Carmichael makes jump from two wheeels to four
By John Marshall
KANSAS CITY, Kan. ó Ricky Carmichael was running out of challenges on a motorcycle. Earn the nickname Greatest of All-Time and there’s a good chance there won’t be anything left to accomplish.
All it took was a trip to the Daytona 500 for Carmichael to realize where his next test should be ó on four wheels instead of two. The man who won more motocross races than anyone threw down the kickstand and jumped behind the wheel of a truck.
“I was pretty much done with what I wanted to do in motocross and supercross racing,” Carmichael said. “The opportunity came, I tried it and liked it, and one thing led to another.”
Kevin Harvick gave him the chance.
The NASCAR driver had met Carmichael during Daytona Speedweeks in 2005 and knew of his impressive dirt-bike reputation. The two crossed paths last spring at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, where Harvick saw Carmichael race for the first time in a regional trucks race.
Impressed by what he saw, Harvick talked it over with his wife and business partner, DeLana, and called Carmichael a week later to see if he’d be interested in racing for Kevin Harvick Incorporated. It didn’t take long to get an answer.
“He called me up out of the blue and asked me what my plans were, told me what his plans were and we ended up forming a little program,” Carmichael said. “It was so cool to just get a call from him out of the blue, and we made it work.”
Signing Carmichael certainly made sense from a marketing standpoint. Carmichael already had a recognizable name, and his popularity in motocross offered an opportunity to lure a new demographic of fans to the truck series.
As for competition, the 30-year-old motocross star already had an advantage: he knew how to race. Maybe not on four wheels, but clearly he had a knack for reaching the finish line, winning 15 American Motorcyclist Association championships and 150 races, including two perfect seasons.
“Obviously, everyone knows how successful Ricky has been on two wheels, including myself,” Harvick said. “The best thing about Ricky is you only need to teach him the aspects of driving a truck. Everything else comes natural to him from his days in motocross.”
Carmichael became interested in four-wheel racing when he was nursing a knee injury in 2000 and attended the Daytona 500. He raced a few times in late-model cars after that, then spent a developmental year learning to drive trucks after retiring from motocross in 2007.
Carmichael is 20th in the points with one top-10 finish after racing in all five events so far this season in NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.