Kenny and I have a relationship that dates back to 1982. At the time I was having some issues in what was my first year of AMA Superbike racing. A mutual friend of ours, the late Sparky Edmondson, was my mechanic and things weren’t going great as I was really struggling with using the back brake too much. Sparky told me to give Kenny a call and I did. Kenny asked me where I was racing next and I told him Loudon and his advice was “Just do what you’ve been doing, the corners are banked.” I did that and I won my first Superbike race. When I talked to him again and told him I’d won, he said. “Just don’t think you’ve got it sorted.” He was right. I went to Laguna Seca for the next race and crashed three times.
Our friendship basically took off after that and we were close from that point on. After I won the 1983 Superbike Championship, Kawasaki pulled out and I didn’t have a ride. Kenny created a 250 GP team and took me to Europe to race in that championship. In 1988, he gave me a shot on his 500cc GP team when no one else would and we won three World Championships together. After my accident, he helped me get going again by helping me start my GP team.
To this day, our relationship is very tight, and it always will be. We enjoy each other’s company a lot and it’s always a good time when we’re together.
So, thank you Kenny for all you have done for me, and I look forward to celebrating your 70th birthday today.