One of America’s top young off-road racers is back to defend his EX title beginning this weekend in Las Vegas
IRVINE, Calif., (July 12, 2010) – When dreams of being a professional motocross racer are cut short for whatever reason – as they are for the vast majority of kids that choose that path – most seem to slowly gravitate away from the competitive side of the sport, eventually becoming motocross dads themselves down the road.
For GEICO AMA EnduroCross, presented by E3 Spark Plugs’ Colton Haaker, 20, the journey was no different. A promising young MX talent with fine dirt bike pedigree (his father’s a two-time ISDE medalist), Haaker was considered one of the top ten national amateur prospects five years ago. But a series of wrecks and subsequent TBIs forced the Haaker’s to pull the plug on Colton’s pro motocross dreams – though that’s not to say he quit dirt bikes altogether.
Opting for the equally aggressive sport of Trials, with a somewhat lesser of a chance of being injured due to another rider’s mistake, Haaker turned pro at 16 and won his first AMA national Trials title – 125 Expert – two years later. Joining the GEICO EnduroCross Series in 2007, Haaker would contest all the rounds on a Montesa Trials bike and wrapped up the season with a 4th place finish at the Vegas finals, often times competing against guys upwards of a decade older than him.
While continuing to hone his off road skills in 2008, Haaker would eventually land on Lucas Oil’s radar and the EnduroCross-friendly lubricant giant would back Haaker so that he could travel to a mixture of off-road events, including Trials Nationals, WORCS, EnduroCross and the ISDE Qualifiers – where Haaker was named to the ’08 America’s Junior Team.
Rallying back from a 2008 season-ending injury in Spain (collarbone), this past year’s efforts would culminate with Haaker being named the 2009 E3 Spark Plugs EnduroCross Pro Junior Championship overall winner. GEICO EnduroCross caught up with Haaker at his home in Murietta, Calif., as he was getting things ready for the Orleans Arena season opener this Saturday, July 17th.
GEICO EnduroCross: Yeah, Colton. You back on the Kawi this year?
Colton Haaker: Yep, with Lucas Oil Racing.
GEICO EnduroCross: Do you get a chance to defend your E3 Spark Plugs EnduroCross Pro Junior Championship?
Colton Haaker: Yeah, it’s 21 years and younger.
GEICO EnduroCross: What have you been doing during the off-season to get ready for EX?
Colton Haaker: I moved to Murietta, moved out of my parent’s house, to fend for myself – grow up a little bit. Been riding some WORCS races, then raced the AMA Motocross round up at Hangtown – which was my first-ever pro motocross. I was able to qualify for the day program and ended up like 30th overall.
GEICO EnduroCross: How’d you do in your WORCS race?
Colton Haaker: I got 2nd in the Pro 2 class at round four.
GEICO EnduroCross: You had to be pretty pumped with Hangtown, qualifying on your first try and all.
Colton Haaker: Yeah, I wish I could have done a bit better. My bike was pretty stock.
GEICO EnduroCross: Did it still have the price tag on it from the dealership?
Colton Haaker: Just about (laughter). Basically just pulled it out of my garage and went racing.
GEICO EnduroCross: Are you running any more MX Nationals this summer?
Colton Haaker: I’ll probably do Washougal, run a 450 there though. EnduroCross is only six rounds, so I could fit in some more motocrosses. If I had some more help from the Kawasaki factory I think I could do a lot better.
GEICO EnduroCross: Your dad’s a two-time ISDE medalist (Bronze in Holland ’84 and again in Spain in ’85). Do you hope to match his accomplishments some day?
Colton Haaker: I figure that’s probably in my future, yeah. It’d be pretty cool to go there and represent your country, know that you’re one of the best off-road riders out there. Hopefully at some point of my career I can achieve that.
GEICO EnduroCross: We’re fortunate to have here in the States the world’s premier indoor off-road racing series. That said, what do you feel is the most difficult aspect of GEICO EnduroCross?
Colton Haaker: The most difficult part is staying out of trouble. It’s such a small track and there’s so much that can go on with other riders … just staying clean and getting some luck on your side will go a long ways in EnduroCross. You could be having a great night and some guy falls in front of you and you have nowhere to go. So the most difficult part is actually racing it. A lot of people can ride EnduroCross, but to race it is a LOT different.
GEICO EnduroCross: Last year you placed 4th overall in the premier class in GEICO EnduroCross, just four points back of Damon Huffman for an overall podium spot (115-111). That and the E3 Spark Plugs EnduroCross Pro Junior Championship under your belt, do you feel you’ve got a pretty good shot at the overall title this year versus guys like Taddy Blazusiak and Ricky Dietrich?
Colton Haaker: Yeah, for sure. As a matter of fact Ricky Dietrich lives right down the street from me and his old mechanic is my mechanic this year. I’ve never really had anybody help me a lot, outside my dad, so that’s been a lot of help having Tanner there already. I’m going into this year with more experience and I’m as good as I can be right now. I know Taddy and those guys are the same, so I’m going to give it my best and race like I came to win.
GEICO EnduroCross: Last question. How would you explain EnduroCross to your buddies that don’t ride – but are into action sports.
Colton Haaker: I’d just say ‘Have you ever seen six lead changes in one lap?’ Nobody’s invincible in this sport. Taddy was the best guy last year, but a lot of guys are going to have it for him this year. We’ve got two new venues, Indy and Washington, with new locations bringing out new people to watch EnduroCross. Pumped to get things going this week in Vegas.
GEICO EnduroCross: Right on. Thanks for taking the time to speak with us, Colton, and good luck next Saturday, July 17th, at the Orleans.
Colton Haaker: Thanks. Gonna be a great race to open the 2010 EnduroCross season in Vegas. Place is always packed and the racing’s unreal. Look forward to seeing everyone there next Saturday!
EnduroCross tracks incorporate various elements of off road racing into a supercross-style setting, including rocks, boulders, logs, sand, mud, a water-hole … and even a few special obstacles like giant tires thrown in! Known as the “toughest racing on two wheels,” this indoor version of extreme off road racing will certainly keep you on your feet. With its excitement and unpredictability the EnduroCross championship has always gone down to the wire and this year will be no different as the series starts and finishes at Vegas’ Orleans Arena! Don’t miss your chance to see GEICO Powersports AMA Endurocross “Live.”
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