John Giusti raced for about 14 years in Northern California but now he helps his son and has been an inspiration to young Tony.
Asked when he got interested in motorcycles 14-year-old Tony said, "He used to take us riding a lot on the trails and stuff. And I got my first motorcycle when I was 8 years old."
Although his first sport was baseball, Tony put away his glove and bat once motorcycles entered his life. After riding for a while, he wanted to see what it was like to race so Giusti and his older brother entered their first motocross.
Commenting on that race Tony said, "I didn't expect it to be like that because there were smaller bikes that were beating me."
He first competed on a PW80, which is really a trail bike when he competed in the 65cc class.
Then John said, "Have to give my oldest boy, John Jr., some credit as he originally got Tony started in racing."
Describing those first seasons Tony said, "For awhile it was for fun and it didn't matter where I placed. It was just about having a good time with the family but after about a year or so then we started working hard and wanted to see results."
Working hard meant both he and his father were out after the season ended doing practice sessions.
"We actually went out during the winter, when everyone was inside and even thought it was horrible weather we always went riding," he said.
Then his father added, "Snow, rain whatever, he was out there riding and I hated it. I took him out to the tracks and we rode out in the mud, snow, rain and everything."
During that winter while his father sat out in the weather, Tony would crash, get up and continue learning how to ride better.
"And when the season started he came back the next year and completely dominated the 65 class," John said.
They both credited those months in the bad weather as the key to Tony's success out on the track. Being out in that kind of weather is a challenge to any rider, especially a beginner.
"You have to deal with a lot of things," Tony said. "You have to bundle and layer up and you tend to crash a lot more."
Riding in slick weather is good training as it puts a premium on throttle control and handling. Not to mention a great way to taste a lot of mud while learning the lessons this type of riding offers.
Reflecting on the next season John said, "He went from Beginner to Novice right away but he was always behind Gavin Clouser, who was always beating him."
Clouser began to race when he was very young in the Pee Wee divisions so he had a lot more experience than Giusti, who was older when he started racing.
"But right now they're very close," his father said.
Then Giusti moved into the 85cc division and this fall stepped up to a four-stroke 250F.
Asked which if going from a 65 to an 85cc bike was a bigger jump, he said, "That actually seems a bigger jump than going on to the 250s. I don't know what it was but it was a lot harder."
Once on his 85cc he had to have the bike lowered due to his size but Tony still won his first 10 motos and an AMPGFI championship at the Mustang track.
"Then he won the California-Nevada Shoot Out they had one weekend and he was 10-years-old at that time," his father said.
Currently Giusti is being home schooled but when he was in elementary school he kept his racing quiet.
At the end of this season Giusti gave up racing the 85cc bike, even though he could continue for the next three years.
"He and Gavin both just took off on the big bikes so they are big bike riders now," his father said. "But he rode the 85s from 9-years-old until he was 13, which was going on five years."
Giusti explained making the transition at the end of this season took him about a week to get used to the 250F bike, which uses a four-stroke motor. Beside the size difference a two-stroke needs to run at a higher RPM to get maximum power while a four-stroke has more low-end torque.
"I don't know if it's a lot more mobility but you feel it's like a dirt bike and it doesn't really feel bigger when you're riding," he said.
His first big bike race was actually on a two-stroke 125 machine.
"That race was more to see how I was going to do," he said. "At the start they just all pulled away so the whole race I had to make up positions on the track."
His father added that he went form 14th to fourth and in the next race Giusti ended up second behind Clouser. And both boys are now running equal times in practice.
This past summer, in the Northern California E Street/Riverfront series Giusti won titles in 85 Novice and 85 Open Class even though he missed the first race in the six-race series.
"He dominated it," John Giusti said. "He had a really good series and he beat some really fast kids down there that used to beat him."
Giusti added that this was a huge boost to his confidence. "Yea, that helped, for a couple of years I had terrible seasons and then having those races and doing good kind of brought me out and made me more aggressive and stuff."
In an over-the-top sport like motocross, confidence is a huge asset to any rider. During a race there is a mix of tight and fast turns but many times racers launch themselves over various types of jumps where the margin for error is very slim.
While his father has given Giusti lots of advice, some of which he admits not listening to, there is a friend whose advice is well received. That is fellow racer Jesse Sanchez.
Both boys are best of friends and Jesse has years more experience than Giusti does. So they when the ride together both help each other and Sanchez has been a huge influence on Guisti's increasing abilities in competition.
Commenting on the boy's friendship Giusti's father said, "Jesse's got him doing things he wouldn't have tried before and all of a sudden he's doing it."
Then Tony said, "Another big thing is that me and Jesse are really close friends, we talk with each other almost every day or go hang out with each other and I know he knows my ability and speed. You know its one thing with him (dad) when he tells me to go and do stuff as its kind of hard for me to trust him because he's not on the track. But when Jesse's on the track, he knows what's on it and if there's something wrong he'll tell me so I trust him a lot when he tells me I can do something."
For father and son their relationship and shared love of racing is very important to both of them.
"What does it mean to me, I get to relive all my racing again but I don't get hurt this time," his father said. "I do really enjoy it and the ups and downs are tremendous, they're so hard and it takes a lot of our money, we don't get no help but it's OK if we're having a good time. I'm an older dad and I'm very fortunate that I get to relive this and have fun doing it."
Then Giusti said, "He gives me a lot of good advice, sometimes I don't listen but he always does. He's always there, always at the track and races, always does everything to get me what I can. So it means a lot that he stays here and he doesn't give up on me."
And like any athlete Giusti has his not so favorite parts of the sport, like getting bad starts and having to work his way through the pack but his most favorite part is getting a good start and being up front.
He also appreciates the support he's gotten from several people and especially his older brother that got him his first bike. Another is veteran Layne Kolbet, who arranged for some sponsorship and has helped Giusti several times.
Locally he has a great appreciation for the folks at Moto Source for their help and support. Another very appreciated sponsor is Cernic's Suzuki, an east coast company that provides big discounts on various items as well as Pirelli Tires, MSR, FMF and X-Brand Goggles.
Looking toward the next season Giusti explained that he feels good about his chances.
"My riding has been good compared to guys I've actually raced with like Gavin. When I see I'm close to him, and how he's done in the Nationals, I consider my chances good," Giusti said.
His father added that next year they plan on racing a lot in California for a variety of tracks over there. And he added that Northern Nevada is producing some of the best amateur riders, even better than those in Northern California.
Even though he's 14, Giusti said of the future, "I want to go as far as I can."