Rider; Ryan “Ryno” Weatherby
Hometown; Alma, Michigan
Sponsors; No Toil, Next Level Graphics, Dunlop, Pro Taper, Sunstar, Braking, Bell, Answer, Garne, Weatherby’s Plumbing and Heating, EVS, Spy Goggles, and Central Motor Sports.
Ryan Weatherby has been working as a self-employed businessman since the beginning of his working career. The family business (Weatherby’s Plumbing and Heating) was started by his mother and father years ago and now Ryan and his wife Denise are responsible for keeping the family business afloat.
We sat down with Ryan to discuss what it was like for him to balance riding, racing, work, and family. Here is what he had to say.
PB) Ryan, what was your first motorcycle?
RW) It was a 5-hp old-school mini-bike with a Tecumseh motor in it. I don’t remember the brand name, all I remember was I bent the forks and basically trashed the thing. (laughs)
PB) What do you remember most about that first bike?
RW) Just how simple that bike was and how much fun I had riding it. You basically just turned the throttle and go. I remember I hit a big hole and wadded up big-time in a potato field out behind my grandpa’s house. We would go there to pick potatoes and I would ride my minibike in the fields out behind the farm.
PB) When did you start racing motocross?
RW) It was 1988, I was 15 and I raced the 250 C-Class at Moreland’s Motocross Park in Stanton on a 1984 CR-250 Honda. There were 36 riders on the gate, I was nervous as hell but pulled the holeshot and ended up 9th place overall. I remember we use to practice at the O’boyles track almost every day. I had an old Penton Jackpiner that I rode the snot out of for two years before that first race. It was my first full-sized dirt bike. It had the old leather strap on the tank, I loved that bike! By 1991 I had my pro license and raced at the Pontiac Silverdome. I remember the cigarette companies were the main sponsor at the time, I think they called it the “Camel Supercross Series” or something like that (laughs). Boy, we’ve come a long way!
PB) What do you consider to be your ‘Crowning” achievement to date in your racing career?
Without a doubt, it’s my third overall at Loretta Lynns in 2017 on the Husqvarna 450 in the 45+ class. I won the last moto in that 45+ class and should have placed better in the overall but I fell hard in the first moto and ended up with a 6-2-1 on the day. If I hadn’t thrown it away in that first moto I may have won the class?
PB) What does it mean for you to be at the track?
RW) I just kind of fell in love with being at the races, the people, the sounds and smells, just the overall excitement. It was what I might think a “junky” would feel like, pure addiction and I was hooked. All I could think about was getting better, and the more I raced the better I got and the harder I worked.
PB) I know you work hard in the family business during the week, what’s the biggest challenge in staying competitive while still working full-time?
RW) It’s just hard to stay focused on training and riding and still get all the work done. Fortunately for me as a business owner, I can take a few hours off here or there to go train in the gym or on the bike. However, the work still needs to get done so that can bleed over to after-hours in a hurry. At the end of the day, the business has to come first because it funds my hobby (laughs). I try very hard to create a good work/life balance. The Fall is really tough for me because I like to hunt too but if all we do is work, what’s the point?
PB) In your opinion, how has social media changed the local motocross scene if any?
RW) I believe that social media has helped us develop a personality and an understanding of who we are as people. Back in the day, we had pro-riders we idolized but had no idea what kind of people they were? Today, those personalities come through front and center on social channels like Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. For me, I didn’t have any support other than what deal I could make with the local dealer for a parts discount and maybe a good deal on a bike. Today, I have more support at 46-years old from sponsors because of social media. 15-years ago it was hard to find a cool motocross video to watch unless you went out and bought one. Now you can see lots of cool video clips of riders at different tracks all over the Country.
PB) Do you think kids are still interested in motocross, and if not why?
RW) There doesn’t seem to be an “entry-level” anymore, it just costs an insane amount of money to get started in racing. I really believe, with all my heart that 4-strokes are to blame for that. Yes, they are faster but they are also more complex, cost more to maintain and at the end of the day, more expensive to own and operate long term. If you go out and buy a 10-year old 250f without knowing the maintenance history, you could be looking at a hand-grenade.
Sure, you could go out and buy your kid a 125 2-stroke, they’re still cool but not really competitive in that class. I really believe they should change the rules to benefit entry level bike purchases. What I mean by that is, a 250cc 2-stroke should be allowed to race against 250cc 4-stroke. I just think the bikes they are building today are very close in performance. I see guys all the time spinning faster laps on the 250 4-stroke than the same guy on a 250 2-stroke, what’s that tell you? There’s no advantage with the 250 2-stroke in that class…come-on-man!
PB) What advice would you give to parents who think racing motorcycles is dangerous?
RW) Racing motorcycles is dangerous but life is dangerous. I was working on a 15-foot scaffold the other day with a pipe wrench over my head, that thing could have slipped off at any time and sent me to the floor. The problem comes from not getting the proper coaching in the beginning. You need to get the basic riding skills down first before you try to increase your speed. Said another way, ride with style first before speed. I’ve been doing this for 30+ years but when I watch my kid ride my heart is in my throat! I think if it wasn’t you wouldn’t be a parent. Kids are going to get hurt whether it’s on the soccer field or a motocross track.
The whole motorcycle thing is a life lesson, you have to learn how to take care of it, fix it, have respect for it…if not it’s going to teach you respect very quickly (laughs).
PB) Last question; If you had to change anything about your riding or racing career, what would it be?
RW) (Laughing) I wouldn’t have bought that 1991 YZ-250 I would have bought the 1991 CR-250! I don’t think I would have changed anything, its been great really, and it all got me to this point, I’m very happy and thankful right now.