt but it works with my handle. My son wanted to see if I still knew how to ride a dirt bike so we went across the street to a construction site. He snapped the picture to prove it to my wife. This is my first bike in over 20 years and I am having a blast.

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Who ever asked who was Bob Hannah should be banned from this site until they are versed in Motocross history. IMHO.

Absolutley, Bob. And what is with the question in the post title???

THE MAN IS NOT DEAD YET!!!!

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Don't post who the hell was Brad Lackey. BC3 will come over and pound you.

I watched Bob Hannah race and he was amazing. I didn't know he started racing so late in life.

Other famous points:

He was said to be a fitness fanatic and was one of the first to really train hard other than just riding the bike.

Hannah was part of the "Let Brock Bye" incident. To win the championship, Brock Glover needed to finish one place higher. Hannah's pit board told him to let Brock by. The story is Hannah continued to charge far ahead of Brock Glover and was driving the corporate guys nuts. Just before the finish, Hannah dumped the bike in a corner and proceded to slowly pick up his bike, adjust his googles, adjust everything as Brock rode by. Then fired up his bike and finished 2nd.

Dirt Bike reported that he was the reason for high motocross salaries. As the story goes, Hannah walked into a salary meeting wearing shorts and flip-flops. He demanded $100,000 to race for the year. The reply was, "Only the president of Yamaha makes that much." Hannah's reply was, "OK, you tell him to race the motorcycles next year." Salaries took a big bump the following years.

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Then fired up his bike and finished 2nd.

... then rode to the woods behind the track and disappeared for over an hour 'cause he was so pissed.

I got to watch Bob at the Dallas SX just as his career was winding down. Didn't really know what I was watching at the time but his outspoken temperment and work ethic has made him one of my favorites.

Merf

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I explained my son actually asked me in this manner because to his eye when he saw some of my B&W Hannah pics and the "old" bikes he likely thought he had to be dead. My attempt was to get some of the younger dudes to realize there was another era with some great riders.

It was kind of like asking who was Joe Montana. Well he was a heck of a quarterback, now he is an ex-football player. Never meant to make it to sound like Hannah was dead but unfortunately the dominant Hurricane I knew from the '70's can never line up in a National against Bubba. But wouldn't that be a race to see if it could only be possible!! :cry:

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Bob Hannah is a great guy. Over the years I have seen him ride many times in Idaho and I have seen him local short track races where he was running a small sprint car.

Bob lives in the Boise, Idaho area. He made major investments in real estate in the area because it is growing. He purchased almost a mile of land for his own airstrip. His presence in the area has had a major influence for local racing.

Jeff Hicks and Damon Bradshaw moved to the Boise area because of Hannah.

Damon flies planes with Bob and Jeff builds houses.

Bob raced at the local track for demonstration and promotion in the early 80's up until his retirement in 1989 (I think). He rode Yamaha, Honda and Suzuki at OMC (Owyhee Motor Cycle Club). Bob always put on an amazing show by jumping farther and riding faster on the local track than anyone thought was possible.

It is rumored that Bob Hannah has helped provide guidance and helped with contract negotiations for Danny Smith who is currently number 59 on the Yamaha of Troy Team and is from Middleton, Idaho.

All said and done, Bob has been a great asset to Idaho.

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Another part of his legend had to do with negotiations. I don't remember the exact details but it had to do with Bob wanting a Ferrari as a bonus. If someone can piece that old story together would be interesting. The end result from my memory is he got his Ferrari. Hey Johnny O this has to be in one of your old MXA's.

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Another part of his legend had to do with negotiations. I don't remember the exact details but it had to do with Bob wanting a Ferrari as a bonus. If someone can piece that old story together would be interesting. The end result from my memory is he got his Ferrari. Hey Johnny O this has to be in one of your old MXA's.

:cry: I'm not so sure I recall that one.

But I did see him at Redbud a few years after he retired and he was funny as $h!t drunk and mess'n with so many women, it was funny as hell. :cry:

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The picture tells it all. Photo courtesy of MXA all rights reserved.

The water cooled OW125. I remember the argument that privateers could not compete with the factory. Thus the production rule of 1986.

Yamaha did not care, their bikes were production in 1977 and Bob could win on them.

Kent Howerton's 1979 250 Suzuki weighed 192 pounds. :cry:

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The picture tells it all. Photo courtesy of MXA all rights reserved.

The water cooled OW125. I remember the argument that privateers could not compete with the factory. Thus the production rule of 1986.

Yamaha did not care, their bikes were production in 1977 and Bob could win on them.

Kent Howerton's 1979 250 Suzuki weighed 192 pounds. :cry:

The funny thing is while the OW might have had a slight power advantage, it weighed a ton compared to Smith's Honda. :cry:

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I seem to remember Bob was one of the initial "No Fear" or "Bad Boyz" riders. Not like they sponsered him, like he was one of the creators!

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