Quick… name any father and son combo who have raced national racing events against one another.
I’ve written about this sport for years and the only combo that came to mind was Ed Kretz and Ed Jr. back in the 1950s. I know Miguel Duhamel and his dad Yvon endurance raced together, but I don’t think they ever went head to head in AMA nationals. The point is, it is incredibly rare. But this weekend at Road America we have a father and son team racing against each other in MotoAmerica Stock 1000! It was one of the neatest stories I’ve come across in a long time.
Here’s how I came across this amazing tale.
I’m walking the MotoAmerica paddock at Road America on Thursday, trying to chase down riders who I need to do rider profiles on for MotoAmerica’s website. By the way, if you’re a fan and ever have the opportunity to come on a setup day, I highly recommend it. It’s pretty casual – sort of a calm before the storm atmosphere. You can walk around looking at the bikes and chat with team crew members and even the riders. Something that’s not really possible once the racing begins on Friday. Things just get too hectic for everyone at that point.
So as I’m making my rounds, I have the chance to interview second-year MotoAmerica Stock 1000 racer Michael Butler, of Redline-Moto Racing. Michael’s story outside of racing is simply incredible. He’s a biomedical engineer who works in pharmaceuticals and medical devices. During his career he’s started nine companies, sold a few and still operates four of them. These are major international businesses and Michael travels all over the world overseeing operations (his companies have manufacturing facilities in four different countries). Impressive to say the least.
Michael, an ex-motocross racer, is racing Stock 1000 and is doing amazingly well considering he’s in his 40s and didn’t start racing professionally until last year!
As if all that was not awe-inspiring enough, Michael drops a bomb when he casually adds that his son is also racing… and in Stock 1000!
I didn’t know if I heard him correctly at first, but yes it’s true, Michael’s son, Zach, 22, a college senior at Marquette University majoring in finance, is also racing Stock 1000. This is his rookie season in the series.
This blew my mind.
The even cooler part of this story is the two are super competitive and have alternatively finished in front of one another. At Road Atlanta it was son beating dad in both legs. But then strike one up for the old guys, dad came back and turned the tables on son in both legs at VIR!
Dad Michael, admits son Zach has outright speed on him, but dad says his years of motocross gave him maybe a little more racecraft at this point. But, he adds, Zach is learning fast.
Talking with the two it’s fun to hear the good-natured banter back and forth about who was going to come out on top this weekend in the “rubber match” at Road America.
Michael said the racing gives him the incentive to stay in shape, and it’s working. Michael looks at least a decade younger than his actual age. But more importantly it gives him a chance to do something fun and memorable together with his son.
Father-son bonding at 180 miles per hour!
It all started for the pair with a track day. That whet their appetites and then club racing followed and now both are at the top of the game, participating in the premier road racing championships in America.
I asked if there was an unwritten rule about not knocking each other down.
Michael said when they first started racing together he would be especially careful around Zach, but now he says, Zach has gotten so good that when they are racing each other on the track, he’s better able to turn off dad brain and think of Zach as a fellow competitor.
The story of the Butler Boys made me even more of a fan of the already stacked Stock 1000 class. They may not be racing for wins yet, but you better believe I’ll be checking the scoring monitors to see if it’s dad or son winning their own family feud. — Larry Lawrence