Push: AHRMA Racer Kenny Cummings

Kenny Cummings pursued motorcycle racing after a notable music career and discovered he had a special talent for that as well.

| May/June 2015

  • Kenny Cummings
    Kenny Cummings is not only a champion racer, he's also an accomplished musician.
    Photo by Jeff Barger
  • Ahrma Racer
    Kenny Cummings on his Seeley Matchless G50 at Australia's prestigious International Island Classic at Phillip Island.
    Photo by Jeff Barger

  • Kenny Cummings
  • Ahrma Racer

Rider: Kenny Cummings
Age/years racing:
Owner, NYC Norton
Race bikes:
Seeley Matchless G50, Seeley 750 Commando
Daily rider:
1974 Norton Commando 850, 1989 Suzuki GS500

Ask Kenny Cummings what it takes to race and he’ll respond with one word: Push. “Everybody’s got something inside them they may not know about,” Kenny says, “you have to push yourself.”

Kenny knows a lot about self-discovery. Growing up in Seattle, when he was in the seventh grade his mother gave him an ARP Odyssey synthesizer, a bribe to get his grades up. It changed his life. “It was really cool stuff, very complicated” Kenny says, “and it turned out I was very good at it.”

That’s something of an understatement, as Kenny went on to become the synthesizer programmer for Saturday Night Live after moving to New York City to pursue his music career. That led to work with notables like Elvis Costello, Aretha Franklin, Patti Labelle and more. “I was doing a lot of programming for them,” Kenny explains. “I started doing stuff offstage, and ended up onstage for a lot of it.”

Music stayed at the front, and after getting a record deal, Kenny went touring with his band, Shelby. “We were quite successful,” he says, “but I got into a big argument with my song writer partner and decided to take a break, and started racing motorcycles.” The jump wasn’t as out of the blue as it might sound. In the mid-1990s, Kenny bought a 1974 Norton 850, discovering after the fact that his father had ridden a Norton. “My dad has always been a motor head,” Kenny says. “He sponsored a top fuel dragster, so I’ve always been into racing. I guess that was some sort of weird latent thing.” At the same time, he registered the domain nycnorton.com, documenting his Norton restoration online.

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