Motocross, off-road rider
As the AMA put it, LaPorte helped “the United States transition from underdog to a world leader in the sport of motocross.” In 1979, the Los Angeles-born rider became AMA 500cc National Motocross Champion. Three years later, he became the first American to win the FIM 250cc World Motocross Championship, then switched to off-road racing and won three straight Baja 1000s (1988-90). LaPorte was also one of the riders on the 1981 Trophee des Nations squad that brought America its first victory in the Olympic-like competition. “That year’s victory for Team USA,” wrote the AMA, “was perhaps the single most important accomplishment in American motocross history.” LaPorte’s World Motocross Championship shocked the European riding establishment and he did it in dominating fashion, winning four straight races and five overall. Of his win in Holland, four-time world champion Heikki Mikkola said, “Danny rode a perfect race, not one mistake.” LaPorte won the nearly 2,000-mile 1991 Pharaohs Rally and came second in the 1992 Paris-Dakar. He was inducted into the AMA Hall of Fame in 2000.