Corona,CA: Mitch Payton, founder and owner of Pro Circuit and a master motocross tuner and race team manager, is Dave's guest this Sunday night, August 23 at 8:30pm ET. Payton's extraordinary career in motocross began, however, not as a choice but as the direct result of a personal disaster which changed his life goals beyond all recognition.
Payton, like so many other young Californians, began motorcycle desert riding at a very young age. By the time he was ten, he was competing in family enduros, and by the age of 16, he was a rising young star, winning the AMA District 37, 125cc class championship. Less than a year later and one day after his seventeenth birthday, he suffered a horrific crash, leaving him partially paralyzed. Instead of giving up, Payton refocused his efforts on the business side of the sport and with financial help from his parents opened Anaheim Husqvarna which quickly morphed into Pro Circuit.
Within a few years, Payton's products and services were being used by some of the biggest motocross teams of the mid-1980s. In 1991, Payton got his big break when Honda asked him to run their 125cc motocross team. Payton accepted, and over the next twenty-plus years has managed teams and supplied parts for other motorcycle brands including Suzuki, Yamaha, Husqvarna, KTM, and Kawasaki. Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki is the most successful team in supercross/motocross history.
By most measures, Payton is the epitome of a winning privateer and factory motocross race team manager. He has collected twenty-nine AMA Pro Racing Championships in Motocross and Supercross since 1991, with the help of such talented riders as Jeremy McGrath and Ricky Carmichael.
"Everybody needs to have that feeling in the heart of winning or they will give up quick," says Payton.
Today, his customers range from professional race teams chasing results on the national circuit to recreational riders emulating their heroes. Payton's marketing plan, which ultimately became one of the industry's most successful, is simple: Pro Circuit builds and sells aftermarket parts that appeal to him.
Mitch Payton was inducted into the Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 2010.