There's two Robby Marshalls riding dirt bikes professionally but only one is from the United States and that's how the American says is the quickest way to figure out who is who. The spelling of his name is a little different, too.
Marshall, an East Coast native, ended his pro career in 2013 after nearly nine long grueling years of competing with the best in the world. As a privateer, Marshall was unable to take on the full-time series in Motocross and Supercross but still managed to reach the Top 10 a few times especially at Southwick - a hometown track. It's the one track he feels that evens the playing field with all the sand and allows the local guys and others without all the equipment and support to get in the mix.
Like all former racers, Marshall still rides and in many respects enjoys it more than ever. The pressure to compete and make money is gone but the passion for the sport remains and now gives him the living never materialized with racing. Marshall combined his riding experience with on-the-job track construction training he learned at Crow Hill MX, his family's track, and started Ramtrax Designs, a Motocross track construction company.
It started as a favor four years ago for a friend in North Carolina and after he was done Marshall realized not only could he do this for a living but he found something he loved. Today, he builds Motocross tracks primarily for backyard practice up and down the east coast. He still rides and may take on a National or two every year but he's found a new passion and a way to make it big in Motocross.
What age did you start riding and on what: 4 on a PW50.
What do you ride now? KTM 300XC Woods Edition or 450
Years pro: Nine
Year retired: 2013
Hometown: Stow, Mass
- 2009 - 5th overall at Southwick; 9th overall at Unadilla
- 2012 - 4th at Southwick in first Moto; 9th in second Moto at Unadilla
- 2013 - qualified in Top 20 on 250 two-stroke at Muddy Creek
Other sports participated in: Played basketball as a kid only in winter because we couldn't ride.
Other hobbies/interests: My work is my hobby.
1. How did you get started riding dirt bikes?
It's a family sport. My dad and brother did it. My dad has ridden his whole life. When I was 4, I got a 50 for Christmas and that was it, from there on out it was dirt bikes and building jumps. I actually just bought my original PW50 back from someone who contacted me and said they had it. I'll fix it up and it'll be a trophy bike for me.
2. You competed regularly while a pro but never joined the full tour in either Supercross or Motocross, what's it take to be a fulltime rider?
Support and money. It's the same thing for so many people. I have five or six close friends who are the most talented people and it just takes support and it doesn't take support for a month it takes years. A lot of amateurs get support, turn pro and then still don't have it figured out but a lot of times the support is gone.
When I was riding, you hope to get a deal and get supported but nowadays to have a future in Motocross it comes down to straight money and support. You have to have money and make money if you want to compete at the level that we all do. If you really want to be competing and fighting for podiums you'll need the support. The factory support gets you to the top and the bottom-up support is what gets you there.
3. You retired last year - what led to your decision?
The money. I was at a point in my life at 24 years old and it was time to make real money. When you get that age your life kicks in and you get bills and responsibilities. When you're spending all of your money and race winnings to get to the next race you're not paying the real bills that start coming.
I was training as hard as I can, getting my bike ready and taking it out even when it's not to the point where you want it then you race the same track that's always been there. It burns you out a little bit and burns you out of the racing part. Ricky Carmichael won't race again but he loves to ride. That passion never goes away. It takes commitment and sacrifice to race full time - from everyone around you. They say it's 90 percent mental and it is, and it's not just on the track it's off the track too. But the passion for Motocross is something no other sport has, and that's a fact.
4. But you now enjoy off-road, so riding dirt bikes is still part of your life?
Oh yeah. The off-road thing, there's a series up here, the J Day Off-Road series, that has a little bit of everything - woods, MX, enduro and even grass track. It's an enjoyable two 30 minute Motos. You can just hop on a bike and do it. No need to train for two months. It's great for people who work, I can just hop on my bike and enjoy it.
5. Ryan Sipes left the Supercross/Motocross circuit to compete in the GNCC - is this something you'd consider?
GNCC is even a little bit more so like Motocross and Supercross with the payout. The rest do it for the passion. In my eyes I couldn't see myself racing anything as a job unless I got paid what I need to get paid. I'll do a local GNCC or even a local National I just would never want to do it again unless I could do it right. Day after day, week after week, month after month of doing that program is the only way I could do it but it takes a lot of money.
6. You're often confused with another rider named Robbie Marshall. Tell us how fans can figure out who is who.
They usually just hear what country you're from. It's either United States or Australia. He's also a freestyle rider. He goes upside down, I don't go upside down.
7. What's the company you started a few years back?
Ramtrax Design. I've been working constructing with my father since a kid. I started on construction with the whole family 10 years ago when we built Crow Hill MX and we were one of the biggest tracks in New England before Southwick came back.
Anyway, I've spent a lot of time on bulldozers and doing excavation work. About four years ago, I helped a friend build a track and when I was done with it, I thought about it for a few days - I made some money, I worked sun up to sun down with a smile on my face the whole time. Before I knew it I had a few more places and I thought this is what I am going to do and I built a business.
Things take time and I build the business a little bit each year and move forward just like you do in Motocross.
8. Do you design Motocross tracks as well or just the construction side?
I design them and build them from scratch. About 80 percent of my business is backyard stuff. Customers don't have the money to bring in a bigger name builder so they call me. I do them all up and down the east coast. I give them a daily fee and get it down in a few days. Usually customers have an idea in their head of what they want and I work with the land and the machines we have and build something to their riding ability. The selling point I have is I still ride and owning the family track helped because I had to handle building tracks for riders on a 50 all the way up to a 450.
That first track I built down in NC, it was a small track in a big field. It wasn't anything crazy and now four years later it's a fully built Ramtrax Training Facility the family uses to get ready for amateur nationals.
9. What appeals to you most about building Motocross tracks?
I only have a high school education but about 50 years of life experience and I can thank Motocross for that. There really is something to be said about waking up and doing something that you love. I can wake up every day and ride a dirt bike but I can't make enough money to support my life. But to be able to make money doing something I love that supports me and I can do it from sun up to sun down every day, life is too short not to be doing something you enjoy.
10. You've gone from a Motocross rider to constructing dirt bike tracks, have you gained any insight from this vantage point that could have helped you while racing?
I don't know if it's the working or age but the consistency thing is what I lacked when I was younger. I'd work really hard for a month then the bikes would get broke and I wouldn't fix them. I'd just become a spoiled little 15 year old. But now in construction starting with a blank field, then developing a base and a few days later get a whole track down it reinforces the idea of maintaining and staying healthy. Professional racing is a brutal process, you really need a lot of money to get it done but definitely with the right opportunity now, things would be a lot different racing.
Written By: AndrewT