LEGENDS AND HEROES HONOREE - ANAHEIM SUPERCROSS - JANUARY 2020
About Preston Petty- Born in Los Angeles on February 19, 1941, Preston Petty was an off-road and motocross racer of the late 1950s through the early 1970s. He rode as a part of the United States team in three International Six-Day Trials (ISDT, now ISDE) events. He was one of the early pioneers that brought European-style motocross to America.
He started riding when he was 11 years old, and by the age of 13, he was competing in local TT and scrambles events. Southern California in the 1950s was an off-road motorcycle rider's heaven and Petty was able to hone his skills in the Santa Monica Mountains just outside his door. By 16, he was one of the top off-road racers in Southern California. After a short time at school in Utah, Petty would return to Los Angeles and get more serious about his racing. He was one of the first to race Honda machines before they even had an official United States distributor. When American Honda was an official US Distributor, Petty was the first racer to receive their support.
Petty furthered his reputation of being a top raced racer during the 1960s and briefly raced the European championship motocross events in 1960. When Edison Dye helped begin the sport of motocross in the United States in the late 1960s, Petty was one of the racers that helped with that task.
However, aside from his excellent riding skills, Petty is more well known for his most famous invention. The Preston Petty Plastic Fender. In a time when metal fenders were the norm, Petty’s revolutionary plastic replacement took the growing off-road motorcycle market by storm. The idea for the fender came after a ride where Petty’s aluminum front fender broke off. Using a five-gallon paint bucket as inspiration, Petty utilized his programming skills in computer machining to make a mold and then test different plastic formulas to find the right one. Hoping to sell enough to earn back his investment Petty’s fender went on to sell 2000 per day at the height of its popularity. His innovations and inventions were not limited to plastic as Petty also designed a No-Dive fork system in the late 70s. Although it never found its way into mass production the system made for a more controllable machine under braking.
He scaled back his racing to focus on his business Petty Plastic where he would invent additional items that revolutionize the sport of off-road motorcycling. The AMA Hall Of Fame inducted Preston Petty in 1999.