- Career: 2003-Present
- DOB: 02/13/1984
- Height: 5' 11"
- Weight: 165 lbs.
- Birthplace: Columbus, OH, United States
- Residence: Blissfield, OH/ Hunstsville, NC
- Team: Privateer
- Team Manager: N/A
- Mechanic: Alex Ewing
#Gavin GracykGavin Gracyk's Website
He made the jump to the pro ranks in 2003, when he rode as a privateer. Bridging the sometimes insurmountable gap between the amateur ranks and racing professional motocross is hard enough for most young racers to do. For Gavin, it became even harder when his father was diagnosed with ALS - more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. ALS is a nerve disease that causes a loss of muscle control and, for his father, it meant that he’d be attending fewer and fewer of his son’s races. Gavin ended the 2004 AMA Motocross series in 41st place in the 125 class before packing his bags and heading to Canada.
Canada turned out to be a good place for Gavin to sharpen his skills and remember what it was like to run at the front of the field. He was racing the big 450 for the first time in his professional career and started to hit his stride up north. Gavin’s time with the Suzuki team in Canada yielded some great finishes and earned him the runner-up position in the CMRC championship. The 2006 season was set to be another great season in Canada until Gavin injured his shoulder in the middle of the season and was forced to sit on the sidelines for the remainder of the year.
Tragedy struck Gavin that fall when his girlfriend of three years, and fiancé, rapidly became ill. She was suffering uncontrollable fevers that ultimately required series medical attention. She started going into moderate kidney failure and passed away on October 13, 2006. Sadly, Gavin had lost the love of his life, Nikkalee Boatman, without ever getting to say goodbye. Doctors struggled to find answers as to why she suffered this massive kidney failure but were unable to give Gavin the answers that he was looking for. Gavin didn’t get on a bike again until the end of March the next year.
Gavin came into the 2007 AMA Motocross series as a bit of a question mark. After such a devastating loss, nobody really knew what he’d been up to or how long he’d been on a bike. He showed up at Hangtown for the first round of the series as a full-fledged privateer with just his mechanic Dave Derosier at his side. After two rounds of racing, and an 11th-place finish under his belt, he was starting to turn heads quickly. The sudden success of a privateer didn’t go without some speculation, though. Rumors started circulating the pits that several people were questioning whether or not Gavin was running legal motors in his bikes. Beating factory bikes to the first turn with privateer equipment sometimes doesn’t sit well, but that’s exactly what Gavin was doing throughout the summer. To stem the gossip about him running a big bore, he put up $5000 to anyone who could prove that he was cheating. The money was something that Gavin didn’t have, and most of the critics knew this, so the talk about tearing his engine down went from a serious issue to one of the jokes of the summer.
With the support of his family, his father still able to help him while he was at home, and some great sponsors, Gavin quickly became the Cinderella story of the 2007 AMA/Toyota Motocross Series. He posted six top-tens, finishing an amazing ninth place on the season, and earned the Top Privateer Award - all while coming back from injuries and coping with the loss of his fiancé and the sickness of his father.
Not having a full season of supercross on his resume was something that would definitely hurt Gavin when trying to secure himself a ride for the 2008 season. When the announcement was made that he’d been signed to the Red Bull Racing/Troy Lee Designs team for the West Supercross Lites series, the internet message boards lit up. He hadn’t been on a Lites bike since 2004 and had made a name for himself aboard a 450. How would he fare aboard a 250F in his first full season of supercross? That was the big question on many people’s minds. For Gavin, though, it was a blessing in disguise. The Lites ride was a chance for him to get his feet wet in supercross and to learn how to race in the stadiums. Later, he could move up to race the bigger, more familiar bike against the best in the world. He showed that he could race supercross with four top-tens and a 12th place series finish in the Monster Energy Supercross west coast series.
Sadly, his father wasn't there to see him following the dream that the two of them had chased since the beginning. Gary Gracyk lost his battle with ALS on January 8, 2008. Gavin raced the Phoenix supercross four days later, despite the loss of his father, because he said that’s what his dad would have wanted him to do. In addition to the loss of his father, Gavin’s longtime friend and mechanic, Dave Derosier, was hit by a car three weeks later and slipped into a coma. He continues to improve and more recently has been able to speak with Gavin over the phone, but his recovery will be long and difficult.
In the middle of the 2008 supercross series, great news came: Gavin had been signed to the Joe Gibbs Motocross team for the outdoor nationals. He’d been through so much, and few would be able to name a rider more deserving than he for a factory ride. Unfortunately, in his last supercross race with the Troy Lee team, he suffered a minor injury that would keep him out of the opening round of the outdoors at Glen Helen. Throughout the rest of the Nationals, Gracyk struggled with injuries and never was able to ride to his potential.
Born and raised in Blissfield, Ohio, Gavin learned to ride alongside his father Gary. Throughout his childhood, he and his father traveled to the races in their van pulling a trailer with just enough water and supplies to get through the race. It wasn’t the easiest way to go racing, but for the Gracyk’s, it was the only way. Gavin raced through the amateur ranks as a Kawasaki Team Green stand-out, winning four Loretta Lynn's titles along the way. There were times when he was more interested in school and friends than in racing, but his dad was always there encouraging him to ride and race. Being a racer himself, Gary truly loved motocross and instilled that love upon his son.
Through personal tragedy and injuries that could end a career, Gavin Gracyk has persevered to rise to the top of professional motocross. He’s ridden a roller coaster of emotions throughout his life, each time rising to new heights in the wake of despair. The one thing that had remained constant for Gavin, though, was the love and support of his father. Justin Fisk
Contributors: Alissa Gilligan , Bad Billy