Gene Romero, 1970 AMA Grand National Champion, 1975 Daytona 200 winner, and one of the featured riders in the landmark 1971 movie “On Any Sunday,” died in Southern California May 12th, just shy of age 72. (Romero was born on May 22nd, 1947.)
A lifelong smoker, Romero had been diagnosed with COPD before his death, and developed pneumonia. He died at St. Jude’s hospital, in Fullerton, California.
Romero set the Daytona 200 qualifying record with an average speed of 157.3 mph in 1970 on a Triumph Trident, when qualifying consisted of a single timed lap around the Daytona oval, without using the infield course. He won the Daytona 200 in 1975 on a Yamaha TZ750.
Romero adopted the nickname “Burritto” with two Ts instead of the conventional spelling with one T. After racing, Romero worked as a team manager, a dirt-track prep consultant and a race promoter.
He is survived by his wife, Cheri and an adult son, Geno.
Read more about Gene Romero in his AMA Hall of Fame profile, here:
Send your personal memories and photos of Gene Romero to [email protected]
More, from a press release issued by American Motorcyclist Association (AMA):
AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame extends condolences on passing of Gene Romero
Racer was 1970 AMA Grand National Champion, 1975 Daytona 200 Winner
PICKERINGTON, Ohio — The AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame and the American Motorcyclist Association offer condolences to the family and friends of AMA Motorcycle Hall of Famer Gene Romero, who passed away on May 12 in Fullerton, Calif. He was 71.
Romero was one of the best-known motorcycle racers in the United States during late 1960s and early ’70s. He won the AMA Grand National Championship in 1970 riding for Triumph.
Romero won 12 AMA nationals during his 16-year racing career. He was one of the early riders to bring sponsorship into the sport from outside the motorcycling industry. In 1970, Romero won the prestigious AMA Most Popular Rider of the Year Award.
The biggest win of Romero’s career was the 1975 Daytona 200. He rode the first half of the race in fourth place on his factory Yamaha. Then he poured on the speed, passing Giacomo Agostini and Steve Baker and taking the lead when Steve McLaughlin crashed. Romero cruised to victory for his only win in 14 Daytona 200 starts.
Romero was inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 1998.
For more information about Romero and his motorcycling career, visit the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame website at www.motorcyclemuseum.org.
About the American Motorcyclist Association
Founded in 1924, the AMA is a not-for-profit member-based association whose mission is to promote the motorcycle lifestyle and protect the future of motorcycling. As the world’s largest motorcycling rights and event sanctioning organization, the AMA advocates for riders’ interests at all levels of government and sanctions thousands of competition and recreational events every year. The AMA also provides money-saving discounts on products and services for its members. Through the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame in Pickerington, Ohio, the AMA honors the heroes and heritage of motorcycling. For more information, visit www.americanmotorcyclist.com.
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