Phil Cruz, 63 Fontana, CA Sponsors: Proride.com, Summit College Phil Cruz has carved out his own little niche in the Southern California motocross scene with his website, Proride.com. The site has been a mainstay of riders interacting with their peers to discuss tracks, races and organizing rides. Started long before the popular social media websites, it allowed people to interact as an online community focused on motocross. Cruz has been a common site at the races for many years, and at 63 years old, he has outlasted many riders who have traded their motorcycles for a set of golf clubs. How did you get started racing motocross? Was it so long ago that you started racing horses? I had donkeys, I couldn’t afford horses. I couldn’t race or ride until I was out of my parents’ house, so at 19 years old I started riding, then I started racing when I was about 30. What tracks did you race at when you started? When I started racing it was at Indian Dunes, Saddleback and Carlsbad. Those were the popular tracks at the time. Have your raced ever since? No, I actually quit for about 10 years, from ’91 until about 2001 or so. You are the webmaster of Proride.com, what made you start that website? It was actually started as a school project. It was coming due and I had to find something for the project, and I had nothing. At the time I wanted to check out a track that was about an hour and a half away, and that gave me the idea to create a website where you could get track information instead of having to drive all the way there. Did you ever expect Proride.com to be as popular as it is now? No, it was just intended as a little play thing and a school project, so I never expected it to be very big. When you first started out, you went around the pits at the tracks handing out flyers for the website. Did you ever advertise the site or did it just grow from that and word of mouth? I never advertised, it more or less grew on its own. People just started logging on and using the forum. I’ve never done any advertising. Forums like yours are sort of the predecessors to the current social media websites that allow people to interact online. Do you feel having an online community for a particular interest will remain as poplular? Facebook and those types of sites have sort of taken over, but websites like mine, which is only for Southern California motocross brings people together for a common interest rather than just social interaction. I think sites like Proride will remain popular for that reason. Did Proride become a place where you have gained a lot of friends to ride with? Yes, I have, and one of the main things about the website is a lot of people have made many very good friends through it. One good thing about it is that you can go on the site, is if you are going to the track and don’t have anyone to ride with, you can post up that you will be at a track and there is almost always someone that will be there to ride with. Have you had a hard time keeping everything under control on the website? Motocross forums have always tended to have a very animated group of people. Yeah, I have had some ups and downs with that. There are always people on there that tend to stir up trouble. At 63 years old, you are still riding and racing dirt bikes. When most people have moved on to more docile activities, do you plan on keeping it up? I am going to keep at it until I can’t do it anymore. Hopefully in my 70s I will still be riding, one way or another. Now that you are retired and have more time, what else do you do besides motocross? Lately I haven’t been doing much of anything other than taking care of my granddaughter which is really my life right now. I do have a Jeep and go out on the trails with it. There are so many trails around here and in Big Bear, and that is a lot of fun. I also have an offroad motorcycle that I take out every once in a while. When you came to the US from Cuba, did you come over on a motorcycle powered raft? No, the raft was built from a ’47 Chevy truck with a 6-cylinder engine, it took a long time to get across though.