Peter James Lenz (May 30, 1997 – August 29, 2010) was a nationally ranked American amateur motorcycle racer.
Lenz was born in Orlando, Florida. He was a four-time international champion, five-time national champion and in 2009 started competing in 125GP racing. He was featured in Roadracing World's 2009 and 2010 Young Guns: North America's Fastest Kids feature.
On August 29, 2010, Lenz was killed in an accident during the warmup lap of the United States Grand Prix Riders Union race during the Red Bull Indianapolis GP, the youngest competitor to be killed during an Indianapolis Motor Speedway race.
Four International (Can-Am) Championships, nine National Championships, nine Regional Championships and one Provincial Championship with 135 race wins and 43 additional podiums from years 2005 to 2009.
Grand Prix racing
At the age of 11, Lenz became the youngest licensed Expert racer in AFM (American Federation of Motorcyclists) history; the previous holder of that honor was American GP racer Randy Mamola. Lenz also became the youngest rider to win an AFM race with his win in the Clubman Lightweight class on March 21, 2009, at Buttonwillow Raceway Park.
At the age of 11, Lenz became the youngest licensed Expert racer in CCS (Championship Cup Series) history. He also became the youngest rider to win a CCS race with his win in the 125GP class on March 1, 2009, at Firebird International Raceway (East Course). In the same day, Lenz set a new 125GP track record of 59.14s.
After the first two rounds, Lenz was leading the USGPRU (United States Grand Prix Racers Union) West Coast 125GP and 250GP class championships. Mid-season Lenz crashed into a tire wall at Portland International Raceway (PIR) on May 31, 2009, due to several mechanical failures. He suffered several broken bones (tibia and fibula just above the boot line; a broken femur; and a broken humerus just above the elbow) requiring several surgeries. The arm also suffered a severed radial nerve. The accident effectively ended Lenz's 2009 season and his run at the USGPRU 125GP and 250GP motorcycle road racing national championships. Lenz recovered and returned to racing in 2010.
Lenz began riding in the dirt on a Yamaha PW50 when he was 5 and quickly started racing it. He soon moved up to a KTM Pro Senior 50. At age 7 he transitioned to pocketbikes on pavement which he rode for the next 2 years, finishing with an undefeated season. Lenz then advanced to racing minis for 3 years on a variety of bikes including: Honda NSR50, KTM 65SX roadracer, Metrakit MiniGP 50 and 80 and Honda RSF150R.
2005 was Lenz's first season riding pocketbikes (see Pocketbike racing) as well as being a member of the BMS Factory Racing, USA Team. He finished the season taking 4th Overall in the Junior division of OMRRA (Oregon Motorcycle Road Racing Association).
In 2006 Lenz rode a full season with OMRRA and joined Portland, Oregon, based FNB Racing. In March he traveled to France, to visit the BMS factory, and Spain where he placed 4th and 6th in an internationally attended pocketbike race. At the Canadian Mini Nationals sanctioned by the CMA in August at Quesnel, British Columbia, Lenz went home as the 2006 CMA Canadian National Open Pocketbike Champion and the Canadian Junior National Pocketbike Champion. Lenz also raced his first year in MiniGP on his NSR50 finishing as the NMRRA Mini50 GP Class Champion. Lenz completed the season as the OMRRA Junior Overall Pocketbike Champion and announced his retirement from pocketbikes.
In 2007 Lenz rode undefeated in the 50cc classes for the Metrakit Canada Factory team on a Metrakit 50 with ambitions of winning several Canadian National titles. Unfortunately, a startline crash resulted in a broken arm taking Lenz out of the series and along with it, his ride with Metrakit. He finished the year aboard his Honda NSR50 and his KTM 65SX motard racer taking a total of 4 national wins, 34 regional wins, and an additional 14 podiums for the season.
In 2008 Lenz focused on full-size GP chassis bikes. The focus of his riding was to continue the development of his racecraft on MiniGP tracks on his Honda NSR50, KTM 65SX, and new Honda RS85 and Honda RSF150R in select SCMINIGP, CMA CNMRA, CMRRA, NMRRA and SMRRC races. He also ran the Can-Am Mini Motorcycle Roadracing Championship Series in which he won four National Champion titles. He also won the CMA Canadian National Formula Thunder Championship. Awareness of Lenz increased significantly when a video of him titled, "Follow 10yr roadracer Peter Lenz at the Streets of Willow" was posted on YouTube and was viewed and shared by many. Lenz's Honda RSF150R was featured in RoadRacerX's The Point feature. Lenz began riding a Honda RS125 in the fall of 2008 and retired from mini racing on kart tracks. He raced his RS125 for the first time with WERA at Las Vegas Motor Speedway finishing in second place, five tenths of a second off the track record. Lenz was also awarded one of CMA's MAX Awards for the year.
Lenz lived with his parents and two sisters in Vancouver, Washington. Lenz trained by running, playing motorcycle video games and riding motocross. In his spare time he enjoyed ripstiking, cycling and video games. His height was 4'11" (125.2 cm), and his weight was 81 lbs (36 kg).
On July 8, 2007, Lenz was racing at the Canadian Mini Road Race Formula 80GP when another rider accidentally bumped his handle bar forcing him into a hard right turn and into several other riders. One of the other riders suffered a fractured arm.
On May 31, 2009, Lenz suffered a brake failure and hit tire barriers at the Portland International Raceway (PIR) at over 100 mph (160 km/h). He suffered multiple fractures to, among others, the fibula, the tibia and the femur, facial lacerations and a severed nerve.
On August 29, 2010, Lenz was involved in a fatal crash during a warm-up lap at the MD250H race of the Red Bull Indianapolis GP. Lenz fell and was struck by another rider, 11-year-old Xavier Zayat. Paramedics immediately placed Lenz into a cervical collar, intubated him, performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation and rushed him to the Methodist Hospital of Indianapolis, where he later died due to his injuries. It was the youngest competitor, and the first motorcycle racing death in the storied circuit's history. Reigning MotoGP World Champion Valentino Rossi fell four times at the track during practice and warm-ups and other top riders acknowledged the track was difficult.
The funeral was held on September 3, 2010, at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Vancouver, Washington.
In memory of Lenz, his school (St. Joseph's Catholic School in Vancouver, Washington) is raising funds to build the Peter Lenz Memorial Athletic Field.