a Beverly Hills plastic surgeon—but I don’t think so.
I was 13 years old when I went to my first funeral. My
first racing buddy to pass away was Brandon Layton. He
was a future superstar. I vividly remember walking up to
his casket. He was fully dressed in his moto gear from
head to toe. The entire moto community was there. It
was a somber day, but not a single parent, including
my own, pulled their kid from racing due to the
tragedy. I look back now and I am shocked that people
just brushed off such cruel reality.
Of course, as a racer, I never thought of quitting
because of the threat of injury to myself or the reality of
injuries to those around me. I wanted to race. I believed
that those things happened to the other guy. Racers
submerge negative thoughts deep within their psyches.
Once a family sacrifices so much, there is no turning
I remember when I thought I had made it. I was
17 years old, had a full Honda ride, eight bikes in the
garage, a mechanic and a supposed fast track out of
the Amateurs and into the Pro ranks. I was racing with
James Stewart, Broc Hepler and Davi Millsaps, and I
was hot on their tails. The stars were in alignment. All
the hard work was finally paying off. I could taste it.
It was all that was important to me. Then, at my last
Amateur race at Loretta Lynn before I turned Pro, I had
my first serious injury. I finished the National Amateur
Championships in seventh overall. Subpar to where I
needed to be, but worse yet, I’d torn up the ACL in my
knee. My Pro debut was sidelined for six months.
During that six months, I went from being treated like
a king to the bottom of the barrel. Most of my sponsors
pulled the plug on my support, and that included my
parents. My fast track to the big leagues was given to
someone else, and I was now my own mechanic. My
parents’ marriage came apart at the same time.
I was stranded—alone on the island of motocross.
Racing was all I knew. Yes, I know that at this point I
should have gone on with my life. But, I was so close to
the big show that I had to get there. I found a way to
get a few high-limit credit cards to fund my racing.
I thought of it as investing in my future. I started racing
the AMA Nationals by sleeping in my truck, on people’s
couches and in Walmart parking lots. With no money, no
mechanical skills and a slow bike, nothing went right. My
bikes broke due to my lack of mechanical skill, and
I ended up in the hospital over and over again because
I was riding over my head trying to keep up with the
This is the point in a racer’s life that most riders can’t
grasp. They hold on as long as they can, not because
they think the dream is still attainable, but because it is
all they have. It is the only thing they are good at, and
they are scared of what comes once they hang up their
boots. As a young Pro at an AMA National, you are
basking in the glow. You are blind to reality. You can’t
see that riders who were once on top of the sport are
now pitted next to you out in no man’s land—where
they stick privateers. You might even know their
personal stories of how they partied their money away,
their mothers stole it from them, or they spent time in
jail, but it doesn’t register that these were, a few years
earlier, dreamers just like you. We only hear about the
feel-good stories that end with mansions, yachts, Bentleys
and trophy wives.
The harsh reality of how good my chances were of
grabbing the golden ring was made all that much
clearer when I had a chance to ride Tommy Hahn’s
factory Honda CRF250 thanks to my friends at MXA.
They asked me to ride for the photos, and I was thrilled
to do it, especially because it was a great chance to
RACERS SUBMERGE NEGATIVE THOUGHTS
THE LIFE CYCLE
DEEP WITHIN THEIR PSYCHES. ONCE A
FAMILY SACRIFICES SO MUCH, THERE IS NO
OF A DREAMER
In a last-ditch effort Daryl tried offroad racing,
but ended up catching his dad’s bike on fire.
At the Hangtown National in 2007, Daryl tried to keep
his dream alive on subpar machinery.