20 Quickies With John Natalie
From the April, 2012 issue of ATV Rider
By Lance Schwartz
Photography by Team Motoworks/can-am
Few series have seen the longevity and continued success of longtime ATV MX frontrunner John “Ironman” Natalie. Hailing from Pennsylvania, Natalie wrapped up the 2011 AMA ATV MX Championship for Team Motoworks/Can-Am aboard his trusty DS 450. In preparation for the 2012 season, we caught up with Natalie to make him the next ATV Rider Exit victim.
1 This isn’t your first championship, but could it possibly be your sweetest? I think it’s my sweetest! There were a lot of people depending on me and I wanted to win for Can-Am as much as myself. They’ve invested a lot of money and time into the DS 450 to make it the best ATV out there. Casey Greek (my mechanic), Motoworks and I have tested and developed this bike into championship material. I also couldn’t let all the great fans of ATV MX down!
2. You’ve raced all sorts of ATV racing series. Besides MX, what’s your favorite? I’d have to say cross-country. For me, there isn’t as much pressure to win and it just goes back to havin’ fun in the woods.
3. In 20 words or less, how did you get the “Ironman” nickname? I ran four pro classes in one night. I won two and got second in the other two.
4. Christmas is three weeks away. What’s Santa bringing little Johnnie? I don’t know! I already have everything I need. I have the perfect job, a beautiful wife, the most perfect (not to mention cutest) baby ever, great parents and the best fans in all of motorsports. What more could I want?
5. What career aspirations did you have before you made your living racing? Wow, all I ever wanted to do was be a professional athlete. I’m blessed with the God-given ability to make anything with wheels go fast. So either NASCAR or streetbike racing.
6. What is it about Pennsylvania that breeds so much racing talent? I think we just have the best tracks and natural riding areas. People in PA take riding seriously!
7. As a guy who has traveled the country for many years, are there any places you care to never have to visit again? Not so far. I love visiting new places and making new friends. They are all different and I love visiting, but I love where I live now.
8. Can-Am has invested millions of dollars into all genres of ATV racing over the past few years. Is it safe to say it uses racing to help with product development? Definitely! Can-Am, Motoworks and I have developed the DS 450 into the best sport ATV on the market. They are also the reason ATV racing is what it is today!
9. Tell us a little about the machine you’re racing this year. I can’t give away all our secrets! We’ll be running Motoworks pipes, DWT tires and wheels, Holz Racing A-arms, K&N filters, BRP racing axle, Renthal bars, chains and sprockets, SSI decals, Fox Racing shocks, Hinson clutch components, CV4 hoses, Motul lubricants, Precision steering stabilizers, Pro Armor, Acerbis hand guards for 2012.
10. You’re a Happy Valley native. What are your thoughts on what happened at Penn State? I believe anyone involved in any sort of rape or child molestation should go to jail! Covering it up is just as bad! Children are naive, defenseless and depend on grown-ups!
11. How much work does it take to make that Can-Am DS 450 run at the front? It depends on which one you buy. They have an MX and XC version.
12. We heard a rumor you once hit a deer while riding a sportbike. True? It’s true! On a ride with friends, I decided to pass everyone and get my speed fix on. Just as I got by them with my speedometer hitting 170 mph, I crested a very small hill and there were deer standing all over the road. I tapped the rear brake for a second and thought I had made it through safely. I literally cut one of the deer in half and the impact shredded all the fairings and tore the wiring harness out of my bike! My knees, hands and nether regions were pretty banged up, but my guardian angel was with me that day! It could have been the end of my career or even my life. Thank God for watching over me!
13. Are you a gamer? If so, what’s your system and game of choice? Yes! PS3…MW3! Come get some!
14. In this lousy economy, what does the future of ATV racing look like? With Can-Am here, it’s looking better than it would have. Support them when you buy new bikes. There are also tons of money up for grabs in contingency! I hope it grows from here and gives people the opportunities I’ve had.
15. Can you think of a dumber name for ice cream than Moose Tracks? Hmmmmmm…Dirt?
16. Most people avoid number 13. Not you. What’s up with that? I’m not superstitious at all and liked the fact people were afraid to run number 13. I’m not afraid of anythin’!
17. Who’s more badass, the top ute racers or the top sport-quad racers? Sport-quad for sure. A 400-pound machine, 100-foot jumps, 60 mph, no rollcage…enough said!
18. If you could snap your fingers and grab any sponsor on the planet, who would it be? Walmart. They have everything you need!
19. Can-Am puts you in charge of picking three bands to headline Can-Am–palooza. Who are they? Daughtry, Nickelback and Jerrod Niemann.
20. OK champ, would you like to get in your shameless plugs? I’d like to say thanks to Arai for the great helmets and to Fly for keeping me looking, well, fly! Thanks to my wife Michelle and Lexi for helping me through this year. Without my parents I never would have made it this far. I want to say “hi” to my daughters Jordan and Angeline and express my thanks to my mechanic Casey Greek, team owner Johnny Leach, Ty Zimmerman, DWT, Jimmy O’Dell, Can-Am, my friends Mark Bainey and Finch. And I can’t forget to mention all my fans out there.