My engine is built here in Utah, so when I am in California training during the winter months, if anything breaks on my bike I have two choices. I either fix it myself or make the long journey back home to Utah. There is an upside, though, in that I know my bike even more intimately and can fix my issues immediately. —Landen Powell
TOOELE VALLEY — Fueled by individual love and passion, privateers in the motocross world make up for half of the racers that you see week to week. What you don’t see if the hard work and the sacrifices that they make to create an opportunity to make their dream happen.
As the gates get set to drop for the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championships at Miller Motorsports Park this week, Utah native Landen Powell is one of those privateers, making it happen on the track and creating special experiences for military veterans off the track.
“As a privateer, you need to move away from home and move to a track that you can train at year round,” said Powell. “You have to leave family, your closest support system and the normal things that create comforts in your life to pursue the dream, understanding that there are high risks involved.”
For these privateer racers, there is no support from the factory, meaning that they have to purchase, modify and maintain their own individual bikes.
“I am my own mechanic,” Powell said. “My engine is built here in Utah, so when I am in California training during the winter months, if anything breaks on my bike I have two choices. I either fix it myself or make the long journey back home to Utah. There is an upside, though, in that I know my bike even more intimately and can fix my issues immediately. I know what I need to fix, since I am the one on the bike and I can make the bike function how I need it to. I don’t have a riding coach tow work with me. It’s all on me, and there are lessons to be learned in that.”
Without the major sponsorship aid that factory teams enjoy, privateers can be hit or miss when it comes to results, but they always play a factor on race day.
“Privateer racers have a different bond than some of the factory racers,” said Powell. “On any given day at the track, there can be 30 to 40 privateer racers practicing, allowing me to pace of them, and we work together as a team in practice, even though we are individuals on race day. We train together three to four days a week. We encourage each other and support each other, but when the gates drop on race day, we all want to beat each other.”
In his sixth season of racing, Powell enjoys the sponsorship help from Miller Motorsports Park as an athlete and ambassador of the sport.
“Sponsorships as a privateer are tough to come by, so when you are supported by a family and team like Miller Motorsports Park, you cannot be anything but incredibly thankful,” said Powell. “Miller Motorsports Park has allowed me to grow in my career, allowing me to live out a dream of mine. Most importantly, they have provided me a platform to be an ambassador of the sport, teaching and encouraging a new generation of riders the sport I love. Motocross teaches discipline, determination and hard work, lessons I want to pass on to the next generation. While a full-time racing career may be winding down, my racing boots will never be hung up. I want to always be in the industry as an ambassador and teacher of the sport, passing on these life lessons that I have learned to others.”
Beginning in January of 2015, Powell embarked on a new adventure, teaming up with Sportsmen for Warriors to bring military veterans to each race and make them honorary mechanics.
“This started from a conversation my father had with Marcus Luttrell, most notably known as the lone survivor at a convention my father was attending,” said Powell. “My father was introduced to Ben Bateman, founder and CEO of Sportsmen for Warriors, and the idea was hatched to bring along veterans with me on race day. They help me in the pits, aid me on the track and encourage me trackside during the race. The experience has been unbelievable, and I know I have learned far more from them than they have learned from me. Having the veterans from Sportsmen for Warriors with me along my journey through the season brought so many fun memories that I will always be grateful for.”
The Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship Utah National is the second to last race of the season, featuring major implications in the 250X Class points race. Coming into the Utah National, the first and second place riders are only separated by two points.
“Come out and enjoy the races this weekend,” said Powell. “With the intense battle for the 250X class, this race is absolutely critical. Any mistake in either Moto 1 or Moto 2, and the season could be over. In the 450X Class, there is a really great chance that the championship is clinched and you will get to see the trophy presented at the track and that in itself is a unique experience. You will get to see the culmination of a rider’s season pay off. Come celebrate with all of the riders.”
The Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championships take place Aug. 15 at Miller Motorsports Park with Opening Ceremonies beginning at 12:25 p.m. A full list of the schedule and ticket information can be found at millermotorsportspark.com/events/utah-national-pro-motocross.html#!QA1O0003