Getting Down on the GOAT Farm
By Eric Johnson
Back in February, during the week between the two Monster Energy Supercross Series rounds which ran inside the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Ash Hodges – otherwise known as the Dirt Shark – boarded a jet and strapped in for the 228-nautical mile trip to Tallahassee Regional Airport. Meanwhile, Josh Hill was behind the wheel of a Toyota pickup, hauling ass southward on I-75 South, hell-bent to make it to the capital of the U.S. state of Florida. And off to the west, 18 year-old Axell Hodges, with his old man PH at the controls of a non-descript Chevrolet MotoVan, were 2000 miles and 18 cans of Monster into their cross-country odyssey leading into America's 126th largest city.
WTF?! Just where were they going with all this?
They were all headed to Carmichael Farm in rain-lashed Tallahassee to make a short film to be called the Goat Farm. To be set before the same 100-acre backdrop Ricky Carmichael had been riding and training on since his 85cc days, the Dirt Shark, in collaboration with the guys from Tempt Media, had been able to get the stars to align and to get the project green lighted.
"I had been planning out the Goat Farm idea for quite a while," began the Dirt Shark. "The original plan was to do a sort of Florida tour between the Atlanta races where I'd go visit guys like Carmichael and Chad Reed and some of the other Monster guys. Along the way, I was going to swing by the Farm and film Carmichael and Joey Savatgy while they were riding. Then Savatgy ended up getting hurt and I had to scramble and asked RC, "Hey, if I can get my brother Axell and my guy Josh Hill down here to ride with you at the Farm, would you be cool with it?" RC was down for it and so everyone dropped what they were doing to get to Tallahassee.
"Our whole premise of this film was to shoot a film where three generations of motocross racers converged at RC's place and just started riding with one another," furthered Hodges. "I wanted to make this a masterpiece featuring the best riding footage possible. I wanted it to be the best thing I'd ever produced. I was stoked Hill could do it because while he has his own style and is an amazing Supercross rider, when he gets in front of the camera he really loosens up and starts going for it. Axell is only 18 and loves to jump. I mean he jumps anything and everything. He'd be my younger guy in the film. Hill and Axell are close buddies and when they get together to ride, they really feed off each other and go huge. They actually sort of compete with each other when they ride and I knew that could make for insane video content. And then there is the GOAT. He's the GOAT. He's a legend. He's the best motocross racer of all-time. Who wouldn't want him in their film? Guy still owns it whenever he hops on a bike"
Hill, who had competed the Saturday night before in Atlanta, was, despite the white knuckled ride south, was all-in when it came to start shooting. "Everyone knows about RCs house down in Florida," offered Hill. "I wanted to go down there to do some training and Ash called me and told me to get to Tallahassee right away. So that's what I did."
Ricky Carmichael, the 15-time AMA champion and modern-day motocross industrialist, has been a very busy man in 2015. For whether it be the RCH race team, RCU or one of dozens of other moto related things the man has going on, time is always at a premium. Still, even now, when a prize opportunity to ride presents itself, Carmichael is down to kick a bike to life.
"Any time I have an opportunity to ride and to be a part of a film session with the Dirt Shark crew, I'm all in," said RC. "I knew it was going to be a pleasure to have the guys come down to the Farm and ride. I knew that the conditions were going to be insane. A lot of history has been made at the Farm and I knew we were going to make some more."
Mercifully, when it came time to shoot, the black sheets of rain that had been besieging the Big Bend region of Florida, made an exodus for the Atlantic and a battery of Red cameras were carefully put into position. And for Hill, Hodges and Carmichael, the call of action was given.
"Then it went off. It just happened," said Dirt Shark. "We didn't plan it at all. We had no plan. It seems like when we go in with no plan, the better the outcome."
Plan or no plan, the riders rode and the cameras rolled.
"It was really sweet," said Hill after climbing from his battered and bruised 450. "We started tearing it up and on the second lap I was hitting the quads. The day really couldn’t have been more perfect. Axell can whip it as good as anybody and RC started busting it out RC can still rip as long as he wants to rip. He was the GOAT and he still is!"
Added Axell Hodges of just went down, "Once we warmed up we started hitting the jumps and started going real big right away. The best part of it all was when we hit the big double and were doing that train. RC had that Can Can he pulled out and that was epic. It was all so cool. To ride with RC and and have the opportunity to be in this video with legends was a big deal. It was unreal to ride with him. I mean, man, RC was throwing bigger whips than me. He was getting upside down."
When you've won everything there is to win and you go to bed at night knowing nobody will ever even get close to the records you've been able to set, it can be hard for a man to get his heart rate up. But even RC, the best, most accomplished motocross racer of all-time, still has an otherworldly day from time-to-time and being a part of The GOAT Farm was one of them.
"I think, for me, it was just one of those days," explained Carmichael while bench racing ex post facto. "Some day when I ride I feel decent and some days I feel pathetic and feel like I should hang it up and not ride at all. That day, though, everything just felt right. It was one of my better days in a long time. And Hill hitting that quad-quad-quad-quad… Man… This is my place and I know all the ins-and-outs and I can tell you he's the only guy who has ever done it. Nobody knows how big that is. It's insane. It's just huge."
And having said that, RC shook his head and smiled.
"We were just totally feeing off each other out there," he said. "They were doing their thing and I got in their flow and it was fun. Everything was just flowing and that's what made it so fun. I'm glad the Dirt Shark got to capture it all."