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By: Robert Janis

Like Father, Like Son Josh Row

Josh Row
Josh Row

Josh Row (center)
Josh Row (center)

How often have we seen or heard about a famous pro football or baseball player, professional racer or basketball player who has followed their dad into the sport of their choice.

That is the case of one Josh Row. The 18 year-old electrician races ATVs for the Honda team and also participates in Best in the Desert, SCORE INTERNATIONAL, and Hare and Scramble events. Many times he is part of a team that includes his father, Greg, who has been racing for years and has won the Baja 1000.

It is no wonder then that Row started riding motorcycles and ATVs at a very, very young age. In fact, he was first a motorcycle rider, climbing on one for the first time when he was 3 years old. He added ATVs or quads to his stable when he was only 10.

His dad, Greg Row, was and still is a major influence. Josh learned about desert racing when his dad would take him out into the desert, and the two would just ride the terrain. "My dad would take me out to the desert and show me the ropes of how to read terrain and relax and enjoy cutting a trail through the open desert," he said. Getting to the desert was easy. It was practically in their backyard since they lived in El Cajon, California, not too far from the Mexican border and the Baja region.

Once Josh Row committed to the sport, his dad served as a very tough coach. "Up until I was 17 my dad would kick my butt training me. He showed me how important being physically fit was. He would always say everybody can go fast, but how long can they go that fast? The better shape you are in will show at the end of the race. The other thing he taught me was patience. If it is a 100-mile race, there is no point in taking chances 15 miles into the race. Be patient and wear them out."

During his early career as a racer, Row ran a Honda TRX 450R. "My dad rode the 250R, and I love the way my Elka Roll 450 handles," said Row.

His dad was also an influence when it came to customizing the 450. According to Row, he has everything one can imagine on the machine. His dad still makes him run with a stock motor because of better reliability, but customizations include pipe rejets, suspension, tires, skid plates, belly pans, desert tank and more. "I set up the 450 pretty much how my dad would set up his quad for a race like the Baja 1000," said Row.

Josh Row

Josh Row

Josh Row
Josh Row

Although heavy with experience as a rider, Row didn't go pro until 2006. His first race as a pro was the Parker 250. "I had a great year. Not so much for finishes, but for experience," he said.

For 2008 he plans to focus on the Pro Class in the WORCS Series and the SCORE INTERNATIONAL desert series.

His racing career in the desert events has been quite successful. As said previously, he has participated in SCORE, Best in the Desert and District 38 races. His record shows that he's won six District 38 events, finishing third in points; and finished fourth in the Baja 1000 and fifth in the Baja 500.

Again, it was his dad who helped him get sponsors. "He has been racing for 20 years. So when he approached his sponsors and told them that I would be racing the following year, a lot of them gave me contracts," said Row.

His major sponsors today include Elka, Roll 'Em, ALBA, Maxxis, Douglas Wheels, Precision Concepts, San Diego Powder Coating, TAG, Moose, Alpine Star, Scott, Uni, Maxima, Maier, and Golden West Cycle.
Oh, and he still races the Honda 450R with the same set up previously mentioned.

Since he participates in SCORE events in the Baja it is common that he would get involved with racers not from the U.S. In one occasion, Row was racing the CODE Ensenada to San Felipe and was battling a team of Mexican riders. "We started ninth and passed everybody in the first 40 miles. We had a 10 minute lead after 100 miles and then we had to re-start in San Matias. We let one of our slower racers get on and he lost the lead and was about a minute behind 30 miles from the finish. Travis (a teammate) got on and held it tapped all the way to the finish and got by the leader. We had to be 30 seconds ahead to win. It was so close! The final results didn't get posted until 1 a.m. the next morning. Everyone was waiting to see the final results posted. When they posted them, we had won by 23 seconds. We were the only Americans there celebrating. That's a race I will never forget," said Row.

His favorite race is the Baja 500. "It's long enough to wear you out, but short enough so you don't have to cross the line of the unknown. Baja at night, it's crazy!" Row said.

When asked what he liked most about racing, Row responded, "When the flag drops, wheel to wheel racing, knowing the guys you're going bar to bar with, and just having fun getting fully tapped out in virgin desert terrain, pushing yourself so hard that you test your intestinal fortitude. One of my favorite sayings is, 'Fatigue makes cowards of us all.' I like to see how hard I can go and how long I can keep up that pace. Once fatigue sets in, it's all about mental toughness."

What is the worst thing about racing? "There is no worst thing about racing other than not racing. I live for it!" he said.

He concluded that the future of ATV racing is bright like it is just getting started. "Factories are starting to get back into the mix and pros are making a living doing what they love. I would love to do nothing more than race professionally and make a living at it for the next 15 years or so."

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