I’m gonna come right out and say this at the top, this could be a little hard for people to read. It’s going to fall into the category of “slurp fest” or “blowing” a dude but I’m secure enough in my own skin to admit the optics and forge ahead in spite of them.
Zach-O is a friend of mine and I want to get that out of the way at the top because that really is incidental in this circumstance. It’s honestly the main factor that has kept me from delving into this particular topic prior to this week but with his progress the last two week, it’s impossible for me to ignore. I’ve always respected Zach. Ever since he embarked on his European career when it seemed his US opportunities had dried up quickly and shockingly premature. When Zach began writing his first (and only) column on PulpMX “Fish n Chips”, I was like, this dude is a different guy. He was a cerebral racer who had thoughts and insights that he wasn’t afraid to share.
After a few years abroad, he progressed and worked his way back to the states for some exhibition SX2 races where he put the 250 SX teams into a frenzy trying to acquire him back to the States. (<– That prior sentence was the shortest, most ridiculously compact way I could possibly encapsulate his re-entry to US racing. Apologies for my simplification of one of the most important character building periods of his life.)
I’m trying to work my way through his progress over the years without going to into detail because although those years are what made him who he is today, the focal point of my writing this week is the culmination of these many years of persistent effort, in spite of failure early and small intermediary successes on his path to today.
The progress of Zach, especially since he returned stateside is not good fortune, a fluke or predictable. What it is, is workhorse-like and relentless. I haven’t come across a term for what I see as his silver bullet when it comes to his racing and successes but I did create one (surprise surprise, I know). It’s no surprise that it is the title of this weeks column and it’s easily personified in Zach’s riding the last two weeks, possibly more than ever, though it has been evident since his “re-debut” on Geico Honda.
Coming into the outdoor series this year Zach was the first guy to announce that although this was his 450 MX debut, he was not in a position to take the role of typical rookie and learn the ropes while merely surviving the series. Like Ice Cube was termed in the movie Higher Learning, Zach-O is considered a “super-Senior”. He’s been around a while and although he’s just getting his 450 career started, his plan is to strike hard, fast and often. To maximize his potential in short order. This Moto-superpower of his, “Present Hindsight” is a gift but it’s a gift born of failure, struggle, perseverance and a refusal to settle.
Zach looks at his current career progress through a lens that I don’t see most racers capable of or at least they don’t choose to. It’s a type of earnestness born from self-imposed goals that are not optional but necessary for survival. Furthermore, these goals are set and viewed through a career retrospective lens that indicates Zach is not only aware of but writing his career mark, in real time. It matters to him more than merely wins and record books. It’s the rebranding of a career spanning many years and many miles in both geography and laps on tracks.
Coming out of WW Ranch, Zach mentioned he had pinpointed a failing in his race craft in the highly important early laps of Moto’s where straight out of the gate sprint speed was lacking. He set a goal and by the second Moto the following week in Southwick, he had checked another box on that list of intermediary successes. The thing I’m really noticing with Zach is there is no lip service like we see so often in this sport. He means every word and he means it with a fervor we rarely witness in this sport and even less with such instantaneous, tangible results.
Early in this 450 series all the talk was about Eli, Kenny and Marvin. There have been players introducing their wheels into that lead trio but witnessing what we have from Zach, I’m starting think we’d all be crazy to not anticipate the 16 continuing the rewriting of his career on a grand scale.
It’s a tale destined for the best sellers list.