Known as one of the all-time 500cc racing greats of all time, ¨Steady¨ Eddie Lawson built a reputation as a bike rider who was not just above proficient because of speed. His ability to maintain his cool, do his thing without crashing, and his consistency with tending to finish with high-ranking points helped him garner his well-earned nickname.
Lawson earned four 500cc World Titles during his illustrious career, was the first racer in the history of the sport to win back to back 500cc World Titles on two different bike brands, won over 30 Grand Prix titles, and ranked as the third top winner in this category upon his retirement from bike racing in the 90s. As if not achieving enough during his career, he even became a force to be reckoned with as an Indy Car driver after retiring from motorcycle racing. Lawson’s reputation as one of the best racers of all time will no doubt be maintained for the remainder of the sport's history, and his exciting life adds to making his career even more of a fascinating story.
“Steady” Eddie’s Entry Into Life and Racing
On March 11, 1958, Eddie Lawsone zoomed into the world and a family already steeped in the racing community in Upland, CA. He became a third-generation bike racer, following in the footsteps of his grandfather and father before him. At the ripe old age of seven, his entry into the racing universe occurred when he hopped onto an 80 cc mini-dirt bike, thus beginning his historic career.
Early on, he was known for racing to win massive purses of $5.00, thus showing his genuine love for the sport rather than simply fortune and fame.
In ‘78, Lawson began his professional career as a dirtbike racer at the age of 19 but switched gears in ‘80 to road racing once he realized that finding a bike able to dominate the virtually unbeatable Harley Davidson motorcycles was a near impossibility. His best finish during his first AMA year was fifth. As he had always dabbled in both types of racing, the transition from one to the other was not a difficult feat, and his unbelievable success that year showed it.
Hitting the road racing scene on a Kawasaki, he made a name for himself by winning the AMA Grand Championship in the 250cc two-stroke division. He also ranked well in the 1000cc division, as well, that season.
During his first season in this sport, he gave current greats like Freddie Spencer and Wes Cooley a real run for their money in the SuperBike division. Though Cooley ultimately won in a controversy that took the AMA several months after the race's finish to decide the winner, Lawson was not discouraged in any way, coming back the following year to become the victor.
This was just the beginning of a groundbreaking career as a racer, and Lawson was just getting started on his way to greatness.
500CCs In ´83
In 1983, Lawson took an opportunity from Yamaha, began to participate in the 500cc Grand Prix racing division, and his life was forever changed. While the season was more a ¨building year¨ for Lawson than a year of winning and success, the experience he gained that season would set him up for many victories to come and to show the world just what he was made of .
Not only was he learning another type of racing, but he was also learning how to live away from his home country, as he began to live abroad to race. Because he was able to maintain point status in virtually every race he participated in that season, even though he did not come out as the victor in the end, this is how Lawson earned the nickname ¨Steady Eddie.¨
Though he chalked the year up to a learning experience, Lawson came back in ´84 with a hunger to win, and that is just what he did.
In 1984, he won his first World Title, the first of four, and he would go on to win 31 World Championship races prior to the end of his career.
Yamaha to Honda: It Was a Good Ride
Though Lawson seemed to have it all riding for Yamaha, the riding world was shocked when, in ´89, he switched sides actually to ride alongside some of his arch-nemesis at Honda. This is the year that he would become the first racer to win back-to-back championships for two different racing teams, making history for the sport. It would be well over a decade before any other racer could make the same claim.
´92: The Final Bike Season, but the Road Didn't End
While 1992 would mark Lawson´s final season as a professional motorcycle racer, he was not done yet. He had two one-off races the next couple of years, but his focus turned to a different type of racing: Indy Car.
From ´93 through ´96, Lawson tried his hand behind the wheel of a race car. While his car racing career was nowhere as successful as his motorcycle racing career, he still maintained the respect of the racing world for his efforts.
In ´96, at the age of 40, Eddie Lawson decided to turn in his keys and retire from all racing.
The History of Eddie Lawson: Steady Always Wins in the End
Though Eddie Lawson tried his hand at different types of racing on several teams, he did his thing his way, and he made a name for himself that will, no doubt, withstand the test of time.
Lawson showed the world that maybe not being slow but always taking it steady will get you where you want to be or beyond what you thought possible. Most of us could take a cue from this legend.