On Thursday afternoon, Christian Craig made somewhat of a startling announcement on Instagram and stated that after years of racing on the professional circuit, he was ending his career and moving on to new opportunities. For Craig to stop racing professionally at a young age is a surprise, but multiple injuries to his wrist and dwindling openings on top-tier teams prove that the decision is for the best. Rather than stay in Southern California, Craig and his fiancé have begun the journey back to her home state of Minnesota, where he will have a career and steady income at her father’s construction company. We spoke to Christian on the phone in the early hours of their cross-country drive, and he shared the details of the situation with us as they drove down the 15 freeway. There was no lingering regret in his words or attitude, only optimism and excitement. Congratulations on everything Christian, and best of luck in this new beginning…
Take us through this season. You raced the 250 West Coast Supercross championship for Troy Lee Designs/Lucas Oil/Honda, but injured your wrist again in the later portion of the series.
This year started off decent and I was building each race. I was getting stronger, but had some bad races, but at Salt Lake City I finally got a fifth place and thought, "I'm where I belong." We went to Vegas and in the first practice weeded myself in the whoops and broke the wrist that I've broken before and had two surgeries on. That ended my outdoor season, and I had to have my wrist fused, so now I have barely any movement in it. It took a while to heal and still isn't 100-percent. I started riding about a month ago and wanted to make the last two, but I wasn't 100-percent and I didn't want to fade back or even get hurt again. I got the call that I wasn't going to be on Troy Lee, so I started looking with a few other teams to see if there were any open spots. Nothing was really open because everyone had been signed by then, and I had a few things up in the air. It wasn't looking good for me, so I started looking out of motocross and into different jobs instead of being a privateer and hoping to be a fill-in rider for someone. My fiancé's dad owns a business that builds homes and I went a few weeks ago and he showed me the ropes. I worked there for a week and he told me what I could do and what I could make. I came back and thought about it for a week, and now I'm on my way to Minnesota after taking him up on the offer. I think it's the right decision. I'll be overseeing everything, like property management.
You've had numerous issues with your wrist since the first break, including plenty of surgeries. Is it because there are so many bones in the wrist and that there is poor blood flow what made the healing process so difficult?
Yeah, it is my navicular. I broke it two years ago and had a screw put in it, but it never healed. I had the screw pulled out and missed the full Supercross season last year, but finally had it at 100-percent and then re-broke it again. They took the bone out and fused my wrist, so I can't really move it too much, but there is no more pain. It was the right way to go, racing-wise I think, because it would have been less time in a cast, but later down the road I will have trouble and arthritis with it.
How was it to be back on the back over the last few weeks? You shot footage with us at Wyvern for The Flow...
It was good, and shooting with Donn was fun. Before that I did the TransWorld series at Comp Edge and was just doing motos to get ready for Elsinore, but I was told that I wouldn't be ready for it and not racing shut me down. I thought, "What am I going to do now that I can't prove myself?" I didn't know what to do. I still like riding, and the last time I rode was with Donn, so I guess I left on a good note [laughs].
With your fiancé being the daughter to a GEICO Honda co-owner, there were rumors that you'd land on a bike with the team. Was that ever an option?
I didn't even ask. I didn't want him to feel like he had to do something to put me under the tent, because the team is full and they have what they need. I told him that they didn't need to worry about my racing.
How long has the decision to quit racing been in your mind and what went into the process?
It's been on and off for the past few weeks. I have been thinking about it and didn't know what to do. Once I helped my fiancé's dad at work, it made my mind up. I could see myself doing it for the next however many years, and there are so many opportunities in it instead of chasing my dream, and maybe landing in the hospital or even winning. I'm not going to quit riding, and I might even race Millville and RedBud next year, who knows.
So you are fully committed to living in Minnesota?
Yeah, I'm actually pulling a U-Haul right now. We packed up yesterday and got out of our apartment.
With a new job and upcoming marriage, these next few months will be big. Is it best to come into this with a clear mind and know that you won't have to split time between testing, training, and travel?
I'm going to miss it, but that's what I'll have a bike in my garage for, when I can take some time off or go out on the weekends. I'll get my fix in [laughs]. The biggest thing will be not worrying about if you will have a job next year. You stress so much about what is going to happen next year, if you will even have a ride, that having a steady job and paycheck is good. We can get a house instead living in an apartment month by month. In motocross, there are only a few guys who can make really good money off of it and everyone else struggles. I gave it my all and it sucks to go out like this, but the injury took a toll on me.