The AMA announced today that its Motorcyclist of the Year is the president of KTM North America - Jon-Erik Burleson. Awarded annually, the AMA Motorcyclist of the Year designation recognizes the person or persons who had the most profound impact within the motorcycling community in the previous 12 months.
"Jon-Erik's innovation and leadership have positioned his company to take full advantage of what could only be described as a challenging environment in the motorcycle industry-an industry that is fighting back from its worst downturn in history," said AMA President and CEO Rob Dingman in a release. "It is also important to recognize our honoree's passion for, and commitment to, motorcycling. Jon-Erik exemplifies the motorcycle lifestyle. He was raised in a motorcycle racing family and has been around motorcycling his whole life."
Former KTM North America President Rod Bush brought Burleson to the company. Bush, who passed away in 2005 and is a member of the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame, laid the foundation for much of KTM's growth in recent years. However, it was Burleson who took the reins in 2005 and led KTM away from its reputation as an obscure European motorcycle company with moderate penetration in the off-road market to a premium brand under the tagline "Ready to Race."
Indeed, from 2009 to 2012, KTM sales bucked the declining trend in the industry, increasing almost 20 percent. Much of that growth occurred in the last year, when industry-wide motorcycle sales were essentially flat. In addition, the company won its first AMA Pro Racing National Motocross Championship in 2012 when Ryan Dungey took the 450cc class title.
"Through both his professional success and his volunteer efforts, Jon-Erik Burleson's commitment and influence make him one of motorcycling's most effective advocates today," Dingman added. "That, paired with his professional success leading KTM North America through and beyond the recent economic recession, makes him an obvious choice for the 2012 AMA Motorcyclist of the Year."