For former motorcycle champion Wayne Rainey, a racing career that was truly international is being capped by induction into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame Class of 2007.
Rainey won five American Motorcycle Association championships – three in the premier 500cc Grand Prix division and two Superbike titles – in the 1980s and early ‘90s. Along the way, Rainey traveled the world and marveled at sights he said “you’d only see in the movies.”
And since his career spanned the globe, Rainey said it was special for him to be inducted into a Hall of Fame that has a similar worldwide perspective.
“It’s the best of the best in their chosen motorsports field,” Rainey said. “To be included in the group of people that I’m being inducted with is quite an honor. That makes it special. I’m in different Hall of Fames in different areas, but I have to say that this is probably the one that is most unique, because it’s international.”
Rainey will be inducted into the IMHOF on April 26 along with Jack Ingram, Ray Hendrick, Bruton Smith, Warren Johnson and Junie Donlavey.
A California native, Rainey inherited his love of racing from his father, Sandy, who built and raced go-karts and motorcycles. Wayne Rainey was racing at the age of 6, and quickly worked his way through the amateur ranks. By age 18, he was competing in the AMA series. Five years later, in 1983, he was the AMA Superbike champion.
Rainey claimed his second Superbike title in 1987, then moved on to the 500cc class, where he continued his dominance by winning 24 races in six seasons and capturing the World Championship in 1990, ‘91, and ‘92. Rainey’s career was cut short, however, when a crash at the Italian Grand Prix in September of 1993 left him paralyzed.
Still, Rainey looks back at his racing career with great satisfaction in terms of what he accomplished, and what he experienced.
“It’s great when you can do something that you love so much, and you actually get paid for it,” Rainey said. “I was able to travel the world and see things that I thought I’d only be able to see in the history books and magazines. I’m very blessed. It was an incredible dream that I was able to live out, and I took full advantage of it. I’m just very happy with the success that I had.
“When I was traveling and being a World Champion, it gets you into doors that most people can’t go. I was able to meet kings and queens. Those types of experiences will go a long way, because that was always stuff that you’d only see in the movies. There were many opportunities and many memories of things like that.
“I was able to race all over the world, and there was no one place where I ever thought, ‘I never want to go back there.’ Every place was an adventure for me.”
Now the adventure comes to Talladega, and the International Motorsports Hall of Fame. It is an ideal destination for a true world traveler.
“In motorsports, there are a lot of highs and lows. But when you put it all together and you end up in the International Motorsports Hall of Fame, that’s very special,” Rainey said. “I’m very proud to be able to look at my career as a whole, and the accomplishments that I had led up to this. I’m fortunate that I had this opportunity.”
About the International Motorsports Hall of Fame & Museum
Opened in April of 1983, the International Motorsports Hall of Fame and Museum is dedicated to the preservation of the history of motorsports. Each year, the annual International Motorsports Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony is held on the grounds of the museum to honor those men and women chosen for induction from among the greatest names in all of motorsports. This year’s black-tie ceremony consists of a reception, banquet and awards ceremony and is set for Thursday, April 26, 2007. Individual tickets are $125 and a table for eight may be reserved for $1,000 by calling (256) 362-5002. Visa, Mastercard and Discover are accepted. The IMHOF and Museum and Pitshop Retail Store are open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., 7 days a week with the exception of major holidays. Admission to the museum is $10 for adults, $5 for kids age 7 to 17 and free for kids age 6 and younger. Tours of Talladega Superspeedway are also available at a cost of $5 for adults, $4 for kids age 7 to 17 and free for kids age 6 and younger. A discounted combo tour of both facilities is also available.
About Aaron’s Dream Weekend At Talladega Superspeedway
Talladega Superspeedway officials are preparing to welcome back fans for its first races of the 2007 NASCAR season during the Aaron’s Dream Weekend, featuring the Aaron’s 312 NASCAR Busch Series and Aaron’s 499 NEXTEL Cup Series races, set for April 27-29. Tickets for and more information about the Aaron’s Dream Weekend are available by calling 1-877-Go2-DEGA (462-3342) Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. CDT, or by logging onto www.racetickets.com. For our hearing impaired guests, please call TDD 1-866-ISC-TRAK (1-866-472-8725). You may also purchase tickets in person at Talladega Superspeedway’s Ticket Office from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. CDT, Monday – Friday.