Racer X: April, let’s begin with the wonder years: How did you get started riding and racing dirt bikes? April Zastrow: My dad took me to a few local races when I was about nine years old, and at one of them there was a drawing to win a bike. I entered it, and immediately began making plans about what I would do if I won! I didn’t win, but it really caught my dad’s attention as I don’t often get too excited about things – and here I was. He later bought me a Yamaha PW90 that I rode a few times before it was stolen. Then a couple years later, when I was 12, I decided that I wanted to ride again. A friend of my dad’s got me started with racing right away, and I have since dedicated most of my life to riding.
Does your dad ride? He did get a bike when I got my second bike and trail rode with me for a few years until he couldn’t hang any longer.
How was growing up in Idaho and riding? Idaho really has a lot of great riding: We have mountains that are good enough for an ISDE Qualifier, tons of deserts, and a few tracks as well. I have tried as many type of racing as I could to try to keep it fresh and fun. So I have raced desert, Hare Scrambles, WORCS, ISDE Qualifiers, motocross of course, and even hillclimbs! The local tracks were very good for me when I was a beginner, but they aren’t that good for progressing if you want to take racing seriously. They don’t have enough ruts or challenging jumps. I have to go to the desert for most of my riding because it is more challenging and there is more to learn there.
You then turned pro in 2004, right? Yes, I turned pro at the WMA Cup that year, and it was a big wake-up call for me. I had never raced a major event like that, and it was actually only the second time that I raced outside of Idaho. I really spent much of my early career learning how to compete on real tracks against some very tough competition. I really had to train for the longer motos, rougher tracks, and more difficult obstacles. But I have gotten better each year, and my results have shown progression from race to race over the years. Probably my greatest success has been my second place at the US Open in 2007, and then I got invited to the X Games this year, so that in itself is a success to me.
How do you feel that your 2009 season is going? It definitely started out better than it has in the past. Firstly, I am now on Team Solitaire, and I am getting more help than I ever had in the past. I have also placed better than I did in the past, but maybe not as good as I had expected coming into this year. It seems as if everyone in the class is riding better, and there are a few new girls that have raised the bar – but I am starting to get better starts and gain more confidence. Ryan Clark has really helped me a lot with different tips at the races, and he is the first person that has given me advice that pertains to me at that moment in time – and actually makes sense to me.
With that said, what do you feel that it will take to get to that next step in your career and be up battling with Fiolek and Patterson? I think that you need to be in an environment that allows you to dedicate 100 percent of your time to racing. I wish that I could spend more time in California because there you are surrounded by serious racers. It makes things easier if you get into a training routine when you are around people that have the same goals as you. When I am out in California at one of the practice tracks it is usually filled with top riders – it just helps to ride with faster riders, and people that you actually race against. I do think that women are starting to get more support now, and that soon more girls will get on training programs that are similar to the guys.
What do you do when you are not racing or training? During the winter, I go to college full-time working on a Graphic Design degree. I want to stay in the industry when I am forced to grow up and get a full-time job. Hopefully you will see some of my work within the industry in the future.
That sounds great, April; how about before we end this you tell us who you would like to thank? Sure. I have a lot of sponsors that really help me like Fly Racing, CC Rider Gear, MB1 Suspension, Canyon Honda, The Dirt Lab, American Honda Motor Co., St. Lawrence Radiology, Rockwell Watches, Kingdom Crown Clothing, Cart Company, Nuclear Blast, Dunlop, Dragon Optical, Pro Honda Oils and Chemicals, Factory Effex, Yoshimura, Vortex, Thunder Alley Sports, Western Power Sports, Sidi, Champion Tool Storage, QTM/Brembo, RK Chain, EXCEL Rims, HoyFox.com, Boyesen, K & N Filters, Cycra Plastic, Sano Systems, Pivot Works, Hot Cams, Hot Rods, Crank Works, CP Pistons, Cometic Gaskets, Ron Davis Racing Radiators, Leatt Brace, Dirt Pro, VP racing Fuel, CDG Technology, Mechanix Wear, Hammerhead Designs, Team Hawg Racing, Hinson, DC Auto Wraps, and of course my family.