AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame | Where Heroes Live On
First Name
Last Name

John Ulrich


1983 and 1984 WERA National Endurance Champion
1996 WERA National Challenge Series 125cc Grand Prix Champion
Co-founded and manager of Team Hammer
Founded and publisher of Roadracing World & Motorcycle Technology magazine
Founded Roadracing World Action Fund charity
Served on AMA Board of Directors

John Ulrich is a lifelong motorcyclist who has won races in five decades, co-founded and managed a racing team, founded and served as publisher of a road racing magazine and started a charity to help keep track racers safe.

“When I am on the grid for one of the few club races I can make during a typical season -- when I don’t have to be someplace else -- and look out my helmet and wait for the board to go sideways, it looks just the same as it did when I was 19,” Ulrich said. “I am not as fast as I used to be, but I don’t crash as much, either, so it’s a decent trade-off, and still massive fun.”

And he measures his achievements, in part, by his role in helping others succeed.

“My race team winning national races and championships, while helping launch the careers of a lot of successful riders and mechanics, has also been exciting,” he said. “Standouts including Kevin Schwantz and Josh Hayes, among many. They know who they are!”

Ulrich’s interest in motorcycles began when he saw a 1930s photo of his father on an Indian motorcycle. Some neighborhood kids had mini-bikes and one of the dads had a BSA. Ulrich paid $150 for his first bike, a Benelli 125 two-stroke.

His racing career kicked off when he went desert racing with some friends. They ran enduros, for the most part.

Ulrich’s decision to switch to road racing was a practical consideration.

“I met Art Friedman when he was editor of Cycle News, and I started selling him freelance articles,” Ulrich said. “He talked me into putting street tires on my enduro bike and going road racing.”

The difference between the disciplines was evident.

“Every time I got close to zeroing out all the checks in an enduro, something stupid would happen, like my bike ending up in a tree or with the exhaust pipe jammed into the rear wheel,” he said. “When I went road racing with Art, some guys made fun of my dirt bike, but I ended up winning a race and a trophy. And didn’t have to repair anything when I got home. I liked that.”

Ulrich raced at Southern California venues, including Orange County International Raceway, Riverside Raceway, Ontario Motor Speedway and Willow Springs Raceway. Sometimes he ventured farther north, hitting Sears Point Raceway and Portland International Raceway, or he headed east to compete at Woody Creek Raceway in Colorado.

“Pretty soon, I was also going racing with racer Rudy Galindo, who lived nearby,” Ulrich said. “We’d head off to Sears Point, for example, Saturday after he got off work, arrive in time for practice, and drive home Sunday night. I’d then develop my film, write a story, type up results, deliver everything to Cycle News headquarters Monday morning, head to college classes, and then report to my job delivering prescription drugs, on my street bike, for a local pharmacy.”

Ulrich first competed in 1973. He won the 1983 and 1984 WERA National Endurance Championships and the 1996 WERA National Challenge Series 125cc Grand Prix Championship.

He co-founded Team Hammer in 1980 and has led the team to numerous amateur and professional championships.

Ulrich is the founder and publisher of Roadracing World & Motorcycle Technology magazine, the leading periodical covering the sport of American road racing.

And he founded and operates the Roadracing World Action Fund, a nonprofit that advocates track safety, promoting the use of soft barriers to prevent racetrack injuries and providing education on the value of adequate pre-race practice, rider training and proper racetrack preparation.

Ulrich served on the AMA Board of Directors for many years. In 2017, following his retirement from the board, he was presented the AMA Dud Perkins Lifetime Achievement Award, the highest award bestowed by the AMA’s board.

Ulrich derives satisfaction from many of his motorcycling activities. But his contribution to racer safety stands out.

“It used to be that any questions about safety at a track would get a racer (including me, as recently as 1999) invited to not show up, or asked to leave the property and never come back, but in a lot less polite terms,” he said. “Now, rider safety is taken more seriously on every level, and especially so at MotoAmerica AMA/FIM North American Road Racing Series events.

“Attention to safety has never been better, or taken more seriously. You cannot make any type of racing safe in absolute terms, but we have definitely made it safer. Meeting riders who have crashed and hit a soft barrier instead of a concrete K-rail barrier or a tire wall and lived to tell the tale really makes the effort worthwhile.”