Andrew Short interview – from supercross to Dakar!
Tom Jacobs caught up with American Andrew Short to discuss his unique venture into the rally world after coming from the US supercross and motocross scene.
On loving motorcycyles
Riding the motorcycle is my life, it’s a big passion, it’s what I’ve done since I was a little kid. The reason why is when when you are on the motorcycle everything else disappears except what’s in front of you. You’re in the zone and only focused on what’s coming at you, it’s really nice feeling, you could be worried about something or have an argument and hop on the motorcycle and you forget about life.
That feeling, you can get that skiing or playing soccer, that feeling, it’s something special I think and if you can combine that with your passion, you are really lucky. I think about it all the time, I’m blessed to wake up in the morning and think about racing and how to get better.
Adjusting to off-road riding
With motocross and supercross the risk is much different. Also in supercross you have a lot of risk because of the other riders – you are racing so close. But that is half the fun also. With rally it was why I didn’t do so good at first. I knew how to ride fast but I didn’t know how to manage the risk, when to push and when to go easy and navigate. Sometimes I would push when it gets real technical and the navigation would get tough and I would either crash big time or get lost!
It took a long time to understand this and I am still learning but it is also why I love rally, you can’t be just fast, you have to be smart and intelligent. It’s a big adventure, I raced motocross and supercross for 17 years and it was very one dimensional, always the same and sometimes you have to feed the brain something new. Rally was something new but still two wheels.
I wish I would have done it sooner just because to read the terrain in the desert is a unique skill that takes a long time. In saying that my first passion was motocross and supercross and I would have regrets if I stopped sooner but in the end I was finished with that, burnt out. To do rally I’m lucky to have a whole new career, usually motocross guys do off-road or Enduro.
Last year at Dakar was the tipping point. If I didn’t do good I would have stopped, it wasn’t a number, it was just to be competitive and be in the race. If I was competitive I would continue, I’m happy it worked.
For me I thought I would catch on much sooner. I competed at a high level in another sport, I knew I had the skills, I thought for sure I would learn quick, maybe one year at the most. Foolishly I underestimated it, it humbled me quite a bit but that’s what made it really special and now that I’ve had some success, it validates it.
It sounded fun, it was more a hobby at first. I loved the adventure, I loved riding and I just got hooked. To do it professionally didn’t seem possible but one thing led to another and before I knew it I was racing it. Logistically wise there is a lot of thinking and preparation and the teams that do it the best are successful. Going from place to place that’s what makes it challenging and fun.
The whole community, if I crash, the person behind me is the one that picks me up, it doesn’t matter what brand they are on. The next day I might be the one behind the person who crashes and I wait there until the helicopter comes to get them. With motocross and supercross yu don’t have that same community aspect, it’s much more cut-throat.
On the rally world championship
It’s five rounds, but they are really long. Silkway this year was 12 days and 8000 km, this year it’s Russia, Kazakhstan, China, that’s a big distance, that’s three weeks away from home. It’s quite expensive and it’s taxing on the body and everything else.
Dakar is the toughest, for the length the intensity, the pressure, mentally you are really tired, it’s like nothing else, that’s why it’s a crazy race and so famous. If you can finish it’s something special, it’s a good life experience, something that you will never forget.
The first time I rode two days with a broken leg, one day I was on the bike for 14 hours with a broken ankle, I broke it at sunrise, to go all day through all this stuff, I will never forget that. It meant so much to get to the finish line. Stuff like this makes you proud, you don’t have any regrets, it’s tough, you can’t explain it to other people. You ride all day, you see so much stuff, cultures, it’s hard to explain to people who haven’t done it.
If you have the opportunity you need to do it.
Being an American in Rally
In America Dakar and rally is not that big. I think I have brought a lot of awareness, it’s like the Tour de France, nobody knew or cared before Lance Armstrong. If American’s know and understood about Dakar they would love it, hopefully it grows and gets bigger. I don’t feel any pressure from home because no one has done it before.
The biggest influence on your life
Not one person, just the community in general. I like being around people that want to be the best and live at a high level. That’s in racing obviously because I have a big passion for it but also everything in life. If their family or work is their priority and they give it their best, I like to be around people like that. It’s really frustrating for me to being around people who just go through life. Kurt Caselli, that is the guy who introduced me to rally, he lived life full gas, full of passion there have been motocross riders who are the same.
People in my family that I grew up with hat have a passion but in a different walk of life, I like to be around people like that. There’s not one person that has changed my life or is my hero but there have been many people that have impacted my life.