By: Robert Janis
The Need for Speed
Is the need for speed in the DNA? Maybe the
racing career of Doug Eichner can provide some
insight. Eichner is a professional ATV racer who
has successfully participated in events
throughout the United States, France, and New
Zealand. Having been recently signed by Polaris
Industries to race their Outlaw 525 ATV in the
World Off-Road Championship Series (WORCS)
through 2008, Eichner continues his life-long
passion of ATV racing.
Eichner grew up in a rural area of Washington
State with a family of horse enthusiasts.
Eichner learned at a very early age that his
true interest was not in horses at all. "I
wasn't interested in horses. I was interested in
horsepower," he quipped.
Barely after he started talking, he pestered
his dad to buy him a motorcycle. "I kept nagging
him. Buy me a motorcycle, buy me a motorcycle,
buy me a motorcycle," Eichner laughed. "Finally,
he broke down and said that once I was big
enough and strong enough to start a motorcycle,
he would buy me one.
"So whenever we went into town. I made my dad
take me to the local Honda dealership,"
continued Eichner. "I would climb on top of a
Honda motorcycle and try to start it. Finally,
one day I was big enough and strong enough to
start a Honda ZA50; and, as promised, my dad
bought it." Eichner was seven years old.
He had plenty of open space at home to ride
his new Honda, and soon he all but forgot about
the horses. In fact, to him, they didn't exist.
He had his Honda ZA50 to drive around all day,
and the rest is history as they say.
Through the years Eichner competed in the 125
and 250 pro motorcycle races, but then developed
an interest in ATVs. He started riding and
racing ATVs in 1986 when he was 20 years old.
The first ATV he raced was a 1986 Honda 250R
4-wheeler. He customized it with only a silencer
and put a set of holeslot tires in the rear.
His first race was at Washougal in Washington
State. He refers to the place as his "hometown"
track. He registered as a pro in his first race
because he wanted the opportunity of winning his
entrance fee back. "At the time it was so new.
There were only three of us who raced in the pro
class. So I figured that I had a chance to get
my money back," said Eichner.
One of the other two racers approached him
before the start of the event and began to brag.
"I won't do motor work 'til somebody beats me,"
the guy boasted. Eichner beat him. "The next
race the guy had motor work done--a pipe and a
silencer. I beat him again. He was really
p*****," laughed Eichner. "Those were some fun
The first events Eichner raced in were
AMA-sanctioned races. He started getting
sponsors after he won that first event. "Arlen
Lehman from LRD called and wanted me to race
using one of his pipes. So I added the pipe, and
it worked pretty well. It gave the bike more top
end. Through Lehman I got involved with Bart
from Oregon Motorsports, and I started picking
up sponsors through them." It wasn't long before
he had such sponsors as Answer Racing and Trick
Racing Fuel. "It kept escalating. I am a welder
so I took a job with J.P. Racing," he added.
There finally came a time when there was more
racing opportunities in California and J.P.
Racing, his employer, began having business
difficulties. So Eichner moved to San Diego
where he secured a full-time job and sponsorship
through Laegars’ Fabrication. Through his
affiliation with Laegars, Eichner met the folks
at Duncan Racing International. "I began racing
under the sponsorship of Duncan Racing, and they
assisted with broadening my sponsorship base,”
The events that he raced in and his wins soon
began to pile up. He participated in and won the
Mickey Thompson Off-Road Championship Series in
1993. "That's my most memorable win," he said.
He was soon participating in events promoted by
other major racing associations including Best
in the Desert, WPSA, GNCC, GNC, WORCS, and
SCORE. He even went overseas to race.
He was invited over to New Zealand by some
ATV clubs where he raced and put on an ATV
school. He participated in the 12-hour Ponte De
Vaux in France and won it seven times on a
Banshee. As a result of this he has been
compared to Lance Armstrong who was winning
seven Tours de France during the same period of
time. He also has raced and won the Baja 1000
and secured championships in the GNC, WORCS and
SCORE series multiple times.
He noted that the Ponte De Vaux races were
kind of "hairy." "I was out there with 119 other
racers. That means including me there were 120
quads on the track. I was always passing
someone. A lot of guys were just out there to
finish. So I'm going 90 to 100 miles per hour
and those guys were doing 45 or 50. So it got a
little hairy. However, it was a lot of fun."
Doug Eichner aboard is Duncan Racing
He said that when he raced overseas, he saw a
lot of "oddball stuff." "They'd take a KX500 and
make it into a quad and race it," he said. In
the Ponte de Vaux, some would show up with a big
bike like the GFXR 1100 made into a quad and
race it. They really came up with some wild
looking bikes." He noted that there are not a
lot of ATV manufacturers in Europe and
especially New Zealand so racers would buy
American or Japanese bikes and convert them.
Duncan Racing in the United States and
Phillip Charles coordinated his overseas trips.
Charles would build the bikes for him for the
Today the 42-year-old Eichner lives on a
3-acre property about 45 minutes from downtown
San Diego. He works for FOX SHOX where he helps
to produce the company's Big Body Shock for
desert cars and trucks. His wife, Joan, serves
as his biggest fan and assists Doug's team with
sponsorship and the business side of the
equation. She also owns and rides a Kawasaki 700
and enjoys the desert. Interestingly, just like
Doug's dad and mom, Joan has a passion for
horses and owns, trains, and exhibits Morgan
horses at the regional and national level
competition where she has garnered such titles
as Regional and World Champion. The relationship
has proven to be an effective one, as Doug and
Joan will soon celebrate 14 years of marriage.
The couple have a 3-year-old son named Devin
who is already an ATV fan. "He loves going to
the races," said Eichner. He already rides a
Razor metric bike. "He rides it like a
champion," quipped Eichner. "He stands up on it
when he goes over bumps and does donuts without
ever being instructed." Eichner runs a practice
track near his home that includes a kiddie track
that little Devin rides. "He follows it
perfectly. Does all the jumps without a care in
the world," said the proud father. He assumes
that his son will probably get into racing.
However, he and mom are both concerned that the
boy could get hurt and has been trying to
interest him in golf or baseball. "But he will
probably want to race sooner or later,” said
Doug. "So, I guess we'll have to get him a
bigger bike." The family often goes out riding
their ATVs together on the dunes in the
California desert making sure to create a
balance between work and play.
Eichner's present looks bright. As mentioned,
he has been signed to race for Polaris in WORCS
events through 2008. He will be racing the
Polaris Outlaw 525. In preparation for his first
race aboard the new Outlaw, he has made a few
customizations. "I want it wider for motocross
so I've put A-Arms on it; off-set wheels on the
back to make the rear a little bit wider; Fox
Evil shocks all around; nerf bars, footwalls,
foot pegs, a steering shaft from Roll Design;
ITP tires, a bigger tank from IMS; DWT wheels,
and a GPR steering stabilizer. Duncan Racing
International will serve as a primary sponsor of
the team and will provide motor work and a
Duncan Racing pipe."
The best part of racing, said Eichner, is
winning and having the opportunity to go to so
many different places. He also enjoys meeting
people who are sincerely happy to meet him.
The worst part of racing, continued Eichner,
is crashing, getting muddy, and the politics. He
knows how it is to crash and get hurt. He has
broken his collarbone and his femur. As a result
of breaking his femur, he was in traction and a
cast for six months. "They tried to put a metal
rod inside my leg; but when that failed, I had
to be in a cast for six months," he said.
He is currently sponsored by: Polaris
Industries Inc., Duncan Racing International,
ITP, FOX SHOX, Douglas Wheel, IMS, GPR, Roll
Design, Maxima. He sees the future of ATV racing
as growing. "It's grown tremendously in the past
couple of years," he said. "The nice thing is
that the factories are getting back into racing,
and that provides new opportunities. We
anticipate that factory involvement will
continue to grow and get even bigger."
"As far as my future is concerned, I've got a
few good years of racing left in me. After that,
I'm open with the idea of getting involved in
the industry in other capacities. I would
welcome the opportunity of providing testing or
research and development for the manufacturers,
or doing some other type of consulting. I've
also been thinking of starting an ATV school to
teach kids how to ride. The problem is finding a
place for it. There are not a lot of tracks to
ride on, so I would need private property to
build a track. I have young riders asking me all
the time to teach them how to ride. I've given
it some thought, and maybe some day I'll put my
focus there. For now, my plate is more than
full!" Eichner concluded.
When asked if the Need for Speed is in the
DNA?" Eichner commented, "I'm sure it has
something to do with it! Joan and I are both
amazed at how focused Devin is on ATV riding. He
would rather watch a Huevos video than cartoons
and he's only three!" Perhaps time will bring us
our definitive answer when Eichner Jr. comes of