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Flyin' Brian Sjogren looks ahead
by Dan McGee
Jan 24, 2010 | 3190 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune/Dan McGee - While winning at race at the Mustang Motor Plex in November, Brian Sjogren has a little fun and does a Can-Can while soaring over the finish line jump.
Tribune/Dan McGee - While winning at race at the Mustang Motor Plex in November, Brian Sjogren has a little fun and does a Can-Can while soaring over the finish line jump.
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Tribune/Dan McGee - Before going out on a ride, Brian Sjogren stands with his practice motorcycle in his parent's garage. His racing bike is out being prepared for the upcoming motocross season.
Tribune/Dan McGee - Before going out on a ride, Brian Sjogren stands with his practice motorcycle in his parent's garage. His racing bike is out being prepared for the upcoming motocross season.
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RED ROCK - Racing is a passionate sport and many racers burn with the fire of competition. One among this group is 15-year-old Brian Sjogren, a contender whenever he lines up for a motocross.

For him it's a family thing as he's the son of Eric Sjogren, a former drag boat racer and half brother to local motocross pro Tony Evans, his inspiration and mentor.

His mother Diana Sjogren summed up her son's interest simply when she said, "Motocross is his passion."

Even though known for his two-wheel exploits, he's competed in traditional sports.

"I like playing basketball and football," he said,

He began basketball in the third grade and played until the end of middle school.

"I did play football this year and while we didn't have that good of a team it was a lot of fun," he said. "But my first sport was motocross as I got my first bike when I was 3 years old and my brother got me interested in racing."

After watching his brother race, Sjogren had his first taste of competition at age 5 on the sandy track at Fernley. His mother recounted he was second until the leader fell, then he stopped to help that rider get back up.

In the end Sjogren won the race, his very first.

Asked about that, he said, "I think I had a hard time making it up every jump but I finished."

Now bitten by the racing bug, Sjogren continued to race, and when it was time, started to move up the class ladder. This means riding bigger more powerful bikes and dealing with adjustments it takes to be successful.

"Going from 50 to 65 wasn't that hard, 65 to 85 wasn't that hard but I think the 85 two-stroke going to the big bike, a CRF250R four-stroke Honda, was the toughest jump for me," he said.

Two-stroke and four-stroke motors have different characteristics; one has a narrow band of power while the other has more torque at the lower end. Any rider moving up a class or to a different motor type has to be adaptive.

"A two-stroke is more aggressive than a four-stroke," he said. "The two-stroke has more upper RPMs, which is good because it's fast. But a four-stroke is kind of smoother and more low RPMs."

As he became older and more experienced, Sjogren's brother Tony helped him improve his racing.

"He's had a huge influence on me. I remember when I was 2 or 3 years old going to the races, watching him and wanting to race," Sjogren said. "He pushes me because I've always wanted to be better than him but we keep it fun and competitive as it runs in the family."

About five years ago his family began taking their young racer to events like the Dodge Amateur Nationals and the Loretta Lynn Nationals. Faced with a high level of competition he excelled and even won races.

"I started going to Loretta Lynn's, which is Tennessee, when I was 10 or 11 and on a 65," he said. "So I've been doing stuff out of the state for a while."

The Loretta Lynn Nationals is a huge event where hundreds of the fastest amateur riders in the nation face off against each other. Just being there means a racer has prevailed in one of the many qualifying events held across the country.

However, any rider leaving their home turf has to make a huge mental jump to be competitive. Leaving their normal home field advantage behind, they race without the usual fans and family that are a part of a local rider's scene.

"It's a big adjustment, racing locally is fun because you know everybody and you're all having a good time," he said. "If you go to another state or a national the races are way more competitive and everyone is just as fast as you are. And at the same time, you don't know anybody so you're just kind of there by yourself and trying to win races."

Eventually his success came to the attention of the Carter Powersports team, who brought him into the WORCS (World Off Road Championship Series.) races in 2006. After that rookie season, he won the 85A (Expert) and Supermini A (Expert) championships in 2007.

A WORCS race is both longer and very different from the sprint type motocross events he was used to. But some parts were familiar.

"It was a big adjustment but not really because WORCS is half motocross, half desert. I live out in the desert and ride it every day," he said. "But the races are way longer."

The added length showed Sjogren he'd better focus on his training.

"I remember my first WORCS race; after eight-laps I was done," he said. "There's about a month between races so when I got back home I trained hard, was on the bicycle a lot and ended up doing a lot better."

His mother, commenting on the changes he had to go through, said, "It was so different, because to go that hard you have to learn how to eat right, train right and be strong."

He did and she added when Sjogren returned to motocross, he was a strong 13-year-old.

Around this time, while he was in middle school, Sjogren started to be identified by his sport rather than just being a kid that raced motocross.

"It had an effect on me because a lot of people knew who I was but I didn't know them," he said. "I was well known throughout Reno I guess."

Both the Loretta Lynn Nationals and the Dodge Amateur Nationals are comparable to each other as far as the level of competition.

"It's a big change but a National is still a National," he said. "When you ride a race with someone that is as fast or faster than you are, it always makes you faster."

His mother pointed out he really isn't intimated by other riders or locations. She also added that when he switched to his big bike at age 13, he won races at both at the Dodge Nationals and Mammoth Mountain event.

The necessary traveling had caused a change in Sjogren's schooling. This year he started being home schooled and is the equivalent to a freshman in high school and finding out it's not easy.

"It's a lot harder I think because you don't have anyone to push you," he said. "And the work is harder. I think public school is hard but it's easier to get through."

But this situation allows him to travel more although he has to keep up with his studies.

Like any athlete, Sjogren has his favorite and not so favorite parts of motocross.

"My least favorite part is losing and my favorite part is winning," he said.

Then his mother added, "He doesn't like second."

And like other racers, Sjogren has a list of very appreciated sponsors for this year. Topping the list are his mother and father.

Some of the other sponsors are Blonix, Factory Connection, Smith Optics, Answer Racing, SE Drywall (His father's company.), FMF, BVH and RMS.

Looking ahead, as if it was a perfect world, he said, "I want to be able to race Supercross, Outdoor National Motocross and win titles."

However, this year his plans will take him to other states for both racing and training.

"My plans are race Lake Whitney, then Oakhill; they're back-to-back nationals in Texas," he said. "Hopefully in April the World Minis then Mammoth should be coming around. After that qualify for Loretta Lynn's, then Ponca City Nationals and the Dodge Nationals."

Prior to both Texas events he'll be at Underground, a training facility there.

"I'll get used to the air and dirt so it should be fun," he said.

Training is an important part of motocross racing as the sport is so physically demanding. Controlling a motorcycle at high speed while going over rough terrain, not to mention flying through the air over jumps, is not for the weak or faint hearted.

"My training is pretty tough as I ride five times a week, I'm in the gym, lift a lot of weights and on a stationary bike a lot," he said. "My rides are timed as I do 30- to 40-minute motos or whatever I can do. It's all hard but once you win a race and know you put in all the good work, it pays off."

Then his mother added, "He's in the fastest class, the intermediates, and having a chance to train before these races is a wonderful privilege. So he's got a lot of great doors opening for him."

Sjogren knows what he wants and where he wants to go. For this young rider the future looks as bright as the fire for competition that burns inside him.

And with some luck and hard work, his dreams just might come true. Until then, with his family's support, he's going to do his very best.
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