ONE PHOTO & ONE STORY: LIFE IN THE FAST LANE
By John Basher
Imagine rocketing down the pavement at 70 miles an hour with nothing between your derriere and the ground is a bucket seat and thin layer of nylon. It’s exhilarating, and it’s the reason why so many motocross racers have developed a passion for shifter karting. While you’re trading two wheels for four, it’s a logical leap given the equipment standards–shifter karts are powered by motocross engines–and the fact that moto heads love to harness speed and power.
A few years ago the MXA wrecking crew met one of their own, a dyed-in-the-wool long-standing MXA test rider, Willy Musgrave, at California Speedway. Willy’s list of credentials run too long to list here, but suffice it to say that he’s talented at wielding anything with an engine. In recent years Musgrave transitioned from a full-time diet of roost sandwiches to pavement patties after getting the shifter kart itch. One race and Willy was hooked. To quote Maverick in one of the greatest movies ever made, “I feel the need; the need for speed.” And so it went with Musgrave, who just so happens to be a bit impulsive. Then again, what motocross racer isn’t? The MXA gang saw Willy’s face less and less as the months passed at REM.
ONE MINUTE WE WERE POKING FUN OF OUR NASCAR TRACK OFFICIAL GARB, AND THE NEXT WE FELT LIKE THE SECOND COMING OF AYRTON SENNA. THAT’LL HAPPEN WHILE CAREENING THROUGH SWITCHBACKS AS THE TIRES SQUEAL AS A WARNING THAT YOU’RE MILLISECONDS AWAY FROM SLAMMING INTO A BARRICADE.
Willy’s son, Billy Musgrave, turned out to be a hot prospect in the shifter kart world. Billy, like his father, gave up Saturday morning motocross for a life of drafting. While we missed our orange-helmet brethren, we forgave the Musgraves after spinning a few laps in their shifter karts. One minute we were poking fun at our NASCAR track official garb, and the next we felt like the second coming of Ayrton Senna. That’ll happen while careening through switchbacks as the tires squeal as a warning that you’re milliseconds away from slamming into barricade.
Willy launched Musgrave Racing Company (MRC) in January 2013. Since then MRC has grown by leaps and bounds. They’ve hosted guys like Chad Reed, Michael Byrne, Bucky Lasek and Blake Williams. MRC sells kart parts and accessories. They also offer track day rentals and instruction sessions for neophyte kart drivers all the way up to the premiere classes. Musgrave has essentially built a one-stop shop for all things shifter karting. You can contact MRC by visiting www.musgraveracing.com or calling (951) 278-8885. They’re located in Corona, California.
Whether you live in SoCal or plan on visiting, do yourself a favor and get yourself in a shifter kart. Send the family to see Mickey Mouse and spend a day talking line selection and burning rubber at 70 miles an hour in a 125cc two-stroke-powered engine. The experience will teach you to keep the throttle on, hit the apex, brake late and shift at the last possible second–all rules that apply to motocross. For those reasons, motocross racers transition well to karting. Who knows, you might actually be the next Formula1 star. Don’t deny your destiny.