Another Reason To Go To Laguna: Watch King Kenny Ride A YZR 500

There are many reasons to go to Laguna Seca for the Red Bull US GP, but Yamaha have just added another one. Former 500cc World Champion Kenny Roberts will be taking out both a 2011 Yamaha YZF-M1 MotoGP machine and the YZR-500 machine he won the 1980 World Championship on. Having stood in awe watching Roberts ride his TZ750 flat track bike at the Indy Mile in 2009, I have a suspicion that Roberts will not be holding back on the bike. 

Here's the official Yamaha press release announcing the ride:

The King Kenny Roberts to Ride at Red Bull U.S. GP at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca!

Yamaha is very pleased to announce that three time World Champion "King" Kenny Roberts will return to the track at the world famous Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca Raceway during this year's running of the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix.

Roberts plans to take to the track all three days beginning with the previously announced fan lap on Friday, July 22nd, and then on Saturday Kenny will ride a specially prepared factory YZR-M1 distinguished in 50th Anniversary livery for several laps during the lunch break. Then on Sunday, just prior to the start of the MotoGP finale, Kenny will ride his 1980 World Championship winning YZR500!

"I'm really looking forward to it!" said Kenny from his home in northern California, "as this will be the very first time I've ridden at the USGP and my 31 year old championship-winning YZR is ready to go!"

Two years ago Kenny took a few laps around the famed Indy Mile to recall his incredible win there in 1975. The video is shown below:

"These very special on track activities are part of our plans to celebrate Yamaha's prestigious 50th Anniversary of World Grand Prix racing "said Bob Starr, General Manager of Communications for Yamaha, "We are truly honored to have Kenny in our family and he continues to give back to his fans as he has done for so long!"



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I could go see that, would be awesome. Also thank you very much for the you tube link. I never seen that before, it was great!

Included on my wish list would be to be there.
Last time I saw King Kenny was at the old Kyalami circuit on the V-4 2 stroke Yamaha. The old circuit was easily a match for the Mugello circuit.
The Freddie Spencer HRC triple was awesome,but just watching Kenny scythe through the pack ....Man, you had to love it. The way he threw that 'dayglow' Marlboro Yamaha bike into the old Crowthorne corner off the almost 2km straight was an absolute highlight. Kenny had to give best to Freddie and settle for second. Never forgot it !!! Once a King, always a King.

Apart from the Indy Mile win on the TZ back in the 1970s, another highlight from Kenny's domestic racing activity was the 1977 AMA Grand National Championship (road) race at Sears Point (now Infineon Raceway). Someone in the crew cocked up (the rear axle nut was not tight), and in the Saturday heat race (yes, they had to have heat races to set the Sunday grid in those days), the rear wheel cocked in the swing-arm and threw the chain - in the first corner. With no heat race time, KR had to start from the back row of the grid. There were 40 bikes - almost all of them TZ750s) and KR was seventh through the first corner and within about seven laps he was shadowing his protege Skip Aksland. Then Aklsand started to 'bobble' and KR let rip, taking the lead, wheel-spinning through the Carousel with his (duct-taped) left knee on the pavement and pulling long monos down through the esses. Truly a 'searing' performance.

if they were smart, dorna would make this a regular part of every race throughout the season. yamaha may have crushed most of the modern YZR500's, but lord knows there are many people who have never seen or heard an NSR500 or even a 990 V5. one would think big red would be all over this...?