You might not know who Keith Perry is, but you should. He’s what is now referred to as an OG. If you don’t know what that is, Google it. It’s a compliment. In other words, he’s old school. More importantly, you should know that Perry is the man who builds the high-horsepower, yet reliable engines in the Suzuki GSX-R1000Rs that Richie Escalante and Brandon Paasch race in the MotoAmerica Steel Commander Superbike Championship. And he’s been doing that for the Team Hammer-owned Suzuki team for 36 years. This year, he’s also the one building the twin-cylinder Suzuki GSX8-R engines that the team races in the BellissiMoto Twins Cup series. He’s been one of the best at his job for such a long time that it’s hard to imagine a time when he won’t be doing it.

What was your introduction to the motorcycle world?

I rode a Sears Allstate moped when I was 12 (in 1967).

What led to you working in the MotoAmerica paddock?

Well, before it was the MotoAmerica paddock, it was the DMG paddock, and before that was AMA Pro paddock. Basically, I started road racing myself and building race bikes in the late ‘70s, and I built a 1025 Superbike for Lynn Miller. We went to Road Atlanta in June of 1980, and it was about that time that I stopped riding and dedicated all my time to building race bikes for our team, which at the time was KC Racing. We won a bunch of races and a few WERA Championships, and I was picked up by Kaz Yoshima of Ontario Moto Tech in 1983. I won a bunch more races with him, and went to Lockhart Racing in 1986, and won two AMA Endurance Championships. Then John (Ulrich) hired me in the winter of 1988, and the evolution of Team Hammer continues today.

What part of the job do you enjoy the most?

Winning! I don’t know, there’s more to it, of course. You always strive to help make a bike and rider more competitive, a bike that’s fun to ride and reliable. My job has changed a lot from the days of doing all the work, driving the truck to all the races, and managing it all through the race weekend. Now we have enough good people that my job at the track is simpler, I guess. I still build all the Superbike engines and, this year, the Twins Cup engines as well. There is satisfaction in seeing our bikes do well and winning, of course.

What part of the job is the most difficult?

I don’t think any part is terribly difficult, but dealing with hotels and travel with this many people can be aggravating sometimes. Luckily, Trudy (Ulrich) and the office help a lot with that nowadays.

What do you like to do when you’re not at the racetrack?

I like spending time with family and pets and there’s plenty to do. There’s also motocross racing with my 15-year-old grandson, spending a few hours cutting five acres of grass, taking time with my bassets and beagles. I also do some competitive shooting, and work as a board member of our local gun club.