FLASHBACK FRIDAY | FROM WHENCE WE CAME — DAMON BRADSHAW
Damon Bradshaw was just a country boy at heart, who got his start on a Honda Mister 50.Damon Bradshaw was just a country boy at heart, who got his start on a Honda Mister 50.Fame is a fleeting thing. It is often thrust on an athlete in the blink of an eye and can disappear just as quickly. But, for most motocross racers, the path to stardom starts when they get their first motorcycle and builds up slowly during their Amateur years. If they have the talent, support and good luck, the flower of fame blooms on them in the AMA Pro ranks. With good genes, lucky breaks and good support, the fame can last as long as 10 years before the rider is supplanted by newly minted stars. As a rule, an AMA National Champion is capable of staying famous long after he retires, but from the moment he quits until the day he dies, his fame is encapsulated in a bubble—a bubble of time. No one who was into the sport before he rose to fame cares about him, and no one who entered the sport after he retired ever saw him race. Thus, a retired racer can only maintain his fame with the fans he earned over his 10 years as an active racer. The star and his minions grow old together.
MXA wanted to go back in time with Damon Bradshaw—not to when he was a famous factory Yamaha racer or after the glory faded, but to his roots.
The first time I rode a motorcycle: “My first time riding was when I was 3 years old. My dad had bought me a Honda MR50, which had three gears and a clutch. I remember being in a big grassy field in front of my grandma’s house. I went in circles for almost a year in order to get the hang of it.”
My first injury: “When I was 5 years old I knocked out a few of my bottom teeth. I was wearing a Jofa face mask, and I landed face first in a crash. The face mask folded in my mouth, and then when it bowed back out, it flipped my bottom teeth up into my lip. That wasn’t so good [laughter].”
My first hero: “Josh Summey’s dad Tony was a local racer, and I really liked his riding style. He was probably the first autograph that I ever got. I went up to him with a piece of newspaper and he scribbled on it. I went back to my mom all upset that he scribbled on the paper instead of autographing it, but she explained to me that autographs usually aren’t legible. That’s why my autograph isn’t very easy to read.”
My first race: “I raced for my first time when I was 4, and it was in Gastonia, North Carolina. The track was inside a dirt-track oval, and I finished in third place and received a trophy. The funny thing is, I gave that trophy to a track owner in South Carolina. He held on to it, and years later, when my oldest son raced for his first time, the track owner gave the trophy to my son. I guess you could say that trophy went full circle.”
My first pro race: “I was 16 years old, and I turned Pro right after Loretta Lynn’s and raced the Millville National. Yamaha flew me to the race, and I believe that I finished around ninth overall. I remember racing against George Holland and Johnny O’Mara. That was a long time ago!”
My first pro win: “I won the Osaka Supercross in Japan when I was 15. I battled with Ricky Johnson all night, and he kept running into me. I broke a winning streak that he had, which was cool. My first Pro win in the U.S. was in 1989 when I won the Miami Supercross on a 125. I think that I beat Mike Kiedrowski and Ty Davis. I crashed five times, and Ty was leading the entire race, but I was able to pass him with two laps to go.”
The first time I met a famous person: “I always liked Clint Eastwood and Michael Jordan. It’s strange that my career resembled Jordan’s a lot, because when he quit basketball, I quit motocross as well. Then, when he came back to playing basketball, I started racing again, and we were both number 45. I always wanted to have my picture taken with Michael, and I was able to do that. Unfortunately, the photo that I took with him didn’t turn out very well. Talk about being bummed!”