Turlocker Brian Alquist lives a life many people would dream of living.
At just 21 years old he is a professional American Motorcyclist Association Arenacross racer. This year he finished ninth in the AMA AMSOIL Lites West series standings, and is well on his way to accomplishing his goal of becoming an Arenacross champion.
Arenacross racing is similar to motocross racing. The main difference is that Arenacross competes on smaller dirt tracks in basketball and hockey arenas, as opposed to motocross and Supercross, which compete on bigger dirt tracks in football stadiums and outdoor venues.
Alquist’s passion for racing was fostered in his youth by his father, Richard Alquist, who along with his mother, Mary, own Alquist Arms in Turlock. His father was a flat track professional dirt bike racer in the 1970s and he supported Brian Alquist’s passion for racing at eight years old and throughout his youth. As a teenager his youthful enthusiasm for racing began to grow into the realistic possibility to become a professional.
“When was 16 I received my driver's license and was able to practice a lot more, which in turn provided better results. My senior year of high school I went on independent study in order to travel and practice and get better while still receiving my high school diploma. So at 17 I knew this was what I was going to do,” said Alquist.
Alquist says his parents have always been there for him, traveling nearly every weekend since he began racing. During the off-season, or when he is injured, Alquist works at Alquist Arms, helping his parents and his older brother Bobby at the store, but he his mind is never far from the racetrack.
In 2010 Alquist officially began racing professionally, competing in several races to gain experience. In 2011 and 2012 he spent much of the season off the track with various injuries including a separated shoulder, broken pelvic bone, cracked hip, a fractured wrist and a severe concussion.
This year Alquist broke through after two frustrating seasons. His determination to compete was evident with his best overall season and his ninth place finish. His best race of the season occurred last month when he finished in second place in Fresnillo, Mexico.
“The second place was an awesome feeling. For the next year I hope to improve that finish. But for myself making it through a season with no major injuries is what matters. It's all about building your base with no injuries. When you're hurt riders are getting better, and when you start riding again you have to start over with fitness and your whole program playing catch-up,” said Alquist.
Next season Alquist will be switching bikes from a Kawasaki KX 250F to a KTM SXF 250. He hopes the strategic move will bring him a step closer to his goal.
“KTM's come really good right off the showroom floor, they come 'race ready.' Only little adjustments have to be made for your liking. They also have the best contingency program out there for the racers,” explained Alquist.
For Alquist racing is an all-encompassing passion. Perhaps no other competitive sport in the world is more physically demanding on the human body than racing. Alquist explained that in sports like soccer or football there are bursts of all-out sprinting with significant periods of downtime in between, however, in Arenacross racing athletes face 15 minutes of all-out sprint on a narrow dirt track with various types of jumps racing against 15 other riders. Riders face hurtling jumps of 30 feet or higher, all at fast speeds with the imminent threat of severe, life-altering injury at any split second.
“I love everything about racing, the training, the fitness and just racing, being out there with 16 racers and competing,” said Alquist. “The only thing I don’t like is the injuries.”
Alquist’s current sponsors include Doreva Produce, TroyLee Designs, Rekluse, Airemx Suspension, Guts Racing, Eks Brand Goggles, Notoil, Hot Cams, Vertex Pistons, Vortex, Works Connection, Yosimura, Evomx and Alquist Arms.
To follow Alquist’s race to the top of the Arenacross standings visit www.arenacross.com. Follow Alquist on Twitter @brianalquist.