'King' Kenny Roberts turned back the clock with some fast laps on his infamous Yamaha TZ-750 during the Indy Mile AMA dirt track race on Saturday at the Indiana State Fairgrounds.
The triple 500cc world champion, former MotoGP team owner and two-time AMA Grand National champion rode the bike to a historic victory in 1975 at the “Indy Mile” with a breathtaking, last-lap pass.
The bike, built and tuned by former 250cc world champion Kel Carruthers, was thought by many to be impossible to ride on the dirt due to its brute power.
Amazingly, the 57-year-old did the demo - in front of a sell-out crowd that included reigning six MotoGP champion Valentino Rossi, 2006 world champion Nicky Hayden, 2009 title contender Jorge Lorenzo, plus Toni Elias and James Toseland - without any practice laps.
"It's been 10 years since I threw my leg over the thing,” said Roberts. “I didn't get any practice. They said, 'You should come and do a couple laps of practice.'
“I said: 'No, no; I don't want to stand up in front of all these people and say I broke it.
“So I'm just going to get on it and it's either going to come back to me or I'm going to be a hole in Turn 1.' Luckily it came back to me,” said Kenny, who immediately got the TZ power-sliding.
Rossi turned down the chance to try the bike.
Roberts was also present at the nearby Indianapolis Motor Speedway to witness the MotoGP event - and couldn't help feeling a little bitter that present American riders now have two home grands prix in a single season, whilst he never had one in his whole career!
"It really kind of pisses me off because I was a three-time world champion and never got to race a world championship [event] in my home country. I raced everybody else in their home country,” said the straight-talking Roberts.
“So that kind of pisses me off. But it's great [that MotoGP is here]. America really needs MotoGP, and I think MotoGP is kind of catching on."
Roberts took America's first 500cc world championship in 1978 and paved the way for future US-born title winners Freddie Spencer, Eddie Lawson, Wayne Rainey and Kevin Schwantz.
In the 16 seasons from 1978 to 1993, those American riders won the 500cc title no less than 13 times.
“We had an era there of about 15 years where it was just all Americans. Guys like Eddie [four time world champion] and Wayne [three time world champion] got to race in America, but unfortunately I never did,” he stated.
See below for more pictures of the dirt track event.