Dropping In On: Gary Sutherlin


Story By Kris Keefer Photos By Shan Moore and Emily Murphy

Gary Sutherlin might not be a household name yet but this year just might change all of that. Sutherlin is currently leading the points in the Rocky Mountain ATV/MC WORCS Series and is getting ready to start the AMA Geico EnduroCross Series on May 2nd in Las Vegas, NV. The friendly privateer spends his days taking care of his two-year-old daughter Emery and test riding for Dirt Rider. Not only is Gary fast on a motorcycle, winning professional races, he is also a top-notch mechanic. We had the chance to sit down with him after his win at the round four WORCS Series in Hurricane, UT. We wanted to see what makes him tick and what is in store for the "Blue Collar" racer.

Q: Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

A: I was raised in Stevensville, Montana and when I graduated high school I moved to Phoenix, Arizona to go to school at MMI (Motorcycle Mechanics Institute). After I graduated MMI I went and found a job as a mechanic for Ricky Dietrich during his Kawasaki years. After I did that for a year and a half I decided I wanted to continue my racing career, so I moved to California to train and race full time.

Q: For people that are not familiar with you give us some detail on your racing career?

A: I started off racing motocross when I was living in Montana and raced some AMA outdoor nationals when I came down to California but it felt like it wasn't my calling to do that full time. It took a lot of money that I didn't have and after being exposed to the off-road world with Dietrich and Destry Abbott when I lived in Arizona I seemed to gravitate towards that a little more. I also think I like off-road better because it is longer races and I seem to do better at longer type races.

Q: It seems this season has been an exceptional year for you so far? It seems you have a little win streak going in the Rocky Mountain ATV/MC WORCS series?

A: Well when the year began it didn't look like I was going to race the whole WORCS series. I had some trouble getting bikes and DNF'd a couple AMA West Coast Hare Scramble rounds, so I switched to racing WORCS and showed up at the first round and won and it hasn't stopped since! I have a four race win streak going now and I'm really just focusing on that championship. I am now getting ready for the Endurocross series coming up in a couple weeks.

Q: What do you think has been the difference this year with your racing success compared to previous years?

A: I think a lot of it has to do with me maturing as a rider and I also really like the KTM 450 SX-F this year as well. It pulls me around really well and I don't have to abuse the clutch as much. I can ride the KTM bike smoother and the people that know me know that I am usually hard on equipment when I race. Training with Destry Abbott has helped also. Just learning how to ride smoother also helped me out a lot this year.

Q: How did you end up racing a KTM 450 SX-F in 2014?

A: I bought a Yamaha in 2013 but I sold it at the end of the year. The Dirt Rider Magazine guys were kind enough to let me borrow their long haul KTM 450 and that is what I have been riding all year. For EnduroCross Bonanza Plumbing was kind enough to buy me a 2013 KTM 350 SX-F so with the help of some great people I am able to piece together a race program.

Q: You're known as the "Blue Collar" racer. How did you end up getting that name?

A: I think it came from working construction almost my whole life, even while I was racing professionally. I worked for a construction company named NTS Inc. and became friends with the owner over the years. When I decided I wanted to pursue my professional racing career they were the first ones to offer help and get me to the races. Without NTS Construction I wouldn't be where I am at today.

Q: What is like working on all of your own motorcycles, having a training schedule, trying to get to the races, and basically trying to make a professional career out of off-road racing?

A: I am lucky enough to have this as my job. It does get very overwhelming with everything you have to do with the "day to day" type stuff. I come home from practicing and I have two hours of bike work to do, then having to train, getting parts ordered that I need for the next race, clean the house, and on top of all that I am a single dad that takes care of a two year old daughter. When I drop my daughter off at day care I have that window to get all of my riding stuff taken care of. When I pick her up in the evening my focus switches to her.

Q: What are your expectations in the EnduroCross series in 2014?

A: EnduroCross had been frustrating for me in the past. I have had speed at times but I haven't been able to put a complete main event together the way I want to yet. My conditioning hasn't been where I wanted it to be in the past but this year I feel like I will be better than last year. I want to be top five at every round and be a contender at all of the rounds. Consistency is what matter most in EnduroCross.

Q: Where do you see your racing career in five years?

A: I would like to have a factory ride and be able to get paid to race my dirt bike. Right now I have to win races to make money. If I don't win races there is no money coming in. That's a lot of pressure especially when you have a child to think about. I don't think the work really starts until you get that factory ride. There is no time to take a break when you finally get that factory contract. That is when you really have to buckle down and not only do it for yourself, but do it for the manufacturer that is paying your salary and believes in you. I would also like to do extreme events like Erzburg or Romaniacs, because I want to be an all around type rider that is a threat in any type of race I enter.