Hopkins: MotoGP to AMA Superbike

AMA SBK Report

John Hopkins, a Southern California native, has raced MotoGP all over the world. On March 26 he rides SBK as close to home as he can get.

When Hopkins visits Auto Club Speedway this weekend to take part in the Suzuki AMA Pro SuperBike Challenge, it will the first time he has tackled the 2.36 mile, 21-turn road course. Not a worry for him, though. He’s excited about having family and friends come out and watch him for the first time.

The Ramona native, just north of San Diego, started racing motorcycles around the age of 5. Hopkins’ first foray into motorcycle racing began with mini-motocross racing and mini-road racing in Southern California. Ironically, at the time, he was racing his current team owner’s son, Chris Ulrich.

He was just 12, when his father passed away, leaving the family in dire financial straits. Subsequently, Hopkins was forced to quit his amateur racing career.

In 1999, team owner John Ulrich was looking to add someone to the team, found the teenaged Hopkins and offered him a ride with Team Hammer. Later that year Team Hammer became Team Valvoline EMGO Suzuki and Hopkins won the Aprilia Challenge Cup championship.

Hopkins continued his championship ways in 2000, taking the AMA 750 cc Superstock title. In 2001 he kept the championship streak alive with his second AMA championship, this time atop the standings in Formula Xtreme.

In 2002, Hopkins set his sites internationally jumping from the US based AMA racing circuit to the world traveling MotoGP. In the top tier of motorcycle riding Hopkins was able to claim a pole position, four podium finishes and finished fourth in the 2007 MotoGP world championship.

In 2009, Hopkins’ MotoGP world collapsed when Kawasaki, who backed his racing team, disbanded. He quickly picked up a ride with a private team in the Superbike World Championship. Unfortunately, this opportunity ended as quickly as it began due to some serious injuries.

Now, Hopkins has come full-circle in 2010. He has rejoined John Ulrich’s Team M4 Monster Suzuki to compete for the 2010 AMA Pro National Guard American SuperBike championship. He is also teamed up with Chris Ulrich, team owner John Ulrich’s son.

He has no problems with racing the road course for the first time because he practiced here earlier in the year.

John Hopkins Quote

"I’m just really excited about racing in my native Southern California," said Hopkins. "It’s going to be a great experience. I’m actually really excited about it. I’ll have quite a few friends and family attending the race, and I’ve got quite a few friends I grew up with who have never had the opportunity to see me race in person. So I’m really happy about that."

"I like the track at Auto Club Speedway," Hopkins said. "We tested there a few weeks ago, and even though I was just getting my first feel for the bike I really enjoyed it."

"There’s a lot of places to make up time under braking, and braking has always been a strong point of mine. And because we tested there I’ll have some knowledge of the track and we will have a decent setup to start with. I think a strong, positive result is very possible."

For tickets to see Hopkins race around Auto Club Speedway’s 2.36 mile, 21-turn road course in the Suzuki AMA Pro SuperBike Challenge and track information please visit autoclubspeedway.com or call 800-944-RACE (7223).