Kenny Roberts Sells California Ranch/Track
Kenny Roberts’ family ranch, including its popular TT scrambles practice track, has been sold. After being on and off the market for many years, the Hickman, California, property recently passed to new ownership.
According to Superbikeplanet, the three-time world champion had owned the ranch for about 35 years. His parents, Buster and Alice, lived on the property until their deaths, and Roberts’ three children grew up there. What began as a practice track for Kenny and his friends and family eventually grew to become the Kenny Roberts Training Ranch. It served as a hands-on classroom for eventual championship riders like Eddie Lawson, Wayne Rainey, Kenny Roberts Jr., Rich Oliver, and Jorge Lorenzo. Roberts was still active in training professional Gran Prix riders last year, and the track saw regular use by local riders.
Roberts’ dirt track training methods would also take root in Europe, where he won the first of his three consecutive titles in 1978. The Spanish site of the KR Training Ranch was adjacent to the Circuit de Catalunya, just outside Barcelona. World class competitors like Sete Gibernau and Valentino Rossi would hone their skills as teenagers on the dirt track. Eventually the advent of electronic controls such as traction control in MotoGP racing would render Roberts’ training style obsolete, but he will always stand as a pioneer in the field.
READ MORE: The Fabulous Lifestyle of King Kenny Roberts
In a 1999 interview, 500cc World Champion Alex Criville credited The Ranch with improving his performance on the road racing circuits.
“Riding the Rotax singles at the Roberts school helped me stay calm and comfortable when the bike was sliding and helped me get the Honda NSR500 turned earlier and the power down earlier,” he said. “I was racing Mick Doohan on the same bikes, and riding dirt track helped me get on his level in spite of coming from a 125cc and 250 background.”
Back in California, Roberts later built a museum on his property and held an annual True American Heroes dinner, which included an auction benefitting the Welcome Home Heroes fund and the Cpl. Michael D. Anderson Jr. Memorial Foundation.