MXA’S BIRTHDAY BOY: HIS NICKNAME CAME FROM HIS SHOES
Kent Howerton was born on July 11, 1954. Kent won three AMA National Championships (two 250 National titles and the 1976 500 National Championship). Kent was the last Husqvarna rider to win an AMA 500 National Championship (and the only the second-ever Husqvarna National Champion after Mark Blackwell in 1971). Finally 41 years later Zach Osborne repeated the feat in the 2017 AMA 250 class and Jason Anderson got the Supercross title in 2018 for Husky). Kent will always be the last Husqvarna rider to win an AMA 500 National Championship because the AMA dropped the 500 class in 1993.
Kent is equally famous for his epic battles with Bob Hannah, when Bob came back from the water skiing accident that broke his leg and didn’t like the Kent had displaced him as the AMA 250 National Champion in 1980. They battled intensely, but Howerton ended up also winning the 1981 Championship.
In his career Kent won 32 AMA Nationals, was the 1979 and 1980 Trans-USA Champion, 1976 AMA 500 National Championship, 1980 and 1981 AMA 250 National Championship, was on Team USA for the MXDN in 1975, 1976 and 1977, won the 1980 250 USGP at Unadilla, was the MXA Rider of the Year in 1980, won the 1984 ABC-TV Superbikers race, was the 1994 and 1995 World Vet Champion in the Over-40 class and was inducted into the AMA Hall of Fame .
His nickname, the Rhinestone Cowboy, came because he was from Texas and always wore flashy colored tennis shoes—which the nickname conscious stars of the 1970s kidded him about merciless (also calling him Bent Hooperton because he was a factory Husky rider just like Bengt Aberg, and thus needed a Swedish name).