Second Generation World Champion Joins Father with Honorary Distinction
IRVINE, Calif. (July 20, 2016) – The American International Motorcycle Expo (AIMExpo) announced today that second generation road-racing legend Kenny Roberts Jr. has been selected with the coveted distinction of being “AIMExpo Champion” for the 2016 event, which will take place October 13-16 from the North Hall of Orlando, Florida’s Orange County Convention Center (OCCC). Roberts is the newest addition to AIMExpo’s growing list of legendary American racers and industry influencers that have served the role of official event ambassador to North America’s premier powersports event.
Roberts Jr. is the son of Hall of Fame racer and motorcycle racing icon Kenny Roberts, who served as the inaugural AIMExpo Champion for the first ever event in 2013. Together they share the distinction of being the only father-son duo to ever win the FIM 500cc World Grand Prix Championship, now known as MotoGP, and are the now the first father and son to serve the role of AIMExpo Champion.
“It is an exciting privilege to be named AIMExpo Champion for this year’s event,” said Kenny Roberts Jr. “I’ve been out of racing and day-to-day contact with the industry for almost 10 years now while starting a family, so I’m definitely looking forward to reconnecting with the many people I’ve known from my racing days, and AIMExpo is the perfect place to do that!”
“I’ve known Larry Little for a long time and watched from afar while he and the team worked on creating AIMExpo to mirror the longstanding industry shows in Italy and Germany that I often attended while racing. Just like those shows, I’m looking forward seeing a lot of familiar faces, being a part of all the festivities and seeing all the exciting new products from the industry while helping promote this year’s event.”
Roberts Jr. honed his professional roadracing on 250cc motorcycles in the early 90’s with the same Marlboro Yamaha team that his father helped bring to prominence. He stepped up to full-time competition in the premier 500cc division in 1996 as a Factory Yamaha rider before joining his father’s upstart racing program in 1997. After two seasons of acclimating to the competition in the World Championship, Roberts Jr. was selected to ride for the Factory Suzuki effort in 1999. In his first outing with the team Roberts Jr. broke through for his first career victory, which vaulted him into a championship contender. He would ultimately finish runner-up for the 500cc world title that season, setting the stage for the most memorable season of his career.
The 2000 season was a banner one for Roberts Jr., outlasting Alex Criville and a rookie hotshot named Valentino Rossi to become the first second-generation 500cc World Champion in history. His triumph put Suzuki back atop the global racing scene for the first time since former AIMExpo Champion Kevin Schwantz won the crown in 1993.
Roberts’ illustrious career featured 185 career FIM starts, highlighted by eight wins and 22 podiums.
“Kenny Jr.’s accomplishments as an American world champion are well-deserved in their own right, and it is fitting to be able to welcome him to the 2016 AIMExpo as an iconic representation of America’s long history of world champions,” said Larry Little, Vice President and General Manager of AIMExpo. “I was fortunate to have attended a number of MotoGP’s while he raced and was always impressed with his very calculated approach to his craft. The singularity of being a part of the only father and son premier class championships is a distinction that will likely never be eclipsed, and we’re very proud of his association with this year’s show.”
As “AIMExpo Champion,” Roberts Jr. will serve as the proverbial face of the event, a special distinction that he shares with his father as well as Hall of Fame inductees Kevin Schwantz (2014) and Malcolm Smith (2015). Roberts Jr. will play an integral role in pre-event publicity and promotion, and will be a focal point of several of AIMExpo’s festivities, both during the trade days on October 13-14 as well as the consumer days on October 15-16.
More than 360 exhibitors have committed to showcase the latest the powersports industry has to offer at AIMExpo. In addition to new product launches, the latest innovations being showcased on the show floor, and an expansive demo space outdoors, AIMExpo attendees will have the opportunity to connect with others throughout the industry at numerous networking events, while dealer attendees can take advantage of the unparalleled curriculum of the Powersports DEALER Seminars presented by Powersports Business during the two trade days of AIMExpo, October 13 & 14.