ICYMI | Catching Up with Dario Zecca | Troy Lee Designs Canada
By Billy Rainford
Dario Zecca is one of the good guys at the races. He loves to ride and race, and it’s riders like him who keep the sport alive. I have a special place in my heart for him because the name “Zecca” is etched in my brain from when I was a little kid at the races. In fact, I could find more than one photo of his dad, Lino Zecca, on the #221 Honda in our family motocross album, if I were to go look. (Hold that thought.)
Here’s a look at Dario’s 2021 racing season:
In case you missed it, we caught up with Dario last week:
Direct Motocross: Hello, Dario. I feel like I know you better than I probably do because I used to race against your dad wayyy back in the day. But since this is your first time doing one of these interviews, let’s start at the beginning. Here’s the first dumb question: How did you first get into motocross?
Dario Zecca: I first got into motocross because of my dad. When I was really young, we would spend all summer up in Parry Sound at Motocamp (our summer camp with dirt bikes). From there on I was pretty much hooked and wanted to ride 24/7.
Did you play any other sports growing up or did MX take over your whole life?
Growing up I literally played every other sport that was available in school: Basketball, Volleyball, Track, XC running, and Rowing. Volleyball actually took up a major amount of my time when I was younger because I played for our city’s rep team. I remember my mom wouldn’t let me ride in the spring until the V-ball season was over in case I got hurt. Haha.
Does your dad still talk about that time I beat him at the 1983 season opener on the upper sand track at Big Bend? Maybe you should go ask him. I’ll wait…
(NB: It may have been the first and last time I ever beat Lino Zecca)
My dad, honestly, doesn’t talk about his racing very much. This year my grandmother moved houses, so we were over there cleaning and we found a ton of old photos of him. I had to try and pry some of the stories out behind the photos (he has a lot and they are all awesome). I’ll definitely have to ask him about the season opener at Big Bend ’83.
You told me a story about your dad wearing a hat at the races. Was that true?
Yes, 100% true. Anytime you post a photo of my dad and me on the line together and he isn’t wearing a hat he mentions how bald he looks. Now, any time we are going to the gate together he grabs a hat in case you snap a sneaky picture.
What was your first number and how did you choose it. And you’d better not say #221!
My first number was 4 because RC (Ricky Carmichael) was my favourite rider when I started racing. 4 was also my number for any school sports. Later when we started racing CMRC and you couldn’t choose a single-digit number I switched to the #415 because it was a combination of RC and Tim Ferry (my second favourite rider at the time). Funny enough, my dad never had any influence on the number I ran.
Who did you come up through the amateur ranks with?
I feel like I had the chance to race some fast guys growing up. In the CMX days I raced guys like Tanner Ward, Duncan McLeod, Sam Gaynor, Max Filipek, and Kyle Brown. In my Intermediate year I raced the “Fab 3” (Ward, (Austin) Watling and (Marco) Cannella). I remember getting a 4th that year and calling it a win because those guys were on another level. Haha.
You’re actually a teacher who also races Pro Motocross now. I guess having the summers off makes that the perfect job, right? Was teaching always your plan?
I actually just graduated Teacher’s College this spring and have recently started working as a supply teacher in the school board. Having summers off had a little bit of sway when I was trying to decide what to do with my life. I liked the ideas of summers off because I could continue to run our Motocamp program. Teaching wasn’t always the plan, but my mom really made me look into it and eventually I decided long term it was the best job for me.
I’m not sure anyone enjoys being on his bike more than you. You actually once told me: “I just love riding my dirt bike!” And that was on the line before a race! Is that what keeps you motivated these days, the pure love of riding?
I do really enjoy riding and just being on the bike in general. Once I turned Pro and was in school full time, I knew that “winning” was kind of out of the question. At that point when you know you can’t really win the race you just go out and have as much fun as possible. I try to have that “I just love riding my dirt bike” mentality before the races because it keeps me loose. As far as my motivation goes, I just try and race the best that I can regardless of the result. I told my dad earlier in the year that I just want to come off the track and know that I rode to my potential.
You guys are very active in your community and have been running Motocamp for a long time. Can you tell everyone a little more about what it is you guys do up there in Parry Sound?
Yeah, we try to stay active in the community and feel that by running Motocamp it is our small way of giving back to the sport. Motocamp, in a nutshell, is a week-long summer camp for kids aged 4-18. The campers get dropped off on Sunday night and stay with us until Friday at lunch. We do everything that a normal summer camp would do including swimming, tubing, tower jumping, rock climbing, dodgeball, tractor rides etc… except we teach the campers how to ride dirt bikes as well. The camp is geared for kids who are newer to the sport and want to develop their skills or just learn how to ride in general. I honestly think it is the most fun a kid could have at a summer camp, but I may be biased. Haha.
If you want more information our website is www.motocamp.ca
How did your 2021 season go? You’ll be #43 for 2022.
This season went okay… I broke my hand practicing with Gaynor and (Ryan) Derry in the spring and that set me back a lot. This year was super busy with stuff unrelated to moto so I feel like I didn’t log as many practice hours as I needed to. Overall, I ended up going from number 37 to 43 so it wasn’t terrible, but I definitely feel like I left some better results and points on the table.
What have you been doing since the Supercross portion of the season ended?
Since the Supercross portion of the series ended I have been supply teaching at a new school every day. Grades range from Kindergarten to Grade 8, so it keeps me pretty occupied on a daily basis.
What’s the hardest part about being a teacher?
The hardest part of being a teacher right now is actually how young I am. I just turned 23 and so far every class that I have been in has asked me if I am fresh out of High School. I also just changed my Instagram account to private because my students would find it and start liking all my photos. Haha.
What are your plans for the winter months? Do you ever go south to train?
I don’t really have any riding/ racing related plans for the winter months. I have only been able to go south to ride twice in my life and they were max 5 days at a time so not the most beneficial for base building. I would like to go somewhere to ride over March break as it is just nice to dust the cobwebs off and give myself major arm pump.
When the series goes back to being the normal coast-to-coast schedule, will you chase the whole thing again?
Unfortunately, I don’t think I would go coast to coast if the series went back to normal next year as much as I would like to. I planned on doing the full series in 2020 until COVID ruined that. Now that I am done school it would be tough to swing a full series.
OK, since this is our first time, you’d better tell us some things about yourself:
What kind of music do you like? And why is Nickelback so terrible?
Just because you added the Nickelback part, Billy, I am going to say I listen to Rockstar by them on repeat… I am not super picky when it comes to music, I just put on a random playlist my brother has made and sing along.
Give us 3 albums you’d want with you if you were stuck on an island.
I don’t know if I can name 3 albums, to be honest with you. I listen to podcasts all the time while I’m driving or working.
Let’s go with 1) American Teen by Khalid 2) Recovery by Eminem 3) Ok Orchestra by AJR
What’s the best thing on Netflix or Prime or whatever these days?
The best shows on Netflix have to be: The Office, Suits, How I Met Your Mother and Modern Family. Oh, and Drive to Survive.
Who was your hero growing up?
Growing up, Carmichael was my hero, but I don’t have a lot of memories of him racing because I was pretty young. I also loved Ryan Villopoto, ever since he won MXoN in 2007 on a 250.
Best movie of all time?
Has to be Step Brothers because of Peter Derry’s appearance on Dale’s shirt!
Gopher Dunes after the national this year? I really like Sand Del Lee, Deschambault and the GDR Factory Track.
My Nonna’s homemade Lasagna. Haha.
OK, thanks for playing along, Dario. We’ll see you somewhere soon, I’m sure. Who would you like to thank?
No problem, Billy! I’d like to give a huge thanks to: Motocamp Canada, Barrie Honda Powerhouse, Honda Canada, Fox Canada, Redlabel Mx, TorLon Realty, SSS by Facciotti, Steve Simms Racing, Mika Metals, Mica Sport Canada, Scott Canada, Holeshot Designs, Natty Seats, Ryno Power, Works Connection, Ride Engineering, Chantler Transport, and The Rumball Camp for the Deaf.
I’d also like to thank: Mom, Dad, Brother, my girlfriend/ mechanic Lindsey, Brayden, the Derrys and the Gaynors for always having my back, and Stu from Barrie Honda.