How many of you have met your childhood hero? When I was a kid I would get racer autographs on the backs of my dad’s business cards then tack them to a Bob Hannah poster I had on my wall. That poster had Hannah’s signature printed on it, but I never got his autograph. Then through the magic of working at Dirt Rider, about 10 years ago I met my hero, and I likely have met your hero too.
A phone interview several years ago had me talking with Brad Lackey about a photo you see in this very issue. It’s a shot from the day he won his Motocross World Championship. He mentioned casually that it would be interesting to do a story with various champions on the day they won their championships. I filed that idea away until recently when we sent Shan Moore out to get that story from four champions, each from a different decade, on their winning day. The stories evolved to cover their whole season, not just the wrap-up day, so “That Day” became “That Year.”
We’ve done another, “Which bike is right for me?” story for this issue. And to add a little hero power, we enlisted skate legend Steve Caballero. He’s got intermediate motocross speed but the confidence of a legend. I must have told photographer Chris Tedesco a dozen times not to encourage Steve to launch any of the big jumps. I must have told Steve two dozen times to ride mellow and not try to impress anybody. And I think I lost at least a week off of my life when I saw him charging toward the step-up triple with the throttle making his intentions clear. He launched—and landed perfectly. I signaled Tedesco to put away the camera, but Steve launched again. Then again. Tedesco was smiling.
In this issue we have a bike built by racing hero Chris Blais. His racing career ended short with an injury, and now he owns a team and builds racebikes for his racers. And since super-tester Michael Allen didn’t call me mid-test to report another dislocated shoulder, I knew there must be something very special about the machine Blais put together.
Shan Moore was on the spot for another hero’s story, this one from the recently un-retired (sort of) Paul Whibley. Shan got some insider scoop that Paul would be lining up at the GNCCS this year and pulled together the story of what got him there and why he was on that little bike. Paul’s story shows how motorcycles take us to places they don’t physically get us to.
As for the Ryan Dungey you might think you see in a bike test in this issue, well, that’s our resident Dungey-wannabe Kris Keefer, adding some style points to the Factory Edition bike test. But there is a real photo of Ryan in the news section, showing what a true hero he is beyond all the race wins and championships.