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Local MX pro looks ahead
by Dan McGee - Special to the Tribune
Nov 11, 2013 | 1492 views | 1 1 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune photo by Dan McGee - Tyler Pfeifer stands with his Kawasaki that he'll campaign next season as he intends to compete in national pro races. And if he's able to adjust its suspension, might also race in this week's Arenocross.
Tribune photo by Dan McGee - Tyler Pfeifer stands with his Kawasaki that he'll campaign next season as he intends to compete in national pro races. And if he's able to adjust its suspension, might also race in this week's Arenocross.
Tribune photo my Dan McGee - Pfeifer leads the pack during a start during the October races at Honey Lake MX Park.
Tribune photo my Dan McGee - Pfeifer leads the pack during a start during the October races at Honey Lake MX Park.
Tribune photo by Dan McGee - In addition to his racing, Tyler Pfeifer has a motocross training school in back of his Lemmon Valley home. Here's he's instructing several students on how they can improve their starts.
Tribune photo by Dan McGee - In addition to his racing, Tyler Pfeifer has a motocross training school in back of his Lemmon Valley home. Here's he's instructing several students on how they can improve their starts.
LEMMON VALLEY - Tyler Pfeifer, a local motocross pro, is taking the next step in his career and hopes to move into the Supercross and/or the AMA Outdoor National ranks next year. Like many in the sport, he got an early start to riding motorcycles.

"I was 6 when my dad (Frank Pfeifer) got me a 50cc one day and started teaching me how to ride. Got training wheels and everything," he said. "He was actually an AMA Flat Track rider, that's where I get a lot of my technique from. I was interested in racing but my dad always wanted me to practice, practice and practice."

After practicing until he was 7 years old, Pfeifer competed in his first race at the now defunct track in Carson City.

"I actually did pretty good," he said. "It was a little bit different than what I expected. I expected it to be brutal, like people running others over and stuff so I was really nervous. I was really afraid of getting run over."

While the fear is still a vivid memory, he finished third in that first race.

Over the next couple of years, he progressed from a 50cc to the 65cc class then his desire waned.

"I kind of got burnt out as I did it everyday and I lost my flair I guess you could say for motocross," he said. "For about four or five months I didn't ride at all and took a really long break. Then I went to 80's and that's when I really started getting my groove back."

When it was time to compete in national events he started by riding on amateur day at the Hangtown races. At that time Pfeifer was riding in the 7-11 class and actually competed in his first national event at Mammoth Mountain.

He described that first national as, "Nerve wracking, very nerve wracking."

"I don't think I did that bad for my first national as I made my main event. I was probably 25th or in that area and there are 40 riders on the gate," he said.

When Pfeifer was 13 years old, he got his first 125cc bike and moved into the big bike classes.

"Going from a mini bike to a big bike is a whole different thing. It's so much different, like the wheels as you don't feel a lot of the bumps. More suspension and the wheelbase is bigger so you can't get cross rutted as easily," he said.

Due to his small size it took some adjustment to get used to the increase in power.

"I was getting head shake a lot because of the power on the long straights," he said.

He described headshake as when the bars are going from side to side, kind of like turning left/right but in quick succession because of the bumps. Rather than utilizing a steering damper he prefers to deal with the problems himself.

"I started out in the beginner class and actually won the beginner class. Then I moved up to junior and that was more of a challenge for me," he said. "I remember doing Mammoth in the juniors and it was so nerve wracking because there was like four divisions in my class."

At that time Pfeifer was competing on a 250 two-stroke but now rides a 450F, which is a 4-stroke machine. He made the move to the larger bike while racing in the C class.

At one time he was riding both a 450F four-stroke and 250F two-stroke while racing in the intermediate class.

"There is a big difference because the 250F turns a lot better and I'm more comfortable on it because the weight of the 450F pushes so hard in the corners it's so hard to stop. A 250F you can stop on a time," he said. "But the 450 has so much power and on a track like Mammoth or Hangtown you need that."

Eventually he started looking toward the day he could turn pro.

"Because when I was riding intermediate they just changed the rule that year that you had to be 18 to turn pro," he said. "I wanted to turn pro when I was 16 so as soon as I turned 18 I turned pro, did the Arenacross series and got some points."

Once again he had to adjust from racing as an amateur to competing as a pro.

"The pro class is a big difference from anything else that you can ever think of," he said. "The mentality is a lot different, the way people ride isn't that much different but the mentality is because in the pro class you're racing for money. You're racing for your next paycheck, racing to be able to race again or racing to be able to fix your bike after it breaks.

"In the intermediate class your still racing kind for fun, to get championships. A lot of the intermediate riders are just as fast as the pro riders just that they don't want to take that transition into the pro class yet or they aren't old enough. But the pro class you get shoved around a lot more because people run into you just because you're racing for money."

Another part of the sport is physical conditioning which can be key to a rider's ability to succeed.

"It comes down to a lot of fitness in outdoors and I think it comes down to fitness in Supercross too but outdoors I think it's more fitness than a mental game," he said. "Supercross is just the other way around as I think it's more of a mental game."

He added that since the outdoor tracks are so much wider and longer than Supercross, the racing comes down to speed and horsepower of a rider's bike.

He added the sport is not mentally draining because riders are always thinking of what they can do on the next lap and the track can change dramatically from lap to lap.

While physical training is important, he found conditioning has to be balanced with riding. At one time, working with trainer Travis Hudson he did more gym than track time.

"That was a big mistake I made as I should have been riding as much as I was going to the gym. So my speed wasn't actually there when I hit the pro class but my endurance was," he said. "So I wasn't doing bad at the beginnings of the motos but I would be getting pulled. Then toward the end of the race I'd be catching up and beating guys as they would be falling off.

Helping him train was his uncle and former Super Bike racer Jack Pfeifer and a friend of his, Daytona 200 winner Miguel Duhamel. They both live in Las Vegas and offered Pfeifer a chance to train on the same type of tracks he'd race on.

After doing so much training with other riders he hit upon an idea to start his own motocross training school. He calls it the Dirt Shark Motocross School and uses a track in back of his house.

"I just started out by teaching a couple of kids for free and thought, 'man this is what I actually like to do and I could make a pretty decent living off of it too.' So I thought I might as well as try, give it shot and I got a business license and stuff," he said.

He divides the school into individual training, usually on the weekends, and weekend camps, with between five to 10 students, on the weekends. And he recently bought a water truck to help prepare the track.

However, he won't hold a school on a race weekend. And with winter coming on he'll adjust the schedule, at least for snow.

"If it snows more than an inch then I can't train. If there's a little of snow on the ground I'll go out there an hour or two before the training session I'll go blow it off with my bike," he said. "When it rains that's exactly when you want to come train, nothing gets better than when it rains. With the water truck you can water the track but the rain it waters everything so even if you go off the track you still have traction."

Right now he's looking at the school as a full-time job, something he wants to do as a career.

"I'm expanding, I've got a water truck and my next thing is to get a dozer and a Bobcat so I can actually start building up my track. The kids learn so much from it and every time kids get used to it I can change it up," he said.

Besides the school, he's focused on next season, especially either on AMA Outdoor Motocross series or Supercross. And both of those require a special license earned by running several pro/am events in a year and gaining 75 points or more.

"It's kind of like a driver's license that you can take to Supercross and say, 'I'm qualified to ride this.' So you show them your card, you go to Supercross and then you have to qualify there as well among those riders to see if you make it into the main event," he said.

Right now his efforts have been bogged down by bad luck. At a Utah event his chain broke, going all the way to the East Coast he blew up both of his bikes.

Then over a week ago, at Cycle Park in Arizona he crashed during his second moto. And an earlier plan to race in Canada didn't pan out for him.

Right now he doesn't know about this week's Arenocross. It depends if he can switch his bike's suspension to one more suited for an indoor event.

"If you ride the pro class and don't have the right set up, suspension wise, it's really difficult to do well," he said.

Looking toward the 2014 season he's leaning toward the outdoor season and the Hangtown event in May, which will offer another chance to earn those five points needed for the license he wants.

"I'd like to do Supercross but I'm just not really ready for it yet and it's coming up pretty quick here in January. Supercross is something you really have to prepare for months and months ahead so I'm probably going to have to prepare for Hangtown in 2014," he said.

As to the future he's pretty set on being around the sport, either competing or training, for as long as he can.

"I do plan on doing it for a good amount of time until I get a job offer that would actually help out more. I do see motocross as something I can do my entire life, it's fun and something I enjoy. I rather do something I enjoy rather than something that pays more," he said.

Those wishing more information on Pfeifer's training school, which will soon be able to offer a Supercross style track, should e-mail him at,


• After an absence of 12-years, Arenocross returns to the Livestock Center this coming weekend. Those with youngsters racing in the 50cc or 65cc divisions can still get entry fee discounts at NMS on Rock Blvd through Monday.

On Tuesday evening from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. NMS will host at Fans Night Out with drawings for free tickets as well as a chance to meet Miss Arenocross. Then Little Wall, across from UNR, hosts the next event from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. Wednesday with another chance to win free tickets.

On Friday and Saturday evenings doors open at 6:30 p.m. with racing starting at 8 p.m. on both nights. Supporting the show will be the freestyle jumpers from LivFast, Pee Wee racers, and if enough riders can be found, the popular Police vs Firemen race.

After Saturday's event the pro riders can be met at John Ascuaga's Nugget starting around 11 p.m. Then on Sunday, after the course has been altered for safety, amateur riders will get their turn with an afternoon full of action that ends around 4 p.m.

• Once again Exit 28 will host Saturday and Sunday practice session from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.

• With one more event left in the season, all three major NASCAR series spent the weekend at Phoenix International Speedway. And three Nevada drivers were competing on this fast, one-mile oval.

In Friday evening's Camping World Truck Series event, Brendan Gaughan led a few times and finished third. Then in Saturday's Nationwide race Kyle Busch started on pole and won while Sparks native T.J. Bell ended up 37th.

Both the Busch brothers finished fifth and seventh with older brother Kurt besting Kyle.
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November 19, 2013
Love this article! A story about a local young person trying to help kids beat the struggles he himself experienced is commendable. Best of luck in developing his motorcycle racing camp in to a successful business.
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