Yamaha Celebrates YFZ450R's 20th Birthday, International Women's Day

Ross Ballot
by Ross Ballot

Few ATVs have had as much of an impact on the racing world as have Yamaha's YFZ450R. It's hard to believe it, but the quad has already been out for two decades, tallying many high-profile wins and fans of the model over its history. Yamaha is celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the YFZ450R in 2024, and the company hosted an event at its Georgia manufacturing headquarters to commemorate the milestone.

Lovers of the YFZ450R and those who have been a part of its story recently visited Yamaha Motor Manufacturing Corporation (YMMC) in Newnan, Georgia to commemorate the sport ATV's 20th anniversary. The group of attendees included those who have raced it, Yamaha employees, media representatives, and so on. Though the event was a celebration of the machine's life, it was also a way of showcasing how much of an impact it has had on the sport ATV class as well as showing Yamaha's appreciation for those who have been a part of the quad's story. Yamaha's YFZ bLU cRU racers were highlighted, and Yamaha gave attendees a tour of the facility in which they produce ATVs, UTVs, WaveRunners, and golf carts.

In addition to a celebration for the YFZ450R, Yamaha also recognized International Women's Day. Racer Jessica Elioff was in attendance and went on to win another GNCC event, continuing her undefeated season. Other racers at Yamaha's manufacturing facility were Recognized YFZ racers, including nine-time Grand National Cross Country (GNCC) champion, Bill Ballance; seven-time GNCC XC1 Pro ATV champion, Walker Fowler; Quadcross champion and former factory tester, Dustin Nelson; GNCC WXC ATV titleholder, Jessica Elioff; bLU cRU ambassador and nearly 30-year pro-level GNCC racer, Johnny Gallagher; former factory tester and first pro racer to compete aboard the original YFZ450, Kory Ellis. YFZ racers unable to attend, but still recognized at the occasion were eight-time ATV MX champion, Chad Wienen; reigning ATV MX champion, Joel Hetrick; and, current GNCC XC1 Pro ATV titleholder, Brycen Neal.

At the Factory Event, Yamaha also highlighted Taka Imanishi, YMMC's President, and Bob Brown, YMCC's VP of Manufacturing, with the GNCC's Manufacturer's Cup award. This recognition shows appreciation for the dedication to not only the YFZ450R, but the machines that paved the way for it.

"Yamaha celebrates the enduring legacy of our YFZ450R, from its revolutionary beginnings twenty years ago to its

podium success today. We honor the dedication of our racers, employees, and loyal enthusiasts who have made

this journey remarkable," said Ryan Stiver, Yamaha’s ATV and Side-by-Side (SxS) Product Line Manager.

"As a racer, being part of Yamaha's celebration for the 20th anniversary of the YFZ450R is truly special,” stated seven-

time GNCC XC1 Pro ATV champion, Walker Fowler. “The YFZ has been more than just a machine to us; it's been

a part of our lives, our victories, and our passion for racing. To see Yamaha honor its legacy in such a grand way

is a testament to their lasting commitment to the sport and the dedication of everyone involved."

Ross Ballot
Ross Ballot

Ross hosts The Off the Road Again Podcast. He has been in the off-road world since he was a kid riding in the back of his dad’s YJ Wrangler. He works in marketing by day and in his free time contributes to Hooniverse, AutoGuide, and ATV.com, and in the past has contributed to UTV Driver, ATV Rider, and Everyday Driver. Ross drives a 2018 Lexus GX460 that is an ongoing build project featured on multiple websites and the podcast and spends his free time working on and riding ATVs.

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