GNCC Racing

Tuesday Toolbox: Charkie Huegel

Tuesday, January 13, 2009 | 4:45 PM
GNCC bike racer Charkie Huegel has an interesting story to tell. After a few years racing the B and A classes in our series, he decided to take a year off and move to Sweden with his girlfriend. But Charkie couldn't shake the racing bug, of course, so he bought a bike and found some GNCC-type off-road races to compete in while living abroad. How did it go? Well, Charkie has moved back to the U.S. so he can focus on GNCC Racing again in 2009.

So Charkie, when did you start riding?
I was 4 years old, so that's 15 years ago.  My family was into it and my dad rode and I wanted to be like him. My dad raced GNCC back in the 80's. I got my first bike because for my birthday my grandma gave me her old car, but I was only four years old, so I didn't need a car. So we put it up for sale and I bought myself a bike!

So what did you end up getting?


What classes did you race in in the GNCCs?
I started in the B class and worked my way up from there. This year I'll race in the A class again.

What kind of results did you get?
In 2008 I did the first four rounds, but I didn't do very good, but then I moved to Sweden, so I didn't finish the series. But in 2007, I took second in open A class and overall I was number 35 for the year.

So why the move to Sweden? That's a pretty big jump.

My girlfriend is Swedish, so I worked for her dad and took my bike for a while. I was there for 8 months.
All I can say it, for work, I basically drove a lawnmower.

Where were you exactly in Sweden?
I was in the Southwest part of  Sweden in Helsingborg, Sweden.

What was the culture like there?

I thought it would be more different than it is. It's quite similar to the United States. Everyone travels a lot more, but they'll go on a couple of big vacations a year to Turkey or Spain. They vacation a lot more. The food there is really good.  Swedish meatballs!  I don't know why, but the food is really good there. Probably because they're a lot more strict on preservatives over there.

What was the racing like over there? Did you like it better or not as much?
I did two of the biggest races in Sweden, one is like the largest enduro race in the world. I didn't do very good. I had some problems and crashed out.  It was fun while it lasted. They are like GNCC races and the others are like Enduro style races. Enduro races you race against the clock so it's a little different. The two big ones were the GNCC style ones.  I did a race in Denmark and did some other things. It was cool just to see the culture and talk to everyone. Everyone spoke English so there was no language barrier.

How often did you get race in Sweden?
I raced one time a month. There weren't so many races. In the U.S. you can go to a race every weekend and it's hard to choose which one. There weren't as many races and not as many places to ride.

Since you were working, were you able to practice as much as you did in the U.S.?

It was really cool in the Summer. Sweden is so far north that it wouldn't get dark until 11:30 p.m.  There was one week I could ride after work. In the winter it was dark and rainy and the tracks were all closed.  It's definitely why I decided to come to North Carolina.

How would you compare racing there to racing here?
It's a lot more difficult to go to a race there. You have to have a special license. There's a lot of stuff you have to do before you race. It's definitely more convenient to race in the U.S., and the courses are better.  There's more support here from factories and sponsors.

Did you sponsors in Sweden?
I didn't really have sponsors there. I had a lot of people help me out. They were happy to have an American race. I didn't really have any official sponsors. But one guy in Denmark helped me out a lot. I had to get a Danish license and use it at the Swedish races because I couldn't get a Swedish license.  He lived in Denmark and got a Danish license through his club for me. It was just a pain in the butt.

Do you have any plans to go back?
I definitely want to go back to visit. I'm originally from Pa., but I just moved to N.C. this week actually. I want to get settled here and do some U.S. races. I wouldn't mind to go back, but I like the racing a lot better here. My girlfriend's going to come over in the Spring. She's in Thailand right now.

Where are you now in North Carolina?
I'm in Greensboro. I wanted to move here because it's a better climate and I can ride year-round. There's less traveling too. I'm closer to tracks. There's two GNCCs about an hour from where I am now.

What are your plans for 2009?
I don't have any sponsors. I'm just going to go ride and have fun. Probably be in the Open A class. I'm just excited to be back and see all my friends at the races that I haven't seen for a whole year.

What are you riding this year?
I don't even know what I'm riding. I work at SRS Motorsports in Greensboro so pretty soon I'm going to get a 2009 KX450.  That's my plan. A couple more paychecks maybe. Â  I just moved into an apartment and I just moved my bike into the kitchen. It fits pretty well. It can't get in the way. I'm at Target right now getting stuff for my apartment. I'm looking for a broom.

Anything else you'd like to say?
I want to say Thanks to my family and everyone in Sweden that helped me.

Okay well good luck, Charkie.
Thanks, you too.