Respect For Racers


I have participated in a few types of motorsports in my life, Dirtbike Hare Scrambles, Dirt track circle track car racing, autocross, drag racing.
It is easy to watch and criticize the racers thinking “I could do better.”
This is especially true when someone is spinning out, causing wrecks etc.
Racing has been a humbling experience for me.
It’s easy sitting in the stands critiquing someone, it’s a lot tougher stepping up to the line.
Have you taken the challenge? Have you done any racing?

The Scramble!

hare scramble Sept. 15 2013 new hartford

hare scramble Sept. 15 2013 New Hartford (this was last year’s hare scramble)

I participated in my 2nd Hare Scramble on 9-7-2014 in New Hartford, IA. For those of you who don’t know, a Hare Scramble is a dirtbike race that goes through woods, over beaches, over obstacles etc. It is a 2 hour long race, for the class I ran. They are a ton of fun. Unfortunately I jumped in way over my head! There are multiple classes for Hare Scrambles, AA (really really really fast), A (really really fast), B (still pretty fast), C (novice), the main classes are for riders 30 and under. There are also all the same classes with vet and Sr. on the end of the name, these are for older riders. I have a good number of friends who ride and we all rode this same race last year (it’s 10 miles from our city.) We all rode C class which is a 1.5 hr race. I finished about middle of the pack and was pretty satisfied with that. It was my first race on a dirtbike ever. The C class also rides by itself so you aren’t getting passed by faster riders to often. The AA, A, A Vet, A Sr, B, B Vet, B Sr all ride the race together. They start in that order with 1 minute between each class start, to space the groups out some.

This year only one friend rode and he said we should ride B class. Thoughts were

  1. Our friends were riding B class. (I’m not sure how they are doing, never watched).
  2. We’d get more riding time 2 hrs vs. 1.5 in C (for the same entry cost).
  3. We’d get the chance to ride with faster guys and learn from them.

So we started the race. I was immediately behind due to a bad kick start. (You still kick start your bike when the horn goes off, which is cool, vintage LeMans style).

Eventually I was passed by a some of the B Sr. riders and a while later some AA and A riders started to lap me. By the last lap I was wishing the race to be over. I finished 17 of 19 overall, and one of the guys behind me was a friend who had buried his bike in a mud hole so he was laps behind.Here are the results for the Hare Scramble I was in this year.

My brother's race car, before I smashed it....

My brother’s race car, before I smashed it….

Another type of racing I’ve participated in was dirt track car racing. Here is the unfortunate proof of that endeavor. My brother who races pure stock circle track let me race his car one time. I made it through the heat race, in last place, without spinning out, but rather slowly. The next race, the feature, I spun out 2x, while in the back of the pack, and the second time a fellow competitor crashed into me, basically wrecking the car. I’m definitely not upset (although my brother might be) with the other driver. While he could have avoided me, I also could have not been spun out in the track….

I have also drag raced, which seems easy when you look at it, go straight, mash the gas. Not easy once you try to get traction, shifting, etc all right. Check my write up about drag racing for more on that. And the last type of racing I was part of was autocross, again, harder than it looks.

drag racing 2013

drag racing 2013

Now that I’ve put all my embarrassing show of racing on display for the world what is my point in all of this? Like I mentioned at the start, racing is harder than it looks! Every time I race anything I become humbled. I remember that the race is not really against the other competitors but against myself (at least that’s what slow people say). You also usually can gain a lot of camaraderie with fellow riders drivers, at least at the smaller events like I’ve participated in.. Fellow drivers or riders are willing to give you pointers to make you faster and safer.

Overall, it has been great every time I have raced. I have learned a lot and met a lot of great people.
Hopefully you remember how hard racing is next time you are watching it and start to want to criticize the drivers.
Of course when you get to professional drivers, there is a higher expectation, but the difficulty it takes to drive those cars is incredible. Just try driving a slow car or bike and you’ll learn.

The point of this is not to dissuade anyone from participating in racing. Of note is that I’m obviously not an expert. Part of some of my poor finishes have to do with lack of experience. The general thought is that 10,000 hours makes you an expert, if that’s really accurate or not there’s no argument that more time practicing any skill makes you better. And even for dirt bike riding, which I’ve been doing for years, I have done very little riding this year (10 hours about) and very little racing, 2 total, so I am currently considering if putting more time to getting better at hare scrambles is something I want to do or not, I only have 5 years until I’m considered a senior. In the end, you have to do something for your love of it, not for the glory.

You should participate in anything you think you can for the experience. Just make sure you have some idea of what you are getting into. It’s always best to talk to a friend who does it, but if you can’t or don’t know anyone, you can still go. Participate!

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What racing or competition have you taken part in?
Did you do good? Bad?
What are you doing next?

1. My Wheel Life – Intro

Hello world. My name is Axel Hoogland. My passions are speed, design and engineering. I am a gearhead, car guy, engineer, motorcycle rider, dirt bike rider/racer, amateur/aspiring car builder and hopeful entrepreneur. I don’t discriminate against any genre of cars. Classic muscle cars, super cars, trucks, vans, motorcycles, classic hot rods, rat rods, sleepers, odd ball builds, dirtbikes, monster trucks, rally cars, drift cars, if people are passionate about their vehicle I love ém all!

Growing up my father told me that I should shy away from being a mechanic as a full time job. He told me that cars were a good hobby but not a high paying career. There was some truth to that but obviously many people are able to make a career out of working on cars also. That being said, I am very grateful for the direction my father steered me in. I was able to attend a 4 year college and graduate with a mechanical engineering degree. This has allowed me to be exposed to the initial steps of what goes into designing engines and vehicles. I now have a greater appreciation of all the testing and design work that happens before any vehicle is released to market. I also have been fortunate to visit many manufacturers of various components. Heads, blocks, frames, tires, rims, shift knobs, dipstick tubes, they are all made by someone! I have learned that no one (company or individual) builds a car by themselves. Every company has thousands of suppliers for each part of the car.

I was grateful to be exposed to dirt track racing from my father at an early age. His love of racing consumed all his free time that wasn’t spent farming. Also growing up on the farm I was exposed to a lot of broken machinery. I have been fixing things from a young age. As I have grown older I have been able to work on projects that are more interesting, involved and fun oriented than broken farm machinery.

During college I was part of a (FSAE) Formula Society of automotive engineer’s team. This is a great team for young gearheads. The team designs and builds a Formula 1 style (scaled down with a 600cc or less motorcycle engine) race car and compete against many other young hard working college students from around the world.

Since graduating I have had difficulties, at times, finding gearhead activities. This summer I am hoping to take in as many gearhead activities as I can. I have already participated in my first SCCA autocross. That was a great time despite the torrential rain all day. There were about 40 cars there and the people were great fun to talk to. I also took my newest car drag racing this summer. I have been drag racing before but it is always fun, especially with a new car. I will try to share some stories from those adventures in future posts.

I have also found it difficult at times to get friends interested in car related activities. Often people these days are only interested in drinking, watching tv, playing video games or putting all of their pictures of them doing those activities on social media. I don’t want to sound like a troll here. Those are all fine activities and I enjoy them on occasion, but personally I get much more enjoyment from going out and working on a car, going to a car show or better yet driving!

Through My Wheel Life, I want to inspire those of you who have similar interests to get out of your house/apartment/local bar and start participating in the gearhead community.

Hope you enjoy the ride!