Three Dog Night couldn’t have said it better when singing their hit song “One,” just ask Josh Creamer. If it wasn’t for the fact that they wrote it in the early ‘70s (roughly 15 years before Josh was born), you’d think it was written about his 2011 season.
One Is The Loneliest Number That You’ll Ever Do
You would think that achieving one’s life-long dream would lead to overwhelming happiness and a personal sense of fulfillment. If achieving said dream also happened to define your job description, you’d not only be incredibly lucky but conventional wisdom would suggest entitled to some sort of job security and impressive financial reward. Unfortunately for Josh Creamer, conventional wisdom hasn’t really applied to his claiming of the 2010 AMA ATV MX National number one plate, and outside of a few bonus checks Creamer’s reign as the fastest ATV MX racer on the planet has yielded little of what you’d expect and lots of what you never would have: Unemployment, self-doubt and a bank account balance that, while impressive, is moving in the wrong direction.
This year has been a whirlwind...
This year has been a whirlwind for Creamer. Shortly after claiming his first AMA ATV MX National Championship in 2010, through no fault of his own, he found himself unemployed.
When whispers began surfacing about midway through the 2010 season that the factory Suzuki team might not be back for 2011, no one really believed it. After all, the team’s one-two punch of Creamer and defending champ Dustin Wimmer were in the midst of a heated point battle for the number-one spot, and it was obvious the team was on the cusp of claiming yet another championship. For Creamer and Wimmer, it seemed unimaginable; they were not only doing their job well, they (and the rest of the team) were exceeding expectations. As the season wore on, the whispers went from barely audible to nearly deafening, and the reality that Creamer might once again be looking for a ride began to set in. “I tried not to think about it, but I almost couldn’t believe it was happening…again.” Josh and the rest of the team held out hope, but it felt all too familiar, as Creamer had been through it before the previous season when his factory Kawasaki ride ceased to exist under nearly identical circumstances.
Creamer’s rise to prominence has been unorthodox, to say the least. Born and raised in Stonington, Connecticut, as the youngest of three kids, Josh somehow found himself riding ATVs around his home all by himself. Neither his two sisters nor anyone else in the family seemed to share in his newfound passion. “I’m the only speed junkie in my family.”
It was the perfect season,...
It was the perfect season, and I couldn’t have had a better time.” Creamer’s perfect season ended with his being crowned the 2010 AMA ATV Motocross Champion.
Somehow, as it often does, “just messing around” led Josh to a local NEATV race aboard a Cannondale during the 2003 season. Apparently Josh’s solo training around the house had somehow prepared him well enough to make a rapid rise through the ranks, and during the course of the season he moved from Novice to A class. In only his second season of racing Josh did what most fast local guys do and began looking for more competition, and like most of the others he found that next level of competition at the National level. “Everyone else was doing it [while laughing], and I was running out of competition in the NEATV series.”
By 2005, he had caught the attention and support of Mike Walsh of Walsh Racecraft, and with Mike’s help was racing the ATV MX Nationals in the Pro Am classes and battling against Josh Upperman and Rocco Arno Jr. for a championship. “He [Mike Walsh] showed me a ton about bike setup and helped me learn how to push the envelope faster.” Just to recap: In 2003 Josh was a novice at the local races, and by 2005 he was battling for a Pro Am championship at the highest level. Ridiculous.
Apparently Josh has never heard of baby steps, which would make his 2006 move into the Pro class make sense. K&K ATV enlisted his services, and he enjoyed a typical “roller-coaster ride” rookie season. “Rookie year is always hard. I feel like I rode well, but I kept getting taken out by Dustin [Wimmer]. So 2006 was just a typical case of having to get used to running with the big boys!”
The peak of ATV motocross as a sport was 2007, the WPSA series’ ESPN TV package, and the pre-recession economy led to a slew of factory rides. Despite his up-and-down rookie season, Josh’s performance was good enough to land him a spot on the upstart Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki team for 2007. The team would be contesting Kawasaki’s new, yet unproven KFX450R at the highest level of competition. Both Josh and the KFX showed flashes of brilliance in the first two seasons, taking moto wins and podiums and consistently staying within the top five. By 2009, the bugs had been worked out of both Josh and the machine, and the combination had become somewhat lethal to the competition. Unfortunately for Josh (and the KFX), the Kawasaki program seemed ready to peak when the plug was pulled. “What sucks is that there was a night-and-day difference between the ’07 and ’09 KFX; we needed one more year and I would have won a championship on that bike. The bikes were great!”
Josh’s growth as a rider and overall Kawasaki experience are actually best put into words by his former Kawasaki team manager, Jimmy White.
“Josh is the hardest-working rider in ATV racing, period. He is a self-motivator and keeps himself fit and race-ready. He works on his own practice quads and is a good enough mechanic that I would hire him as a factory mechanic. He also motivates everyone around him, including his teammates.
“The first year with him was a bit of a challenge as, up until that point, he had always been his own boss and made his own decisions on what to run on the quad as a privateer. We worked through those issues, and by the second year he had trust in us at Kawasaki and where we were heading. The third year Kawi made more improvements, and he was a true championship contender. The next year when he switched to the Yoshimura/Suzuki team he accomplished what he had always dreamed about, and Chappy [Josh’s former mechanic] and I were there to cheer him on. Not taking a thing away from the Yoshimura/Suzuki team, but I feel he would have won on a Kawi last year; it was his time and he finally had the confidence to put it all together.”
It’s Just No Good Anymore Since She Went Away
Luckily for Josh, his work ethic certainly hadn’t gone unnoticed, and it wasn’t very long before teams of every level started courting him for 2010. Yoshimura/Suzuki showed interest but not much in the way of a financial guarantee. “I knew a bonus program would work because I knew how to win, and I knew that aboard that Suzuki [LT-R450] I was going to have the tools to do it.”
The Suzuki team had been dominant since 2006, the atmosphere was all business, and Josh’s main competition would now be his teammate, Dustin Wimmer. “On the Kawasaki team we had a lot of fun while racing, and it was a blast. At Suzuki we had fun, but it was all business, we were there to win for sure.”
As for Wimmer, “I told him during the preseason that I was going to beat him, and he just laughed; by the midway point of the season he wasn’t laughing anymore.” Regardless of their on-track battles, the teammates went from barely speaking prior to the start of 2010 to good friends by season’s end.
The fun wouldn’t last, though, as the team was scrambling behind the scenes to raise funds in order to stay afloat, but in the end the economy won out, as no one really had extra money to spend. “They [the team] told us prior to Loretta’s that it was done, then they strung us along until November saying maybe, maybe not. I finally just gave up on them.” The champagne had barely dried off of the trophy girls when Creamer effectively found himself unemployed, again. “I was pissed, disappointed and wondering what I did wrong.”