FORGOTTEN MOTOCROSS TECH: HURRICANE HANNAH’S MOST INNOVATIVE IDEAS
Motocross history is filled with examples of creative ideas that were heralded as groundbreaking, but, because of the rapid rate of change in development, sank into the swamp of forgotten technology. Although some are best left abandoned, others were truly innovative (if not ultimately successful). MXA loves to reveal motocross’ tech trivia. Do you remember these ideas? Hannah Racing Products (HRP).
Bob Hannah is famous for many things—his AMA National Championships, bold public statements, ramming Kent Howerton and his 1987 Motocross des Nations victory—but his longest-lasting contribution to the sport is often forgotten. At the height of his motocross fame, Bob Hannah started Hannah Racing Products (HRP), and, as you would expect from such an eccentric person, his gear ideas were very unique. While many of his most creative ideas were misses, he had one major hit that changed the way motocross racers dress today.
In 1981 Bob Hannah showed up wearing the first-ever all-plastic chest protector, the HRP Flak Jak. The $70 Flak Jak was a front and back design that used arched shoulder cups to join the two halves. Inside the shoulder cups were nets that kept the plastic pieces off the rider’s body. Before the HRP Flak Jak, most chest protectors were padded cloth designs with plastic pieces sewn on. Hannah went all plastic, and eventually every company would copy his design.
Not as successful were his $128 HRP Hi-Back pants, which combined the pant and kidney belt into one piece. Functionally, the Hi-Backs were incredible to wear, as the kidney belt stayed centered over the small of the rider’s back and the kidney belt kept the pants in place; however, they didn’t catch on, largely because riders didn’t know what to do with the kidney belt when they were in the pits.
HRP’s Bio-Foam jersey looked like a typical cotton jersey but with padded Bio-Foam shoulder panels sewn in. You could wear the jersey by itself or in conjunction with the HRP Flak Jak. Unfortunately, the Bio-Foam shoulders weren’t as happy in the washing machine as the cotton was. Bob sold the HRP and Flak Jak names in 1987. HRP is still in business today, but without Bob.