Mitch Payton to enter AMA Hall of Fame

Pro Circuit owner won 26 MX/SX titles in 20 years

By Motorcycle.Com Staff, May. 27, 2010
Championship wining Motocross and Supercross team owner Mitch Payton is the first member named to the 2010 AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame class.

Payton, the owner of Pro Circuit Racing, has won 26 AMA Pro Motocross and Supercross titles since 1991, more than any other team.

“In AMA Pro Motocross and Supercross, one team is perhaps more synonymous with winning than any other, Pro Circuit, and the motive force behind that team is one of the industry’s most driven individuals, Mitch Payton,” says Jack Penton, incoming AMA director of operations and a member of the 1999 Hall of Fame class. “Payton is an architect of not only championship teams, but champions, having developed some of this sport’s greatest racers.”

In 20 years of racing, Pro Circuit has won championships with riders such as Jeremy McGrath, Ricky Carmichael, Ivan Tedesco and Ryan Villopoto.

Mitch Payton (in the wheelchair) at the Motocross of Nations.

Payton says he is honored to join some of his heroes in the Hall of Fame.

“I look around the industry, and there are a few guys I hold in real regard,” says Payton. “One is Malcolm Smith. When I was a kid, we’d go to Malcolm’s shop, and I was the 10-year-old punk who would bother the guys at the counter for stickers and sit on all the bikes. Another is Roger DeCoster. Those guys are just awesome.

“So, to be in the same Hall of Fame, for that honor, I’m really proud about that,” Payton says. “It’s there forever. It means that anyone looking back on history years from now will see what you’ve done.”

Payton was a promising desert racer in his youth before being paralyzed in a crash during a race in the Mojave Desert at the age of 17. Though he lost the use of his legs, Payton maintained his love for motorcycling, buying a Husqvarna shop at 18. Payton soon built a reputation as a skilled tuner with several top motocross teams of the mid-1980s using his parts.

In 1991, Payton formed the Team Peak Pro Circuit Racing Team, racing Honda motorcycles. In the team’s first season, Pro Circuit captured both the East and West 125 class Supercross titles with Brian Swink and McGrath. Pro Circuit won three titles with Honda machinery before switching to Kawasaki in 1993 and winning 23 more.

“I’ve known Mitch from when he was racing to when he was starting his company,” says Tom White, chair of the Hall of Fame Motocross/Supercross committee and one of the first distributors of Payton’s products. “It is one of my proudest moments to see somebody who overcame what some might see as a major disability and not only build the best motorcycles, but to be able to pick the riders and bring them up to a level of performance that makes them better than they ever thought they could be. Mitch Payton is absolutely what the Hall of Fame is about – recognizing the people who have made the best and most lasting contributions to motorcycling.”

Payton will be inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame on Nov. 19 as part of the AMA Legends & Champions Weekend. The induction banquet will be held in Las Vegas at the Red Rock Resort.