“I basically grew up racing with everyone in District 5 and District 6,” says Sommo. “Barry Carsten and I did our first race together back then. We started at the local level and then kept at it just like most families do.”
Ray eventually landed a Team Green ride in 1983 and rewarded them with a championship at Loretta Lynn’s that year. He moved to California in 1984 to continue his racing career in the hotbed of the sport. He competed in the very first 125 SX series in 1985, leading the series until the last round where he crashed out. His efforts were good enough to land him a Yamaha ride for the next two years. While he never had any major wins, Ray did keep himself in the top ten on a regular basis.
Sommo spent a lot of time racing in Europe. There wasn’t a lot of money to be made at the nationals at the time but European promoters were paying big dollars to have American racers come over. And Ray was taking advantage of that. He would race the U.S. series and then head to Europe in the off-season to make his money. Most times he made more money in the four months he spent there than during the rest of the time in the States.
He started riding Suzukis in 1990 and stayed with them for quite a while. He won the Canadian National Championship in 1996 and raced there again in ‘97. After that, it was time for a change for Ray. He got a job doing R&D testing for Honda. He got married and had a son while he was helping develop Honda’s new aluminum framed 125 that released in 1998. For the next eight years Ray worked at American Honda in the testing division.
Since then things have been difficult for Ray Sommo. He went through some bad times but is back working on two new projects. His first venture is to get a motocross school up and running. He is currently looking for riders to help with their riding, training and bike setup. A true veteran of the racing and testing world, Ray is also starting a bike setup service. Riders can meet Sommo at the track and he will personally set their bikes up for them. Everything from sag, jetting, suspension, and personal setup is included. Those interested in Ray’s school or his bike setup services can reach him at (949) 310-0418. He can also be contacted through Zoo Ministries at www.zooministries.com
Ray spends his off time now riding and hanging out with his eight-year-old son, Jason.