MY MOTOCROSS INSPIRATIONS BY TONY DiSTEFANO
Tony D not only won AMA Nationals on a privateer CZ, but he almost won the 1974 AMA 500 National Championship on it (but he broke his thumb with three races to go).
“When I first started racing scrambles, Ray Martino took me under his wing. He was the only guy who seemed to know that motocross was the future. He helped me in so many ways and that included making me a part of his family.”
“Gary Jones was the AMA 250 National Champion when I first came on the scene. I could relate to him more than the other guys because he was clean cut and friendly. He set the mark for professionalism. I was most impressed by the fact that he was friendly, funny and nice to me when he didn’t have to be.”
John DeSoto?the one and only Flyin’ Hawaiian.
“John was a great motocross racer, but he was an even better person. He was and is the nicest guy I’ve ever met. John took the time to show a 16-year-old kid from Pennsylvania the ropes of professional motocross. In fact, I was staying at John’s house on the day I won my first AMA National on a CZ.”
“To me the Rocky movie was very inspirational. I related to it because I was a kid from Philadelphia, from a broken family, struggling to make it in a tough world. Even to this day, people often write that I was the Rocky Balboa of Motocross.”
Tony won the 1975, 1976 and 1977 AMA 250 National Championships for Team Suzuki.
“Mitch proved to me that being in a wheelchair isn’t the end of life. When I raced for him in 1979, I never even thought about him being paralyzed. He was so funny, wild and outgoing. When I got hurt, I modeled myself after Mitch. He made me believe that the chair is no obstacle. I admire him and want to be like him.”
“What I like about my kids is that they have all the opportunities that I never had. I suppose that my parents did they best they could, but they only thing they really taught me was what I didn’t want my family to be like. My kids are so much smarter, ambitious and accomplished than I was at their age.”
“You always need a rock in your life. George has been my rock. When I was first paralyzed George was steadfast that I could still be a success. He gave me guidance, picked up the pieces and made things happen when I wasn’t sure about what to do.”
“I don’t know about inspiring people, but I do want to help them. Through my motocross schools I meet thousands of riders who are anxious to learn about the sport. Also, as a rider who is paralyzed, I hope to inspired injured riders in the same way that Mitch Payton inspired me.”