Ohio Trike Crew's Tim Stefanko Sr.
The Rebirth of 3 Wheeler Racing Goes Viral
April 19, 2013
Tim Stefanko, Jr. – Summit Co. Fair – August 2, 1998 – The journey begins!A little boy, a few days shy of his 4th birthday, eager to race his YT60 Tri-Zinger at Summit Co. Fair on August 2, 1998 marks the beginning of the journey that would later resurrect 3 wheeler racing in the Ohio mainstream and eventually take it national at the 2012 Pine Lake EDT National, where Ohio 3 wheeler racing began in the 1970s.
After racing the Summit County Fair, Tim Stefanko, Jr. would end up instantly addicted to the three-wheeled version of ATV racing. A few days later he insist that his father Tim Sr also race his Tri-Z in the Medina County Fair. This would also mark the beginning of a very long relationship with Faircross race promoter Wayne Phillips and CRA (Competition Riders of America) liaison Peggy Ademic.
“We had to race in quad classes then,” says Tim Sr. “It was rare that another 3 wheeler would show up.” Once bitten by the MX bug, Tim and his son sought out other tracks that would let them run. Enter Wayne County Speedway, in Orrville, OH, also run by Wayne Phillips, and an outlaw track called Smith Road Raceway, run by local vintage MX legend George Singler. This is where Tim met Brian Chilenski who continues to race with OTC to this day.
In the early 2000’s Tim was racing both trike and quad in both motocross and harescrambles while unsuccessfully attempting to recruit more 3 wheeler racers from the 3 wheeler internet forums. Tim recalls, “I had almost given up on trike racing, as trikes had lost their competitiveness with the newer quads until I noticed that spectators paid little attention when I raced my TRX250R well, but were enthusiastically supportive when I raced the Tri-Z for a last place finish.” He adds, “This was the turning point for me when I decided as a +40 year old, I’d rather perform for the spectators on my Tri-Z than be a serious quad class competitor on my TRX250R. Because I never stopped racing my Tri-Z, the doors never closed for 3 wheelers at all the venues I raced, but I still could not manage to drag anyone out there on a trike to race with me for some years later.”
Tim Stefanko SrTim was very active on a 3 wheeler internet forum begging for fellow trike riders to join in and race the “vintage” ATVs of yesterday, but remained unsuccessful in getting very many riders to actually do it. In 2004, as Robert “Howdy” Shively began to plan annual gatherings for members of this internet forum, Tim organized and setup the first all 3 wheeler motocross races the country had seen since the 80's. In this informal environment he was finally able to introduce reality motocross to the internet “armchair racers”, and solicit participation by a great number of people, almost all of whom had never seen it before, let alone participated in it. He continued to organized three wheeler motocross racing at this event until after 2007. “We had to withdraw our support as an organization, as the annual event had evolved into something that we felt may be damaging to our family friendly image that Ohio race promoters expected of us,” recalls Stefanko.
The success of these races were enough to motivate Derrick Adams of Bucyrus, Ohio and his nephew Brandon Robinson to start twisting arms and rounding up some local riders from their area to join efforts to get trike racing off the ground in Ohio. On January 1, 2005 they all got together for a group ride in Wellsville, OH, which turned into a long term partnership. In April of 2005, they got together for a team harescramble in the snow at Sunset Ramblers Motorcycle Club in Galion, OH, who turned out to be quite gracious in welcoming 3 wheeler racers to their events. Later in the summer 2005 a 7-man group of trike racers were given their own motocross class at Sunset. Derrick was instrumental in getting out the trikers from his area, and getting them to participate, often even loaning machines out for others to race. By Labor Day, Derrick and Brandon brought another rider with them to Smith Road Raceway in Medina, OH to join Brian Chilenski and Tim for their first 3 Wheeler Class there since one isolated occasion in 1999. By 2006 the small group had enough racers attending to actually hold two different trike classes. “Derrick raced with us for several years until he eventually got serious in quad racing nationals. He still gets a hold of a trike and runs with us on rare occasions, and often refers new trike racers to us, and still takes an active interest in OTC Racing. He is truly a co-founder,” explains Stefanko.