PICKERINGTON, Ohio (July 30, 2004) -- Rich Oliver clinched his fifth AMA 250 Grand Prix Series title with his victory at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio on July 27. For Oliver, it marked a successful bid to win back the championship...
PICKERINGTON, Ohio (July 30, 2004) -- Rich Oliver clinched his fifth AMA 250 Grand Prix Series title with his victory at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio on July 27. For Oliver, it marked a successful bid to win back the championship he last won in 1997. Like many of his previous championships, this year's title run was marked by domination. Oliver is undefeated in nine rounds this season and wrapped up the series crown with two races remaining.
Oliver's fifth championship is the culmination of an incredible racing career. He started his professional racing vocation in 1980 and quickly became a leading privateer in the AMA Superbike Series. Oliver seemed destined to become a factory Superbike rider, but factory rides became a rare commodity in the mid-1980s and Oliver turned to 250 Grand Prix racing in 1986. He was instantly successful on the GP bikes. In his first year in the series he won his first race at Pocono, Pa., and finished runner-up to Donnie Greene in the final standings. That victory would be the first of many for Oliver, who would go on to become the all-time wins leader of AMA 250 Grand Prix.
"It feels so good to get Robert (Ward, Oliver's tuner) that championship," Oliver said at the scenic Mid-Ohio racetrack after winning the title. "He's worked for me in 2000, 2001, 2002 and now 2003, so I've missed out every single time for him. This year I really wanted to make sure I won the thing. I just feel good about accomplishing something that I've been trying to accomplish since I came back to 250s from Superbike. It feels good. I'm not really jumping up and down today, but I probably will tomorrow when it sinks in a little more."
If Oliver manages to win the final two rounds of the series it will mark the third time he has been undefeated in the championship. He is the only rider in the history of the series to accomplish that feat. He has twice been nominated for AMA Speed Channel Pro Athlete of the Year.
Oliver has announced he will retire from racing full time after this season. He plans to continue expanding his racing school and perhaps run a team sometime in the future.