From Print To The Web: Motocross- It’s A Family Thing

By Chris Pomeroy

Photos by Heather Davinson Greig

When talking about the sport of motocross at the amateur level, one of the things that nearly everyone can agree on is that it’s one of, if not the best family sport on the planet. You’ve all witnessed the paddock at a typical race: row upon row of trailers and campers, all full of families who are trying to have the best and safest day possible. Parents, kids of all ages, even siblings, all working towards one common goal. It’s most certainly an amazing process and it can give a family a lifetime of memories. With the Covid-19 Pandemic creating an opportunity for so many new riders and their families to get into this sport, we thought it would be cool to take a closer look at two families who, back in 2013, went from knowing nothing about the sport of motocross to, in just a few years, lining up behind a starting gate and travelling to races around North America.

We know what an addictive sport motocross can be and how quick it can get people hooked. This is exactly what happened to Geoff and Heather Davinson Greig, and Sue MacNamara and Greg Cunningham. In just a few short years they went from knowing little about motocross to looking forward to racing every weekend. They even going went south to train during the winter. Given that both families live close to me, I saw their short but successful journey through our sport first-hand and even assisted their kids with learning how to ride and race. As I said, these types of stories are everywhere in motocross as the sport is made up of so many great families. For this great story I sat down with the moto moms of the family, Heather Davison Greig and Sue MacNamara, to talk about their kids Brookelyn and Jack Greig, and Edward and Andrew Cunningham.

MXP: Before we get into how your family got involved in the sport of motocross, can you please give me a little background and what you do for a living?

Heather Greig: Geoff grew up on a strawberry farm, so he was always riding around on dirt bikes. My brother had dirt bikes growing up as well, but he was very particular about his things, so when he wasn’t around, I would sneak into the garage and ride his bike. I always loved to ride but I guess it was unheard of for a girl to ask for a motorbike in the early 70s. These days Geoff is a pilot with Air Canada and I’m also a Flight Attendant. We’ve both been flying for a long time and thankfully we still love it.

Sue MacNamara: Greg and I are both in the aviation industry and we’ve been pilots for what seems like a really long time now. We live in Grand Valley, Ontario, a small town about an hour northwest of Toronto. We have been in this area over 20 years and we love it. I have horses and dogs, but the boys were never interested in riding, unless it was a dirt bike. We are lucky that being in the airline industry gave us the opportunity to live abroad in different countries every summer and experience life outside of Canada. I guess we’re adventurous by nature and that definitely help us when it came to getting into motocross.

MXP: Prior to your first taste of motocross had your kids ever shown interest in dirt bikes?

HG: They were really young when we introduced it to them, we’re talking like four-years old. We were on our way to Wonderland on a hot summer day, and as parents Geoff and I were not looking forward to it. On route to the park, we spotted some small ATVs for sale on the side of the road. We stopped and had a look, and then made a deal with the kids. We would buy these ATV’s but if we do, we’re not going to Wonderland. Well, without question the deal was done and we were turned around and headed home with two ATVs in the back of the truck. Giving up one day at the amusement park versus two years of enjoyment on those small ATVs was great decision.

SM: When Edward was in grade four his local friends were riding dirt bikes on our farm, mostly small trail bikes but he became obsessed with having a dirt bike. So before ever getting involved in racing we bought them small trail type bikes. The very first dirt bike we got was a Honda 50 off Kijiji! It was an awesome bike, both kids rode it every day for hours, building tiny jumps out of plywood, but there was always squabbling as to who got it first. The next step was getting them each a bike of their own so birthday and Christmas money was saved up and eventually Andrew got the Honda 50 and Edward got a brand-new Honda 70. From there, they just kept riding around our farm with their friends and having fun. Our horses didn’t like it, but the kids loved it!

MXP: I love hearing stories about how people got into riding and your stories are great. Okay, here is the golden question: how and why did you first get introduced to motocross?

HG: The ATVs were a big hit, but they kept trying to jump things and push the limits. They were getting bored of riding around in a field behind their grandmother’s house and they wanted more, but we knew nothing about motocross. It wasn’t long until we traded in one of the ATVs for a small dirt bike and then we started to think about where else the kids could go riding.

We had met Sue through hockey, as our son Jack played hockey with her boys Edward and Andrew. She invited us over to her farm to ride and then through Sue we met you guys are then we began to ride together.

SM: Well, we got into motocross really by accident. Edward and I decided one day to go and watch a motocross race at Motopark. It was there that we ran into your family, Chris, as you guys were competing that day. I had known your dad for some time, as we worked together at the airlines, but I didn’t know that you guys were involved in motocross. Anyway, that day was incredible as the sport was so exciting to watch in person. Edward really loved it and soon after we started to ride with you and your son. It worked out really well, as not only did Edward and Andrew love riding with you, but since you only lived 15 minutes from us it was very convenient.

MXP: Do you remember it being a love of first sight thing or did it take awhile to gain traction?

HG: The first time we went to Motopark it was early spring so there were just a few riders there. From the moment I started to watch people ride I was shocked at how fast they were going and high they were jumping. I thought, “well that’s not going to happen,” but for now the mini track might be okay. We returned a month later and the kids began riding. We had a great day and even though we were new to the sport everyone we met was so helpful and kind. From there, we just kept going back and riding more and more!

SM: Once the kids started racing, we got them new bikes and from there we were into it 100 percent. I don’t actually remember the first race I watched – it all became a blur of tracks, bikes, friends, and camping on weekends. It was great fun because there was the racing and competitive side, but then at the end of the day there was campfires and everyone hanging out. I remember just what a cool atmosphere it was at the track and how much we all loved it.

MXP: The transition from just riding to actual racing was a fast one. What were some of the things you did to ensure that your kids were able to fast track their knowledge base?

HG: Training was very important for us. We wanted to give the all the tools and skills needed to keep them safe. We started out training with you and then the kids started doing camps at Motopark. After that we did the Motopark Academy and that led us to going down south in the winter to ride at MP County line.

SM: We just did a lot of practicing and training. I don’t exactly know how many hours of riding the kids did in those early years, but they rode at least four to five times a week. Between training with you as well as at Motopark, I think it was good old fashion practice that helped them to progress.

MXP: So, the kids picked up stuff quickly?

HG: Jack picked things up quicker than Brookelyn did as she was always very cautious. We have old videos of them racing on the mini track at MP. Brookelyn was on the outside lane like a little old lady on the freeway and Jack would be lapping her. However, after a few years something clicked with Brookelyn and soon they were both battling together on the track. Watching them improve at something and get out of their comfort zones was great to see.

SM: Yes, the kids pick up things very quick and it didn’t take them long before they were jumping and battling on the track. We are the sort of people that are all in and quite competitive. I grew up in a family like that, we spent our weekends competing at horse shows so it felt natural to see our kids competing. I also feel that we were lucky to live in an area that had not only a great motocross series to participate in, but also a lot of great tracks to ride on. It was great for my kids to either ride with you and your son or go to Motopark and ride with some of the pro riders. It really helped with their progression.

MXP: Also, it wasn’t just the riding part that the kids had to learn but it was all of the stuff that you parents had to learn. Sadly, bikes don’t maintain themselves. How was it learning the process of working on the bikes?

HG: We always had great support. Everyone at the track was always willing to lend a tool or help out. Our home track was Motopark and there was always a mechanic on staff to help out. YouTube videos were also very helpful especially when it came to rebuilding top ends.

SM: From growing up on a farm we were always into mechanics and stuff like that. The bike specific stuff we just learned as we went. Your dad helped us with a lot of things and from there we just watched and learned.

MXP: Okay, so the early days were spent riding and having fun. At what point did you decide to go racing? Do you recall your first race?

HG: Yes, we do. It was an exciting day, a little confusing also as we didn’t understand the whole process, but again with some help from our friends we figured it out. The kids were still young, and we were so impressed with how everyone looked out for each other. It was a muddy day and the kids kept getting stuck in the mud and it seemed that there was a parent in every corner to get them upright again and on their way. At that point I think we were sold. We loved that the kids were being active, making friends, working towards goals and being part of the motocross community.

(Funny story: After the first Moto, Jessica Kongmany and I were ready to pack up and go home, forgetting that there were two more motos. We still laugh about it to this day.)

SM: I am not surprised we made the transition from leisure riding to racing. Once the kids decided that they were passionate about riding, they were all in. Racing was entirely different that just riding at local tracks, but again, once we tried it, we didn’t want to stop. The racetrack is a great place to be as it’s full of families and racers all trying to do well and stay safe. The people were helpful and friendly, and we loved it. The racing part of it was very addictive and we just kept wanting more.

MXP: There is nothing quite like the feeling of waking up on raceday. The nerves, the anticipation, all of your senses are heightened. How did everyone in the family deal with all of that early on?

HG: For us, Geoff was always a little nervous about the bikes and making sure that everything was in good running order. For me, it was the gate drops. Once they were around the first corner, I was better. I always had a camera in my hand taking pictures . The kids were not bothered at all. It was an exciting time for them, getting up early to go to the riders’ meetings, being with their friends, and cheering each other on.

SM: To be honest my favorite part of the day was when the racing was over. The kids always seemed calm on race mornings, but I always felt anxious. As they got older and faster and the jumps got bigger, I got more nervous the morning of race day. They were always relaxed as they headed off to riders’ meetings, but I would go for a run or short workout to think about something else. Edward was always so relaxed it became a running family joke that he would sit at the start line and eat a few chicken nuggets before a race.

MXP: Once you and the kids got a taste of racing there was no looking back. There were multiple races, trips down south in the winter and further instruction. You guys were all in?

HG: Yes, we were all in. We started out in a tent, and then we moved on to a tow-behind trailer, then a small RV, and then onto a 44-foot toy hauler within about a four-year period. Every weekend we were on the road headed off to a different race, it was something that we all looked forward to. Geoff liked working on the bikes, I liked taking pictures and inviting motocross friends over to our campsite in the evening for a barbecue.

As parents we loved how the sport was bringing us all together and making our kids work together instead of fighting like some siblings do at that age. We loved listening to them talk about motocross, about the races, the riders, we liked that they shared a common interest. We also liked the fact that we weren’t running in different directions, like an ice rink and a dance studio. In this sport the family has to be all in, and we were!

SM: Yes, we were hooked! Motocross is a lifestyle and not just a sport, as I’m sure you know Chris. We spent summers racing here in Ontario and sometimes in Quebec. The kids both went to Motopark every summer for six weeks of intense race training as they prepared for the Walton TransCan. We ended up purchasing a massive camper so we could go to Florida for March break and train for the upcoming race season. We were definitely immersed in the lifestyle. It was an amazing way to spend a lot of time together as a family, see new places, and compete in a sport all at the same time.

MXP: After a few years of racing and riding, did you notice a change in your kids? What I mean is, was this sport good for your kids?

HG: Yes, this was a great sport. Not only for them, but for the whole family. When they think back to their childhood memories a lot of it will revolve around the great deal of time that we spent at the track. Being in the airline industry we could’ve spent our summers travelling and staying in hotels, but we chose to spend our time at the track as a family.

SM: Racing and the discipline required to train really helped my kids with important values such as commitment, perseverance and the importance of being fearless. What I mean is that it taught them not to be afraid to try something new, even when you are new to the game and everyone else has been doing it for much longer. It illustrates the importance of being unafraid to challenge yourself even when it feels uncomfortable. Discipline comes with any sport that you decide to challenge yourself in, and motocross is no different. The athletic skills and fitness required to race are some of the most strenuous of any sport. It takes commitment and community to compete at a high level in this arena.

MXP: Those are great answers and, honestly, I feel the same way. You also met a lot of great people along the way, didn’t you?

HG: Yes, we did and even though we are not as active in motocross racing, we still stay in touch with a lot of the families that we met at the track.

SM: We have met some incredibly talented people along our motocross journey, we have made lifelong friends and even though our kids are not involved in racing anymore the skills and joy they have acquired from the years of riding and training are still with them today. They both regularly ride in the summer with friends at our home track. It is a great way to stay fit while being outside and having fun.

MXP: I know this might be a difficult question, but looking back what were some of the best moments that you had your family had?

HG: Every day was a great day at the track, whether we were racing or just riding. It was quality family time, and our kids were happy. Whether it was winning a race or just conquering a jump or new skill. It was fun and it provided us with a lifetime of memories.

SM: We most certainly had some great and memorable moments both at the track as well as driving to the races. Like the time we were driving to MP County Line for March break and I missed an important turn once we crossed the border in Detroit. We ended up asking a homeless person under a bridge for directions back to the Interstate. I still get laughed at for almost getting us in deep trouble in Detroit.

MXP: Compared to other sports and activities that your kids have been a part of, how do you rank the sport of motocross when it comes to fun, difficulty, and the life skills that it taught your kids?

HG: We don’t regret a minute we spent at the track – so many life lessons learned. There is a lot of responsibility involved when you get on a bike, not only for yourself but for other riders also. If you want results you have to work hard. There is a lot of work involved off the track as well, everything from packing up to go to a race, the maintenance, as well as the physical training.

SM: I would say that motocross is probably one of the more difficult sports to master as it is multi-faceted. Not only do you need to be a great athlete, but you need a great bike, and you need great bike maintenance. You need to mitigate the risk of serious injury because it is a very real possibility. You need to be focused and build your skills in all weather situations. It’s not good being really fast on dry tracks only to fail when it rains hard. You need to be versatile and to be able to ride well whether you are in deep sand or hard packed clay. A lot of things have to go right in order to be successful and there is no faking being absolutely prepared.

MXP: As we’ve talked about, it doesn’t take long to get addicted to this sport. I won’t ask you for an exact figure on how much you spent, but do you think it was worth it?

HG: Yes, absolutely it was worth it. The kids gained a lot of life experiences and built a lot of self-confidence because of motocross. I am certain that it has had a lot to do with their career choices for the future. Brookelyn is currently in New Brunswick training to become a pilot and Jack is also going to follow in her footsteps in 2022.

Brookelyn had said to me that flying is kind of like motocross. At the track when she was training, she said everyday you would learn something new, like a new corner or a new jump. That process has given her the confidence to quickly figure out new things that come with learning how to fly. There is not question in my mind that motocross has a lot to do with where she is at today.

SM: Absolutely worth every penny. You can’t put a price on the lessons learned, the fun had, and the friendships made.

MXP: If another family came to you and said they wanted to get their kids involved in motocross. Would you recommend it or tell them to go and buy golf memberships instead?

HG: For sure we would! We wish that we could wind back the clock and do it all over again, we will still be fully involved. But life has taken us in a different direction as the kids are getting older and preparing for the future, but without question motocross was a big part of their lives and has helped them achieve their goals.

SM: Absolutely I would tell other families to go buy some bikes and go riding. It’s such a great way to spend time as a family. Also, I hate golf, so I’d never tell anyone to go and play that game (laughs).

MXP: So, it’s safe to say that you’re both happy with where your kids are at now?

HG: Definitely! As I said, Brookelyn is currently enrolled in Aviation school and Jack will follow her next year.

SM: Edward is now finishing up Grade 12 at Appleby College and then he’ll be going to University in September to study for a career in economics. This is a great plan in my mind because he will have enough money to pay me back for all the money I spent on motocross . Andrew is currently in Grade 10 in The Hill Academy and hoping to pursue a hockey scholarship. Both still ride, although it’s just for fun now and they don’t race anymore.

MXP: Well, thank you for taking the time to talk to me. Obviously, my family and I have been involved in motocross for more than 40 years, so I know how great the sport is. But I love hearing from other people about how and why they chose to get into motocross. I hope to see you all at the track again soon and good luck to your kids as they pursue their educations.