PICKERINGTON, Ohio — The AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame inducted six new members Friday evening during the 2022 AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony.
Members of the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame Class of 2022 include Kenny Coolbeth, Greg Hancock, Effie Hotchkiss, Sandy Kosman, Ben Spies and James Stewart.
“Every year, with the exception of 2020, it’s been our privilege to honor motorcycling’s most accomplished and significant people in a very special AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame induction celebration,” AMA President and CEO Rob Dingman said when addressing the audience. “But it’s more than just a great banquet and ceremony to honor the incredible inductees who’ve contributed so much to our sport…it’s also a chance for us to come together in the interest of preserving motorcycle history for future generations.”
Ceremony emcees, well-known actor and director of stage, screen and television Perry King, and motocross rider, sidecar enthusiast and sideline reporter Laurette Nicoll, guided the audience through the careers and accomplishments of the inductees.
Those gathered also honored the memories of AMA Motorcycle Hall of Famers who have recently passed away: Wes Cooley, Ed Fisher, Bobby Hill, Loretta Lynn and Preston Petty.
Supporters and partners for the induction ceremony included MX Sports, Seven MX, Bubba’s World, Suzuki and Kawasaki.
The AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame Class of 2022
Following an introduction, each member of the Class of 2022 was officially inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame, and inductees in attendance were presented with the prestigious Hall of Fame ring by fellow Hall of Famers. Many of the inductees, or their family members, then addressed the audience.
Born in 1977, Kenny Coolbeth began his professional flat track career in 1994. He raced to his first AMA Grand National win at the Columbus Half-Mile in 2002. He won his first AMA Grand National Championship in 2006 while riding for the factory Harley-Davidson team and followed that up with two additional championships in 2007 and 2008.
Throughout his successful career, Coolbeth raced to 37 AMA Grand National wins, putting him sixth on the all-time win list, along with 108 AMA Grand National podiums.
Coolbeth retired from professional flat track racing at the end of the 2018 season while still competitive in the sport. He continues to give back to the sport and now works as a rider coach and setup expert for the Turner Honda Racing team.
“I was just a kid who knew how to ride motorcycles,” Coolbeth said after being inducted into the Hall of Fame. “I never dreamed I’d be in the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame, and it’s an amazing honor to be here.”
Greg Hancock, born in 1970, began racing in Junior Speedway competition at age 9. At age 15, he won the Junior Speedway National Championship, his first of many titles. Soon he began competing across Europe, and in 1997 won the FIM World Speedway Championship.
Through the 1990s, Hancock also won the FIM World Pairs Championship and claimed three FIM World Team Cup Championships. He went on to win his second FIM World Speedway Championship in 2011, winning it again in 2014 and 2016.
Throughout his nearly four-decade career, Hancock became one of the most decorated motorcycle racers of all time, earning four FIM Speedway World Championships, three FIM World Team Cup titles, as well as eight AMA U.S. National Speedway Championships.
“As youngsters, we all started riding bikes with big dreams,” Hancock said in his acceptance speech. “Each one of us worked hard in our own way to pursue those dreams of being champions of all sorts. When I look back over my career, I am extremely satisfied and still pinch myself every day thinking of the great success that I had. If I could do it all again, I wouldn’t think twice, and I would go after even more.”
Born in 1889, Effie Hotchkiss began riding at age 16. She began working on Wall Street in the banking industry but got tired of the job’s monotony. Using the inheritance her father left her, she purchased a 1915 Harley-Davidson 3-speed twin and a Rogers sidecar for her mother Avis and their luggage.
The two set off on their adventure on May 2, 1915, riding all the way to San Francisco, then started back towards their home in Brooklyn, N.Y., in late August. Hotchkiss became the first woman recorded to complete a transcontinental motorcycle ride, covering 9,000 miles over five months.
Hotchkiss quickly became a female icon for her endeavor and was celebrated in the very first issue of Harley-Davidson’s The Enthusiast and countless newspapers across the country.
Effie Hotckiss’ great-grandson attended the ceremony as her closest living relative and commented: “Thanks to the AMA for inducting my great-grandmother into the Hall of Fame. Today is the best day of my life.”
Born in 1941, Sandy Kosman had both the mind and vision of a genius. As a self-trained designer of high-performance chassis and wheels for customized road-, off-road- and drag-racing motorcycles, Kosman was a builder of champions as well as a highly successful entrepreneur.
In 1965 at age 24, Kosman started Kosman Specialties, building lightweight motorcycle gas tanks in his basement. The business thrived, and he moved into a building in San Francisco, expanding his products and services over time.
Through his 30-plus years in business, most drag-racing bikes, many flat-track bikes and a few AMA Superbike race teams adopted Kosman products, including American Honda, Vance & Hines, Performance Machine and others. Despite no formal training, Kosman and his company became a household name in racing and performance circles.
“It’s not been that long since we lost my father,” Kosman’s daughter Nadia DeSimone said. “But I know what being inducted into the Hall of Fame would have meant to him. Tonight feels like my last moment with him, and this means so much to my entire family.”
Ben Spies, one of the greatest American road racers in the sport’s history, won five national titles and raced to 44 national wins during his career. Born in 1984, he came of age during the dominance of six-time AMA Superbike Champion Mat Mladin, unseating the champ in his prime in 2006. In 2007, he defended the title in one of the tightest AMA Superbike Championship battles ever.
Spies’ AMA National Championships include the 2006, ’07 and ’08 AMA Superbike titles, the 2007 AMA Superstock title, and the 2003 AMA Formula Xtreme title.
In 2009, Spies joined the Yamaha Italia team in World Superbike competition. His rookie year proved exceptional, and he won the 2009 World Superbike title. Racing MotoGP full time in 2010, his performance earned him Rookie of the Year. He retired from professional racing in 2013.
Due to illness, Spies was unable to attend the ceremony, but family friend Alec Dare accepted the Hall of Fame ring on his behalf. “I’m proud my family can look back on all the chapters in my life and see that I made it into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame,” Dare read in a message from Spies. “Thank you to the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame, and thumbs up to everybody here.”
James Stewart, born in 1985, displayed potential early, winning his first national amateur championship at age 7. Before age 16, he claimed seven AMA Amateur National Motocross Championships.
Going pro in 2002, he won the AMA 125 MX title later that year while riding for Kawasaki, becoming the first Black man to win a title in the sport. Stewart won the 2007 AMA Supercross Championship, claiming a second in 2009.
Incredibly, Stewart won all 24 motos of the 2008 Pro Motocross series — a perfect season — securing the 450 Class National Championship.
Stewart’s professional racing career ended in 2016 after tallying 50 AMA Supercross premier class wins and 48 AMA Pro Motocross national wins, cementing him as one of the greatest motocross racers of all time.
“I want to thank the AMA…this is such an honor,” Stewart said in an emotional acceptance speech. “I was never the cool kid; I wanted to ride motorcycles. But now, when you say my name, it’s Hall of Famer James Stewart. Out of all the things I accomplished in my career, this is the best part. This is like winning the ultimate championship. It’s amazing!”
The newly-unveiled Class of 2022 exhibit featuring bikes and memorabilia from the Hall of Famers is now on display at the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum. Plan your visit today: https://americanmotorcyclist.
About the American Motorcyclist Association
Founded in 1924, the AMA is a not-for-profit member-based association whose mission is to promote the motorcycle lifestyle and protect the future of motorcycling. As the world’s largest motorcycling rights and event sanctioning organization, the AMA advocates for riders’ interests at all levels of government and sanctions thousands of competition and recreational events every year. Besides offering members money-saving discounts on products and services, the AMA also publishes American Motorcyclist, a recently revitalized and monthly full-color magazine (and digital version of same) that covers current events and motorcycle history with brilliant photography and compelling writing. American Motorcyclist is also North America’s largest-circulation magazine. Through the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame in Pickerington, Ohio, the AMA honors the heroes and heritage of motorcycling. For more information, visit americanmotorcyclist.com.
Not a member? Join the AMA today: americanmotorcyclist.com.