Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Happy Birthday to Miguel Duhamel From Stu's Shots!

Miguel Duhamel on the #17 Team Honda RC51 rolls it out of turn 8 while qualifying for the AMA Superbike round at Road America in June of 2000. The new big-twin 1000cc RC came out with a bang and Honda looked to capitalize on the extra 250cc that twins were allowed over the four cylinder inline crowd. Nicky Hayden won Daytona on one with his championship in 2002 and Miguel took the bike to victory at Daytona in '03 as well in a Honda RC-sweep with Ben Bostrom in 2nd and Kurtis Roberts in 3rd. Miguel also won at Elkhart Lake in '00 when this was shot.

The all-time winningest rider in AMA Road Racing, and AMA 600 Supersport competition as well, Miguel is seen on the #1 Smokin' Joe's Honda CBR600F while qualifying for the weekend's event at Mid Ohio in the summer of '97. Miguel won five class championships in the AMA 600 Supersport class and is the series all-time winner in the class as well. Miguel won the series championship in '91, '93, '95-'97. At one point in his career he had won 10-600 races in a row.
I've been going to AMA road races since the '82 season, and first started going to WERA events when the big TZ's and the Harley Davidson two-stroke Italian twins were dominant in the mid-late '70's. But in all my years of following and going to races, I have never heard a roar from a crowd like what came forth all the way around the 2.5 mile Mid Ohio track during the AMA Superbike final in 1994 during the first few laps. EVER.
Harley Davidson had just gotten into the AMA Superbike series with their VR1000 and had hired Miguel Duhamel, fresh off his '93 run with Muzzy Kawasaki and winning his 2nd AMA 600 Supersport Championship. Harley was hot to win and prove they could get off the porch and run with the big dogs, and Miguel was hired to help prove it. And for that brief showing that afternoon in the summer of '94 he had damn near everyone in hearing and roaring distance believing it, too. After having put the almost-then-already-outdated VR on the front row during qualifying, The Master got the jump at the green flag of the final and led the first few trips around the circuit to the delight and glory of just about everyone present that day. Not to mention gaining a few new fans in the process. He did it again later in the year at Brainerd, and although I wasn't there for that one, I always swore I felt the vibration here in Indy from the roar up north. Even though the VR-thing never panned out-for Miguel or for H-D for that matter-about the only other accolade the bike had was Chris Carr putting it on the pole at Pomona in '95. But for those few shining minutes that hot summer day 16 years ago, the Harley VR reigned supreme in Lexington, OH., at the hands of The Grand Master Miguel.
Following Miguel into and through the carousel on the first lap of the final are (in no particular order) team mates Pascal Picotte #21 and Troy Corser #19 on the Fast By Ferracci Ducatis, Tom Kipp on the #16 and team mate Thomas Stevens on the #11 Team Yoshimura Suzukis, Jamie James on the #2 Vance and Hines Yamaha, Dale Quarterley on the #32 Team Mutant Ninja Turtles Muzzy-leased Kawasaki (and the winner of the '93 Mid Ohip Superbike final), and Tiger Sohwa on the Team Muzzy Kawasaki #41. Eventual winner Colin Edwards was right behind Sohwa and James and Tiger would round out the podium at the end of the day.
After returning from Europe and his foray into the World 500cc Championship with Team Yamaha France-and winning the FIM World Endurance Championship for Team Kawasaki France while across the pond-Miguel was teamed with Dale Quarterley on the Team Muzzi Kawasakis, with Miguel contesting the AMA 600 Supersport Championship for the '93 season as well. Here's Miguel at Mid Ohio during the summer of '93 en route to winning the weekend's final and the championship at the end of the year. 1993 would be the second of Miguel's five championships in the class-his first in '91 riding for Martin Adams' Team Commonwealth Camel Honda. Miguel's other championships also came on Honda's, marking '93 his lone year on the Green Machines.

Probably the bike he is best known for riding, if nothing else for the iconic purple/maroon and bright yellow paint job, Miguel took the Smokin' Joe's Team Honda RC45 to the top of the rung in it's second year of AMA Superbike competition by winning six straight races during the season to bag his only premier-class championship. The roaring RC V-4 was a screamer and Miguel tamed the beast as the '95 AMA Superbike Champion. Here he is in action at Gateway/St. Louis Raceway in August of '95 in what was the hottest weekend EVER attended by humans and machines alike. The bike dominated in it's six years of U.S. based competition, and Miguel won the Daytona 200 in '96 and it's last year of competition in '99. No one tamed the beast quite as well as Miguel did. He also finished second in the championship on this bike to Doug Chandler in '96 and '97.

One of the all-time greats of AMA Road Racing is celebrating a birthday on Wednesday May 26th, and Stu's Shots wants to be one to wish him a big happy birthday!

Miguel Duhamel, the all-time winningest rider in AMA Road Racing history, with a total of eight-series championships, will be toasting his 42nd birthday tomorrow.
Since 1990, when he won his first AMA Superbike final at Heartland Park Topeka, Miguel has been not only the winningest rider in AMA history, but also one of the most approachable of riders and champions over the years. The fact that he still isn't racing actively/regularly now, in spite of his 42 years, is more of a testament to the series' and economic maladies of the last two+ years. If the man was out there on a top-notch ride, he would still be going at it strong, believe me!
With five Daytona 200 wins to his credit ('91, '96, '99, '03 in AMA Superbike and '04 in AMA Formula Xtreme), Miguel's winning record and championship record read like a who's who:
'95 AMA Superbike Champion
'04-'05 AMA Formula Xtreme Champion
5-Time AMA 600 Supersport Champion ('91, '93 (his only on a Kawasaki), '95-'97
'92 FIM World Endurance Team Champion
And those are just the MAJOR highlights. He also placed runner-up in the AMA Superbike Series in '96 and '97 to eventual champion Doug Chandler, and in '04 to eventual champion Mat Mladin. And he still stands second to Mladin in overall superbike wins, though by half of Mat's 82 premier-class wins.
Duhamel raced a very wide variety of machines since his first win at Topeka almost 20 years ago. Suzuki inlines ('90), Honda V-4's ('91 for Commonwealth Camel Honda and '95-'99, Honda's big-twin RC51 ('00-'03), Kawasaki inlines ('93 for Muzzy) and Honda inline fours ('04-'08). And that was just in the AMA Superbike Series. He also ran Honda inlines in the 600 Supersport Series as well as the AMA Formula Xtreme Series ('91, '95-'06), and Kawasaki inlines in '93 for Muzzy as well. And there could be more I missed, but you get the idea. The man has seen and embraced changes in the sport and has lead through those changes as well.
And he has suffered. Several near, career-ending injuries suffered at New Hampshire and at Road Atlanta that would have quelled mere mortals. But not Miguel. The Grand Master came through it all, even when he was being helped ONTO the bike and OFF of the bike (when winning the Daytona 200 on the RC45 in '99 he had to have help as his leg injury from the previous year was still healing.)
I could go on and on, but I have thrown in some bio and interviews at the bottom to help fill the stats in.
Needless to say, I have been and always will be a fan of Number 17, The Mighty Miguel, for not only his prowess on a bike and on the track, but as a great leader and representative of the sport, as well as a person. Very few in the paddock were as personable, friendly and outgoing as Miguel. And I've got a lot of signed pictures to back it up......
So on this fine day, Stu's Shots again says thanks to Miguel for all the memories, the wins, and all the agony you put yourself through to show the U.S. fans how ironclad you are and what a true champion and person you are.

And have a VERY Happy Birthday!
Miguel's career highlights from Wikipedia.com:
Dave Despain from Wind Tunnel chats with Miguel before the 2009 edition of the Daytona 200. This clip has some short, but terrific racing highlights of Miguel's racing career. Worth the 4 1/2 minutes to check it out and listen to the all-time winningest rider in AMA Road Racing speak about his past, present and future:

Miguel's bio as of 2007 from Motorcycle-USA.com:
Here's an August 2009 interview with Miguel that shines a light on more of his thoughts and career from the great folks at RoadRacerX.com:
One thing I would like to mention before I close. You would think after all Miguel has done for the sport and for the AMA and all of his championships that they would have an official bio on him. Nothing. Now he WILL be in the AMA Hall of Fame eventually, but to not have a bio on the winningest rider in AMA Road Racing with 8 championships to his credit is a disservice to this great man and rider.
Just sayin'. Whether Pickerington or Daytona is listening is another......

Again we'd like to congratulate Miguel and wish him a very happy birthday, and thank him for all of his years of riding hard and racing harder. And for being a champion's champion in life and on the race track as well. And thanks for putting up with me and signing the probably close to a dozen and a half or so pictures over the years! It has always been a pleasure to talk to and with you! Not to mention a good laugh or two.

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