Very sad news from America this morning, Gene Romero – racing legend and a pioneer for the sport of motorcycle competition, plus one of the legends who starred in the iconic movie On Any Sunday, has died.
Arguably best known worldwide for this appearance in the seminal film, Romero was a genuine riding superstar. His racing career through the 1960s and 1970s saw him win the AMA Grand National Championship in 1970 for Triumph.
It wasn’t just on dirt ovals where Romero succeeded though, he stood on top of the podium on mile-long, half-mile circuits and competed to a high level in road racing too. A runner up in both 1969 and 1970 at the Daytona 200 race, Romero won the huge event in 1975 riding for the majority on the race with his bike stuck in fourth gear but managing to put so much pressure on rival Steve McLaughlin that McLaughlin fell off, leaving Romero a straight run to the high-speed finish even though his bike was broken.
Winning 12 AMA Nationals in his racing career over a 16-year period, Romero was one of the first riders to bring non-motorcycle-related sponsorship into the sport. Ever the showman on and off the track, there was something that about Romero that Evel Knievel liked and in 1970 the stuntman put his money into Romero, the only time Knievel directly sponsored a racer.
Romero raced in the UK too, taking part in the famed Transatlantic Trophy races of the 1970s for Team USA. He raced bikes until retiring in 1981. From 1982 to 1985 Romero managed Honda’s AMA Grand National dirt track racing effort.