FAIRFIELD — He may have slowed a bit, but there’s no stopping Fairfield’s Gary Truesdill – at least for now.
Truesdill is still racing motorcycles at the tender age of 53, and still recalls the first time he straddled a dirt bike.
“I was 10 years old,” Truesdill said. “Basically, a neighborhood friend had an old minibike and introduced (it) to me, and I fell in love with it.”
Then, three years later at the age of 13, Truesdill took to the track competitively, starting in his first race.
“It was called Claude Osteen’s Cycle Park in Pomona,” Truesdill said. “I was scared to death. It was totally different. It still is today. It keeps me swimming. The fear, you get wrapped up in it. But once you conquer it, it’s OK. It’s just rewarding, very rewarding.”
Sometimes with the rewards comes setbacks, which nearly every motorcycle racer has experienced – injuries.
Truesdill has had his share.
“Five knee operations, numerous broken bones,” Truesdill said. “That race last year at Hangtown (in Sacramento) I hit a false neutral and broke every rib on my left side and had a collapsed lung . . . and my pancreas swelled up.”
After racing professionally for several years – including a Supercross race at the Oakland Coliseum in 1979 – it was time for Truesdill to take a financial break.
“I rode for Suzuki in motocross pro,” he said. “Then I quit riding for more than 20 years . . . I got a real job, you’re basically at the end of your rope: work, train and ride. There’s not enough hours in the day.
“I got back into it in 1999 and started again. Now it’s not as serious (for me). We still have to train and stay on the bike, it’s still a process. I have the same exact feeling today, though I’m 100 times slower than when I rode at the professional level. It still feels like you’re flying.”
After growing up in Southern California, Truesdill has raced at multiple tracks throughout California, but there’s always the ones that become favorites.
“I would say my favorite track to race now is (at) Oatfield (Raceway) in Turlock,” Truesdill said. “My favorite back in the day was Carlsbad. I have favorite tracks there and here. I like the rutty tracks. I would just say those are more old-school motocross, rough and rutty. That suits me better that a cleaner, flat track.”
Now that he mainly races for fun, Truesdill has passed his talents on to his son, Mitchell, who at 22 years old has the stamina to keep up with the younger racers.
“He’s a lot faster than me these days,” Truesdill said with a laugh. “I gave him the torch four years ago. I couldn’t catch him anymore.”
That hasn’t kept Truesdill off his bike, because it’s something he simply enjoys.
“I like the camaraderie, all my buddies I race with,” Truesdill said. “Some go play golf on the weekends. We all go race motocross.
“It’s probably just the fun factor. Before it was a full-on profession, a job. The fun part is what brought me back to it.”
Truesdill is still having as much fun as when he was 10.
Reach Brian Arnold at 427-6969 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/barnolddr.