Rider Profile

I can't say I was much into bikes when I was a little kid. My brother and I had a couple dirt bikes that we rode around, but nothing serious. We played a lot of stick-and-ball sports and at the time, my brother was more interested in racing than I was. It was only several years later when I came out and watched my dad race that I got the bug to try it myself. My dad had been racing for awhile and had been very successful doing so; winning races and championships both at the amateur and expert level.

It didn't take long watching my dad though, where I decided to attend a rider's school to get my race license. I used my dad's bike for the class - up until I crashed it. Oops! However, it was only a temporary setback.Learning to race on a Honda Hawk. I was finally able to get my license on the second try and jumped into racing full-force. Even with my limited track experience, I was hooked. I started racing on a Honda Hawk that my dad had built as a backup bike; a 650cc twin machine that was the perfect learning tool for a beginner.

My first racing season wasn't so much successful as productive. I picked up speed, kept from crashing, and was fortunate to end the year with my first race win. The feeling of racing alone was enough of an addiction, but winning that race was a new high all in of itself; enough to carry me through the winter and into the following year. This helped set the tone for 2002, where I won a handful of races and two class championships with the now-defunct Great Lakes Road Racing Association (GLRRA) series. GLRRA ran primarily at Grattan Raceway and had extremely strong competition from top to bottom - with 30-50 bikes lining up at once. It was a great year in terms of learning how to race a bike.

At the start of the 2003 season, I began riding a Suzuki SV650 and had joined the WERA (Western Eastern Roadracing Association) series. At the outset, I was unsure how the season would pan out. WERA was a bigger organization and presented a new pool of riders. I had only raced at a couple tracks with a different bike, so it was questionable how I would do at these new tracks.

Turns out it was never an issue. We adapted to the SV650 and won 24 races that year.

It turned out to be quite a year. I adapted to the SV650 quickly and was able to win 24 races at a variety of different tracks. My dad had taken the year off from racing and was helping me at the track, which was a huge benefit. His help directly accounted for two race wins, as I needed a jump start after stalling the bike on the grid on two separate occasions and had to chase after the pack (he ran down and jump-started the bike with a small battery pack we had). Both of those wins (one at Putnam Park especially, where I started 16 seconds down and came back to win) were great memories.

Learning on the Hawk made a smooth transition to the SV650.Among the race wins, I was also named the Lockhart Phillips Privateer of the Month for August; shortly thereafter I won 4 races at the WERA Grand National Finals at Road Atlanta - the most important being the Formula 2 National Championship. Road Atlanta was the biggest event of the year, finishing off a near-perfect 2003 season for me.

The 2004 season looked good initially. After strong amateur results the previous year, 2004 would be my first year as an expert. We had been able to acquire some support from Suzuki, which helped us acquire a new Suzuki SV650 - an all-new model and essentially a completely different bike to run alongside my current SV650. My dad had returned to racing, so we would be swapping bikes to run in various classes - one being my Superbike-spec SV, and the new Supersport-spec SV.

We managed 11 wins and 3 class championships - the highlight of the season being a second National Championship, at Mid-Ohio.

Right out of the gate we had problems. We were having all sorts of nagging issues with the Superbike, although I was still winning races on it. However the new SV650s had engine reliability issues that plagued us all year. Beyond that though, was the realization that I just wasn't adapting to racing two different bikes effectively. I did manage 11 wins and 3 WERA class championships, with the highlight of the season being a second National Championship - the AMA Sports Lightweight Superbike Grand National Championship won at Mid-Ohio - another big event similar to Road Atlanta's Grand National Finals. This was the highlight of what otherwise would be considered a disappointing season.

The AMA Lightweight Extreme Grand National Championship.The season reached bottom when I crashed at Nelson Ledges in August. After avoiding a near highside, I ran off track into the grass, dirt and ruts, getting thrown from the bike in the process. I injured my shoulder pretty badly.

As the regular season began winding down, we still were planning for the Grand National Finals at Road Atlanta, and running in the Suzuki SV Cup (the premiere SV race in the US) with the new SV650; after all, that was the main reason we had gotten it. But the problems continued as we now had two motors fail with the new bike. I also crashed and landed on my shoulder again while testing at Gingerman Raceway - the timing couldn't have been worse, seeing we were a few days from Atlanta and the Grand Nationals.

Of the two bikes, one was faster, and one was better - this was the faster one.The first day of the Grand Nationals, four bikes got caught out in the first practice session when it started raining. Road Atlanta's Turn 7 was very slick when wet, and the four bikes went down even before the track was completely wet. Sure enough, I was one of the four - landing hard on my shoulder yet again. By that point, I wasn't in any physical or mental shape to ride. I was tired of dealing with the injury and all of the bike issues. With three hard falls in a short span of time, I just didn't have the confidence I previously had with riding the bike.

My dad, now-wife Gina and I packed our stuff and made the long 12-hour drive home to Michigan - the longest drive ever. How ironic that the trip to Road Atlanta in 2003 had low expectations that were surpassed in every way possible, but 2004 presented the exact opposite: high expectations with no results, and a bunch of excuses I really didn't like using. This year would later show how difficult racing can be and the challenges it presents. Not everyone is cut out for it, but I used it as motivation.

I had shoulder surgery early in 2005, got married, and basically recharged myself after three years of nothing but racing. It was painful to take some time off (both the shoulder and not racing!), but it was necessary to prepare for my next step in racing. After selling both SVs, I bought a 2005 Yamaha R6 and my dad and I started setting it up for the 2006 season.

Talks with the Brighton Superbike team progressed and I rode for them in 2006. They had AMA experience and we thought it would be beneficial in my jump to the highly-competitive 600 field to work with someone who's been there. It was a learning year aboard the 600 in the most competitive class around, but with consistent progress throughout. I made the podium several times both at Regional and National events, racing against some very strong competition. In addition, I partnered with seasoned-veterans Jim Cottrell and Darren Womack, winning two Fasttrax 3-hour endurance races during the season. These endurance races provided great track time to work on becoming a better rider.

This race was comprised of the top 20 up and coming riders .. and we finished 6th.

I finished the season on a high note, racing in the AMA Sports 600 Shootout held at Mid-Ohio. This race was comprised of the top 20 amateur "up and coming" riders that had to qualify beforehand to make the field. The race was part of the AMA Pro weekend at Mid-Ohio, which was a great experience in and of itself. I finished 6th and the race was televised nationally on Speed as part of the AMA Pro weekend.

2007 was a great stepping stone. Things started to click and I proceeded to win both the WERA 600 Superstock and 750 Superstock class championships, capitalized by winning my first two races ever in the 600 class; all on the same bike from 2005. I made significant improvements in my riding and was able to consistently run at the front of the pack week in and week out.

..winning races, along with both the 600 and 750 Superstock Championships.

The Flagstar Bank Honda East Yamaha R62008 started off extremely well with key sponsorship from Flagstar Bank and Honda East of Toledo. After coming out of the gates strong and winning our first race of the season at Nashville Super Speedway, things quickly took a turn for the worse. I crashed the following day on cold tires, breaking my collarbone in six places. I underwent surgery where a plate and ten screws were inserted, resulting in nine weeks of downtime while everything healed and strength was built back through physical therapy. In the meantime, David Grey rode the bike at Grattan where he put in great results and represented our team and sponsors extremely well. I attended every event while being out of action, as my dad was back into racing and doing quite well himself.

Our first AMA Pro race wasn't easy, but we made it.

AMA Supersport at Mid-OhioWhen I came back several weeks later, there wasn't much time before we were set to race in our first AMA Pro event. Running in the originally-named AMA Supersport class at Mid-Ohio, we continued down the path of challenge, while the motor decided to let go in Friday's first practice. From there on out, the weekend was an exhaustive one, but as a team we fought through it, qualified and finished 22nd out of 34 bikes on a borrowed engine from long-time racer Jeff Agnes. Not the ideal result, but competing at the highest level in the most competitive class offered by the AMA isn't an easy task regardless of one's fortune.

As the season was winding down, I did manage to bounce back and win the WERA 600 Supersport race held at Grattan Raceway - after we had just put our newly-fixed engine back in the bike Saturday night. We missed all of practice and went right into the races.

In 2009 it all came together .. and by the time the season wound down, we won all four championships ...

At Speed in 2009After challenges the previous year, 2009 was a strong year. Healthy and focused, we attacked from the start of the season, won 11 races, finished on the podium 25 times and finished in the top 5 in 32 of 37 races - all of this in an even deeper and more talented field than I had faced up until this point. We ran faster times than we ever have against some of the fastest competition in the country. We missed breaking the 600cc lap record at Nelson Ledges by a few thousandths of a second and were only a few tenths off the 600cc record at BeaveRun. The season showed how important it was being prepared both physically and mentally and the difference it can make. I also felt our AMA experience the previous year helped in seeing what it took to climb that next step in riding.

By the time the season concluded, we had gone 4 for 4 - winning all four class championships we were chasing. 600 Superstock, 600 Superbike, 750 Superstock and 750 Superbike. It was a great end to the season.

Team Shot 2009 - One of the Best Photos2010 started off strong with a handful of race wins against long-time friend and rival Sam Gaige, but ended early (again) with injury at the WERA Grattan National. This was a disaster, as track management had improperly layed down new sealer the night before the event and a number of riders had gone down. This would end my season with a broken radius, ulna and assorted bones in the wrist. I had surgery and had a fixator screwed into my arm for six weeks - again on the sidelines. The upside was teammate Jeff Wrobel would carry the team torch and do well, winning both WERA regional and National races - and a WERA championship by years' end. We attended the races and helped support him throughout the season, as he came better and more confident as each weekend progressed.

In the team's first Daytona Sportbike entry at the Pro level, we finished inside the Top 10 with two great results ...

2011 Bike The 2011 season goal was to go AMA Pro racing. I rode several times and raced at a WERA event beforehand in preparation - all trying to get up to speed, but my wrist wasn't right and I couldn't ride near 100%. Now sidelined and waiting for a second surgery out in California, we would put Daytona winner (in the AMA Harley XR1200 class) Kyle Wyman on our bike at Mid-Ohio in the Daytona Sportbike class. AMA Pro Daytona Sportbike at Mid-Ohio With Kyle riding, we finished 9th and 11th over the course of the weekend which was a fantastic result - a Top 10 in Daytona Sportbike was no easy feat! This was our first entry into the highly competitive DSB class and while it was frustrating to not be out there myself, the results showed that we had a competitive bike and team framework that could compete at the highest level.

Still waiting for a suitable bone donor for the wrist, I couldn't take being on the sidelines any longer and was back racing in 2012. Out of the gates in the first round, I had to avoid a slower rider in the first race of the day and took a big tumble - so we were down in the points early - not a great start. However we dug ourselves out of a hole, winning 10 races and capturing both the 600 Superstock and 600 Superbike class championships. We would end the season with a trip down to Barber Motorsports Park for the WERA Grand National Finals - an invite-only event, where we would finish inside the top 10 in the highly-competitive 750 Superstock and Superbike classes (7th and 6th place respectively), and then put in a 4th place finish in the 600 Superstock National Finale - a 30+ bike field with some of the fastest talent across the country, including current and former AMA Horizon Award winners and a fleet of AMA Pro talent - highlighting and capping off a strong end to our 2012 season. I was riding around the wrist issues, but my confidence was back in that I could ride with these guys.

.. a 4th place finish in the 600 Superstock National Finale - a 30+ bike field with some of the fastest talent from across the country ...

The 2013 Season Nearly ready for the 2013 season, I received a call from California that a bone donor had been found - in February. This was great news, but not ideal as the season would begin in a couple months. Gina and I flew off to San Diego for two weeks as I had a distal radius transplant surgery (among other things they did) to fix the issue of the radius bone receding/slowly dying. Recovery time for this was estimated at 6-12 months and I would be doing my best to beat that timeline for the season opener.

Two and a half months later, I'd return to to the track and win all four races on Sunday, missing the Grattan lap record by 4-tenths of a second. We would continue to win races throughout the season and ultimately claim all four WERA Championships (600 SSTK/SBK and 750 SSTK/SBK) by season's end, something that hadn't been done since we did it back in 2009.

We would win all four Championships, something that hadn't been accomplished since we did it back in 2009.

2014 Season 2014 was a new chapter in our racing program. We switched from the trusted R6 to two Honda East Yoshimura-backed Suzuki GSX-R750's. The pins in my wrist from the second surgery were backing out and the wrist wasn't healing as planned, so another trip in February for a third surgery would be needed. After PT and zero time on the new bikes, we went out and won all four races to start the season - a great morale boost.

I would continue rehabbing the wrist throughout the season, winning 750 & 1000 races and setting several personal best lap times. We had to miss a double-points round due to my daughter being born, but would win two championships in the process - 750 Superstock and 1000 Superstock. To finish the season, we finished 2nd nationally in both 750 classes down at the WERA Grand National Finals, resetting our previous best lap time by nearly two seconds.

Aboard a 1000! The following season, I made the jump to a 1000cc machine with Yamaha's all-new R1. The transition started off well, winning a race right out of the gate, in the opening round of the season. Two wins at the Road Atlanta National kept momentum going, but poor weather in the next couple rounds made things tricky. I came up short on going for a couple lap records at known tracks, along with struggles at the Grand National Finals, which is paving the way towards plans for 2016 ..

Bio

Accomplishments

Honda East
Honda East of Toledo
Yoshimura R&D
Yoshimura R&D
Flickr Feed
  • Made the Cover of American Motorcyclist!  Incredible.
  • Gas!
  • Honda East banner.  Yamaha bike.
  • Ever feel like someone is watching you ..
  • Leaning
  • Gauging traction on Grattan's notorious sealer.