MotoAmerica champs Beaubier and Kelly challenge the 600cc World Championship
There was a time when Americans dominated the grids and the podiums of world championship motorcycle racing. “King Kenny” Roberts, Eddie Lawson, Wayne Rainey, “Fast Freddie’ Spencer, Kevin Schwantz, Scott Russell, John Kocinski, Kenny Roberts Jr., “Texas Tornado” Colin Edwards, and “Kentucky Kid” Nicky Hayden among others all found glory on the international superbike stage. One wonders how Ben Spies might have fared had he stayed healthy, or what Josh Hayes could have achieved had he made the leap. After many years of drought, with few Americans finding success (the last American to win a superbike world championship was Hayden in 2006), American motorcycle road racing is making a comeback thanks to MotoAmerica and hence, more Americans are jumping to the world championships (WSBK and MotoGP) again.
Those were the days. Nicky Hayden claiming the 2006 MotoGP World Championship. Photo by MotoGP.
Five-time MotoAmerica National Champion Cameron Beaubier moved to Moto2, the 600 class of MotoGP last year, and Garrett Gerloff has been making his presence felt in World Superbike since 2020. Californian Joe Roberts landed in Moto2 in 2017, and has been a top-ten competitor ever since. Now, Americans contending for world championships has stepped up another rung with the recent announcement that the Moto2 team called American Racing signed Sean Dylan Kelly to join Beaubier this year in their first all-American motorcycle road racing team. Kelly comes to the world stage after a thrilling 2021 MotoAmerica Supersport season that saw him snatch the national title from 2020 champ Richie Escalante.
Cameron Beaubier in his rookie Moto2 season last year with American Racing. Photo by MotoGP.
Cameron Beaubier had a hard rookie season last year in Moto2, finishing 15th overall with two 5th place finishes and a “fastest race lap” in the Portuguese Grand Prix. He’s excited to be joined by Kelly for a two-pronged U.S. assault on the class championship this year. “I’m not saying that this year isn’t going to be tough by any means, but last year was really, really tough,” Beaubier said. “We had some really good moments, a lot of crashes, a couple of top-fives and a handful of top 10s. It’s definitely something to build on and I’m definitely looking forward to it. I’m really pumped to have Sean (Dylan Kelly) on the team and have two Americans. It’s weird because coming up in racing, I was always the young gun that always had older teammates and now it’s reversed on me. I’ve been teammates with Josh Hayes and looking up to him and seeing how he did stuff. I learned a lot and now the roles are reversed. I’m really looking forward to this year and I hope to make you guys proud.”
Sean Dylan Kelly on his quest for the 2021 MotoAmerica Supersport crown. Photo by Suzuki Racing.
Sean Dylan Kelly tore through the MotoAmerica Supersport field in 2021, winning 12 races on his way to the crown. A top contender there since 2019, Kelly is beyond thrilled to be racing alongside Beaubier. “Right now it still feels unreal for me, looking at this beautiful bike with my number on it, which is going to be the 4 and I’ve always raced as 40. It’s a dream come true for me. This is something that felt really far away only a year ago. It felt like something that was hard to reach. We know how life is and how careers can be with lots of ups and downs. This (past) year has been incredible, and I was able to achieve one of my biggest goals and dreams of being National Champion and not too long after to sign a contract for the World Championship. Honestly, it’s a dream come true for me and my family and something I dreamed of since I was a little kid and started racing at five years old… I’m really excited to get going.”
The 2022 American Racing Team (L-R): Cameron Beaubier, Eitan Butbul, John Hopkins, Avner Kass and Sean Dylan Kelly. Photo by American Racing Team.
Team owners Eitan Butbul and Avner Kass, with team director John Hopkins launched the American Racing Team in 2018, signing Joe Roberts for the 2019 and 2020 seasons. Roberts moved on to the ItalTrans Racing team for 2021 with Beaubier assuming his ride, and the American Racing Team is now truly “all-American” with Kelly joining Beaubier. “We didn’t call this team the American Racing Team just for the name, as the purpose was to eventually have two American riders or at least one with us and to build the platform and have the chance for American riders to come into the World Championship,” Butbul shared. “This year it is happening finally and that’s why we took this chance to do something here, in Los Angeles. This is our home base and we try to mix what we do in our regular lives with our racing. I think it is important that we talk a lot with the guys from MotoAmerica because after many, many years there are two American riders coming directly from MotoAmerica, the National Championship, and it’s a good opportunity to maybe start some collaboration with MotoAmerica.”
The Dynamic Duo, Cameron Beaubier and Sean Dylan Kelly, ready to race. Photo by American Racing Team.
We applaud the American Racing Team for their efforts to bring more U.S. racers back to the international stage, and for fielding a fully-American pair of riders for the 2022 Moto2 season. We wish Beaubier and Kelly the best of success, as we do Roberts with ItalTrans and Gerloff over in World Superbike. American motorcycle road racing is making a comeback, due in no small part to the efforts and growth of MotoAmerica.
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