Rider Spotlight: Brad Neitzel
A Story of Determination, Powerlifting, Training and Completing Goals
October 04, 2012
By John Pellan
Brad Neitzel's love for ATV racing, and more specific, competing in the ATV National MX series, is one that proves that having endless funding, backing and sponsorships isn't as critical as many might think.
Brad has been racing ATVs for ten years on and off depending on the funds he and his family can provide. His dad has been disabled since 2001 so his mother's job is the main source of income.
Brad is a senior at the University of Wisconsin- La Crosse double majoring in Exercise Sports Science and Pre-Chiropractic with a Nutrition Minor and a Strength and Conditioning Concentration. He has also started his own training business as an undergraduate for motocross racers. He calls his new business B.O.W. Performance Training. He specializes in per-iodizing training programs individual to each racer. Balancing college, racing, business and his own training is very demanding especially in these tough times.
If you're like me you like the underdog story, especially when he or she is a hard-working, appreciative and innovative person like Brad is.
Brad doesn't have a race trailer, motor home or anything fancy like most, (if not all) of the top contenders at the nationals. For instance he has been known to borrow his uncle's pick-up truck to haul his five-year old TRX450R, which has seen better days with a broken frame, broken sub frame, oil leaks and plenty of duct tape and zip tie fixes.
That's just what he did at the Loretta Lynn's round, where he drove by himself in his uncle's pickup all the way from his home in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin and sleeping in the truck to save money. Making it there with little money to spare, Brad pulled to the line of the final moto of the ultra-competitive B Class where he hoped for just a top-five finish. When the gate dropped your underdog filed into the first turn in second place, later passed for the lead right before the whoops and lead the field to the finish with the moto win and 2nd place overall for the weekend, with his quad racing dream of a Loretta's moto victory complete.
Brad's Loretta Lynn's story reminded me of my own racing career and if you've raced or currently race on a budget it will probably do the same for you. It's a feel good story that helps to remind us all to pursuit our dreams even if it's a long shot and you're an underdog. When I heard Brad's low budget/big determination 700-mile mission accomplished story from the biggest turnout and most prestigious ATV national in the world I had to share it, and chat with the young man about this and his interesting new business...
You've proven that determination can trump lack of funds, and the underdog can indeed prevail. So does lining up to a rider with obvious money help to motivate you?
I think it helps motivate my training more outside of the actual races whether it be in the gym, practice tracks, or outside flipping tires/sleds/sledge hammers for some high intensity cardio endurance. I think about how I have to outwork them because I could never rely on having the best machine or support out there. When I line up to the gates its all about focusing on myself and knowing anyone could win this race. If I started thinking about how the guy next to me has this or that it would psych anyone out and that is not how champions think.
Besides lack of funds what else have you had to endure in your racing career?
Along with the sport comes injuries whether from crashing due to rider error or mechanical error which happened more than ever this year due to parts starting to wear out over the years. This year alone I have had whiplash in my neck, high ankle sprain, two concussions, almost torn MCL, hip contusion, significant bruised lumbar region, severely sprained shoulder from the shaft of my rear shock shearing off at the bottom taking off a jump and the quad landing on top of me. And through all these injuries, I was back the following weekend riding aside from the shoulder injury. Also, I am a bigger racer at 6'-4" and the added body weight that comes with it. I have to ride harder through corners to maintain speed and be faster to clear bigger gaps due the acceleration I lose from being a heavier rider.
What do your friends and family say about your love for ATV racing and your determination to compete at the nationals even if it means competing on a clapped-out quad, going by yourself and sleeping in the truck all weekend?
Of course my mom worries about me, but my family coming from a racing background, are a lot more accepting. With friends, they really never know what it's all about until they see me in action, it seems they never would guess I could be as fast as I am with my appearance. They all know I'm a very passionate person when it comes to setting my mind on something and accomplishing it.
How did you get started in racing and attending the nationals?
My uncle Joe took me to and signed me up for my first race when I was 12 and I just fell in love with the sport. My first national was in 2006 at Reddddd Budddddd! My sponsor Joel Janssen, took me in his personal race trailer and I pitted out of his trailer and stayed with his family at their hotel. I won both of my motos winning the overall in the C class my first time at the nationals!