I’m a sucker for watching races. I watch endless hours of races. As I type this, a race is on TV in the background. It truly is an addiction to me. I’m nearing that 40-year mark of being involved in dirt bikes. Is that a long time for one’s passion? Is it supposed to stop? Is it wrong to be that drawn to one thing? I don’t think all good questions have a right or wrong answer. I’ve always said this about folks that have addictions: “If they don’t interfere with family or your job, then it’s not a problem. Once it gets in the way of that, it’s a problem.” For me, it works, so scratch that side of it. But at certain times, it has caused a struggle inside my home. It’s never fun when it does that, but it has been an issue from time to time.
On March 19th, 2014, my first kid was born. One of the most incredible days of my life. Nearly around the same time, I had just made a deal with former friend Mark Stallybrass to run South Western Ontario Motocross under CMRC guidance and structure but renamed to AMO (Amateur Motocross Ontario). To sum it up, the CMRC at the amateur level in Ontario was struggling. The cost was high, and the passion just wasn’t there anymore. I entered for the 2014 year, made some adjustments, and seemed to turn around the scene. During that year, every track owner was happier and pushed me to go on my own. Become a promoter away from CMRC. Those who know this story know that this decision was not easy. Mark was a father figure to me; I had the utmost respect for him and what he had done for the sport, and for me to do what was being suggested was to go against him. I was always already intimidated by Mark. He had all the power over the jobs I held and the future I wanted for most of my career.
The year ended, and a meeting I set was to happen with Mark. He gave me $30,000 to run South Western Ontario that year. Every bit of it was spent with more of my own money added to the pot. Money I took away from my family now that I was a dad, plus trying to find the extra time needed to balance both roles. I will never forget the meeting, minute by minute. As I entered, I knew I would get a “fuck that” response from Mark and I would have to tell him that I was going against him. I knew the answers going in, and I was shaking with fear of it all. I went in with a solid idea, and a small, optimistic percentage of me thought he might be on board. That percentage disappeared quicker than a pizza on my dining room table. The meeting itself never got ugly, but it ended with a moment of clarity: I was losing a very close person in my life as soon as I left that table. There was a moment when he asked me to give him 24 hours to see if he could find a way to make this work. Of course, I obliged this, and my hopes got a little high briefly. Though, in my heart, I knew this was over.
The 24 hours went by, and the phone call came. The answer I was dreading but knew was coming came. In October 2015, I was officially without one of my closest allies, friends, and family members. But the most significant part of it all was I was now on my own in business, starting AMO from the bottom. My kid was not even a year old. Amy (girlfriend at the time, now wife) and I were still new to each other, and I’m starting from scratch. I was twitching with fear.
I could have written today about Supercross, or Cole Thompson, injuries like Pettis’ and delivered something current and, in my opinion, a little vanilla these days. But I sat and started this article with no real thought of it. I just sort of fell out this way. Motocross has done so much for me that sometimes I sit, watch races, and just think of moments. Good or bad, the addiction I have has created endless moments etched in time. This particular one has never left my mind because of its impact. I now have three kids, AMO is doing good, the series has changed hands, and Mark is no longer involved in the sport he was part of for over 40 years. It’s crazy to think about stuff like that. To me, anyway.
I miss my friend. I cherished what he taught me and the opportunities he gave me. It still saddens me how it ended, but that is how things go. An addiction can get ugly no matter what the addiction is. What’s that saying? “It’s always darkest before the dawn.” This was dark for sure. But I’ve made it past it. I stuck with my addiction and passion, and I guess I’m a better person for it.