Father-son combos keeping flat-track racing alive in North Dakota
GLYNDON, Minn. - The members of M3 racing are taking the father-son relationship and shifting it into high gear. The two racers of North Dakota's only professional flat track motorcycle racing team are both second-generation riders, following in ...
GLYNDON, Minn. - The members of M3 racing are taking the father-son relationship and shifting it into high gear. The two racers of North Dakota's only professional flat track motorcycle racing team are both second-generation riders, following in the tracks their fathers laid in racing careers of their own.
"It is really kind of exciting that he wanted to do this stuff in the first place," Dan K. Jacobson said of his son's interest in flat track racing. "It is even more exciting because he is pretty good at it."
The M3 team took part in the American Motorcycle Association's District 23 races at Buffalo River Race Park on Sunday.
The riders of M3 are still in the early stages of their racing careers, and the sport is not as popular as it was when their fathers were riding.
"Flat track just isn't as big as it used to be, it is really sad," Macintosh McGrew said. "Back in the day, the motorcycle rider was an enthusiast who loved all accepts of motorcycle riding. Today, it seems more like people just ride Motocross or they just go out and ride in the woods."
After moving to North Dakota from Oregon in 2009, Dan M. Jacobson started riding flat track at his father's invitation.
"It took me over three years to get from the back of the pack to the front of the pack, and Dan did it in one year," Dan K. Jacobson said. "When I was twenty, I was doing it all by myself. My dad was busy and I always felt that I was missing something."
The other father-son duo that makes up M3 racing is the team's head mechanic Mark McGrew and his son Macintosh.
"You have to be able to get along with your rider," Mark McGrew said. "That is one thing that me and Mac have always had. If you get a difficult rider, you don't make much progression. It's a whole package."
Mark McGrew started as a mechanic with Honda when he was 19 years old and had a racing career of his own from 1971 to 1978.
Both M3 racers ride modified Honda CRF450R motorcycles.
The majority of the stock Honda is modified to fit the flat track standard and give the riders the necessary boost in performance to be successful.
"These engines - in the modern motocrossers - are basically Z, of a Formula One engine, they are that technical," Mark McGrew said. "The goal is to keep both tires on the ground, turning in the front and traction in the back."
As head mechanic, it is Mark McGrew's job to keep the motorcycles in top form.
"It is a rubix cube of adjustments," he said. "One thing this way, might take you three steps from where you want to be."
Dan K. Jacobson has 40 years of experience in the motorcycle racing community.
"I'm genetically wound up for that," Dan K. Jacobson said. "It has been something that has been important in my life for a long time."
Both racers on the team have the goal of capturing the checkered flag, but still support one another as teammates.
"I root for him and I would expect the same, said Dan M. Jacobson, who took second place in three of four races on Sunday. "If I can get around him and up to the front I'm going to. The competition between me and him is not as sinister as some people would think."
As the racers top out at speeds near 75 mile-per-hour the threat of a crash is always present.
"I'm petrified all the time," Dan K. Jacobson said. "To go fast in racing you need to be smooth and consistent and it makes it look easy but actually, when you are a 16th mile an hour away from disaster, anything can happen."
Macintosh McGrew crashed during the Saturday races as he rubbed tires with a fellow racer.
"I definitely changed my riding style (on Sunday). I got pretty lucky to walk away after the crash," he said.
Macintosh McGrew is just wrapping up his first year as a flat track racer.
"He really took to this, this is where he wants to be as far as competition," Mark McGrew said. "He wasn't a ball and stick guy. He didn't go out for football like his friends did, he rode motorcycles."
The members of M3 racing like to give back and support people who have been affected by brain injuries by inviting them to the racetrack.
"We like to involve, whenever we can, people with traumatic brain injuries," Dan K. Jacobson said. "Their lives have been changed so much with that, and when they can get out and do the simplest little thing ... their lives are enhanced so much."
M3 racing hosted an injured individual at Saturday's races.
"I get goose bumps just talking about it," Dan K. Jacobson said. "It is so cool for them and I wish I could do a lot more of that, it is really a special thing."
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