A huge parking lot at Lucas Oil Stadium at Indianapolis, Indiana is packed with Supercross fans. The early March sunshine has pushed back, albeit temporarily, the brutal Midwestern winter and thousands of fans are soaking it up. It’s the weekly Saturday afternoon ritual of opening up the pits to fans so they can see the riders, the rigs and the race bikes up close. A couple of teenage gearheads are walking in front of me taking it all in. These two are a rarity these days, teenage boys with mechanical aptitude. They are checking out the bikes noting the various trick parts and pieces of the factory machines.
In front of the RCH Racing Suzuki rig taking a close look at Broc Tickle’s No. 20 bike, they look on admiringly. One of the guys says to the other, “How’d you like to go all around the country working on this thing?”
Undoubtedly from this idyllic sunny afternoon scene - with a shiny transporter and factory bikes basking in the sun in front of them with technicians wearing matching gear, attending to the beautifully-prepped machines - the life of a pro Supercross/Motocross mechanic must appear to a pair of teenage boys, the very vision of utopia.
Of course the reality is very different from the perfect picture setting these two observe. While the life of a factory mechanic may beat the doldrums of many work-a-day jobs, it is, in fact, a job of intense workload and commitment.
Spending time with Ryan Villopoto’s mechanic Mike Williamson you not only get the sense of that commitment, but you also learn the path a mechanic typically has to take to get to Williamson’s position. For every factory mechanic who looks to be the envy of tuners in waiting, there’s a dozen out there sleeping in the back of a van, living off fast food and working for next to nothing. It’s called paying your dues.
To read more of the Mike Williamson interview in this week’s issue of Cycle News, click here