Ben Spies Retires from Motorcycle Racing

10/26/2013 @ 2:08 am, by David Emmett31 COMMENTS


Ben Spies is to retire from motorcycle racing. The shoulder injuries the Texan suffered in the past year have cast doubts over whether his shoulders will ever be strong enough to race a motorcycle again, and so Ducati and Spies have come to a mutual agreement for Spies to terminate their contract after just one year. Accordingly, Spies’ retirement leaves the second seat at Pramac Ducati vacant for 2014.

The trouble started for Spies during his difficult second year with the factory Yamaha team. After a series of strange mechanical issues and a few crashes, which led to his decision to leave the team, Spies had a massive highside in the wet at Sepang, in which he badly damaged his right shoulder.

He had surgery to fix that injury late 2012, in the hope of being ready to test at Sepang with the Pramac Ducati team. Riding that soon after such major surgery proved to be a mistake, and after the Austin round of MotoGP, Spies decided to pull out.

A brief return at Mugello followed, and then a return to full fitness at Indianapolis in August. Another huge highside damaged saw Spies damage his left shoulder, and be forced to pull out for the rest of the season.

Spies retirement brings to an end a spectacularly successful career. The Texan won three-straight AMA Superbike championships against Mat Mladin with the Yoshimura Suzuki team, before moving to World Superbikes with Yamaha. Spies impressed everyone in WSBK, taking the title at the first attempt, on race tracks he had never ridden before.

A move to MotoGP followed, where he spent a relatively successful year with the Tech 3 team, before moving up to the factory Yamaha team in 2011. His first year with the factory Yamaha team saw him win at Assen, and he looked set to make another step in 2012, but a disastrous year followed. Spies joined Ducati for 2013, but barely rode.

What Spies will do next is unknown, but the Texan already has several business interests, including the Stackhouse burger restaurant in Dallas. He also owns a cycling team, in which he is actively involved.

The press release does not make it entirely clear whether Spies intends to retire from motorcycle racing permanently, but it is clear he will not be racing in 2014. Even if he does attempt a return, it is unlikely he will return to MotoGP.

With Spies out, speculation is now commencing over who will take the second seat at Pramac Ducati. What seems clear is that the bike on offer will not be a 2014 prototype, to be raced by Cal Crutchlow, Andrea Dovizioso and Andrea Iannone next season, but a 2013 Desmosedici run under the Open rules, meaning the bike will have more engines, more fuel and run the spec Dorna software.

Eugene Laverty has been linked to the ride, but the package offered meant he had no interest. Paddock rumor currently puts either Danilo Petrucci or Yonny Hernandez on the bike. With Hernandez already filling in for Spies, the Colombian is likely to be favorite for the ride.

Below is the official press release issued by Ducati on Spies’ retirement:

Ducati and Ben Spies announce the American’s retirement from racing competition

  • Spies announces retirement after a successful career in Superbike and MotoGP
  • Decision taken jointly by Ducati and the Texan rider
  • Retirement prompted by doubts about physical ability to race next year

Borgo Panigale (Bologna, Italy), October 26, 2013 – Ducati Motor Holding and Ben Spies announced today that the American will not be racing in 2014 after the parties reached agreement to resolve Ben’s current contract with the Italian racing manufacturer. The 29-year-old Texan had signed a two-year agreement with Ducati at the end of last season to race in MotoGP in 2013 and 2014 as part of the factory-supported Ignite Pramac Racing Team.

Ben has been sidelined for most of this season due to an injury to his right shoulder sustained in October 2012 while riding for another manufacturer team. While he began 2013 racing with Pramac, it quickly became clear that he was not fully healed from his injury and needed to undergo further rehabilitation on his shoulder. Unfortunately, on his return to racing at Indianapolis in August, Ben had another setback when he suffered a season-ending crash during practice.

The resulting operations on both shoulders have left Spies feeling that his physical ability to ride next year remains in question and a decision was jointly made by Ducati and Ben to release Ben from any requirement to race in 2014.

The 2009 World Superbike Champion, three-time AMA Superbike Champion and MotoGP race winner announced his retirement from the sport in the following way: “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. 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’ manager/mother Mary Spies added: “Wherever Ben has raced over the years—from AMA Superbike to World Superbike to MotoGP—he has always felt the warmth and appreciation of the organizers, circuits, teams and fans. We are so grateful to them for their support.”

Ducati MotoGP Project Director Paolo Ciabatti declared: “We had high expectations when Ben joined Ducati in MotoGP this year, and we really hoped that he would fully recover from his Indianapolis crash injuries and continue to race for us in the future. However we understand the reasons for his decision and respect them. It is really a shame for our sport that Ben will not be racing anymore, because in our opinion he is one of the most talented riders in the world. We will miss him and wish him all the best for his future life.”

Source: Ducati Corse; Photo: © 2013 Scott Jones / Scott Jones Photography – All Rights Reserved

This article was originally published on MotoMatters, and is republished here on Asphalt & Rubber with permission by the author.

  • k1200Rider

    God Speed Ben! Too bad he had to go out like this, we lose yet another American rider from the grid!

  • ZootCadiilac

    Whilst it’s been known that Ducati wanted Ben out of his contract for some time now. mainly because there is no confidence in his ability to remain fit, which is not something a rider of his age can do much about, but also because of his lapses of judgement in speaking publicly this year, I was not expecting his retirement.

    He’s a great rider, a great person and will be missed in the sport. Sadly many people were too concerned about his fitness and not just that, even when fit, the slightest of falls could result in too long a time off with big injuries. managers, sponsors, Insurers…It scares them all.

    I did think he’d have a go on the wsbk if it was offered, and I have no information to suggest that it was, or to try his hand with another team once his contract was mutually withdrawn, but full retirement? that caught me on the hop.

    Ben is an astute businessman and will not suffer in the future because of this and he definitely has a lot left to bring to racing should he decide to remain in that arena.

    Just stay off the dirt bikes Ben, you are made of glass, candy cotton and teenager’s egos.

  • TexusTim

    Sad to see him leave, I hope that he makes a comeback, maybe 2015.

  • Bill

    Feels like his heart isn’t in racing. You listen to interviews, look at photos of him and he does not look like he is enjoying himself. His AMA days he looked like he was having fun, or at least as much fun as he ever seemed to have. WSBK I think he enjoyed the battles with Haga. MotoGP he never fit in, always lamented feeling like an outsider and not being Spanish. Strange he was not tougher mentally after being pushed by Mladin so hard, and the tough fight in WSBK.

  • UncJason

    Ben as we all know was a very talented rider, and can ride as good as anyone on any given day. But before he moved to WSBK he was not very fond of all the travel and especially the flying. He would rather be in a RV than and airplane, but he managed and did great things in Europe. But in my opionion I really think he enjoys being back in the states and riding his road “bike” bicycle. Either way I wanted him to win the Moto Gp title bad for us americans but he still showed some grit.

  • ross ewich

    now his mommy can have him all to herself. (and road bicycling is a recreation. racing motorcycles is the kids JOB. he’s got his priorities mixed up)

  • Terrence

    I hope he joins his cycling team and starts another career there. The Bostrom brothers are successful professional mountain bikers. I’d like to see Ben get to the point that he and his cycling team are entered in the Tour de France.

  • UncJason


  • jkedsnake

    Aw well, at least we wont have to wonder what happened with Spies this weekend.
    Sucks, all of it. Really wanted to see him kick ass in moto gp.
    His WSBK season was one for the history books…

    Good luck and good health Ben.

  • Gutterslob

    So it’s either a career involving pushbikes (rider and/or team owner), or fishing with Stoner.

    Best of luck Ben.

  • SBPilot

    shocking – he should do another season in WSBK, that is if he still wants to race motorbikes. Or if he wants to get as far away from the circuits as possible, than fishing sounds ok too.

  • smiler

    The sad thing is the only US riders of note are Hayden and Edwards. Where are and who will be the next riders from the US?

  • tony

    seems like maybe i’m becoming the moral compass for a + r…which is fine !

    dear ross ewich; it’s not cool, smart or funny to dis peoples families you little fuckwit. as a man, go directly to someone with your weedy remarks. now commence fucking off!

  • Doctor Jelly

    Le sigh… I guess it’s better to burn out than fade away…

  • Tim M

    So sad when injuries sideline great talent. I’ve got hopes for the next gen GP American racers being Cameron Beaubier, PJ Jacobson, and Dakota Mamola.

  • Ken C.

    Damn. He was one of my favorite riders. Sad to see him go.

    I say they bring up Josh Hayes. He can do some amazing things on a bike.

  • Richard Gozinya

    I don’t know, I remember an interview he did for BikeExif a couple years ago. He struck me as just not really being that into motorcycles. It was just a standard set of questions that they have everybody answer, but reading his answers, as opposed to others, he just didn’t seem that into what he did. Also seemed pretty closed-minded, and not much of a thinker.

    I take it all with a grain of salt though, was just one generic interview, I don’t know him personally, so I can’t say for sure. Just struck me that way is all.

  • jet

    Dammit,I am a huge fan and will miss him.I had him sign my cap this past laguna race on the island and he was a great gentleman to meet.Let’s all hope that this All American Motorcycle Rider get’s healed up and maybe get bigger and stronger for the return to a track soon….

  • J Wilson

    Just dumbstruck.

    Probably won’t be sending Lin Jarvis any Christmas cards.

    But better to walk away (while you can still walk) from the danger if your heart and head are no longer willing to assume the risks, so good for him, he’s paid heavily these last years.

    All the Best, Ben, we certainly dug watching you and your amazing skills, and here’s to you and whatever’s next !

  • ZootCadiilac

    just a follow up to my previous post. It now turns out that Ben was offered the WSBK ride in a bid to get him off the motogp ride. He did consider it and the resulting retirement is out of a genuine belief that he just can’t get fit again. That last shoulder separation was horrendous. It was entirely his decision.

  • Westward

    I still think a healthy Spies could have tamed the Ducati like a Titan… Too bad it just wasn’t meant to be…

  • Chaz Michael Michaels

    Spies was awesome. If he retired on his own terms then good for him.

    I’m hoping like hell for a comeback but it seems this is it.

    He’s young and will be fully healthy soon so I wish Ben Spies all the best. Thanks for the many great racing memories.

  • gsp75

    Courtesy of

    So, what does Mladin think of Spies’ early retirement? Judging by his response, Spies and Mladin won’t be arranging a traveling pub show where they offer warm tributes, toasting the good old days.

    Asked for comment on Spies retirement, Mladin responded with just two words: “F*#king pussy.”

    Mladin refused to be drawn out on the subject, saying “You got my quote.”

  • Sid

    Dear Tony,
    “Moral compass”? Ben would do well by considering a comeback that does not include his mother as a manager

    This “retirement” could legally pave the way to get away from her & any contracts with her in them.

  • tony

    hey sid, yeah, moral compass. there is a gentlemanly way to say and do things, and i dont think mr ewich did us proud. you did, although the point may be the same…

    now commence intelligent observations…

  • Sid

    Your reply to him wasn’t exactly calibrating your alleged “moral compass” to point in the right direction.
    Mladin’s comment was great, but it would mean something if he had ever reached the podium at the level.

  • tony

    ok sid, lets make it simple…just dont be a dick!

  • Sid

    tony – not being a dick…re-read what you wrote & learn to take criticism.

  • Dave Mazz

    Ben Spies’ motorcycle-racing record speaks for itself. He is/was a great rider. I wonder if he’s done any race *car* testing?? Past motorcycle racers have moved over to racing cars as they…..matured. I think Ben might be successful as an endurance sports-car driver. But whatever he does, I wish him the best.

    —Dave Mazz

  • TooClose Racing

    Ben did the right thing in pulling out of his contracts and not riding in 2014 – MotoGP or WSBK. I’m a glass half-full guy, and I want to believe that he will spend 2014 getting healthy and then look at his options. And I kinda laughed at Matt’s comment – I think it was his less than subliminal way of saying…get well soon, but don’t give up yet. Finally…I’ll continue this heretical post by saying I don’t think I would swing my leg over the WSBK spec Panagale either. It can’t win races with it’s current restrictor plate limitations. Now..when they start racing Evo-whatever spec in 2015, I think that will be a different story for the Panagale. As they say in Jamaica…”Mome back, Ben”. In 2015.

    Great website, great moto-journalism, and always a pleasure to see passion in the posts!!

  • Keith

    I hope Ben will do whatever possible to get back on the motorcycle, and I hope he goes back to the racing series where he was most successful, before he went to MotoGP. Come on Ben! We love to see race!