Moto VS Off-road. A constant debate between motorcycle racing enthusiast. Which one is better? The better question would be, why not both?
This week’s Tuesday Toolbox features a young man who’s tried his hand at both. And after trying out the world of GNCC racing, he’s hooked! And after a season of ups and down, he’s still got his eyes set on winning a national champion and moving up to the B class in 2022.
GNCCRacing.com: Kolbe, thanks for speaking with me today. To get us started, tell us a little bit about you. What got you started riding and eventually running GNCC?
Kolbe Kimbrew: Thanks for having me! I started racing dirt bikes back in 2017. Growing up we actually raced cars at the dirt track. Racing bikes was something my brother ventured into doing. In fact, my mom didn’t really want us racing dirt bikes at all. As soon as we bought them, mom told us it wasn’t happening because it was too dangerous. My brother ended up doing a moto race down in Florida at Pyramid Valley, which is closed now. But I brought that to mom’s attention, I said, hey, if you let him race, why can’t? So I cornered mom on that one and the rest is history.
In 2017 did you jump right into GNCC or did you start at the local level.
We started running the local mountain series here. My first off-road race, I hated it. I thought to myself why on earth would anyone put themselves and their bike through this for two hours. Eventually I had enough and returned to moto. In 2018 and 2019 I worked to try qualifying for Loretta’s. Last year we dabbled in the nationals at the end of the season. Then I bought a new bike and thought it’d be cool to go out and run another GNCC. So I ran Big Buck and finished 7th. I really enjoyed myself and wanted to head down to Florida, but dad said no, because the goal was Loretta’s and not running all the GNCC’s. Fair enough point, but then we ended up going to Georgia for round three of GNCC and I won that round. After getting the taste of winning my class we decided to run the rest of the season.
You’re currently sitting 2nd in the 250 C College class with one win and a few top three finishes, how do you feel your season is going?
I came into this season with little expectations. Then when I won in Georgia, I thought I could clinch a points championship we sat down and decided how we’d like to approach this season. It’s had some ups and down. Fighting a shoulder injury right now and the competition is tough. But I’ve loved racing in all the different locations.
School? Work? How do you support yourself going to the races?
At the start of the year I was in car sales. I made good money doing that, but the work schedule isn’t exactly friendly to a guy trying to travel and race on the weekends. My parents help me out getting to the races as far as travel and food expenses. We’ve got a pretty small program so any little help is awesome. Outside of that I’m pretty self-sufficient. I’m currently detailing cars with another racer right now, so that helps quite a bit. I’m also in school for business management and my real estate license. So eventually I’ll be able to make money and go racing when I want.
What does practice look like for you? How do you make sure you’re getting in plenty of seat time?
Luckily my boss rides too, so he’s understanding and knows what it takes to compete at the national level. He gives me the time off to make the races and to make sure I’m getting some seat time in during the week. It also gives me enough time to make sure the bike is prepped and ready. As far as school goes, COVID forced us to do pretty much everything online. So most of my assignments have a due-date and as long as I’m getting things done on time, I’m able to keep up with school, no problem.
Everyone has their crew they run around with at the races, what’s that look like for you?
At first it was just my dad and me. Recently I’ve been going with a few of my boys. Ran my pit with my dad the first couple rounds but met some local guys that race and that’s been a big help. We’ve got a good crew of 6-8 people helping out. You know if something goes wrong, I can step off the bike and they’re immediately on it. Without those people I wouldn’t be where I’m at right now.
What about bike prep, you handle everything yourself?
Such a major part of being successful in off-road racing. I am doing all my own bike-prep. Keeping everything in top running shape has allowed me to avoid any DNFs due to mechanical errors this year. I usually take the day prior to leaving for a race to double-check everything.
What are your goals with GNCC moving into the future?
At first it was me wanting to do some cross-training to prep me for moto. But now that I know I can be competitive I want to win a championship and see where it goes from there. I’m way too competitive to just show up and be content with a 7th place. I want to win.
Favorite memory running GNCC?
Has to be when I showed up to the High Voltage GNCC for my first ever national race. I had no clue what to expect from the racing side of things. We pulled into the track at 9:30 for the AM race scheduled at 10:00. I was putting my gear on in the truck as we were pulling. It was just such a learning experience. I had no idea what to expect and didn’t have time to get nervous. And obviously taking the win down in Georgia was an amazing experience.
Does that make Georgia your favorite track?
It’s up there, for sure. Probably my favorite because it really fits my riding style. That or Ironman in Indiana. It’s such a fast track. For me, it’s like moto in the woods. Finding doubles in the woods and banging the ruts in the field sections. Love every second of it and can’t wait to get there for Ironman this year.
More personal life, you recently got engaged right? Who’s the girl and when’s the big day?
Yeah! Her name is Caitlin Doyle. We are actually high school sweethearts. We dated for a week in sixth grade and she dumped me. Broke my heart. We eventually got back together in high school and we’ve been together since my junior year of high school. It’s been a roller coaster from there. She understands the sport is expensive but she’s supportive. She’s always in my corner, whether it’s telling my I’m spending too much money or letting me know I did well even if I’m running in the back of the pack.
Safe to say you’ll keep racing after getting hitched?
Oh without a doubt. We covered that topic well before the engagement. Priorities!
Who would you like to thank?
RG Motorsports, Hoosier Tire, Alpinestars, Ryno Power, Bear Paws, DTA Sports Apparel, Joshua Carnes, Jake Allison, Eric Debadts, Family Fishing and Camping, SilverStone Racing, SlaterSkins, Factory Connection, 100%, Quicksplit Detailing, my trainers Jedd Guthrie and Roman Brown, mom, dad, and Zak, Donny Hawkins, John Hawkins, Wayne Dickey, and anyone else who supports my program. Couldn’t do what I love without these guys. Looking forward to stepping up to B class next season!