As an ATV enthusiast growing up, I remember walking through the pit areas at the Mickey Thompson race series wishing one day that I could be one of those racers. When I walk through the pro pit area of a World Off Road Championship Series (WORCS) race, I still have that bit of envy as I see the factory teams of Can-Am, Yamaha, Kawasaki and Polaris with their professional appearances. These pits are filled with everything a racer can dream of having when they're at the track and more, which is why being on one of these teams is the ultimate dream for many.
In this row of factory pit areas, there is one team that stands out among all of the others. This team doesn't have a huge semi pulling a massive rolling billboard of a trailer, though I'm sure they wouldn't mind it. The Mike Cafro Racing (MCR) Team shows up to the races in a nice motor home pulling a custom-wrapped box trailer, and when all of the awnings are up, their pits look as good as any of the factory teams in attendance. What's different about them, you ask? This is a privateer team started by a passionate longtime ATV racer.
Mike Cafro began his ATV racing career years ago when he lived on the East Coast and raced the GNCC series. A move to California had him taking on the closest thing to GNCCs on the West Coast at the time: desert racing. Mike worked at Temecula Motorsports where he organized a very competitive ATV race team that captured multiple championships in the SCORE desert racing series. Having established himself in the SCORE series, Cafro expanded his racing to include the ITP Quadcross and WORCS, which has become the closest thing out west to true GNCC racing. As the economy started to fail, it was announced that Temecula Motorsports was shutting down its race program and Mike was on his own to continue with his racing career for the remainder of 2008.
As a privateer team with no...
As a privateer team with no factory backing, their professional-looking setup is just as good.
Determined, Cafro approached his sponsors and asked for their continued support in the upcoming racing season, and they gave it to him. The difference for the 2009 program was that it was meant for a full team of riders. Mike was putting together his own team of racers who would follow the WORCS series. The team would consist of himself, Women's A class racer Julie Russell, longtime racing partner Levi Marana and finally Beau Baron, who finished third in points in the 2008 season as a rookie privateer pro. Each team member has something to offer, from moral support to tips on track lines or machine setup, which makes them stronger as a whole.
The 2009 season began well with all of the riders finishing in the top 10 of their races, until Round 3 where Levi had an unfortunate get-off during practice leaving him with a broken wrist and out for the remainder of the season. This created an opening in the team's lineup, but the position was quickly filled by rookie pro racer Josh Row. At the most recent round of the WORCS series held in Riverdale, Washington, we were able to catch up with Cafro, Baron and Row to see how things were coming along for the team.
ATV Rider: Hey Mike. I just wanted to say that the team looks really good for this year. Beau and Josh are having some strong finishes early on in the season, and it was nice to see that you picked the two of them up for this year. How did you decide on these two riders to become part of your team?
Mike Cafro: As far as Beau goes, I started helping him at the end of last year. He wasn't getting help from anyone and was really frustrated by it. I would watch him ride and saw that he had consistency. He wasn't lighting the world on fire, but was finishing in the top five, then the top four and then on the podium. I just noticed that he had consistency, and that is what wins championships. Another thing is that he's not a prima donna; he works on his own equipment and is just an all-around good guy.