INTERVIEW OF THE WEEK: TROY ADAMS
Troy Adams was part of the Samsung/Sprint/Honda team in 2005. He finished sixth overall in the 125 East Supercross standings. By the way, that’s Tucker Hibbert–the GOAT of snowmobile racing–behind him.
Do you remember Troy Adams? I do. He was one of the nicest guys in the pits back when I was neophyte journalist just learning the ropes of professional motocross racing. Troy, who is a native of Florida, took time out of his busy race days to chat about everything and nothing with me. It left an indelible mark on this impressionistic kid. Adams became the benchmark of how a motocross racer should act.
Troy Adams seemingly vanished from the racing scene after the 2010 Canadian Nationals. He was just another one of those ex-racers who walked away from the spotlight and hid in some dark corner of the planet. Only that’s not entirely accurate. Adams, like so many before and after, was forgotten by the industry. I’m ashamed to say that I’m included in that group. So much hoopla is made of rookie racers, yet they don’t get their due when the clock strikes midnight and they hang up their boots. Races are still held. New blood enters the scene. Those, like Troy Adams, are washed over.
Leave it to social media to trip my memory. Or maybe it was happenstance. Either way, Troy Adams popped in my head. I wanted to catch up with him. Nay, I needed to talk to him. One direct message and a few minutes later, Troy and I were chewing the fat via text message. It turns out he’s married, and his wife is one heck of a motocross photographer. In fact, I recall seeing her at the Atlanta and Daytona Supercross races. At that time I didn’t know she was the Mrs. Chelsea Adams. Small world, eh? During my conversation with Troy, I asked if he was interested in doing an interview. The affable ex-racer obliged. Find out what Troy has been doing these past six years.
By John Basher
What have you been up to?
I have been working as an industrial electrician for the past two years. Before that I was trying to find my way. I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up. I went through a few jobs and tried to stay in racing. I was coaching some amateur riders and doing schools, but I realized that everybody and their brother that used to race is doing that now. I had some family members that worked in the electrician field before, and I thought it was interesting. I stuck with it. In some ways it’s like motocross, because I work different hours week to week. It’s not necessarily residential electrical work. I’m centrally located in Florida, and there are 16 plants throughout the area that I help service electrically. I bounce around from day to day. One day I might be driving down to Miami, and the next day I’ll go to Gainesville. There’s that element of not being stuck in one place. That’s why I felt at home. There’s also so much to learn that I never have a dull day.
Do you miss racing?
Of course I do. For the longest time I hated racing. I held a grudge. I hated the world when I quit. You go through such an emotional roller coaster when you quit something that has been your life for so long. I had been racing since I was nine years old, and I was forced to go find something else to do. I knew that I would never ride a dirt bike as my job ever again, and it was tough to handle. Things felt out of place for a long time. It took me a while to get over it. I went through different phases. I was done with it, and then a couple of years went by and I saw guys I used to race with still racing. I started missing it. I miss the competition and the riding aspect of it, for sure. The politics involved, well, that’s another story.
You had a long career, which began in 2001 and ended in 2010. Of course, lots of people will recall your Pro Circuit Kawasaki ride in 2006. That could have been a huge break, but then you broke your femur during pre-season Supercross testing.
I have mixed emotions about my career. I talk with my wife about it all the time. She came up in the newer era of motocross, so she doesn’t know a whole lot about when I raced. I feel like I had a successful career. I finished on the box a few times, and did so in Supercross and outdoors. I rode for some great teams, as well. At the same time, when I had to quit racing it felt like I failed. It’s a bit bittersweet. Sure, I had a ten-year career in racing. Most people in the world would never be able to do, but I was able to live it. On the other shoulder, it feels a bit like I failed. As for Pro Circuit, that is something that could have been. Breaking my femur right before Supercross was a letdown. With the way things panned out for me the whole year I’m still not sure whether being on that team was the right fit for me or not. Some people mesh on that team, and some people don’t. I ended up going toward Rockstar Suzuki [in 2007], and that ended up biting me. The team was dismantled by some higher ups, and it left a bunch of us–Kelly Smith, myself, and a few other things–scratching our heads about what to do. That was during the economic recession. I was left high and dry, but I managed to squeeze a few more years out of racing.
You talk about the recession. How did that effect your career?
There was nothing out there anymore. Teams were folding, because a lot of them were being supported by private financing. It seemed liked overnight things evaporated. The availability of rides was gone. The rides that were available resulted in doing it for free. You were getting flights and entry fees paid for, as well as a bike, but you weren’t getting a salary. Everyone knows that the AMA doesn’t pay the greatest. It’s hard to support a family or pay a mortgage with prize winnings. It’s a living-out-of-a-van type of lifestyle. When the salary is gone then you don’t have anything to fall back on. That’s when I started thinking long-term. I started wondering what I was going to do at 40 years old when I wasn’t making a salary as a racer. That threw my whole mental game out of whack. We all know that to be a competitive racer you have to be focused and in it 100 percent of the time. When you start thinking about factors like losing your house or wondering what’s going to happen next year, then your results suffer. There are so many variables that a lot of team managers and team owners don’t take into consideration. They’re asking so much out of a rider and not giving him any financial comfort. That’s where my stress built up. My riding showed. In 2007 and 2008 I started to plateau. I wasn’t improving, and I developed a bitter attitude because I was so unsure about my future. That caused me to move on with my life. It was probably the hardest decision I’ve ever made in my life. I had to move on in order to have a family, own a home, and pay my bills every month.
Did you know that 2010 was going to be your last year of racing professionally?
During the 2010 Supercross series I rode for Butler Brothers, and then I did the Canadian Nationals for the Cernics Monster Kawasaki team. That whole year I knew it was going to be my last season. I had a gut feeling about it. People were telling me that they planned on hiring me for 2011, but I learned about people. Everyone likes to lead a rider on and pat him on the back. In the end, everyone is going to look out for himself. Knowing that, every race I went to in 2010 I would stop after the race and look in the stands. I wanted to take it all in. I had an opportunity to race in Costa Rica for the summer, and I absorbed it all. Josh Demuth was my teammate, and we had a blast the season. I wanted to win a race before I quit, and it never happened. Still, to go out the way I did, was awesome. In a way, I wrapped up career on a good note.
What was your most enjoyable year racing?
It had to be in 2004 or 2005, back when I was on the WBR Kawasaki team. Also, I had a great time in 2010 racing the Canadian Nationals. I had some great times throughout my whole career and met a lot of great people. However, to me, I was surrounded by real people during those specific years.
Is it hard to find “real people” in the motocross industry?
I don’t mean that in a bad way. Everybody in the industry gets caught up in looking out for himself. It’s sad to say, but I’m sure it’s like that in every other industry. At times I feel that’s not the way to run a business. You get more out of people when you’re honest, rather than working around the situation. However, egos are involved. Sometimes it consumed me to the point where it aggravated me to no end. That’s where I failed as a racer, because I would let things get to me, rather than shrugging it off. I always let little things bother me. That, alone, will mess with your mental state going into a race. Once I quit, there were a few years I didn’t do much. I took that time to reflect and thought about what I could have done to better myself. I was my own downfall. I let things get to me, and I could have done several things differently that would have bettered my career. I lost my way a little bit, and fortunately I was able to realize things and work on it, but it was too late.
Do you ride these days?
Of course I do. I also follow the sport, although I’m in the shadows. My wife, Chelsea Adams, is a photographer. She shoots some Supercross races and Nationals. When I’m on lunch break at work I’ll watch the previous weekend’s race and stuff like that. I’ll probably always follow the sport, because otherwise it would feel like part of me is empty. I still go to Atlanta and Daytona every year.
Thanks for your time, Troy.
Thanks, John. It’s nice to catch up.