RJ SAYS: Latest TORC truck race, my first National Motocross, my first Grand Prix Motocross
Our last TORC race was the previous weekend in Crandon, Wisconsin. It was wonderful. That Sunday was Father’s day, …. the track was awesome, the sun was shining, everything was great, and I was really proud as a father because my oldest son Luke was racing his first off road truck race. My friend Dave Waldvogel is the guy helping my son Luke cut his teeth on off road short course racing.
Everything about the race was a successs – great turn out of racers in all classes, both pro and sportsmen. And we had a packed house with spectators.
As far as my racing goes, I was conservative on the first day (Saturday), and I paid for it: by getting beat up pretty good (remember, we rub and bump and push to pass each other in these 800hp trucks!), and by eating a lot of roost in passing other drivers. I ended up with third place.
The second day (Sunday), I was running strong, leading, but had a couple of mechanical problems and a flat tire, but ended up in fourth place.
The highlight of my weekend’s racing was when I won the Chairman’s Cup – it’s named after the Chairman of the local Potawatomi Indian Tribe. We race Pro 2 trucks and Pro 4 x 4 trucks together. The Pro 2’s start out front because their lap times are slower, and then the Pro 4’s take off. I got off early, some other guys had some problems, and I never looked back. Felt good.
My son Luke, in his first race got a fifth, and then next day he got second, and set fastest lap of the race – I’m really proud of him. Luke is going to be situated in Wisconon starting the day after the race. Luke will be living in Wisconsin this summer, in the same basement that Jimmie Johnson (yes, the current NASCAR Champion) did when he was 17, with Charlie Schlieve – he’s my current crew chief, he was my crew chief back in 1998 when I won the CORR Pro 2 championship. And Charlie was Jimmie’s crew chief in 1996 and 1997.
After I got my son all set up there, I flew home, drove up to Hollywood for movie premiere of “Born in Baja – The Raptor Story”. The Raptor is an awesome new truck that Ford is releasing next year – you’ll need to get one or two at the very least. Seriously, it’s a super-truck .. and I’ll let you know more about it as soon as I can.
My very first AMA National Motocross:
I remember it like it was yesterday. It was Hangtown 1981. It was the only race I’ve ever had to race a qualifier at. (I was always in the top ten after that in my career.) Cliff Lett and Chuck Warren built me a bike that was incredible – I thought it had the best bike ever – the suspension, the motor, the handling – it was beautiful.
I thought the track was awesome too. Me being 16 years old at the time, and having raced only in southern California, there was a few guys I didn’t know. Tommy Benolkin and Danny …. I forget his last name. But I certainly was intimidated, especially by all the guys I didn’t know and had never raced against back home.
I think I finished fourth or fifth that day … but I was so impressed with how the fast guys went hard for 45 minutes. I was so blown away at how fast guys like Mark Barnett could go without breaking a sweat. It made me doubt that I could ever be a good motocross or supercross racer.
Later that same year, I broke my wrist at a local race at Glen Helen. Erik Kehoe got hurt on the same day at the same race – he broke his leg – really bad. Erik’s leg got sucked in between the wheel and the swingarm. We both rode Yamaha’s at the time, although I was only on the support team.
When I came back to motocross racing later that season after my broken wrist had healed, they put me with Bob Oliver (Erik’s mechanic) because Erik was still injured. And I got Erik’s Factory bike for the Mid Ohio 125 US Grand Prix of Motocross – this would be my first time ever racing a Motocross Grand Prix.
And once again, Mark Barnett demolished everybody. In the mud, he would go as fast I could go when it was dry! He was incredible! I didn’t finish very well, I was stlll recovering with my wrist, … but it felt great to be back on the bike again (even though I got my *** kicked : )