(A video interview with AMA Privateer Ricardo Valdez)
It's the personification of the American dream. A young boy immigrates from a foreign land, learns the language and culture, works hard, saves his money, buys a motorcycle, goes racing, earns his AMA license, qualifies in the top ten for his first-ever pro race and then wads his program spectacularly in Turn One. Um....
OK, crashing might not be part of the dream but in racing, especially at the level of privateer pro, these things can happen. When you're running a team out of your garage and then facing off with the guys who show up in eighteen-wheelers, you have to let it all hang out if you want to make the show. Sometimes, you try too hard.
Thirty-one year old Ricardo Valdez was born in Maravatío, Mexico. Being raised on a ranch, Ricardo could not have asked for a better childhood. He was constantly surrounded by family, nature and beautiful mountains. Still, Ricardo's father saw better opportunities for his family in America and began working toward the day when they could come here. After years of their dad being away from the family, working first in California and then in Chicago, it was finally possible for then thirteen year old Ricardo, his two younger brothers and his mother to come here as well. The family settled in the suburb of Evergreen Park.
Valdez purchased his first bike, a Yamaha R6, when he was twenty one. Four years later, street riding had lost its appeal for Ricardo, who was looking for a new challenge. In 2005, Valdez rode trackday events and the following year, he began racing with CCS. As an Amateur, he was rarely off the podium and when promoted to expert, his streak of win, place or show continued unabated. In 2011, Valdez competed in the AMA's Grand National Roadracing Championship, held at Putnam Park, Indiana. This event is designed to give up-and-coming young riders a place to showcase their skills, while at the same time allowing experienced club racers who have yet to race as pros a chance to show what they can do. Ricardo scored big there, winning Open Superbike, Middleweight Superbike and Middleweight Supersport. He also finished second in Open Supersport. This overall performance earned him the title of AMA Veteran/Senior Road Race Rider of the Year.
After such a performance, what else can you do besides try to make an AMA grid? Valdez did way better than that, turning the tenth best qualifying time for the Supersport grid this past June at Road America, in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. Unfortunately, his luck did not hold for the race. Pushing hard to stay within sight of the lead pack, Ricardo tucked his front tire in Road A's wicked-fast Turn One and ended his weekend in the gravel trap. In spite of this turn of events, Ricky was his usual charming self when we interviewed him later that day. Click below to watch:
Motorcycling passion knows no boundaries. Whether you watch a MotoGP, WSB or AMA race, there will be riders hailing from all points of the globe. Locally, we've all seen that the great American melting pot is very much in evidence whenever we gather for trackdays and hey, how much fun is that? It's awesome to have friends who were born in other countries, yet share the same love for high performance riding. If nothing else, a collection of accents (and coolers full of beer imported from around the world) give the Saturday Night bench racing an international flavor! Racing is just the same. At any local club event, you'll find a multiethnic cast of characters, battling it out for wooden plaques or plastic cups. East, west, north and south, the trackday and racing events held at America's local racecourses are the breeding ground both for the young guns who will be making next decade's history and the dogged privateers who currently fill out the grid when AMA's big show comes to town. We'll say it again. These riders are your hometown heroes. They deserve your support.
Ricardo Valdez is sponsored by SoutheastSales.com, Trackside Engineering, Dunlop, MG Laser, Penske, Sharkskinz and Panzita De Burra.