Since the age of eight there was only one goal for me, to become a professional racecar driver. After spending the better part of two decades working toward it, I ultimately came up a bit short. The moment had come to move on. There were other things I wanted to do with my life. I had accomplished a lot behind the wheel of a racecar, established an amazing group of friends and had some unforgettable experiences. I’ll never fully move on from motorsports (do you ever get over your first love?). I am still very active in the industry in other roles. However, by not being in the driver’s seat I had lost my competitive outlet.
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A few years before I stopped driving racecars (10 years ago to be exact), a friend of mine in racing sold me his Trek 6000 so I could use it to train for driving. Little did I know how that purchase would change my life, and not at all in the way I had intended. For the first six years after buying the bike it saw single track about seven times. In the late winter of 2011 I had been getting back into shape, which I sorely neglected after I left driving. I texted my brother-in-law to tell him I was going to do a mountain bike race that summer. My brother-in-law, Mikey Verhagen, just happened to be the same friend that has sold me his Trek 6000.
A little background on Michael Verhagen and myself. For a couple of years in 2006 and 2007 I managed a go-kart race team for a customer of mine in Minnesota. I needed a lead mechanic for the team, so I turned to Mikey, who is one of the best mechanics I know, whom had now become one of my closest friends. Mikey and I shared a vision of doing things bigger, better and more importantly different than anyone had before. Our plotting and planning in running race teams began at this time. The karting team ended after two years when my customer went on to other things, but our desire to build something like it never died.
In the summer of 2011 I went to my first ever WORS event at Reforestation Camp in Green Bay to see what it was about and ride in the “first timer” race. I had a blast! The race was great, the people were great, the whole event had a similar feel to a lot of the racing series’ I had been a part of my whole life. In 2012 and 2013 I would ride in more and more races in the citizen category, slowly gaining strength, speed and falling more and more in love with riding my bike.
The original idea for Linear Sport MTB began at Eau Claire in 2013. I had brought my family’s suburban and old Eazy-Up from my karting days to the race. Mikey and I setup a small paddock and some friends came by, setup for the day and we all just hung out. This in and of itself for most people would have been fun enough, and it was a blast! Mikey and I, being who we are, thought having our own team so a bunch of our friends could ride under the same banner would be even cooler. As that summer went on, the races kept getting more fun, and we started asking our friends what they thought of the idea. Everyone thought it could be pretty cool, so we kept plotting.
My post driving career path has been split along two lines. The first began six months after I quit driving when my best friend and I formed Styled Aesthetic, a graphic design and screen printing company. The second was a continuation and escalation of my driver coaching and management company, Linear Sport. My motorsports connections from Linear Sport fueled our customer base for Styled Aesthetic. I traded my reputation in motorsports which in turn created new clients for Styled. Why is this relevant? Because it was the last piece in the puzzle in deciding to pull the trigger and create Linear Sport MTB. It gave me the opportunity to try to create a new market for Styled by, hopefully creating the same kind of friendships and relationships that helped Styled grow so much when we started our company.
Now we had made our plan and put together our benefits package but, would anyone would want to race with us? Amazingly our friends bit into it with enthusiasm and we got a bunch of them to sign up! The original team consisted of myself, Mikey, Kyle and Madeleine Jacobson, Evie Racette, Ben Schreiber, and Ryan Rollins. We couldn’t have asked for a better group. The idea of our team being a group of friends was exactly what happened. Over the last two summers this group has grown into close friends, and I have had some of the best times of my life with them.
As we enter our third season, I am just as excited. My love of the sport has only grown with each year. We have a great group of riders and friends to race with this year, and even more that we get to see at the races. It is all very similar to the groups of friends I have found in motorsports. It’s different yet the same. It feels like home.