PAUL WHIBLEY RIDES AGAIN
HOW A RETIRED CHAMPION IN NEW ZEALAND FOUND HIMSELF BACK ON A US RACE COURSE
Why the two-time GNCC champ got back on a racebike… and why it was a 125.
When we last saw our hero at the end of 2014, Paul Whibley had retired and moved back to his homeland of New Zealand. During his 12-year tenure here in America, the “Axe Man” amassed two GNCC championships, six OMA titles, one perfect OMA season, 17 consecutive wins, and a whole heck of a lot of holeshots. Back in New Zealand after his US racing career was complete, Whibley began promoting races and organizing demo rides for Yamaha. He and his wife Katherine also decided to start a family, and it wasn’t long before their son Colton was born. All plans changed in December of 2015, however, when a car crash took Katherine’s life.
Distraught at losing his soul mate, Whibley did his best to stay busy by promoting races and burying himself in his demo rides. “It was tough at first,” Whibley confessed. “But I had to keep going for Colton.”
Just over a year after the tragedy, his old friend and former boss, Randy Hawkins, called from 10,000 miles away and offered “Whibs” a job training the team’s young racers. Once he was back on US soil, his three-year-old son Colton with him, the GNCC series announced a new 125 class, and Ampro Yamaha Crew Chief Corey Mcdonald came up with the idea of putting Whibley back on the line, on a bike about one-quarter the displacement of the bike he was so successful on and so physically well suited to. Hawkins was all for it—anything to help out his old friend.
“Paul has a lot to offer, and I thought he could be a big help to our new riders by coming here and working with them,” Hawkins said of the decision to bring Whibley back to America. “We consider Paul family, and I think he was looking for something to keep him busy during this time of the year. This is their slow season, so this was good for both of us.”
Obviously, Hawkins has a lot of admiration for Whibley. “Of all the racers I’ve sponsored—charlie Mullins, Barry Hawk, Jason Raines, Josh Strang—i’ve never seen anyone who worked harder than Paul,” Hawkins added. “Paul realized he might not be the most talented guy lining up on the front row, but he knew if he worked harder than anyone else, he could win at this level. And that’s what he did. So to be able to have him come back and train our new guys is invaluable.”