One of the greatest names in motorcycle racing, three-time 500cc World Champion Wayne Rainey, has ridden a motorcycle for the first time in 26 years at a private event held at Buttonwillow, California.
The Californian, CEO of MotoAmerica, has not ridden a motorcycle since crashing out of the lead of the 1993 San Marino 500cc Grand Prix at Misano, severing his spinal cord and paralyzing him from the middle of the chest down. At the time, he was leading the championship against arch-rival Kevin Schwantz, who would go on to take the championship that season.
Rainey rode a modified Yamaha YZF-R1 at Buttonwillow, with Saddlemen providing a custom seat and Klicktronic fitting an electronic gear shifter on the left handlebar. Alpinestars decked Rainey out in a replica of the suit he wore during the 1993 season, the same with Shoei and his replica X-Fourteen helmet, and he even had a pair of his original Nankai Japanese gloves from his time racing for Marlboro Yamaha.
“The last couple of days, I didn’t know what to expect,” Rainey said at the end of his time on the R1. “And when I put it in gear and left the pit for the first time, it was like taking training wheels off. I was wobbling out of the pit, and I thought, ‘I’ve got to get on the throttle!’. So, that felt good.
“Riding around, the first couple of laps, was so strange. The acceleration, just the way I felt on the bike. So, I took a little break, but the second time around, everything felt right at home. Twenty-six years is a long time to be off one (a motorcycle) and then to jump on an R1, it made me feel young again.”
Check out the above video for your doe of Friday feels as Wayne Rainey rides again.
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