MotoAmerica honored its five class champions in its Night of Champions on Friday night, October 14, bringing a celebratory close to the 2016 MotoAmerica AMA/FIM North American Road Race Championship. The gala event was held in conjunction with the AIMExpo inside the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida.
The champions in all five classes – Cameron Beaubier (Superbike), Josh Herrin (Bazzaz Superstock 1000), Garrett Gerloff (Supersport), Bryce Prince (Superstock 600) and Brandon Paasch (KTM RC Cup) – were honored, along with the second- and third-place finishers in each title chase, the champion’s team and Superbike Rookie of the Year, Toni Elias.
The awards were presented by MotoAmerica partners Richard Varner, Terry Karges, Chuck Aksland and president and three-time 500cc World Champion Wayne Rainey.
“First of all we want to congratulate our champions, all their teams and all the teams in the MotoAmerica paddock. We love you all,” Rainey said. “We’re happy you’re there and we had a really competitive season in every class and everybody was a part of that. I’d like to thank the MotoAmerica staff that helps us behind the scenes and also the volunteers who help us at the track. I also want to thank Larry Little from the AIMExpo for letting us use this facility and of course the AMA because none of this would be possible without them.”
Cameron Beaubier – 2016 MotoAmerica Superbike Champion
“It feels great,” Beaubier said. “Definitely after two DNFs after the first three races, I didn’t think I’d be standing up here. The team and I dug deep all season long trying to win as many races as we could. We fought as hard as we could all season long and we were able to get it done again. A huge thanks to my parents who weren’t able to be here tonight. Seriously, it’s kind of crazy and it’s sunk in this year with my brother racing because I’ve kind of helped him a little bit, financially, and it kind of clicked how much my dad really did for me. I remember five years ago going into Yamaha’s headquarters down south in Cypress (California) and being a nervous wreck in front of Chuck Graves and Keith (McCarty). Who would have known that five years later we’d wrap up three titles together? I’m ready to go fight for another one next year.”
Garrett Gerloff – 2016 MotoAmerica Supersport Champion
“I always thought I had something for these guys and I just needed to keep my head on straight and that helped me out a lot,” Gerloff said. “Those first three races when I was able to get three wins, I was like ‘all right I guess I will just keep this train rolling and see what happens.’ Halfway through, JD (Beach) started to get his stuff together and started coming on strong and he made me a little nervous. At Jersey (in the season finale), I was just trying to keep my head on straight and try to win above anything else and somehow I did it. I look back and I really don’t know how I did it but I have a lot of people to thank and it all goes back to my parents. It’s crazy. They listened to some 12-year-old kid who said he wanted to road race for a living. They put in a lot of time, effort and money and there were a few times when we weren’t going to continue, but I can’t thank them enough for all the sacrifices they made for me. When I got the call from Yamaha it was such an amazing day and the opportunity I got from Keith and Dennis with them giving me the chance to race on a factory team at 16. I was blown away. I can’t thank you enough from the bottom of my heart to be able to chase my dream and try to live it. And to Chuck (Graves) thanks again for an amazing bike. I know you work hard and to all the guys at the shop… we have absolutely the best equipment every weekend.”
Josh Herrin – 2016 MotoAmerica Superstock 1000 Champion
“It was an amazing year and first of all I have to thank my racing family, my Wheels In Motion, Meen Motorsports team,” Herrin said. “They took a chance on me when I had a bad year and it’s been a great, great couple of years and I’m proud to be around them.”
Bryce Prince – 2016 MotoAmerica Superstock 600 Champion
“It was a really good year for us,” Prince said. “We came in with one goal in mind and that was to win the 600 Superstock Championship. With a great team and great guys behind me, we did exactly that. I want to thank MotoAmerica and all those guys for giving us a good series and I look forward to next year for even better. I want to thank the owner, Mike Pond, from Tuned Racing, because he sacrificed a lot to make this happen.”
Toni Elias – 2016 MotoAmerica Superbike Rookie of the Year
For me it’s been an amazing year,” Elias said. “Is incredible. I felt really good in the United States. Thanks to Suzuki Yoshimura to give me this opportunity. You are a family and we did our best. They gave more than 100 percent to try and win this championship and finally we lost by seven points. We were fighting with very strong guys and I learned a lot. I will come back next season to fight again and we will see if we can win it. Thank you every body, thank you for all the paddock and thank you MotoAmerica. It felt like home. Thank you very much.”