*KINDA LONG BUT IF YOU'VE GOT NOTHING TO DO READ ON*
i never watched the "old" races of the whole lawson, rainey, schwantz or even doohan so i'm going to be biased on my limited knowledge. i saw short clips every now and again, mostly crashes and rainey's infamous paralysis crash but never full races. btw, if anyone has those, i'd be extremely grateful if i could get a copy. i'll happily pay for shipping both ways. esp. if i can get a hold of some of the BSB or BSS races. hell, aussie SBK/SS races or even better, jpn. SBK or the 8hr suzuka! (am i still high??
colin edwards my current fav in the premiere class. no excuses, never blames the bike, good down to earth texan who loves racin' and loves the fans. some of those GP racers have some ego's (*cough* biyachii) and aren't even as good. edwards from laguna was only a couple points from melandri and ALWAYS finished the race. consistency and relatively quick, can't get better than that unless you're rossi who has both in spades.
in AMA, has to be jake zemke, another rider who loves just the sport of it, loves the fans, laid back. he's also from salinas (friend knew him from high school) so he's a local boy.
hodgeson another rider. great all around guy (this is all just from excerpts from various interviews mind you), loves to race and actually doing very well. we all assumed he'd get his ass handed to him but he was doing better than bostrom on tracks he's never been. musta been all that crazy BSB racing (cadwell park is a doozy) so he's ridden worse tracks. he must be good @ breaking down the tracks into seperate corners, melding them together for a decent package to run in the races on sunday. probably all top racers have that sort of "x-factor" though. there's a reason why they're the top and get paid the $$.
let's not forget vincent haskovec. he looked like he was having the most fun out of the entire paddock. i followed him since the 750 superstock days and he's always fun to watch. kinda reminds me of an SV guru i know though more energetic.
BSB....i dunno john reynolds? used to be kagayama before he moved the WSBK john reynolds still rides for the rizla/suzuki team right? old timer still can kick the butt o' da youngin's any day of the week. i'd like to ride that competitively even today let alone 20+ yrs from now. that'd be tight.
WSBK...i think i like chris walker the best. always looks like he's giving it 100% and that crazy crossed-up style always makes the bike squirm/wriggle around lookin' like he's in win it or bin it mode every corner of the entire race. took 4th in brno which is i think 1 of the highest positions kawi's had in a while (didn't hear of any podium finishes on the WSB front) and still not a "factory" team. imagine if kawi had the vested interest to take the WSB championship, walker's certainly 1 of the rider's capable. those that don't know he almost took either the 99 or 00 BSB championships from hodgeson till he had a mechanical on his SRAD 750....championship was that close, down to the last race and walker/hodgeson dicing it up the entire time, walker pulls a slight gap but engine blows. dejection could be seen passed his dark visor....
abe and haga, 2 old favs that never quite made it in the big leagues, except for short glimmers. abe was supposed to be the next (whatever was the last dominant jpn. GP champion) good thing for SBK is that they're getting last era's superstars competing and todays young guns all going for the championship on equal tires. vermulen, toseland battling against the likes of laconi, chili, abe, walker, corser. good stuff.
that's my list of "pro" racers
i like a ton of my fellow AFMer's so i don't really have an absolute favorite. i think berto wooldridge would probably be 1 of the faster guys (also started racing AMA this season and usually top5 or podium in our highly competitive 600 classes) if i had to pick. i don't know the other really fast guys too well. maybe in time when i catch up and get noticed that they have some new competition in their ranks
some of those fast guys have been racing almost longer than i've been in school 20yr+