Gene Romero died Sunday at the age of 71. He is survived by his wife Cheri and his son Geno.

Romero was one of the most well-known American motorcycle racers during the golden era of racing in the 1960s and '70s. He developed his racing chops on dirt track and in hare scrambles in California, leading to his later becoming a TT master in the early part of his career in the AMA Grand National Championship.

His first pro race win was on the Castle Rock TT course in Washington state in 1966, and two years later he was able to get a National win in Nebraska. In 1970 he took the GNC title aboard a Triumph.

Romero during qualifying in the 1970 Sacramento Mile.
Romero during qualifying in the 1970 Sacramento Mile.Dan Mahony

Romero scored a monumental win in 1975 at the Daytona 200. That year he managed to hold fourth place for the first half of the race, then started making his moves past legendary riders Giacomo Agostini and Steve Baker. He grabbed hold of the lead when Steve McLaughlin crashed and never looked back. Romero started the 200 14 times in his 16-year racing career and 1975 marks his one and only win.

Romero is also credited with being one of the first riders to bring in sponsorship from entities outside the motorcycle industry, a practice that is common in every top-level racing series to this day.

His motorcycle racing career ended in 1981 and he moved on briefly to race cars. But he then came back to bikes to manage Honda’s GNC dirt track program from ’82 to ’85.

We offer our condolences to Romero’s family and friends during this difficult time.