You've probably never heard of Josh Mast.
But if you race on the weekends, compete in regionals and head to Loretta Lynn's every year as an amateur - while holding down a regular full-time job - well, you're no different than Mast.
A MotoSport-sponsored rider since 2009, Mast loves to race and does pretty well. In fact, he's planning his ninth trip to Loretta Lynn's this year. But he's never raced a National and he doesn't even have his Pro license.
He's similar to nearly every rider we've talked to - he started young and all because of Dad. But he doesn't have a factory ride and never has. In many respects, he represents the core of the Motocross community. Part of the grassroots that keeps the sport alive and well.
Mast is a mechanic by trade, he owns his own shop working on dirt bikes, ATVs and side-by-sides. When contingencies (cash paid out by manufacturers for race results) were the norm, that and purse winnings enabled him to work part-time while he chased his racing dream. So, now he's got the full-time working man gig while still doing what he loves on the weekends.
We've heard from a lot of pros, so we thought, let's hear from our neighbors. The weekend warrior who washes his own ride after every race, changes the oil, bears the burden of getting replacement parts and then gets up Monday morning to go to work. This is what he said:
Years Riding: 26
Amateur Years: Never had a "pro license" so I guess I'm still technically an amateur
What age did you start riding and on what: My first bike was a Suzuki DS80 when I was 10
What do you ride now: 2016 KX450
Hometown: Live in Huntsville, MO, but I call Moberly, MO my hometown
Career Highlights: I have been to Loretta's eight times and getting ready to go for the ninth time. Seven times I have been in the Top 10. Two times in the Top 4 with my best finish being a 3rd overall in 2009.
Favorite Track: I love Millville
Other sports participated in: I like to play basketball but never really played any school sports besides football my senior year of high school.
Other hobbies interests: I like watching MMA. I enjoy watching and/or playing most any sport. Anything active or competitive I'm happy doing.
1. How did you get started riding a dirt bike?
My dad raced as a kid and when I was 10 he got back into riding and therefore I got hooked on it. I was a crazy kid on a bicycle so it kind of came natural.
2. Did you race Motocross right away or did that come later?
I raced right away. I started on a Suzuki DS80 and raced one race on it and then was beyond the bikes capabilities and got a 1991 CR80 for my 11th birthday.
3. Was turning pro ever a consideration?
I have always been on the verge of being able to maybe get my pro license and possibly qualify for a National. But I have never been one of those people that just wanted to do it for the experience. I always told myself if I wasn't going to be able to be confident in myself being able to qualify and score points then I wouldn't waste my time and money chasing something that wasn't (there).
I was on my way to getting myself prepared and ready to give it a go in 2002. Then in September 2001 I had a bad crash that ended all that. I ended up falling 40 feet straight down landing on my feet and broke both legs. Broke the tib/fib on the right leg and tib/fib and talus in my left leg. I was in a wheel chair for four months and even to this day never fully recovered. My left ankle is all but fused and my right ankle isn't much better.
4. Holy cow! What a crash. What track were you at? Was it a mistake on your part?
The crash was at Midwest Motorsports in Kahoka, MO. I had crashed in the first turn and had worked my way back up to 3rd or 4th, actually just passed James Abbott. It was a big downhill that led to a peaked-up ant hill that was meant to slow you down as it was basically the middle of an almost 90 degree turn.. As I was coming down the hill at the bottom the throttle stuck wide open and I launched off of it. It was 15 to 20 foot tall and steep so I went basically straight up in the air. The bike and I separated and I came down on my feet.
5. Falling through the air did you know you were in trouble?
As I was flying through the air I knew I was in for a bad one and just remember telling myself to hit and roll but I just stuck. My adrenaline was going and I really didn't know I was hurt until I rolled over to get up and my left ankle was turned the wrong way. I then just rolled back over onto my butt and grabbed my foot so that it looked right and flagged for them to come get me. That was back in the day when our generation was a bit tougher than the ones now days (laughs).
6. Did the injury make you second guess getting back on the bike?
From there it was to the hospital for emergency surgery in Quincy, IL. I was released from there three days later and came home and instantly knew something wasn't right so went to my normal doctor in Columbia, Missouri and they removed the casts and transferred me to Missouri University and they went in and put external fixators on both legs to keep them from shifting anymore and to let the swelling go down. Ten days later they went in and took those out and put some more plates/screws/rods in. And then a week after that they released me to go home. It was a pretty bad deal.
They told me I had a chance to walk normal again but all sports and athletic hobbies were a thing of the past. Up until that point I had thought about giving it up. But I guess the stubborn nature I have and competitiveness made me want to prove them wrong. It was a long, difficult road. I was in a wheelchair for four months then crutches for two more months. Physical therapy to try and get my ankles moving again. I think at the seven-month mark is when I got back on a bike. I rode just for fun for a month or so. Then I had $60. I told myself at the point to where I have nothing left of this $60, I will quit. I always won at least my entry fee back and never skipped a beat from then on.
7. Injury tends to end not only professional aspirations but the joy of riding all together. What advice would you give another rider dealing with a bad injury wondering whether to get back on the bike?
My advice for people facing a big hurdle would be never give up. Find a great physical therapist that cares about getting you back going even if it hurts along the way. There are too many physical therapists that just go by the piece of paper protocol and don't have an imagination on ways outside of the box to help you. A good therapist that understands your goals and a never give up attitude is key. A good doctor helps as well.
All Photos: Kurt Schellenberger
8. OK, back to the good stuff. Is amateur riding a full time venture or do you put into it what you can?
It really seems like full time (laughs). With my two sons and I all racing almost every weekend it's a lot of work. I don't have much time to ride during the week anymore so it's usually the practice day the Saturday before the race where I get my riding in.
9. What's training day look like?
I don't get many training days in anymore. I always feel guilty that I don't get to the gym but the priority list just doesn't allow for it much these days.
10. How do you juggle a full time job with riding?
A lot of work with not much riding. I just try and ride every weekend to stay sharp.
11. It must help that your full time job is a mechanic in the industry. You probably save time and money since you can do everything yourself.
Yes it helps for sure. Other than sending our suspension to Factory Connection for valving and set up, everything else I do myself. It's cheaper for sure but it makes for some long nights a couple times a week.
12. Is getting sponsors at your level a must-have as far as affordability?
It is a must-have for sure. Between myself and my two sons, I have four bikes to maintain so without the help of sponsors it would be nearly impossible to be able to swing it.
13. What's your most memorable race?
My most memorable race would have to be each and every weekend. My son Gage moved to the Pro class this year and we line up and race one another every weekend now and we push each other to the limits. Other than racing him my most memorable race would be 2010 Loretta's, 1st moto, +25. I was in 4th behind Keith Johnson and I was faster than him for the first time ever and I pushed him for half the Moto until he made a mistake and went down in the six-pack. I went on to finish third that Moto and get my first Moto medal.
14. If you could race against any former or current pro who would it be and why?
I race against a lot of them guys every year at Loretta's. Reynard, Sheak, Tortelli, etc. You just never know who is going to decide to come race Loretta's.
15. What do you do with all your podium trophies?
I don't get many trophies anymore usually just cash payouts. I have one real trophy that I'm proud of and that's my 2009 Loretta's trophy. You have to get Top 3 at Loretta's to get a trophy instead of a plaque and I am lucky enough to have earned one of those.
Written By: AndrewT