(press release courtesy of The AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame is pleased to announce the first member of the induction class of 2012. The late Rod Bush, who helped establish and grow KTM North America and served as company president from 1987 until his death in 2005, will be inducted into the Hall of Fame as part of the 2012 AMA Legends Weekend at the Red Rock Resort in Las Vegas, Nev., Nov. 16-17.

"Rod Bush led KTM North America during its formative years in the United States, and under his leadership, the Austrian company grew from a small European alternative to the Japanese brands into an off-road racing powerhouse," said Jeff Heininger, chairman of the American Motorcycle Heritage Foundation, which raises funds for the Hall of Fame. "His contributions to motorcycling are significant and lasting, and have helped shaped the off-road racing and riding environments in America for a generation."

While leading KTM, Bush also made numerous contributions to U.S. teams in national and international competition, helping advance American off-road racing in general. A major influence in developing both rules packages and minicycle technology, Bush's efforts helped revolutionize youth competition in America in the 1990s -- a development that has continued to fuel the steady advancement of American motocross and off-road racers.

"So much of the success KTM has seen in North America is built on the foundation that Rod worked so hard to create," said current KTM North America President Jon-Erik Burleson. "As a mentor and friend of mine, his leadership and success were, and continue to be, great inspiration to continue to push forward. The AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame represents the pinnacle of those who have achieved so much for our sport and industry. I am deeply happy for his family and his legacy for him to be honored with such prestigious recognition."

Bush, who passed away on Sept. 12, 2005, is survived by wife Cheri Bush, who said his influence went beyond tangible milestones and infused both his employees and peers with confidence and enthusiasm.

"Rod had a tremendous amount of integrity, honesty and fairness," she said. "He lived every day to the fullest, and everything he did involved motorcycles and KTM. KTM and the people who worked for him truly were a part of his family. I think that was recognized even at the highest levels of the company. His opinions were valued greatly in Austria, where they had great faith in Rod and what he was doing in America, and I think that was reflected when he was appointed one of three managing directors for the parent company."

Cheri Bush said most people will likely remember Rod for his friendly nature as much as they'll remember him for his accomplishments.

"Rod was very down to earth," she said. "He would talk to anybody. His attitude is probably best captured by the simple way he signed his emails and letters: 'see you down the trail...' It conveyed so much about him -- his friendliness, his expectation that he would see you again and, of course, his love for motorcycling."

Born July 6, 1955, in Huntington, W.Va., Bush rode his first hare scrambles in 1970 and three years later opened a Penton dealership in Parkersburg, W.Va., with his father. Bush started taking his racing seriously, and began competing in the International Six Days Trial in 1974, ultimately winning gold medals in later ISDTs. In 1976, Bush started working for Penton Imports as a sales representative.

In 1978, Bush left Penton Imports to help form KTM America, later KTM North America, with Jack Lehto. In 1987, Bush took the position of KTM North America president when the company was selling about 2,500 motorcycles a year. When Bush died in 2005, KTM North America sold approximately 28,000 units annually and had 140 employees. During his tenure at KTM, Bush was elected as a partner and one of three managing directors of KTM Group, as well as a member of the AMA Board of Directors.

Bush is also survived by his son Robbie, his daughter Stacy and granddaughter Amaris.

Bush is the first member of the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame class of 2012 to be announced. The rest of the 2012 inductees will be announced in random order in the coming weeks.

The class of 2012 will officially be inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame on Nov. 16 as part of the AMA Legends Weekend. The weekend also includes the 2012 AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame Dave Mungenast Memorial Concours d'Elegance on Saturday, Nov. 17, featuring some of the country's most impressive original and restored classic motorcycles.

In addition to the current class, the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame induction ceremony shines the spotlight on two previously inducted members of the Hall of Fame, reminding the motorcycling community of the amazing careers of these Motorcycle Hall of Fame Legends. For 2012, the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame Legends will be 1998 inductees Malcolm Smith, a pioneer in off-road motorcycling and a star in the motorcycle documentary "On Any Sunday," and Mert Lawwill, the 1969 AMA Grand National Champion whose title defense was the central theme of the timeless film.

Tickets for the AMA Legends Weekend are now available through this online registration form: or by calling (800) 342-5464.

Rod Bush - 'See you down the trail'

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