In Supercross stadiums around the country, GEICO Honda's Kevin Windham is a bonafide legend. Thousands of fans cheer for his wild transfers during rider intros and the volume only goes up when he makes a pass for the lead.
At home in Centerville, Miss., Windham is happiest being a dad to three daughters and one son. As the 33-year old enters his 18th year as a pro and his children are getting older, Windham's two worlds are starting to collide.
"It's been interesting because when the kids were young, it didn't matter how good or bad you did on the racetrack, they were just glad to have dad home," Windham said. "They didn't care that I raced for a living or where I finished.
"Now that three of my kids are in school, they – and their friends – have started to follow and understand the sport more. To my kids, I think I'm their same ol' dad, but for their classmates, they are always wanting to know how I'm doing."
Windham said his longevity in the Monster Energy AMA Supercross Series has also given him the bonus of being able to bring his family to the racetrack whenever possible.
"Kids come up with some of the craziest stuff in the world and keep you on your toes," Windham said. "When I had kids, I thought it would take me out of the game a little, but it actually has helped me keep my focus and stay committed. It's great to have their support at the races and have them a part of what I'm doing.
"I always had the plan to retire by the time my oldest got into school. Now I have three in school and retirement, I hope, is still a distance away for me."
Windham finished seventh in last season's Supercross, and showed dominant form at a couple of events before bad luck cut thoughts of victory short. During his storied career, Windham has won 18 times and finished second in the Supercross points four times.
"To be a contender every season and have the incredible support of the crowd, the respect of my peers, and a legit chance to be on the podium every race is still an incredible feeling," Windham said.
Windham turned pro in 1994, earning Motocross Rookie of the Year honors. It was two years later in 1996, however, when he started to show his real capabilities with numerous event wins both indoors and out. He went on to earn the 125cc West championship that season and repeated the feat the following year.
His winning ways continued through 2002 when Windham suffered a devastating injury, breaking his femur in Atlanta, forcing the then 23-year-old to be sidelined for the majority of the season.
Endearing himself to fans, he made a triumphant comeback in the 250cc Motocross circuit the following season, scoring two wins and a total of eight podiums. He challenged for the championship, ending the year as runner-up to Ricky Carmichael. Most importantly, he discovered how to be a better rider.
"After that wreck I learned how to be fast while also protecting and preserving myself," Windham said. "You have to stay off the ground and avoid injuries. Normally, riding safer means you're going a touch slower but I've managed to figure out a way to race smart and stay fast. It's really something I'm very proud of."
The Louisiana-bred racer, who also has a pilot's license, had one of his most impressive seasons to date in 2008. He earned four wins, didn't finish any lower than fifth place throughout the season, and finished second in the SX standings. In 2010, he posted back-to-back wins in Seattle and Salt Lake City on the way to five straight podium finishes to close out the season once again in second place.