Grand Prix motorcycle racing royalty stopped by Jay Leno's Garage recently. None other than Wayne Rainey showed up with his MotoAmerica YZF-R1 motorcycle to provide a bit of a different episode than we're used to on the comedian's hit YouTube show.
For those unfamiliar with Rainey and his career, he's a 3-time 500-cc World Champion and winner of the Daytona 200. Through his career, he moved through various motorcycle racing teams but found his most success with Yamaha, which is when he won those three championships. In 1993, Rainey was involved in a terrible wreck on the track at the Italian Grand Prix, which left him paralyzed from the chest down and effectively ended his motorcycle racing career.
These days, he's the instrumental figure behind MotoAmerica, which helped bring motorcycle racing back to the U.S. The motorsport had largely died out over time, but today MotoAmerica is the premier motorcycle road racing series. Rainey decided to bring the MotoAmerica racing motorcycle by the garage for a peek at what goes on within the organization.
The racing bike is meant to recall the Yamaha TZ750, which many racers regarded as the top-performing motorcycle of the 1970s. In its spirit, the looks recall the decades-old motorcycle, but it features a modern 4-stroke engine, rather than a 2-stroke mill. Power is still around 180 horsepower, Rainey says, but the powerband is far more linear. He recalls that the old bikes often had a surge of insane power between certain rpm, which he joked left a lot of people from his era of racing "limping" later in life.
When Rainey isn't working with MotoAmerica, he still races, too. He now races a hand-controlled Superkart in the World Superkart series based in California.