If American road racing riders’ rise to world prominence in the late 1970s and 1980s could be traced to one man, it could well be Cal Rayborn. Years before inductees Kenny Roberts, Freddie Spencer, Eddie Lawson and Wayne Rainey became international stars, Rayborn won 11 AMA nationals in his brief seven-year professional career. Ten of those came on road courses making him “easily the top American road racer of his era,” says the AMA. Rayborn’s fame spread to Europe in 1972 when he rode a Harley-Davidson XR750 in the popular Transatlantic Match Races. European riders were the heavy favorites, but on an outdated bike Rayborn won three of six races and tied for top score in the series. “Rayborn’s performance proved once and for all that Americans could road race.” In 1970, Rayborn set a motorcycle world land speed record at Bonneville (265.492 mph). He was killed in a club race in New Zealand when his engine seized. The two-time DAYTONA 200 winner (1968-69) was inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 1999.