Ben Spies Retires from Motorcycle Racing
Although many had high hopes for Ben Spies when he joined the factory-supported Ignite Pramac Racing Ducati for 2013 MotoGP, injuries kept the American sidelined for all but two races.
Spies’ troubles began at Sepang in October of 2012 while competing on the Yamaha Factory Racing YZR-M1. He injured his right shoulder during the crash, and never fully recovered. He would race aboard the Ducati GP13 at Qatar and Circuit of the Americas – finishing 10th and 13th, respectively – but clearly struggled with his shoulder.
The injury plagued him, causing him to miss subsequent rounds. When he finally made his return for the Indy MotoGP, he wrecked the Ducati GP13 in practice, dislocating his left shoulder. Surgeries followed, but he would never be healthy enough to race again in 2013 MotoGP.
Due to the aftereffects of both surgeries, the 29-year-old Texan’s physical condition remains in question. This resulted in the decision for Ducati and Spies to terminate their contract, which ran until the end of 2014.
But it wasn’t only the contract that ended; Spies, the 2009 World Superbike Champion and three-time AMA Champion, also announced his retirement from motorcycle racing. The announcement arrived Saturday ahead of qualifying for Motegi MotoGP.
Ben Spies says: “I had such high hopes for racing for Ducati, and Ducati has been incredibly supportive of me during this challenging year, so I am tremendously disappointed that I have not been able to fulfill my personal goals and team goals with Ducati.
“I want to thank everyone from racing organizations, factories, teams, and all my fans for helping me and supporting me throughout my career. I never dreamed that I would reach the level of success that I have over the past 20 years of racing, but the time has come to stop and I do so with great sadness.”
Mary Spies (Ben’s manager/mother) says: “Wherever Ben has raced over the years — from AMA Superbike to World Superbike to MotoGP — he has always felt the warmth and appreciation of the organizers, circuits, teams and fans. We are so grateful to them for their support.”
Paolo Ciabatti (Ducati MotoGP Project Director) says: “We had high expectations when Ben joined Ducati in MotoGP this year, and we really hoped that he would fully recover from his Indianapolis crash injuries and continue to race for us in the future.
“However, we understand the reasons for his decision and respect them. It is really a shame for our sport that Ben will not be racing anymore, because in our opinion he is one of the most talented riders in the world. We will miss him and wish him all the best for his future life.”
Spies went professional in 2000 when he joined AMA Pro Road Racing, racing Suzuki GSX-R machinery for his entire career in the series. He won the 2003 AMA Formula Xtreme title, and joined AMA Superbike in 2006. He was known for his bouts with Mat Mladin, and was able to capture three straight AMA Superbike titles (2006-2008). In 2009, he joined the World Superbike Championship with Yamaha, and took the title.
He joined MotoGP in 2010 as a satellite rider aboard the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 machine, taking his career-only pole at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. For 2011, he was transferred to the Yamaha Factory Racing team, riding next to two-time MotoGP Champion Jorge Lorenzo. He took a win his only MotoGP win at Assen that year. He continued with Yamaha until joining the Ignite Pramac Racing Ducati team in 2012.
As for Spies’ future, he will likely spend more time at the restaurant he opened in Dallas in October of 2011, Stackhouse Burgers. Spies is also a serious cyclist, and owner of “Elbowz Racing,” the name arriving from Spies’ nickname from his AMA Pro Road Racing days.
As for Americans in MotoGP, only two remain – Ducati Team’s Nicky Hayden, who will ride for Power Electronics Aspar on a CRT in 2014, and Colin Edwards, who rides the NGM Forward Racing CRT.