I started riding when I was still a baby on my “rocking horse” Yamaha motorcycle. My parents raced dirt bikes and always had road bikes, so it was an every day occurrence to be around motorcycles. In April of 1999, at age 12, I raced my first race with my friend Andrew. It was a desert race in Idaho and we were an 80’s. I got 2nd and a trophy. I was hooked.
That summer I also competed in my last Judo competition at the Jr. National Judo Tournament in San Jose, California. I won the 11-12 year old division and placed 3rd in the 13-14 year old division. Following the tournament, I began my first International travel to Japan with a close family friend. Little did I know that my motorcycle racing would take me to countries like Slovakia, New Zealand, Chile, Greece, and Portugal?
My parents supported my racing taking me to all the Southern Idaho Desert Racing (SIDRA) series races. After a couple of years, Andrew and I moved up to 125’s. At one of the races, a seasoned racer and local Desert Rat, commonly known as Papa Rat, told my folks that it was time for me to try a national race.
Because the National Hare and Hounds in Utah were relatively close, we started with them. Along the same time, Idaho also put on a national race. But it wasn’t until 2003, when I was a sophomore in High School that I made the first 900 mile drive down to Lucerne, California, with Tommy Ady, one of my sponsors.
I guess I was lucky. We had Aunt Yoshie and all my cousins in Utah that we got to stay with when we went to national races. And in Southern California, we had Uncle Curt and Aunt Carol (who were really good family friends that we claimed as relatives). Then we had my Uncle Chris and Aunt Denise in Oregon. My folks were on a pretty tight budget, but they always told me that if I kept my grades up, stayed off of drugs and booze that they’d help me with my racing. I don’t think they knew that they also had to keep buying me bikes.
One time Dad, who was my mechanic, got a real good deal on a used 97 KTM 250. Mom said it looked like a butterscotch bike instead of an orange KTM (what did she know, she used to race when KTM’s were white). Dad thought I could race the first race of the SIDRA season and then he’d do a new top end. I guess he didn’t know I was going to go so fast. I blew it up before I completed the first lap and I was leading the amateurs and catching the A riders. Andrew was right there with me and he also lost his top end on his YZ 125 about 100 yards from me.
From then on my parents did everything they could to see that I had a decent late model, freshly tuned bike, and soon they were getting me a new bike each year. They didn’t always get the best bike, but it always came with a contingency pay out – Mom said if I did good I could get money for racing. As I progressed and started to race the WORCS series, I realized I was one of the only A riders who didn’t have a race bike and plus a practice bike. Nope, I just had one bike and a great mechanic – Dad kept the one bike running.
In 2002, I raced and won the AMA National Championship in the 126-250 B class. I was so excited. That year I had won the Amateur Overall trophy at races in Nevada, Idaho, and in Utah.
Then, in the summer of 2002, we switched gears and Mom took me to Western Oregon for the Funky Chicken, a national AMA Hare Scrambles race. What an experience. We pulled up to this lush green forested area on the Rogue River southwest of Eugene in our 1978 Chevy farm truck with my KX 250 in the back. The pits were huge. Lots of people came out to ride and watch. I was the only rider from Idaho and because I was still riding amateur, I was going to race on Saturday. We unloaded the bike and I when I went to change the spark plug I realized that my spark plug cap was broke.
I guess mom doesn’t know any strangers, as we hustled over to the big fancy Kawasaki semi and she explained to some guy named John (who turned out to be the main mechanic) that I had to race and we had come all the way from Idaho and my dad/mechanic was not with us and blah blah blah…Yeah, I’m pretty sure he volunteered to fix my bike just so she’d shut up!
I got the bike fixed and was ready to race. Since this was my first hare scrambles and the first time I’d raced in Oregon, I didn’t know what to expect. But the race started in waves like a desert race, so that was okay. I got a decent start racing across a big pasture and down over the hill into the trees. Mom said that she and a bunch of other folks ran to the other side of the hill so that they could see us come out – I think we had to race about a 7 mile loop. Mom was pretty excited because on the far hill, she saw a lone Kawasaki – she was kind of worried as she thought maybe I had gotten lost, but no, I was just in the lead. When I came through the pit area after the first lap, Mom heard some officials say to watch that kid he might be cheating. She started laughing because she knew that ‘Cheat’ is NOT in my vocabulary! The officials checked on me closely and concluded that I was really on the up and up – I won the overall Amateur race that day. I can still remember how everyone was so hot and tired after the race. But, the desert boy from Idaho thought that the 80 degree weather was pretty sweet and wasn’t hot or tired. This was the first race that I had to be interviewed. I really wasn’t too sure what to say, but mom said I did fine. Yup, much to the dismay of the on lookers, we loaded up in our old farm truck with our fancy overall trophy and headed back to Idaho.
So, driving all the way over to Western Oregon and racing wasn’t always fun – I went back a couple of years later and had a horrible race. I got taken out on the first corner, broke one of my levers, ran to the pits to fix it and mom got me gas. Then I tried to catch up. I was doing good, but mom didn’t pull me into to gas again. On the last lap about a half mile from the finish, I ran out. That was a long drive back to Idaho.
When I was a senior in high school, I decided again to race the national hare and hound series as a contender and in the A class. Mom picked up an old DHL delivery van from the auto auction. Dad fixed a few minor things on the van and it was ready to roll. Oh did I mention that it had over 150,000 miles on it? The van was great, as long as we had friends and relatives in every town we raced in.
That year, 2004, I ended up 3rd in the AMA national hare & hound 126-250 A class and I got 8th overall.
The most memorable race was my first race as an A rider. Mom and Dad were both there and I lined up on the start. I looked down the start line and I saw all these famous riders like Destry Abbott, Dave Pearson, Brian Brown, Ty Davis, Russ Pearson and more. I’d read about these guys in Cycle News and seen their stuff on the web. I couldn’t believe that I was on the line with them. When the banner dropped, I was in awe watching the pros leave the line…okay maybe too much awe, because I forgot to go! I think my parents were ready to physically push me off the line and up the hill.
After high school, I expanded my horizons. Thanks to my grandparents I started college getting certified in several types of welding including aluminum. Mom and dad always told me that not all kids get to grow up and ride motorcycles for a living so I should have something to fall back on. Mom also thought that my summer time career installing underground sprinkler systems would be a good back up for me. I, on the other hand, decided that riding motorcycles was what I wanted to do.
In 2005 we started going to the WORCS races along with the national hare and hound. I used the WORCS races to help train and improve my riding skills. The WORCS included some off road and lots of motocross. Plus I could sign up in the 250 A class and then turn around and run in the Open A class. If I got in the top 10 of those races, I could qualify for the semi pro class the following day. So in one weekend I could get a solid 4 hours of racing in.
I ended up with a 2nd overall WORCS trophy in the Open A class for that year. In the AMA Hare and Hound series, I was 2nd in the 126-250A class and 8th overall.
Again in 2005, my mom hauled me over to the National Hare Scrambles Funky Chicken race. I had a great 250 A race with an awesome hole shot and won. Mom bought the professional picture from that race because it showed the first corner, where I braked too hard, going sideways and almost taking out a couple of my competitors. As a desert racer, I wasn’t really used to wet grass so I miscalculated a little.
2005 had a couple of other highlights in my racing career. I accidently qualified at the Idaho City ISDE race to be on a club team for the USA and go to Slovakia. My mom said she didn’t even know where Slovakia was and had to look on the map. I had a very memorable and long 6 days of racing and finished with a Silver medal.
Red Bull Last Man Standing had their first of three annual races in 2005. They sent invitations out to 200 of the top off road racers from all types of racing – hare & hound, WORCS, GNCC, Enduro, and hare scrambles. I was really excited to get my invite! But the event was in Texas. Mom and Dad were pretty concerned because they didn’t think the van (that now had over 200,000 miles) could make it to Texas and we didn’t have any relatives living near where the event would be.
Well, I guess I was destined to go to that race, because while I was out of town at a WORCS race in Washington, I got a call on my cell phone that my mom had just won a 2005 Chevy 4 door pick up! My mom was in shock. I had to remind her that it was the red Chevy pickup at our county fair that one of the church’s was raffling off. Because the community had been so generous to support me going to the ISDE in Slovakia, she’d donated to the church’s building fund. As mom put it “it’s a donation because I can’t even win a cake at the football game raffle.” Surprise, surprise!
We loaded my new KTM 250 up in our brand new shiny truck and with Uncle Chris to help drive, we headed to Bulcher, TX for the inaugural Red Bull Last Man Standing. It was 4 laps – 60 miles each lap – of some of the gnarliest stuff I’ve ridden. 2 laps in the daylight and 2 laps at night. The start was an old-fashioned cannon shooting instead of the typical desert banner drop. I got an okay start, but David Knight quickly took the lead and Mike Lafferty wasn’t too far behind. I think I surprised my mom though. Not too far into the race I moved into 4th overall. The folks from Ten Racing graphics had been on the course and they headed back to the main pits to tell my mom the good news. She thought they were kidding! They immediately signed a deal for me and she knew they were serious. I finished the day in 4th overall. There were less than 20 riders left ‘standing’ by then. We had a break so we could hook up our lights. I had never ridden in the dark before and even though the BAJA light worked great, it was a whole new experience! I survived and finished the 2 night laps 8th overall.
At the time, I didn’t realize that they were filming this race for TV. In January they aired the event on SPEED TV. I was one of the lucky riders that they covered. This was my TV debut.
2006 I rode for Mike Hurlburt and RPM racing. Paul Ondas, FMF, had talked to Mike and helped to get me on this KTM satellite team. I won the overall in both the Monkey Wrench and Tree Hugger races in Canada; received the 2nd overall WORCS Open A trophy; was 9th overall in the Hare & Hound (this was the year that mom said I would never run with tubes again at a national race – it was mousse tubes only); rode across the US with the Rekluse Race Truck to compete in the WEC (World Enduro Championship) in Canada and New York; and I qualified for the ISDE in New Zealand (Cole Kirkpatrick from Texas and I were on a very fast club team where I received a silver medal missing the gold by a few mere seconds).
2007, also racing with RPM, I stepped up a bit with my hare and hound series. Rich Caselli, KTM Hare and Hound manager, mentored me and helped me improve my racing techniques. I finished 4th overall, my career best. During the summer, I again attended the WEC in New York and Canada. This time, my Uncle Chris and I drove my Mom’s pickup truck over and back. Idaho is sure a long ways from New York state! I was also selected for the USA Jr. Trophy team for the ISDE competition in Chile. It was like desert racing for 6 days straight! I won a gold medal and was the 3rd top rider for the USA behind Kurt Caselli and Jimmy Jarrett.
2008, I got my first factory KTM ride for Hare & Hound. I was living my dream! And my mom said she was very glad that her credit cards could take a break! I finished my national hare and hound series 2nd overall. I also won the Idaho City ISDE 2 day qualifier and was selected as Team Captain for the USA Jr. Team in Greece. I received a Gold medal in Greece.
A bit of tough luck struck our Jr. Team as Josh Morros, friend and competitor had a horrid crash in a Nevada national hare and hound right before Greece. He was slated to be our fast guy on the special tests at the ISDE. Josh did not get to go with us, but has made a miraculous recovery. I hope to be racing against Josh in the future.
2009 and 2010 I continued to ride for the KTM Offroad Factory Team and their focus for me was on the National Hare & Hound series. In 2009 I finished 3rd overall. In 2010 I finished the season 2nd overall in points.
Dave Pearson and I teamed up in 2009 to race the Best In The Desert series. We won the overall that year. Probably the highlight for both of us was when we won the Vegas to Reno race – it was the first time that Dave Pearson had won that race since he was 16 years old – I was honored to be that teammate to make it happen – of course not without incident. During the last day, near Fallon, NV, I hit a rock in the road at a high rate of speed and was thrown off the bike. It was tough, but I made it on into the pits where the KTM team replaced many broken parts on the bike and Dave Pearson jumped on and was able to finish keeping our 1st place position! Meanwhile I was taken to the hospital, where I met several other, not so lucky, riders who were injured at the same spot I was.
I won the Idaho City Qualifier again in 2009 and was also the team captain for the USA Jr Trophy team that competed in Portugal. However, this was the first year that I had not rented a new bike. On the 2nd day of competition, last test of the day, my black box melted on my bike and I was done! I was very disappointed! But I needed to rally my team together and be supportive of them. They went on to finish 3rd! In 2010, I was too old for the Jr team, and decided to save some money and not race the club team. However, at the last minute, I was asked to go to the 6 Days in Mexico to assist the Team Doctors and the Trophy and Jr teams, all travel expenses paid. So I went and the Trophy team got 4th, the Jr team got 3rd and the Women’s team got 2nd. Team USA did well.
2011 brought a new chapter to my race career. With my KTM contract not being renewed due to the cutbacks in the KTM Offroad program, I was trying to find a company I could race for to continue racing the national Hare and Hounds.
ZipTy Racing picked me up and offered me a Husqvarna contract with the opportunity to race both the H & H and Best In The Desert series. I was glad to get a ride. I went to California early to do testing. I had some bad luck with my first 2 races – there wasn’t a desert tank for the race bikes. Nick Burson, my BITD teammate, and I ran out of gas several times at our first BITD race. We finished and got points. The January H & H race, I was in the top few riders after the start and got a stick through my radiator. For the next few months, I had nothing but one issue after another and only finished a couple races out of many. In May, I finally met with Ty Davis and told him I was unable to perform well on the bikes. I thanked him for the opportunity and we cancelled my contract.
Two days later, my racing career took a dramatic change again. Johnny Campbell, JCR, called me and offered me a position on their BAJA 500 Honda B Team. I was so excited and said YES! I got an opportunity that following weekend to race a District 37 Enduro with my friend, Chilly White. Johnny let me ride one of his bikes. I haven’t done many Enduro’s but it was great fun and I ended up 2nd, 5 seconds behind my new Honda Teammate, Kendall Norman.
Learning to race a new series, outside of the USA, is always a challenge. Besides learning the course, and the rules, I had to get to know my new teammate. I was so lucky to be on the JCR Team because everyone took an interest in helping me learn everything I needed. My teammate was Colton Udall. He and I got along great. And it was easy to set the bike’s suspension for us as we were close to the same weight.
Colton was under a great deal of pressure for the BAJA 500. He and his former teammate had won the San Felipe 250, 1st race of the Score BAJA series. But shortly after that race, his teammate was killed in a motorcycle accident. I was his replacement.
Over the years, I have done a few other types of events. Each year promoter Ron Dillon puts on the Big Nasty Hill Climb in my home town in Idaho. I’ve competed in the trophy class for fun. Two different years, Team Peterson, the premier world-class KTM Hill Climbing team from California, has allowed me to also compete on one of their practice bikes. What a rush! I also compete locally at several different events and have enjoyed a KTM dual sport rally as well.
Through racing, I have met people from all over the US and the world that have become life long friends. Thanks to all my sponsors, friends and family that have supported and believed in me over the years. You’ve made it possible for me to LIVE MY DREAM!