Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas from Stu's Shots, Kenny Roberts & IMS!


After winning three 500CC World Championships in '78-'80 and then retiring from the world scene after the '84 season as a rider, Kenny Roberts also proved to be one of the most successful team owners in World Championship Grand Prix Racing. Fielding 500CC and 250CC Yamahas with sponsorship from a variety of companies including Lucky Strike and Marlboro, and then signing top-notch talent in the form of Wayne Rainey, Eddie Lawson, and John Kocinski (among a long list of other greats), The King managed to win a handful of championships as an owner from '90-'92 to add to his legend as a rider.
In the mid-to-late 90s, Roberts started to lose faith in the Japanese factories, and decided to give it a go himself as a 500CC World Championship
manufacturer. Originally partnering with Tom Walkinshaw Racing in England, who had deep roots in F1 car racing technology, TWR provided the engineering skills needed to build and campaign a competitive 500CC two-stroke Grand Prix machine. One of the Proton Team KR 500CC 3-cylinders can be seen in the background with Jeremy McWilliams #99 on it.
When 500CC Grand Prix racing switched to the four-stroke era in the '02 season, Roberts campaigned the 3-cylinder while developing the KR V5 four-stroke. By then, son Kurtis had left the AMA Superbike Championship Series in the States, and was drafted to ride the #80 machine, which can be seen in the foreground. The team never seemed to gain ground against The Majors, and after several breakdowns in trying to attain sponsorship, Roberts pulled the plug after the '07 season after investing millions in it himself.


The second son of King Kenny Roberts is Kurtis Roberts, who spent several years racing in the AMA Superbike Championship as well as the AMA 600 Supersport Championship (and winning a title along the way) in the States before embarking to Europe to race his father's V5 version of the #80 Team KRV5 Proton. The King stuck with trying to fight the factories with his machines until the bitter end through the 2007 season, but always seemed to be a step behind the other major European and Japanese manufacturers.
Take the time to look over this magnificent piece of art, what with all of the carbon fiber and other light-weight components adorning this beauty. Roberts' final years as a team owner in World Championship Racing may not have garnered alot of great results, but the beauty of what he tried to do reachs out and grabs you with the detail and technology that was put into his efforts.


The Team KR Proton 2-stroke 500CC World Championship machine of Jeremy McWilliams sits on display at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum. McWilliams did manage to put one of these machines on the pole at the Australian Grand Prix in 2002 in the last race of the season. With the evolution of 500CC World Championship Motorcycle Racing morphing into the MotoGP World Championship, and the two-stroke era being whisked away into the dark ages with the introduction of four-stroke technology into the premier road racing series in the world, the 3-cylinder was soon retired for a four-stroke V5. Since Roberts departure as a team owner in the World Championships after the 2007 season, no other person, team or factory has dared to take on The Majors, and quite possibly it may never be seen again especially with the costs of racing being what they are in these times.
Side note: I believe this model was originally called the Modenas KR3 when Roberts first got into designing and manufacturing his own 500CC machines in '96.

Stu's Shots wants to wish all of it's readers a VERY Merry Christmas and a SAFE and Happy New Year on this wonderful Christmas Eve of December of 2010. Thanks for taking your time to drop in and check us out, as we're extremely grateful to all of you for coming by to hang out and see what we have to offer in the way of high speed motorcycle racing news from today that is coupled with the shots from today and yesterday. We're looking forward to closing out the 2010 season and firing up the 2011 racing season and being able to continue to keep you interested, informed and amazed at the world of AMA Flat Track, AMA Road Racing, MotoGP and all of the high speed motorcycle racing from around the world.

Thanks for helping to make 2010 a SUPER racing season here at Stu's Shots and we hope you consider us your one-stop shop again in the upcoming 2011 year. God Bless and safe travels!

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