Catching Up with…Mark Worth

By Billy Rainford

In case you missed it in Frid’Eh Update #17…

Catching Up with… Mark Worth from Queen Creek, Arizona | Bigwave photo

It takes something pretty special to have a number known as yours, when there are so many fast riders in the USA. Well, whenever anyone sees the #321, they are either counting down at Cape Canaveral in Florida or thinking about Mark Worth‘s amateur days.

Marky Mark was one of those racers who came up through the amateur ranks used to winning, and that’s saying a lot! I’ve seen Mark race lots of times as he came up and you always knew he would be one of the fast ones to make it to the Pro racnks down south.

Unfortunately, his Pro career ended in 2016 as quickly as it started. We’ll let him explain that, but the bottom line is that he was forced out of the Supercross series at round 1 and then headed north to Canada last summer for his first Pro outdoor race at round 2 at the Wastelands in Nanaimo, BC.

He was an instant factor and was looking forward to a solid season as fill in rider for the injured Jacob Hayes. Here’s a look at his 2016 season:

We grabbed Mark for a chat Friday to find out what he’s been up to and what his plans are for the future:

Direct Motocross: Hello, Mark. I’ve actually seen you at the big US Amateur Nationals since you were just a little fella on the 321 machines. For those who may not know, can you take us through your early years? Where are you from? How old are you? How did you get started racing motocross? 

Mark Worth: Well, I’ve lived in Arizona my entire life. Born and raised in a town called San Tan Valley and although it isn’t the best place to grow up racing dirt bikes, I’ve done my best to make it work! I’m currently 18 years old and I started riding when I was 3. It all started when I saw my cousin, Bobby Worth, race and from that day forward my life has revolved around motocross.

My first bike was a PW50 which I would mob around the backyard and a couple years later I found myself racing the most prestigious amateur motocross race at Loretta Lynn’s. From that point on, my family and I have given everything to push towards a goal that I hope to reach in the near future. 

What was your biggest amateur win? Can you tell us about it?

That’s honestly a tough question. I had to sit and think about this just because there are so many wins that had a huge impact on my amateur career. Obviously, winning Loretta’s twice (once in 2005 and again in 2007) was a big accomplishment for me. Being one of the many great names in the sport that have won that race is something I’ll always be appreciative for.

There’s been more than one win as an amateur that had quite the impact on my career. I even still have a bunch of the old 5-7 foot trophies they used to give out and I actually just went to take a look at them just to relive the memories they all created and the lessons I learned from each win. Every single one of those trophies helped me get where I am today, there’s no doubt about that. 

What year did you turn Pro and what was your first Pro race? How did it go?

Well, my first Pro experience was when I was planning on racing SX in 2016, and after all the training and preparation for that race at Anaheim 1, I ended up having a brutal crash in practice which put me out for the rest of the season. It was a tough pill to swallow but I moved on from it and got back to work.

After that, the next Pro experience I had was the Nanaimo round in Canada and it was a very cool experience. With how last-minute it was and how little time I had on the bike I was very happy with my performance and result. 

With limited time to test, Mark and the team were chasing settings all summer long in 2016. Seriously, he found out he was coming north the Wednesday before Nanaimo! | Bigwave photo

How much did you know about the Canadian Motocross Scene before you came up here last summer?

Honestly, I didn’t have a lot of knowledge about the racing in Canada. I remember seeing Mike Alessi racing it and a few other guys, but never thought I would be there racing the entire season. After I found out I’d be racing the series I did a lot of research on it and realized the racing there is no different than it is in the states. I knew the racing was going to be tough and all I could do was race the first round and give it my best!

How did the deal come together that brought you up here at round 2 in Nanaimo, BC?

Well, at that point in time i was planning on going back to Loretta’s and to finish out some more amateur racing before racing any more Pro stuff. I believe it was a Wednesday and I was at Milestone in California when I got a call from Jason Hughes about filling in for Jacob Hayes. I was very surprised but anxious, and after some consideration I confirmed with Jason that I wanted to go to Canada, so a day later I was on a flight to Nanaimo to race! 

OK, you won a lot in the amateurs. You and Cole Thompson went at it pretty hard in Nanaimo. You went for an inside pass and went down. Can you take us through how you felt hitting your first Canadian national and how it went?

So, my first race was intense. I was on a bike that was pretty new to me and I literally rode it in someone’s backyard before lining up to race in Nanaimo. I felt decent in practice but was excited to race and show that I belong up front. First moto I pulled the holeshot and led the race for what felt like a long time since I had Cole right on me the entire time. He had some better lines and made a move to get by me. I was then right on his tail when he made a mistake and his rear wheel swapped into my front wheel which sent me on the ground straight to my shoulder which hurt pretty bad. I shook it off and salvaged a 10th. 

Second moto had another good start but third turn I got the good ole welcome to Canada shove from (Shawn) Maffenbeier! I got back up and salvaged a 5th for a 6th overall.  

With a couple Loretta Lynn’s titles under his belt, Mark’s focus has always been on being a Pro Supercross and Motocross racer | Bigwave photo

You got on the podium for the first time in Calgary. How did that day go for you?

That was easily my favorite round. The dirt was very familar to me and it showed with my riding. I got both holeshots and led a lot of laps which felt good. Being up front always makes things easier. Thompson and Maff had some more intensity than me and I settled in for a 3rd overall.  

You were at 9 of the 10 rounds but things didn’t always go as you would have liked. What did you struggle with?

Honestly, the biggest issue for me was the inability to test during the week. The team did everything they could at the races but it was hard to change things at the race because we had no time to figure out what worked for me during the week. With me flying back and forth from Canada to Arizona, it was tough to understand what my suspension needed for things to work the following weekend. But I can’t take anything from the team; a lot of the issues were just me not being able to get comfortable. The whole team with Monster Energy Kawasaki was amazing. They were always helpful with anything I needed and the whole team atmosphere was very welcoming and friendly.  

How did you like the racing, atmosphere, and Canada in general? Did you have fun up here?

Canada was amazing. Not only was the racing environment enjoyable, the country itself is unreal. Being able to travel to every round with my dad and see Canada from West to East was something I will never forget. Also, I have to give a shoutout to Mike Alessi for showing me the ropes and helping me through my first Pro experience. Mike is one good dude and being able to make memories with a rider I looked up to was an unforgettable experience. 

What did you get up to when our series ended?

After the series ended, I took some time off and tried to figure out what was next for me. I wanted to race Supercross but things never came together and I decided to take the time to build myself up mentally and physically and train for the outdoor season coming up. When I wasn’t doing that I was working for my dad trying to keep busy during the week hoping to pay off my debt! (Laughs)

You’ve been dealing with an injury for the past little while. Can you tell us what happened and when you’ll be back on the bike?

Well, luckily, I’ve been able to get to this point in my career with fewer broken bones than most, but unfortunately in motocross it’s not if, it’s when. So, recently I had a small hiccup with an elbow injury but I should be riding in the next couple days to get prepared for all the racing this summer. 

What are your racing plans for this summer?

So far, I’m not sure I’m going to race the first few rounds. I want to make sure when i race I’m 100% ready to do battle. I might start out with a couple Canadian rounds to see where I’m at and get a feel for the schedule, since it’s very similar to the way things are run in the states. After I feel ready, my goal is to race as many AMA rounds as I can.

So, if you did well at your first race in Canada, would you consider privateering it to the rest of the rounds or is the AMA still going to be your focus?

Well, since I’m going to miss the first couple rounds anyway, I’m not sure I’ll be too interested in doing the rest of the series, but at this point anything is possible. I enjoyed the racing there so if any opportunities present themselves, my plan could easily change. 

We should see Mark at at least 1 round in Canada this summer, but his focus remains south of the border | Bigwave photo

Is your goal to be a full-time Supercross/AMA Outdoor racer?

That’s been my goal since I was 3 years old. Looking up to guys like Ricky Carmichael helped me pursue a dream that very few people get to live. At this point, my dream has wavered a bit but I still want to achieve goals that I’ve had my entire life. Racing Supercross/Outdoor will be a huge accomplishment in my life and I hope that I can continue racing for years to come. 

What other sports/activities do you enjoy?

Although Motocross is my main priority, I still enjoy doing things that most kids get to enjoy in their daily life. I’ve always been focused on having  good education so that after I’m done racing I can still be able to pursue a better education for myself. I love reading and I hope one day to write my own book about my life and the intense lifestyle we live racing dirt bikes. Other than that, I really enjoy spending time with my family and cherishing every moment I have with the people I love! 

OK, thanks for talking with us and good luck with the rest of your rehab. It would be great to see you back up here in Canada, full-time! Who would you like to thank?

Thank you. I’d like to thank JRD, MX Shoppe, Mika Metals, FXR, Dragon Goggles, Five18 Designs, Mika Metals, Dunlop, Dave Cruze, Mike Mazzone for training me in the gym, Shannon Niday, Worth & Son Roofing, my mechanic Billy, and my entire family for all the love and support over the years.

Mark(y) comes across a very solid, well-adjusted, and polite young racer. We sure hope he gets the opportunities he deserves either down south or up here in Canada.