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RaceChat: Josh Weisenfels

At the beginning of the 2011 season Josh Weisenfels’ life was at an all-time high, he had just been hired by the FMF/Suzuki Factory Team to complete in the XC2 Class in the GNCCs, had spent a month training with 5-time GNCC Champ Rodney Smith, and was riding better than he ever had. The high came crashing down with a foot and ankle injury that has kept him off a motorcycle for nearly two years. Josh recently was able to start riding and racing again with help from KTM of North Texas and has taken wins in Arkansas and most recently this past weekend at a round of the TORO Series, we caught up with “Seinfeld” to get a progress update on his comeback.

Josh on the line in Arkansas. Photo: Terrie Shaw

Okay, Josh, for people don’t know, where have you been the last two years?
I guess it all started with I got a ride with Suzuki in 2011 and I worked really hard that winter up at Rodney and Lori Smith’s for the 2011 season and about roughly a week before the GNCC opener in Florida I shattered my foot. I went straight to the doctor out there in California and he didn’t think anything was wrong–but I knew it hurt too bad for it to be nothing–so I went back home to Arkansas and got an MRI and it turned out I had 2 dislocations and a break so I got surgery on that. It took a while for they would okay it to ride, but it always hurt–way too much. I talked with the doctor and they ended up having to do another surgery and he ended up fusing my foot and he said it’d be a year before I could do anything, which is where I’m at now. I’ve just been waiting really, it’s been a long time and it’s been really hard.

You were just able to start riding again not too long ago, how does it feel to finally get back on the bike?
It seemed like it took forever for my foot to heal, to go through the surgeries and I was miserable. I was just waiting and waiting. There were certain points where I thought I’d never be able to ride a motorcycle again. So to get on the bike and just ride, I was just ecstatic! Now I’ve been going and trying to race and stuff and I’ve progressed a lot. I have a lot to work on, a lot of fitness–I’m not in riding shape at all. It’s hard going to these races and not being anywhere near where I want to be speedwise. It’s going to take a lot of hard work to get back to where I was. In my mind I can only think about where I was when I was with Suzuki and I’m working to get back there. There’s a few months left until the GNCCs start and I’m just working to get ready for that.

I can honestly say what happened back then was the most disappointing thing I’ve had happen in my life. To get my dream job with Factory Suzuki, to put in every bit of work to go win GNCCs, and not even be able to showcase it–to not even be able to race the bike one time. And for it to turn into maybe I’ll never get to ride again … when you get something like that taken away from you–all the things you’ve taken for granted–and now you get it back … maybe it’s all happening for a reason.

So without much preparation you decided to show up and give the final National Enduro a shot.
My stepdad does that whole series so it was his idea, he was actually going to the race anyway so I just tagged along. My bike sucked a reed, my rear brakes didn’t work and I ran out of gas before the 2nd test on an oversized tank! The trails and stuff were cool but with all the bike problems it wasn’t really a lot of fun. I personally didn’t think I rode good, but it’s a start.

After that, you ended up getting a deal to do the TORO Series. How’d that come about?
Well I actually tried to go race another race after the NEPG but ended up having another bike problem. As soon as I got home I got a text out of the blue from Todd Tarver from KTM of North Texas and it said “I’ve got a KTM 250XC, would you like to try it?” and I was like, “Yeah, I’d absolutely like to try it!” So the next day I drove down to Texas and tried that bike out and I loved it. So I stayed and raced the TORO. I had a lot of fun, the bike was good. I wish I would’ve done better–I wish I would’ve won–I got 3rd place. The bike ran way better than I thought, but it’s just hard to be off the bike for 2 years then come back straight into 2-hour races.

Look for Weisenfels on the line in Florida in the XC2 Class. Photo: Ron May

It had to feel good to have someone reach out to you and give you a bike to ride after being off for so long.
Yeah, I’ve got to thank Todd Tarver his wife Tina, Burt Reynolds–his partner in the shop. Those guys called me out of the blue, they didn’t owe me a thing and they gave me a shot to ride on a new bike. I’m extremely grateful for that opportunity to ride for such a big shop for sure.

So, are you having fun being back on the bike?
Yeah, I’m having the most fun I’ve had in the last two years. I might be having the most fun that I’ve had in the last 10 years. Just having everything taken away from me, and feeling like I took all that for granted, and now I get another shot at it … words can’t explain it.

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