No. 187 Josh Schmitt out of North Carolina is working hard to live the dream of being a professional motocross racer
AURORA, Ill., (January 4, 2006) ¿ One thing that’s pretty neat about most of the racers on the Toyota AMA National Arenacross Series is that they manage to put it all together to go racing. Kind of a simple thought, though the task itself can be quite imposing ¿ especially for a teenager. Take 18-year-old Toyota AMA National Arenacross Series rookie Josh Schmitt for instance.
In one sense Schmitt blends in at the race. Not really a threat at this point to challenge Chad Johnson, Brock Sellards or Jeff Northrop, Schmitt boots up and gives it all he’s got in hopes of making the main event on Friday and Saturday nights. And really, results aside, his story on pursuing a pro career in motocross is no different than that of guys like Amp’d Mobile Supercross stars Ricky Carmichael and Kevin Windham.
To begin his dream, Schmitt spends part of his week not burning through tanks of gas on a practice track or in a high-priced gym, but hitting the bricks on his own in search of that ever-elusive sponsorship dollar. And like the vast majority of pro motocrossers racing in the Toyota AMA National Arenacross Series, Schmitt’s on his own with this ¿ literally going door-to-door in his hometown of Garner, N.C. – and introducing himself to those who will listen in hopes of picking up a few bucks here or there for a new pipe, tires or to simply off-set the travel costs associated with the Toyota AMA Arenacross Series rounds.
“I guess at my level you have to act as your own agent,” said Schmitt. “Like a lot of guys racing at my level, I don’t really have the luxury of sitting back and watching the checks roll in. So part of my time during the week is spent banging on doors around my town and seeing if the local businesses would be interested in sponsoring me. Anything helps, really. Fifty bucks here, a hundred bucks there. It’s something I have to do in order to make it to the races.”
Sympathetic to the young man’s cause have been companies like Garner Taxi and T & J’s Drywall, both of whom helped with gas money for Schmitt during the first half of the year. Then there’s Carolina Graphics Press, Inc. (CGP) ¿ Schmitt’s main sponsor ¿ who he says “If it wasn’t for CGP, Inc., I wouldn’t be racing at all.”
Schmitt’s not alone in his quest. For every Sellards or Johnson there’s 50, maybe a hundred guys like Josh that are racing in the Toyota AMA National Arenacross Series on hand-to-mouth funding, living the dream, but always having in their mind ¿ as they try to fall asleep in a parking lot in the back of their van ¿ that they might not be able to afford to make it to the next round. Oh, and why no hotel? Those cost money and good luck getting one when you’re 18, says Schmitt.
And as if the mounting travel costs weren’t enough, Schmitt doesn’t have the luxury of a local bike shop providing him with parts. He pays full retail. Dent your pipe in a qualifier? Cha-ching! That’s 300 bucks. Tip over in a corner and clip a front brake lever? Another 40 bucks. New tires for Dallas? Merry Christmas ¿ and 90 bucks.
“Yep, that’s how I’ve got to do it,” said Schmitt. “But I know I have the speed and I don’t want to give up.”
Traveling with his mechanic, John Ryan, who’s also 18 and from North Carolina, Schmitt used to be able to split the gas costs up a bit with his traveling buddy, #312 Kevin Markwardt. But since Markwardt broke his wrist at Charlotte, Schmitt has had to go it alone on the travel costs, hoping his ’02 “kinda good shape” Chevy Express van gets him, Ryan and his bikes across the country. And, obviously, the big test here is going to be the final half of the season where Schmitt will race six consecutive weekends beginning with the Dallas round on Jan. h.
“January’s going to be tough,” said Schmitt. “I’m meeting with a paper company today to see about some more sponsorship.”
Schmitt’s best finish this year was a fifth at Rockford (Ill.) in the Saturday night AMA Arenacross Lites class. He says he’s starting to figure out the AMA Arenacross class, but admits the competition’s stacked at all the rounds. “Johnson, Sellards and Northrop are gone every weekend,” said Schmitt. “I’ve got to begin by getting a better start. After that my lap times have been pretty good, so we’ll see.”
Josh Schmitt has numerous endearing qualities that should not only make his parents proud, but also those involved in this industry at all levels. Here’s a kid, a teenager, out on his own, getting an education in real life that could not be duplicated in college, chasing the dream of a pro motocross racer and showing a drive to succeed that’s impressive as it is tough to do. And all along bringing to the races a great attitude that’s earned him a bunch of new friends on the Toyota AMA National Arenacross Series.
“I love the sport and being out there and putting on a good show for the fans and stuff,” said Schmitt. “Sometimes things are tough, but in the end it’s all good.”
Keep an eye on # 187. This kid’s going places.
The Toyota AMA National Arenacross Series is in its traditional one month break before returning to action on Jan. 6-8 at Dallas’ Reunion Arena. For more information on the Dallas race, check out www.reunionarena.org or contact Reunion Arena at (214) 800-3000.
For more information on the Toyota AMA National Arenacross Series log on to www.arenacross.com.
About Toyota AMA National Arenacross Series and Arenacross
In its 22nd year, the Toyota AMA National Arenacross Series is the premier indoor motocross series in the U.S. playing to sold-out arenas nationwide. In addition to the marquee national tour, the Toyota AMA National Arenacross Series is supported by a regionally based Arenacross tour which provides both professional and amateur motocross riders the opportunity to race in front of sold-out arenas. Information on the Toyota AMA National Arenacross Series and other Arenacross events may be found at www.arenacross.com.
About AMA Pro Racing
AMA Pro Racing is the leading sanctioning body for motorcycle sport in the United States. Its properties include the Amp’d Mobile AMA Supercross Series, the AMA Motocross Championship presented by FMF, the AMA Superbike Championship presented by Parts Unlimited, the AMA Ford Quality Checked Flat Track Championship and the AMA Supermoto Championship. For more information about AMA Pro Racing, visit www.amaproracing.com.
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