Ah yes, the age old debate; Moto VS Off-Road. It’s fun to debate, sure. The reality is, it’s apples and oranges. Or is it?
It’s becoming more and more common over the last several years that off-road riders are training moto to help them *gasp* with their off-road racing. Add to that the success Aaron Plessinger has had in Supercross and Pro Motocross after being a “woods kid” and just like that we realize our worlds aren’t too far apart.
Thor Powell understands this concept. Over the last couple years he’s enjoyed success at both levels of the sport. In fact, I’d say that “surfer kid” has turned out to be a stand-out talent among his peers. Is he a “woods kid” or a “moto kid?” If you were to ask Thor Powell, his answer would be, “Why not both?”
GNCCRacing.com: Thor, thanks for joining me today. You’ve been a busy dude since we wrapped up the 2021 GNCC season. How are things going?
Thor Powell: Pretty good! Coming off a week down in Florida for Mini O’s. Ready for the GNCC Awards Banquet.
You had some major success at Mini O’s. I want to get to that in a moment but to get us started lets go back to the beginning. What got you into riding and eventually racing GNCC?
Back home in Hawaii my dad rode and his dad rode. Before I was born for about five or six years my dad did something called Sufercross with Fox. That’s how we got in with Fox Racing Gear. They told us, if we could make it into Loretta Lynn’s they could help us gets sponsorships. We did it, we won my first ever regional. We had people telling us we had to head to Hurricane Mills in Tennessee four weeks later and we had no clue where that was. This was in 2012 I believe. So I’ve been racing for 10 years now. We’ve been over here on the main land for the last five years. Coming up on six.
I gotta think you were just a little dude 10 years ago at Loretta’s?
Yup! I was on a PW50 and loved it. I’ve loved it ever since.
You started out heavy in moto, what lead you to racing a GNCC?
In 2020 I raced a couple. I hadn’t really done any woods racing outside of a few in Hawaii. My first one was in Georgia at Aonia Pass. I had a lot of fun, but I hit a ton of trees. I came off the track super sore and didn’t really want to do another despite having some fun. Somehow, I got talked into going to Ironman. I was in the third or fourth row and ended up winning it. After that I thought it was something I really wanted to do.
Fast forward to 2021 and you ran the YXC1 – Supermini Sr. class. You had some major success this past year.
Yes sir! Loved it! For what I thought going into the season, which was a top five, I’m happy. Halfway through the season I started shooting for top threes. I ended up the season, I believe tied for third in points on the year. I thought if I could do well in GNCC and then wrap up the year at Mini O’s and do well there then I’d owe some of that success to racing woods.
Talk a little bit about training. How does racing woods help you in moto? At the same time, how does training moto help you in the woods?
GNCC helped me a lot with motocross. Going out and doing a 20 minute moto doesn’t wear me out. Thanks to running GNCC my endurance is better than ever. I can come off the track after a moto and sure I’m sweating but I can breath normal and carry on a conversation like it’s nothing. As far as moto helping me with my GNCC racing, it’s about speed. When the time comes where I need to lay down a fast lap to push up a position or two, or battle for a win, I know I can push myself and the bike forward.
Coming from a moto background, what was the adjustment like racing woods the first few times?
Oh, I would go all out from the start and I’d tire out too quick. I would sprint and be up in second and by the next lap I’m back in 10th. I had to learn how to pace myself.
Safe to say you’ll be back for 2022 thought, right?
Oh yeah, I’ll be there in the YXC1 battling for the championship. Hoping to be on the 125 for moto. There are a couple guys moving up from the YXC1. I know Nic and I are good friends and I think we’ll be the heavy hitters for the overall. Looking forward to battling.
Let’s talk school. You’re enrolled in On Track School. You’re a bit of an ambassador for the school. How’s that going for you?
It’s been amazing and I’m loving it. It’s been a great year and I’ve got some great teachers. Andrea Leib is the best Principal you could ask for. When you need help you can text her or call her and she’s there to help.
They hosted the On Track Disco in the Dark at Mini O’s and I believe you walked away with the Disco in the Dark Prince honors, correct?
That was so much fun! For us home school kids, we don’t really get to do anything like that. It was special to all of us. Casey Cochran won the King honors and I took the Prince honors. It was such a blast. Kenlee took the princess honors.
Okay serious question, Kenlee your girl or just the date for the night?
Oh that’s my girl!
I met my wife at 15, just saying man…
Yeah don’t rush, wait until you’re like 30. Maybe 40. Let’s back up to moving to the main land from Hawaii. You were pretty young when you moved but I still have to think that was a major adjustment for you.
Yeah, it was weird, that’s for sure. Making the move was the plan for my future. It’s helps me to become who I am today. It’s difficult sometimes, to see my friends back home in Hawaii on social media. Sometimes I wish I could be there with them. It’s not exactly a short flight to get there.
Talk about the relationship with your dad. He seems to be very involved in your life and in racing. Personally I can say he’s one of the nicest and down to earth people I’ve met in racing.
It’s been me and him since I was six months old. He built surf boards in Hawaii and he’s always working to provide for me and I’m sure he always will.
Mini O’s this past week. You were a contender, no doubt about it. How did you end up on the week?
A 2 in Mini Sr. 1 Supercross, a 2 in Mini Sr. 1 Motocross, and a 42nd in the other class because I got carted off.
That’s pretty impressive! Where are you getting in your training?
I’ve mainly been training moto. I try to get up to the Shoals MX and ride some woods. That’s really the only place I’m able to train in the woods. It’s not the easiest place to get for us but I try to get there every few weeks.
Alright, I don’t want your head to swell too big. But, it’s hard not to make a comparison between you and Aaron Plessinger when we talk about success in GNCC and moto. I know it’s early and you’re young. I gotta think he’s a guy you look up to when it comes to racing.
Without a doubt! I love AP! I’ve always looked up to him. I love his style, the mullet, his love for America, everything about him. Honestly when I started GNCC I texted him and we talked, and he gave me some tips. I love the guy and always will.
Thor, congratulation on a success 2021. I’m looking forward to seeing what you do in the future. Who would you like to thank?
Thanks, I can’t wait. I’d like to thank Monster, Fox, MAXXIS, GPF, HB Moto Co, Lynn’s, FC Suspension, EVS, WW Moto X, Wiseco, Twin Air, Guts Racing, Phil Overlond and The Bottleneck Live Show.