I remember exactly where I was when I saw this first-of-its-kind high-action ATV video called Huevos Grandes. I had just returned from the Oregon dunes, picked up a copy on my trip and kept rewinding the tape as soon as it was over to watch it again and again. That video created in me an obsession with all things ATV. I had seen the magazines and heard stories, but for me nothing captured the sport like that film.
From that point on I was determined to make it in the ATV world. I remember telling my mom early on in high school that if it were up to me, I would quit school, load my quad in a semi and tour the country stopping at every ATV race I could. Thankfully that opportunity never arose, as I would have been quick to make an unwise decision.
Through a random series of events, the next fall I found myself boarding an airplane bound for St. Louis, Missouri. I was to attend Greenville College, study accounting and try my hand at college football. While I felt confident I was making a wise decision, I was discouraged knowing I'd be putting riding on hold for the next four years and more than likely kissing goodbye to any hope of ever making it in the industry. Most industry insiders had been racing all their lives, and I'd be starting over again at 22 years old if I decided to try again after college.
My college years flew by, and I watched the industry take leaps and bounds forward. Factory involvement picked up, people were earning a living from racing, and Jon Guetter turned the freestyle world upside down, literally, by landing the first quad backflip. As my senior year drew to a close, I decided to test the waters by attending the Indy Dealer Expo, the single largest gathering of off-road industry companies in North America. While the show was fun, it yielded very little at first. With almost no industry experience, my plan had been to find a company that would allow me to work in their shop during the week and attend the races with them on the weekends. I did meet countless industry names like Daryl Rath, Kory Ellis and the entire Suzuki lineup of Gust, Weinen and Wimmer, but my dream still seemed unreachable.
Then I managed to score a meeting with John Prusac and Jerrod Kelley of ATV Sport. While I never thought of writing as one of my strong suits I decided how better to get involved in the industry than to work for a magazine, and told them my story. Luckily for me, they bought it and allowed me to write an article for the magazine. I didn't know it then, but that story would light a fire in me and, in time, open up a whole new realm of opportunity. To my delight the piece made it to print, but I didn't get that job offer I was hoping for.
Full of determination and...
Full of determination and focus, Seth Fargher set out to fulfill his dream.
After graduation my only immediate option was to return home and accept a position in a bank. This would at least keep me afloat while I continued to pursue my dream. Living in a small town far from any prospects in the industry, I decided to create my own by producing a film highlighting the various action sports professionals that call the northwest home. My key feature would be Justin Homan, a freestyle rider from way back who helped found the sport with Brian Deegan and other FMX giants in the mid-'90s. I launched a website (www.localheroesnw.com
) and began production on Local Heroes Northwest.
A few months later Jerrod Kelley contacted me about contributing to ATV Sport magazine's new blog. I would be part of a panel of experts, and my area would be the ATV lifestyle. I was floored for the opportunity, and my first task was to join Bill "WBGO" Lanphier at DuneFest in Winchester Bay, Oregon, for some testing and event coverage. This was the first of many dream-come-true opportunities for me as I served as a photo rider for a story he was doing on the Suzuki Z400. I hopped aboard the brand-new quad as Bill said, "Find a jump." It was music to my ears, and we spent the afternoon throwing sand, jumping and taking photos for the magazine.
With DuneFest behind me I did my best to focus my energy on the blog. In the process my idea for a film was pushed onto the back burner. However, I stayed in contact with Homan and continued working with him on the side. Justin is an advocate of the sport, and he definitely saw my passion early on. After paying a visit to his compound in central Oregon I managed to talk him out of one of his freestyle ramps. Justin runs a demo company and rides countless freestyle shows throughout the year. My intention was to practice on my own and hopefully join his team somewhere down the road. At this point I wasn't even considering the Bomb Squad because I felt they were too far out of my league.
Some months later I finally had the ramp widened enough for a quad and found a single generous soul who was intrigued by my desire to jump an ATV and not worried about the potential liability. On Valentine's Day of 2009 I dragged the ramp to a sand pit and hit a real ramp for the first time. The day was monumental and I came away with a clear direction, setting my sights on freestyle.
Unfortunately, a week later the harsh reality of this sport became a factor when I landed in the emergency room. I managed to overjump the landing by 10 or 15 feet resulting in a concussion and a deep gash in my face. I recall telling my dad on the way to the hospital that I thought I was done. I'd been trying to get here all of my life, and while time never seemed to be on my side, I sustained my first significant injury and didn't think I would continue. Fortunately, when my head stopped rattling and my face healed I gave the ramp another go, and after a few sessions my confidence was restored.
The next nemesis keeping me from reaching my dream would be the weather. The only location close to home where I could ride my ramp and build a landing was in a wind tunnel known as the Columbia River Gorge. The high winds would plague me week in and out, and I would arrive as early as 5:30 in the morning trying to beat the gusts. Todd Walter, a friend who helped me modify the ramp, and I would arrive at the ramp before the sun was up and ride until the wind picked up. While it was fun, riding once every two or three weeks didn't instill much confidence, and by this time I could only do heel clickers and a Nac Nac. If I wanted to make it in the freestyle world, I'd need a much bigger bag of tricks.
In July 2009, WBGO once again asked me to join him at DuneFest for testing. This was a much-needed break from the frustration of my freestyle training and the monotony of my life at the bank. It would also prove to be the turning point for my path in freestyle as I began communicating with the Bomb Squad, which was performing in front of the DuneFest crowds that year.
A short time later I was in contact with BC Vaught, team manager and booking agent for the Bomb Squad. I expressed to him my desire to be a freestyle rider along with my success (or failure) thus far. His response was simple, "Build a better ramp and get comfortable jumping at large distances." If I could do that, then we would talk. Three weeks later Todd and I had a trailer full of steel and began the most extravagant building project I've ever been a part of. For the next two months my schedule consisted of working all day at the bank and then putting in any number of hours in the shop.
When he's not hitting the...
When he's not hitting the ramps with the Bomb Squad, Seth focuses on building his website www.localheroesnw.com.
Two months later the ramp was done and we began riding it. The weather continued to be an issue, but we managed a solid session one windless Saturday morning and I was able to add a few new tricks to my bag. I immediately got on the phone to BC and said I was ready. Not long after that I received a call from Wes Miller on a Thursday morning while sitting in the break room at work. He suggested I come to California for more or less a tryout, but beyond that gave no guarantees. That opportunity was enough for me. I hung up the phone, marched downstairs straight into my boss's office and resigned. While disappointed to see me leave, everyone I worked with knew this was the opportunity I'd been waiting for. I worked the following Friday and by Monday headed for California.
Fast-forward to today and I'm living a dream I've had for almost 10 years. It's safe to say moving to California was one of the biggest leaps of faith I've ever taken, but then again that's what I do every time I hit that ramp. I've been here almost a year, and in that time I've experienced things I never thought I'd have the opportunity to do, and at the same time there have been challenges I needed to overcome. It's not as easy as some might think to uproot yourself and leave everything you know to pursue what has always been a dream. This dream has allowed me to meet some amazing people along the way and given me the opportunity of a lifetime.
Currently I'm recovering from an injury that could have, and probably should have, taken my life or, at the very least, left me significantly disabled. Injury is part of what we do, and if you can't accept that as a consequence, you had better not get on the quad. I'm not completely sure what the future will bring for me at this point, but I have every intention of staying where I'm at and continuing to work with some of the biggest names in our industry. I will continue to ride and help promote the Bomb Squad as well as our industry as a whole the best that I can.
I'm so grateful to God that I walked away from this injury and that I've been able to live and work among so many people whom I've looked up to for so many years. I never know what's around the corner, but no matter what it is, I'm confident it will be one amazing ride!
No matter what setbacks he's...
No matter what setbacks he's come across in making his dreams come true, Seth can always be seen with a smile on his face and a positive attitude.