Would You Get A Bank Loan For $50,000 And Go Snocross Racing?
By Scott A. Sumner
Adam Scott Johnson, age 23, from Hazelhurst, MN has a lot going for him. He is young, fit, a mechanical engineer from Michigan Tech at Houghton, Michigan and a WPSA National Snocross Semi Pro racer. I met Adam sitting in the infield at the Duluth National Friday night around the time of the fireworks display. His story is very interesting as you will read.
"I did a placement for Mercury and am now working for a company called Great Lakes Sound and Vibration. It is a good company, a smaller consulting firm with four full time employees and some part time," smiles Adam Johnson. "We do government contract work and are developing a rear suspension for snowmobiles. It is more radical than the M10. It has been released on www.glsc.com. If you want to get one this year Tri City Polaris has the first 50 units for sale at $2500."
Part of the work agreement Adam has is to get days off as he needs
them so this year that will be 65 days off to race. Adam started snowmobiling in kindergarten or first grade driving full sized snowmobiles in front of his dad. His racing began at age 17 and this is his second year as a semi pro at the nationals where he finished 25th and 16 th last year attending every event except Valcourt.
"We switched from Polaris to Ski Doo this season. It was time for a change. We talked to Polaris and I thought I was fairly successful in my first year but they didn't feel that way so it wa s time for a change," notes Johnson. "Since then I have realized the definition of sanity, doing the same things over and over again and getting the same results. To maintain my sanity I had to make a change. I wasn't going away and I like my crew as they work hard, so I got a loan."
"It's really funny when you go into a bank and tell them you want a loan for a snowmobile. Thats OK and then you tell them you want 5 sleds and their eyes get bigger. Next you say you cant insure them because they are modified snowmobiles and you race them every weekend and their eyes get even bigger," smiles Johnson. "Fortunately River City Bank felt that my word is good with them which is neat. This year our loan was for $50,000 and the cheque for the sleds was $39,124.58 and that is to just get the boxes." Mechanic Kyle Zarimbas is Adams partner and brother Dan Johnson is a mechanic as well.
"It is unique. If I had the right amount of resources there are a lot of things I'd like to change. As a mechanical engineer things like goggles, helmets, etc. There is no component that can't be improved and there is a new market for them. You have to have the means to make changes," notes Johnson. "There are about 130 semi pros this weekend but normally there are about 80 or 90. There are paid drivers, mechanics and the whole crew is really going for it on these semi pro teams, let alone the pro riders. Late nights working on sleds are common. It is an expensive operation and can cost $1500 week with out any paid mechanics. This weekend has been more expensive with crashes. It is a war zone! One of the kids I talk to has this as his first year on a big team and he really misses just being him and his dad. You gain a lot and sacrifice a lot on a big team. I haven't been on that side of the fence to tell yet."
Last year Adam had a fourth and fifth as his best finishes. The goal this year is to get some Ws. If you do win a race it is Ski Doo contingency and payout on WPSA is about $1000 each, maybe $2000 in total.
"Sponsorship dollars are so important and as we don't have any they are even more important. You don't think about air all the time because you have plenty of it. If you had plenty of money you wouldnt think about it either," laughs Johnson. "My dad owns our 22 foot V nose trailer. He bought it 4 or 5 years ago and you have to be under 5ft 10in to stand up in it. My brother has a 3/4 ton Chevy Duramax truck that we use to pull the trailer. We put miles on the truck for him." smiles Johnson.
Lets see if Adam can get some Ws this year and follow his dream.