#ICYMI | Catching Up with Jason Burke
By Billy Rainford
Catching Up with…Jason Burke. | Bigwave photo
As we dive into the official off-season in Motocross, it’s nice to get the chance to talk to some of the racers who make Canadian Motocross the unique scene that it is. In other parts of the world, riders drop everything and focus solely on becoming the next Ricky Carmichael. Homeschooling is commonplace and and life becomes nothing but gate drops, berms, and scrubs.
Such is not the case with Jason Burke who is a rider who has worked hard to get where he is in the sport and in his 9-5 job. This hard-working plumber still finds time to be a good husband, father, and weekend warrior (he may not like that) fighting for top 15’s in the Pro class on the weekend.
I have to admit, it seems like Jay has been a Pro forever, but I was surprised to learn he’s actually 31 years old. I’m not sure if I half expected him to say 45 when I asked him, but I just assumed he was older than that. He had to point out that he’s “Not that old!” in our conversation. Sorry, Jay.
Jay is one of the no-nonsense riders on the track who let’s his riding and results do the talking for him. You’re not going to hear any excuses from this guy. If you’re afraid of the answer, do not ask the question. I’ve always appreciated this with Jay.
Jay will trade in his #44 for #60 in 2018. | Bigwave photo
Jay will trade in his #44 for #60 in 2018 and it sounds like he will do the same eastern swing program as he did this past summer. Here’s a look at his results from the 2017 season:
We grabbed Jay for a quick chat to get his thoughts. Here’s what he had to say:
Direct Motocross: Hello, Jason. Thanks for chatting with us today. You’ve been around the sport a long time – longer than some racers today have been alive! Can you take us back to the beginning and tell us how you started in Motocross?
Jason Burke: Happy to connect. Started with rubber boots, jeans and whatever helmet we could find, on beater bikes in the back fields – first real bike was a KX80, my legs were only long enough for a 50 – but dad didn’t want me to outgrow it. My first race was at the Steel City club track – 2nd place behind Dan Gobbo – my brother got 3rd – and that was it on the gate.
Did you and your family grow up driving all over the map to races all over the place? What were some of the biggest races amateur events you hit? How did you do as an amateur?
As an amateur we rode when and where we wanted, not taking it super-serious or following series, staying pretty local – we did Walton with jeans and rubber boots, no peak – getting a 3rd in Supermini. It wasn’t until Intermediate and Pro that I really committed to a club or series.
What year was you Intermediate year at the Walton TransCan? How did you do and who were you up against in that transitional year?
The year Tyler Medaglia swept – I lead every lap of the 1st 125 Intermediate moto until Tyler passed me near the end, then had a KO in moto 2 (Laughs). That week ended quickly.
So, then you turned Pro. Did you get on a team right away and hit the road for the Canadian Nationals?
First year Pro was with Brad Coles at Label-It – hit the road for east rounds.
How did you do that first year as a Pro? Do you remember who you were battling every week?
Did okay, went from national number 97 to 33 – I was pumped overall. No epic battles, had some hot and cold rounds.
Watch for Jay to be on a similar east coast program in 2018 like he was this past summer. | Bigwave photo
Let’s fast forward to the present. You’re now a husband and a father. How has that changed your outlook on life and the sport?
I appreciate moto – it’s a fun outlet, but now a much lower priority. Starting to enjoy the vet stuff – shorter days, less driving, less training – can’t find time as easily to do a full weekend somewhere.
You raced most of the eastern rounds this season with some ups and downs. Can you take us through your summer’s racing? Your best finish was a 14th at Pleasant Valley but you also have a DNF.
I had a few DNF’s and DNS’s. I was in a different mindset after my buddy Mikey’s (Mike Beaudin) injury – wasn’t sure we’d do the east. But we did – so I just rode safe, raced for fun and vacationed with the fam. Did some welding on the race rigs, fixed a couple sub-frames. It was more about enjoying my time off work and hanging out with the moto community and bicycling and hanging out with my kids.
What have you been up to since the Pro season ended?
Work, family stuff, some home improvement projects, some vet races. Regular adult stuff.
What is it, exactly, you do for your 9-5?
I’m a plumber. Mainly mechanical – water and waste water – a lot of municipal stuff. But I’ll pretty much do anything related to plumbing or welding. Then I run around to daycare and school picking up the kids and do the dad stuff.
What are your plans for this coming winter? Staying home to work and be a dad or taking the family south for some moto training?
Right now the plan is to stay home. We usually do a couple weeks in Florida but Meag thinks staying home for the holidays will be nice, not sure about the spring, but no serious training plans.
What are your plans for next summer? How many more years do you have in you?
Come on, Billy – I’m not that old – but no plans yet.
Looking back over your career, is there one race/moment that stands out for you?
Not really. I’m usually just happy to be there, trying to enjoy it all.
Jason is now a family man with a wife and kids. That’s Meag. | Bigwave photo
What advice do you have for any youngsters wanting to move forward in Canadian Moto?
Hard work usually beats raw talent – just put in an honest effort.
OK, thanks for taking this time with us today. Who would you like to thank?
I’ve been lucky to have support from some of the same people year after year. For 2017, I’d mainly like to thank FXR, SSR, Label-It, 100%, all the guys at GDR, the Hajgatos, Meag and our boys, and my spring training partner, Mikey.