American MotoGP star Ben Spies announced his retirement from racing Saturday, Oct. 26, ending his competition career at age 29 due to a shoulder injury.
Spies raced in only the first two events of the 2013 season on the Ignite Pramac Ducati as he struggled to recover from reconstructive surgery on his right shoulder in October 2012. Spies suffered the major shoulder injury last October in a crash during the Grand Prix of Malaysia.
“I had such high hopes for racing for Ducati, and Ducati has been incredibly supportive of me during this challenging year, so I am tremendously disappointed that I have not been able to fulfill my personal goals and team goals with Ducati,” Spies said. “I want to thank everyone from racing organizations, factories, teams and all my fans for helping me and supporting me throughout my career. I never dreamed that I would reach the level of success that I have over the past 20 years of racing, but the time has come to stop, and I do so with great sadness.”
Spies, from Longview, Texas, enjoyed a meteoric career on the world level. He won three consecutive American Motorcyclist Association Superbike titles from 2006-08 and won the World Superbike championship as a rookie in 2009 in his first season of global racing.
Spies climbed to MotoGP in 2010 with Monster Yamaha Tech 3, earning Rookie of the Year honors after finishing sixth in the World Championship standings. His best event of his rookie year was the Red Bull Indianapolis GP at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where Spies earned his only career MotoGP pole and finished second in the race.
Promoted to the Yamaha Factory Racing team in 2011, Spies earned his only career MotoGP victory in a magisterial ride in the rain at the prestigious TT Assen. He also finished third at Indianapolis, one of four podium finishes that helped him to fifth place in the points that season.
The 2012 season was a nightmare for Spies. He fought through illness, injury and numerous mechanical problems, finishing 10th in points with a best result of fourth for Yamaha Factory Racing before suffering the major shoulder injury in Malaysia.
Spies moved to the Ignite Pramac Ducati team for a fresh start in 2013. But he struggled with weakness and pain in his surgically reconstructed shoulder during preseason testing and finished 10th and 13th, respectively, in the first two races of the season.
Continuing pain and weakness in his shoulder and a chest injury forced Spies from his bike for the next two races. He practiced and qualified in late May at the Grand Prix of Italy but did not race due to persistent problems with his shoulder.
Spies attempted one more comeback, in August at the Red Bull Indianapolis GP at IMS. But that return ended early when he crashed during pre-qualifying practice and separated his left shoulder. That would end up as his final MotoGP event.
“We would like to salute Ben Spies for his remarkable career and are sad that injuries are forcing him from the seat,” said J. Douglas Boles, Indianapolis Motor Speedway president. “Ben has been a fantastic ambassador for the Red Bull Indianapolis GP and for the exciting, great sport of MotoGP motorcycle racing in the United States, and we always will welcome him back to IMS with great affection and appreciation. We wish him the best of luck for the next phase of his life.”