By: Robert Janis
Like Father, Like Son Josh Row
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
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
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.
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,"
For 2008 he plans to focus on the Pro Class
in the WORCS Series and the SCORE INTERNATIONAL
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,"
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
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."