By Erek Kudla
One of the greatest things for me about racing, especially off-road, is the close connection to my personal family and my racing family that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. Not only did my mom and dad bring up my brother and me racing and working events, we also became a part of the “racing family” as a whole, making lifelong friends out at the races.
We have been part of AMA motorcycle clubs – Ventura County MC most recently – for more than 20 years. And those clubs are full of families we race and put on races with.
Our club is a part of a local AMA district that is made up of more clubs that are all full of families that race and work together. These affiliations create bonds that will last the rest of my life.
I still see people from 10 or 15 years ago. While racing may be the only thing we have in common, we still go in for a big hug like no time elapsed since we last saw each other. Not only are the people you work together with your family, but the people you race against become just as close.
Sure, when you line up for a race and wait for the banner to go down or the gate to drop or the green flag to wave or the shotgun to fire, it’s time to put on your serious face.
But when someone hits the ground and needs the racing community’s help, that family feeling sets in. There’s really no worse feeling than coming up on a downed rider, especially when you know them.
At the same time, there is no better feeling than knowing your racing family has your back. That fact is especially true in off-road, when you’re miles from camp or staging and the first rider is, in many cases, the first responder. Having that support from your racing family is second to none.
I’ve never seen a group of people support each other as strongly as the racing family. It’s not necessarily that we all know each other well. It’s more that we all know what we all go through to be a part of this hobby, industry, sport and community that we love so much.
The sacrifices we have all made just to get to the starting line, even if it is in the 50+ C class at a local race or in the AA ranks at the national events. Moms and dads cheering on their kids, dumping gas, prepping bikes, racing themselves….
At each event you go to, you will see a group of hardworking families, most likely plutonic, strung together by the love for the sport.
On the local level, it’s generally the clubs that volunteer countless hours to put on each event for their racing family and get little in return, except the satisfaction of the riders and maybe a high five at the end of the day. They take time off work, take their kids out of school, load up their RVs, trucks and trailers and camp in the woods, deserts and wherever else.
They’ll be pounding stakes, tying ribbon, stapling arrows, “cat-herding” the riders and other workers into some sort of semblance of a program for the weekend. Even on the promoters end it is generally families that assume responsibility, either on a part-time basis or, in many cases, putting everything on the line by selling the house or business.
In my case, a few years back, I took out my retirement far too early. But I did it to do something I love.
Even at the highest level of competition – GNCC and MX Sports with the Russell and Combs families, National Enduro Promoters Group with the Randt family, National Hare and Hound with the Argubright family, Full Gas Sprint Enduro with the Hooper family – you still see the families all working together. Moms and dads of racers working sign-ups, ex pros with their teams run together with their family, crew chiefs who are moms and dads of the racers, the sons and daughters growing up to be the future stars of the sport. It truly is all one huge family.