It’s safe to say Steve Clark’s retirement plans aren’t like most.
The 67-year-old Kingsport resident wants to ride motocross until he’s 70. It’s a passion for Clark, who returned to the sport three years ago after a nearly 45-year hiatus.
Competing in the American Historic Racing Motorcyle Association (AHRMA), he has two second and two third place finishes nationally.
Riding a 1974 Yamaha MX 250 in the 60+ and Open Age Novice classes, Clark tallied more points than anyone else in 2021. However, the championships are based on your best five races – resulting in the two series titles to Pennsylvania pilot Richard Knepp.
Clark, who works in finance in Johnson City, said he’s more competitive now than when he started racing as a Knoxville teenager on the old 411 motocross track.
“I wasn’t as serious as I am now,” he said. “I was 18, fresh out of high school and I know time is more limited now. My kids are grown and although I’m still working, I have more flexibility.
His first race bike was a Suzuki 400, which he describes as an unsafe bike. Despite winning a regional championship at three tracks in Mississippi, Clark said he was never the fastest driver, but the most consistent.
“I would win a few races, but I haven’t destroyed much,” he said. “A big part of my success now is being consistent. I’m rarely the fastest guy in my class. I was able to get around the different tracks and score points.
Still, he made his share of wins and victories at Open Age races in Jefferson, Texas, and Cairo, Georgia, last season. He also swept the 60+ category at events in Pell City, Alabama, and Barber Motorsports Park.
The 250 he rides is similar to the 400 he started with. AHRMA rules prohibit the use of the most modern technology. The series attracts a diverse group of riders from their early 30s to a couple in their 80s.
Clark, who goes to the races with his wife, Brenda, doesn’t see himself running in his 80s. Still, he feels he has a few good years left.
“Most guys quit before they’re 70. Where I started late I was out of it 45, I can last longer where I didn’t take the punishment,” he said. he said, “I’m working now, but I’m not going to work forever.”
He competed in several states, going as far north as New York and Michigan and as far west as Oklahoma and Texas. It carries on a tradition of champion riders in the Tri-Cities area, dating back to brothers Ken and Jim Hayes on the flat tracks to national motocross champions like Mike Brown and Zach Osborne.
“We have the natural terrain here which produces good runners,” he said. “You have more open spaces than in big cities, and a lot of farm owners will let you go out and train during the week. Lots of places where you can’t do that. It’s the laid back attitude of how people love the outdoors here.
For the first time in decades, vintage bikes are coming to Muddy Creek Raceway in June. Clark was present when the Blountville track hosted the Lucas Oil National Championship races. Now he’s ready to put his own wheels there.
“I’m very excited about it because the track is beautiful,” he said. “I’m ready to ride it, to experience what it’s like to be on the track.”
He expects it to be similar to Red Bud in Michigan or Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama, which are well-groomed tracks. He’s not a fan of some other sites, where it’s more about surviving than racing the competition.
“I don’t like it when the mud is so extreme it limits what you can do,” he said. “We were racing in Arkansas and my carburetor got stuck where mud got in. I don’t like it when it’s that bad. I don’t find cross country racing or fun enduros.
“I like to be on a sticky but fast track. Curves and jumps are fine, but I like to use the bike for what it is, instead of battling with the elements.
INDOOR WINTER SERIES
Carson Eads had a dream weekend at Rounds 9 and 10 of the FMF Indoor Motocross Winter Series at the Smoky Mountain Expo Center in White Pine.
The Kingsport teenager competed in six races, 12 motos in total on his Yamaha and won them all in two days. He went 4 for 4 in the tough Class B Unlimited. For the season, he accumulated 12 wins and 15 podiums.
Another Kingsport rider, Cash Taylor, scored five podiums from six races, including a victory in Friday’s 85cc Beginner race. Bluff City’s Anthony Fields picked up two wins and two runners-up.
The series returns to White Pine Friday and Saturday for rounds 11 and 12.