I was sitting in an Applebee’s restaurant eating a late lunch with my girlfriend glancing back and forth from the big screen TV and my plate of food, half watching the 2009 X Games play out. They had been airing a BMX final that was taking too long, and I was ready to see some moto! What I wasn’t ready to see was a bunch of guys racing at X that were amputees and paraplegics. I can tell you that sitting in Applebee’s, being an FMX rider from early 2000 that had to have my left leg amputated because of a crash, it drove me crazy that no one invited me to race! So I sat there sweating and thinking how inspiring those guys are. I kept telling my girlfriend “I can do that, I can do that!!” Now, at this point I had been riding with my prosthetic leg for about 7 months and was feeling ok. I had a lot to learn about before I could ride a full moto without having it feel like it’s going to fall off from sweating. So we left the restaurant and with more motivation than I’ve ever had I nose-dived into finding out what I need to do to race next year.My first contact was with Extremity Games and Jim Wazny in Michigan, he filled me in that I need to ride and qualify for X through an event at Baja Acres in Millington, MI called The Extremity games. With this information I started a full-fledged attempt to contact everyone I knew from riding and competing 10 years ago in FMX events. Riding a used Josh Hill ‘08 YZ450F, I set my FMX ramp up and began sessioning it to get the feeling of hitting jumps down again. In the process of finding support I came across Brad Columbus, owner of Crash Inc clothing. He understood my drive to win and make things happen in the coming year. We teamed up and began posting a video of me doing no footed cans off the ramp online, which caught the eye of many friends, especially DR Associate Editor Chris Denison, who I had spent some time with in 2000. It’s hard to explain how good it feels to have someone like him step back in your life and offer a hand up when you really need it. He hooked me up with some gear and got me set up to do some suspension testing for Dirt Rider magazine. The ball was now rolling.
We soon learned that the Extremity Games would be held Memorial weekend in Michigan. I had a lot of support from local sponsors such as Power Yamaha and Crash Inc. We flew over and met Jim Wazny who had a bike we borrowed for the weekend. The event itself was a true test of will for me as I hadn’t really had the time riding to compete with many of these guys. Fortunately, I earned the final spot to compete and race at X Games 16.
The Road to X
You could use words like scrambling or behind the eight ball, but I call it luck! I basically had four weeks until I was to show up at X games 16 and race their Super X track. My ‘08 Yamaha had seen better days. With the help of the crew at Power Yamaha Kawasaki they secured me a Team Green support ride for the year and got Kawasaki to rush me a 2011 KX450F about two weeks before their release date. As soon as the bike was in my possession I attached my thumb shifter (a cable running from hot start lever to shifter that I can shift up with my thumb) and spent a week riding and getting used to it. Crash Inc had also made contact with Muzzys Exhaust out of Bend, OR, who assembled a titanium exhaust for the new bike as well. I also got hooked up with Fox Racing for a new set of gear and Race Tech suspension to help get the bike ready to tackle the Super X track. Deft Family, owned by FMXer Nate Adams, help fund the trip to LA and Lovegrove Collision Center here in Salem loned us a truck to road trip in. We packed everything in and headed down on the Sunday before the race.Our first stop was Race Tech suspension in Corona, CA. I was at their front door at 8am Monday morning and was met with enthusiasm to help get the bike dialed. While my bike was in good hands at Race Tech we headed to the offices of Dirt Rider magazine searching for a box of gear from Fox Racing. It was very cool to see Dirt Rider Magazine’s new place and check out some of their test bikes. As promised, Fox Racing had a huge box waiting full of their newest and best gear! The V3 RC Monster replica helmet is the lightest and best fitting helmet I’ve ever worn, along with the 360 Vortex jersey, pants and F3 Race boot. I was so pumped to show off my new digs at X! Fox Racing didn’t just hook me up with the gear, they also special fit the pants and screen-printed my name and number on the jerseys! Me being an amputee I needed the left side of the pants to be shorts so there would be no hang-up and I could make adjustments easily. Fox racing did such a awesome job setting them up and the fit couldn’t be better!The day had been going quickly when I got a call from Race Tech saying the bike is done and ready for pick up. We scrambled back to Corona and met the owner, Paul Thede, a super nice guy and very tuned in to motorsports. He signed me up on their race support program and made sure we were taken care of. I have met a lot of people in the industry and when it comes to getting work done, I have to give it up to Race Tech. Not only did they revalve and replace springs on my bike but they also did it in 6 hours! Unbelievable! I had a lot of confidence going to X Games now, with my new Power Kawasaki 450, Race Tech suspension and Fox Racing gear!
Race day was Thursday and we got a half hour of practice on Wednesday. Summit Orthotics and Prosthetics had built a new prosthetic leg for the race, but unfortunately I didn’t have enough time riding with it to feel comfortable so I was using the one they had built previously for me. Todd at Summit really puts a lot of time and effort into my prosthetics and I have 100% faith in him, if it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t be riding at the level I am at.So, practice went OK, I spent more time wanting to hit the big jumps than thinking about the rest of the track which kind of put a damper on getting comfortable. I came up short one time and realized there was only one other rider hitting it, so I concentrated on the rhythm sections and felt like I had great speed where I needed and could make up time if I wasn’t jumping the finish line jumps.Thursday came quickly and we got one 10-minute practice to feel the track out. I was really feeling especially good with the Race Tech suspension, it was a life saver! I could charge the rhythm sections without having the bike blow through and bottom and with the dry, slick conditions it really held to the ground. X Games is a made for TV event, so we lined up to the starting gate in a weird rush and were told to hurry up and wait. Then as soon as we were told to wait the gate dropped. I was lined up next to Jim Wazny and with the bottom end my Muzzy Exhaust produced I got a great jump off the line! Jim and I leaned on each other as we dropped down into the coliseum, I was kind of pushed outside on the little ‘S’ turn at the bottom of the start straight. I braked and cut across to the far left side of the track behind about 8 other riders. Most of the other riders doubled the finish line jumps while we were still bunched up, I rolled the first one and kind of stepped up the second part of it gaining 6 positions instantly. After a short rhythm section I was in second behind Wazny. He went way wide on the 180 degree corner so I shot up under him and passed him for the lead. I led the first lap until we came to the finish line jumps, Mike Schultz was behind me and being the only guy that was jumping it he went for it passing me in the process. It’s hard to be a FMX guy and get passed on a jump! But things were still looking and feeling good, my bike was running and handling great and I had only 5 more laps to go.The same lap, I got a little hung up on a corner before a rhythm section and another guy came up along side of me in an ‘S’ turn before the climb out of the coliseum. We tangled after his elbow repeatedly tried to knock my hand off the handlebars causing me to slide out. I landed on my prosthetic and when I got back up I could feel something wasn’t right with the stability of my foot. The next jump I landed hard off of it broke completely off at the ankle area, so I had to take a DNF. That’s racing!All things considered, the whole X games experience was awesome! I came out of it with the determination to really push hard this year and redeem myself by winning next year. I couldn’t do any of this with out the support of my family, friends and sponsors who have shown so much enthusiasm. I am back in Oregon riding 3-4 times a week now and making plans to race the Winter X Games adaptive sno-cross event in 2011. So don’t count me out, because my journey has just begun. Thanks for reading this, and please go to www.daveturner148.com, www.crashinc.net or friend me on Facebook if you want to get in touch!