Shawnee, Oklahoma’s Trey Canard has been through the wringer in his professional career. He’s had the highest of highs and lowest of lows. Canard came out swinging in his very first Supercross race at Atlanta in 2008. The Geico Honda rider won the opener and followed that up with three more victories on his way to the AMA 250 East Supercross crown. He triumphed despite overwhelming pressure from Ryan Villopoto. You might recall the pivotal race at the series concluding St. Louis round, when Villopoto was only three points behind Canard for the title. Trey jumped inside of Ryan before the finish line in the main event and pushed him wide. Villopoto didn’t let off the throttle and harpooned his Pro Circuit Kawasaki into the finish line structure. It was one of those unbelievable moments that has since gone down in Supercross lore.
Villopoto repaid the favor by winning eight of the 12 outdoor overalls en route to his third straight 250 National Championship. Meanwhile, Canard couldn’t keep pace in his first full National season. His season came to an abrupt end in Washougal when he broke his femur after tangling with a lapped rider.
It’s unfair for a racer to be defined by his injuries. Trey Canard shouldn’t be used as an example of potential disaster that comes with being a professional racer, but it’s hard not to overlook his laundry list of injuries. He has endured more heartbreak in his nine-year career than any two–maybe three–Pros deal with. Yet still he pushes forward. Most riders would have seriously considered an alternate career after all the trips to the emergency room. Not Canard. He is unwavering in his determination to forge ahead and win another title.
MOST RIDERS WOULD HAVE SERIOUSLY CONSIDERED AN ALTERNATE CAREER AFTER ALL THE TRIPS TO THE EMERGENCY ROOM. NOT CANARD. HE IS UNWAVERING IN HIS DETERMINATION TO FORGE AHEAD AND WIN ANOTHER TITLE.
Back on March 4, 2009, I scheduled a photo shoot with Canard while he was on hiatus from the 250 West Championship (Trey would go on to finish sixth in the standings). Trey and his longtime mechanic, Brent Presnell, drove up to Zaca Station for the day. Canard was blasting Oklahoma rap (who knew there was such a thing?) and singing at the top of his lungs when I approached his van. The gate was locked, so we had time to chew the fat. Canard was cordial to me, just as he had been when we first met at a restaurant in Ponca City, Oklahoma, a few years prior. Trey said that he was excited to spin laps around Zaca Station in preparation for the 250 outdoor series.
After the track owner, Ed Guajardo, opened the gate I followed behind and listened as Canard bellowed out the chorus line for some rap song I had never heard of. Dense fog burned off and gave way to a pristine track that is unlike any other track located south of Hangtown. The day was straight out of a fairytale. Perfect loamy dirt? Check. Big jumps? Check. Sun and warmth with a slight breeze to keep the pesky flies away? Check. Talent level off the charts? Trey Canard took care of that.
Trey burned through gallons of petrol and shaved fractions off his lap times. It was a good sign that he was ready for the 250 Nationals. Canard would be facing stiff competition in Ryan Dungey and Christophe Pourcel. None of that seemed to bother Trey, evidenced by his jovial candor that day. After his training was complete, Canard offered to hit any section of the track I wanted to photograph. The afternoon turned into a private shoot, followed by an exclusive interview. It was a great day.
Unfortunately, two months later Canard went over the bars at High Point and broke his wrist. The injury knocked him out of the remaining Nationals. He found solace a year later by winning the 2010 AMA 250 National Championship. Disaster has followed him pretty much every year since then. Canard has yet to win that elusive 450 title, and things aren’t too promising for this year’s Supercross chase. Trey is currently 12th in the standings, due to a badly mangled hand as the result of getting landed on two weekends ago in Anaheim. The setback kept him from lining up in Oakland. Still, he soldiers on.
Earlier I pointed out how Trey Canard’s career shouldn’t be defined by his injuries, as frequent as they might occur. We should all be reminded that a person’s character is more important than the titles they win or the injuries they deal with. Trey Canard is the same awesome human today as he was when I first met him at Ponca City, Oklahoma, in 2006. There’s something to be said for being a stand-up citizen and positive role model. That’s why I’ll always be a Trey Canard fan.