This past Saturday, April 14th, I attended the 1st round of the Lucas Oil Off Road Series at Wildhorse Pass Motorsports Park in Chandler, Arizona. All the big boys were in town including Rob MacCachren, Jeremy McGrath, and Jarett Brooks to run Short Course. I was here working.
Several months back I had been approached by Clint Briska, who's son Trevor, had been named the 2017 Rookie of the Year in the Pro Buggy class. Trevor is such a great kid- and at 17 we won’t be able to call him that for long. He's at that point in life when you can start predicting what he'll become.
He's humble but not shy, always has a smile and a hand to offer, and his calm demeanor belies his competitive nature.
Last night, Trevor took his first national win on the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series —but that's not the story here. For the past two months, Trevor and his core team have been planning to do something grand. You see, Trevor comes from racing stock. His grandfather has broken land speed records at Bonneville, and his father has raced dirt bikes, and mountain bikes for decades. Both of these men have poured their lives into Trevor, and when he was very young they started to show him the ropes. At 6 he was turning wrenches, changing out parts, and racing his KTM 50. Racing is all he wanted to do—and it's all he did—for the next two years when he wasn't bound to school.
At 8, Trevor began to scare his mother with perplexing health symptoms which led them to seek medical advice. The diagnosis was type 1 diabetes, and his mother started to bawl—for her beloved grandfather had been lost to diabetes a few years earlier. "It was terrifying", she says. She thanks God for her husband and his family for they just did what they always did; they got to work—listening, learning, doing. Trevor did the same.
Fast forward 9 years.
Two months ago we began a partnership with the Arizona Chapter of the Junior Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF). It was a natural extension as the Briskas have raised thousands of dollars to support diabetes research and drive awareness. Together we held meetings, wrote press releases, and laid out plans with the series to create some noise at Wildhorse Pass. We took photos, created banners, flyers, hero cards and we hired a social media manager. We wrote PA announcements, created instagram stories, and Mom ordered lots of food. Dad worked feverishly on the car—and he ordered some stickers.
On Saturday the whole crew was humming; everyone doing their part. The Lucas Oil Off Road Series positioned the team at the front gate, a coveted location indeed, and we aimed to make the best of it. We stood for hours behind tables; fluffing, straightening, smiling and waving—and we started to hand out 2" stickers. The ones Clint Briska had ordered; just a simple black and white number plate with Trevor's brand #59.
We tried to hit every child who walked through that gate— and we came awfully close. Offer a child a sticker and their eyes light up. They looked up at us, wide eyed—some were so excited they were shaking trying to peel the back off so they could put it on their shirts right away.
We walked them to the car and took photos of their whole family- each time everyone just beaming- even though they really didn't know who Trevor Briska was. Moms and Dads thanked us profusely and we found out that a very high percentage of these families were either affected themselves, or knew somebody with type 1 diabetes. They wanted to learn more, and some offered a donation.
This continued for hours and now we wanted every child in the place to feel like they belonged- that they had somebody to root for. I think we even chased some kids down and we taught the older kids to fist bump anyone they saw with a sticker and shout, "Go Trevor!".
Then something magical happened...
Everyone piled heavy into the stands as the main event gone underway. Families had paid good money and they were about to see an incredible show. Pro 2 got everyone's blood pumping and Rob Mac, Jeremy McGrath and Jerett Brooks took their well deserved places atop the podium. People were cheering and cameras were flashing.
Pro Buggy was up third. Trevor had qualified 4th putting him on the inside of the second row for the start. I looked around and saw little kids everywhere with #59 stuck to their hats, their shirts and their hands. I was so proud of that moment. These young children and their parents were all so intent on what Trevor was going to do, and they all felt they were a part of it.
When the green flag flew Trevor immediately exited turn one in second place. Our section of the grandstand lit up and everyone was screaming. Trevor maintained his pace for the first few laps —with the leader a few car lengths ahead. By lap 4 Trevor caught his grove and was reeling the leader in hard when officials threw the comp yellow at lap 7.
We were all strung tight, nervous and excited— already almost hoarse from our screaming. From the restart Trevor immediately attacked the leader and advanced into first place by turn two. This he maintained through lap 8, and 9, and 10 and 11, and 12 ... and then I began to worry.
I have been involved in racing for nearly 3 decades, so I know how things can go. This is when you really get nervous, and even though he’s far out front all the “what ifs?” start to smother your enthusiasm. What if something breaks? What if he crashes? What if there’s a part failure?
It was in that moment I realized how different Trevor is. What if Trevor’s blood sugar levels were low? His vision could go, he could start to tremble, he could get light headed- even become incoherent. It’s one more layer that Trevor has to get right.
Trevor held his ground and the entire crowd was on its feet. And you know what? He won!! The kid won —his first national event!
We all ran from the grandstands and it felt like a hundred hands grabbed me as I walked by, people with huge grins on their faces and shouting, “Congratulations!” “Congratulations!”
Trevor took his place at the top of that podium. Joy lit up his whole face, and I felt like I got a small window into how much effort he has put into this. How much he has overcome. People were cheering, cameras were flashing— and this time people were crying.
Like a veteran pro, he said, "JDRF is out here with us to help raise awareness for type 1 diabetes, and I am so glad for the opportunity to show everyone that diabetes doesn't slow you down".
Trevor’s family, his friends and fellow racers were jumping into the fence to embrace Mom and Dad, and a hundred high five's went up. I turned around to look back at the crowd, and kids were fist bumping each other, huge smiles on their faces and stickers on their caps.
We all realized we were a part of something we hadn't understood before— and that sticker branded us all as family.
This is why we race...