The Essence of RAD
A story by Louis Phay
How One Race Would Change My Life!!
In October of 2009, my father passed away from a long battle with Cancer that was un-denounced to the immediate family. It was then that I decided I would continue the legacy of racing motorcycles as my father did when I was young, and with him while I was growing up. Life took on a different meaning, as I had joined the Navy and was raising my own family. In December of 2009, I started racing with Arizona Motorcycle Racing Association (A.M.R.A), racing the 2009-2010 racing series. As I was committed to racing this series I continued to race with A.M.R.A despite the constant belittling of the motorcycle, that I chose to ride, to race the series. Throughout the entire season and at every check point, someone would always tell me that my bike, a 1982 Yamaha IT 465, needed to be in a museum somewhere and that I couldn’t possibly be competitive on it. Low and behold I was competitive on it, as I had finished the season 20th out of 137 in the novice class making my number 20s for the following year, which I continue to use today. I never made any friends and was quite the outcast, due to riding the vintage motorcycle, in a series based around the modern motorcycle. As time would pass over the years, I have gained a few of them as friends and see them from time to time out riding or at the track.
Fast forward to February 6th 2011, where I had entered my first motocross race with American Vintage Dirt Racers Association (A.V.D.R.A.). I hadn’t competed in a motocross race in 25 plus years. I began the day nervous, but was excited at the same time. I was on the starting gate with guys riding the same old junk as I was. I had raced 3 motos so far on the day and had one more 40 plus race before the day would come to an end. The race started out just like the other 3, nothing truly remarkable, but then on the 3rd lap another rider in my class had managed to pass me. For the next 2 laps, we passed each other what seemed like, every turn, with the rider beating me, by passing me in the final turn before the finish line. I returned to my truck where I had pitted and the rider who I had spent the last 2 laps battling with rode up to my pit, killed his bike, introduced himself to me and thanked me for a great, fun race. From that moment on, I was hooked on vintage motocross racing with A.V.D.R.A.
Little did I know, that this group of people I had just started racing with would contain some of the people that I am proud to call my family today. One of them would be my best man, his wife, would become our wedding coordinator, and one of the administrators of A.V.D.R.A would be the hostess, when my wife and I got married a few years later. In this group, my wife and I would find our road trip partners, which we have traveled thousands of miles all over the western United States with, to attend the races. Road side assistance when needed, as we traveled together to the races, should any of us have troubles with a vehicle while in route to a race. Our parts supplier should either of us need a part to race. Our motocross coach who would spend time teaching us the specifics of the sport and giving us pointers, so we could be faster. My wife would find a quilting partner to learn from and quilt with on non-race weekends as well as sit around the campfire and crochet. Also among them is the walking dictionary of all things motocross, if it happened he knows about it or he may have even been there and gives details that are only known to those that were there. They are our support system to continue and stay focused on school to finish our degrees. Our dinner partners on a non-race weekend, just so we could have an excuse to get together and visit without the ruckus and tight schedule of a race day. We even get together, on non-race weekends, go riding, boating, and whatever else we can come up with to do as a family. And recently a few of us had got together on the day after Thanksgiving for a Thanksgiving dinner that truly gave the true meaning of what it is to be thankful.
For a race weekend, we would circle the wagons and camp together as a big family. Whatever any of us had, was available for all of us if needed. This would include a pot luck dinner on Saturday where everyone was welcome to eat with us. Everyone brings something to go with dinner and we would sit down at a bunch of tables as family and eat as a family. On Sunday morning, my wife would usually make all of us a breakfast burritos for breakfast, as we all helped each other get ready for the day of racing. When the racing was over at the end of the day, we all pitched in to get everybody packed up and ready to head home.
I have truly been blessed to know the people that are a part of A.V.D.R.A. The people within this group of racers and families have been supportive and encouraging in my quest to continue my education. They have changed my life forever and I am better person today because of them and had it not been for the 2 laps of intense racing on that February afternoon, I would have never gotten to know them at all. I look forward to, many more years of sharing my life and love of vintage racing with them.