Photos By: Harlen Foley
& Roy Bloodworth
Travis Spader - Yamaha Factory ATV MX Racer
In 1985, Travis Spader, at 14 years old, threw his
leg over an ATC 3-Wheeler for the first time and
instantly changed his outlook for sports. The love
for off-road riding soon turned into competitive
racing. For the next 16 consecutive years, Travis
soon accomplished 2 Amateur and 6 Pro-Amateur Grand
National Championships. In 1993, he turned Pro and
always challenged the Pro title and in 2000, Travis
proclaimed the GNC 250 Pro Grand National Championship.
After another year of professional racing in 2001,
Travis decided to utilize his Master’s Degree
of Physical Therapy and open his own rehabilitation
clinic. Travis left the racing industry for 3 years
and dedicated his time to the physical therapy business.
In 2004, Travis re-developed an interest to ride
and compete again with the release of the YFZ 450.
Travis made a comeback to professional ATV racing
in 2005, aboard a YFZ 450 and respectively finished
such an impressive racing career already under his
belt, we could only wonder what Travis had in store
for 2006, so we gave him a call and here is what
he shared with us.
What actually turned you on to ATV racing?
Travis Spader - Ten Quick Facts
||Point Pleasant, NJ
||Factory Pro Racer
Travis Spader: I lived in a neighborhood that had woods
behind it and a lot of the kids had offroad bikes, and
in 1985, one of my neighbors came home with a Honda
ATC110. He kind of created a whole new craze in the
neighborhood as everyone started trading in their dirt
bikes for ATCs. I got the knack of it from riding theirs
and finally my father ended up buying one for me and
that is where it went.
What was your reason for retiring
at the end of the 2001 season?
Basically, the fact that I couldn’t make a professional
career out of it and actually make a living.
In 2001, after winning the
National Championship in 2000, you still weren’t
able to making a living ATV racing?
No, it was a budget that was only allowing me to break
Since you weren’t able
to making a living racing, what were you doing for
I was working as a physical therapist, and I had the
urge to open my own clinic, so I basically dedicated
all my time into establishing my own physical therapy
To start your own physical
therapy business, you must have earned a college degree?
Yes, it’s a Masters Degree program, and the
year I won the National Title, I also graduated from
What made decide to become
a physical therapist?
Spader started the buzz in November of 2004
when he showed up to race at the Englishtown
Fall Classics and won both Motos in the Pro
Am Production Class against John Natalie Jr,
Pat Brown,and Donald Lysinger, which set the
stage for a 2005 comeback year.
Actually I became interested in the career because
of the injuries that I sustained through racing. The
biggest one that I ever had and put me in six months
of rehab was a Achilles tendon rupture back in 1993,
which was my first year of Pro. I did it at Red Bud
trying to jump the triple, and I came up short. If
I never started racing, I would have probably never
considered becoming a PT.
Well you must have spent at
least six years in college to earn your Masters Degree,
so you must have been attending college the whole
time you were racing ATVs?
Yes, it was a six year program, which I started in
1994 and before that, I acquired my Associates Degree.
Before becoming a physical
therapist, what did you do for a job?
Umm, I bartended and did some landscaping and summer
What is the name of your
physical therapy clinic and where is it located?
It is called Active Physical Therapy and is located
in Nanasquan, NJ, which is a town along the Jersey
shore and less than a mile from the beach, so I have
a very affluent clientele.
Well it sounds like you have
a very successful business, so what made you decided
to return to ATV racing in 2005 without any major
Well, I watched the Industry grow because I have continued
to follow the sport even though I wasn’t actively
involved, and my friend Paul Turner stayed involved
in it after I retired. Also, I spoke with Wayne Hinson
in 2004, and he told me the sport was growing and
if I had any intention of coming back, you better
do it now because if you can beat Doug Gust you will
have a contract on your lap (laughing), so that made
me start thinking that I might be able to comeback
and make a career out of ATV racing, so last year,
I came back and spent about half my savings trying
to do it.
I could tell you didn’t
have a huge budget for racing because you traveled
to the races in your pickup truck with your ATV on
the back, and you even switched out ATVs midseason
when you ran into sponsor issues.
started out the season on a Yamaha, but after
experiencing some sponsorship issues, he switched
to Suzuki for several rounds before returning
to the Yamaha at Loretta's and finished a season
best 2nd Overall
The one thing about being on my own program was that
I had the choice to do what I wanted, and I didn’t
have to stay on any one brand. When I ran into a little
difficulty with one of my sponsors halfway through
the season, I was able to switch brands without a
My intention at the beginning of the
season was to run a limited schedule, so I could establish
my name again and get some support for 2006, and what
ended up happening is in the first race, I ended up
finishing fifth. I told myself before the opening
round that if I finished fifth or better, I was going
to the next one and things kept rolling. I found myself
in the top five in the point’s standings, so
I kept on going and made a decision to go to every
race and finish out the season.
Red Bud has obviously not
been a good track for you with your previous injury
and in 2005 you were disqualified from racing at Red
Bud for not signing up in time, which was a major
setback in the points standing for you, so did it
affect you mentally finishing out the rest of the
No, it didn’t set me back mentally, but it did
keep me out of the top five in points standing for
sure, and if I was able to compete in that race, I
would have been able to finish out the season in at
least fifth overall.
At the end of the 2005 season,
when I spoke to you at Loretta’s you weren’t
even sure if you would be back for 2006, so what has
changed between now and then?
The call from Yamaha made the difference because I
was really looking to get a full factory ride to continue.
I knew that I couldn’t do it again on my own
budget and spending every spare second that I had
wrenching on my quad and riding.
When did you finally receive
the call from Yamaha, and what type of deal did you
receive from Yamaha?
It wasn’t until late fall that I heard from
Yamaha, and without going into specifics their support
is going to allow me to focus on racing and put a
100% into a full time program. The support is there
with product and financing, which will allow me to
do what I need to do and give it my 100% attention.
there any other major sponsors going to be involved
with your program in 2006?
Spader testing Progressive Supension's 6th Sense,
which has been very successful in mountain biking
Yes, the biggest other sponsor is Progressive Suspension,
and they are coming out with a new suspension system,
the 6th sense. They have been very successful in mountain
biking, and they are using the same technology for their
off-road applications. They want to introduce their
product and valving technology to ATV racing, so they
are going to be at every race in full support for me
and provide transportation and have a suspension technician
at each event.
Are you going to have your
own rig for 2006?
Yes, I am going to have a full support rig through
Progressive Suspension, which is a 45 feet long fifth
wheel trailer, and they are having one of their sister
companies, Vance & Hines, outfit the whole trailer
Who are all your sponsors
Yamaha Motor Corp., GYT-R, Yamahalube, Progressive
Suspension, ITP, Walsh Race Craft, Ronnie's Cycle,
Spader Racing & Training (SRT), Four, Tag Metals,
Precision Racing Products, Scott USA, EVS, Regina
You mentioned Spader Racing
& Training (SRT), so tell me more about this company?
Yes, it is a separate business identity from my physical
therapy practice, and originally I started it as a
way of financing my racing expenses. I have formulated
a company that is going to supply products related
to training that are more sport specific to motocross
that riders can use and help train and get into shape
for competition. I can’t release any details
yet, but in the near future within this year, I will
have products available for racing whether for two
wheel or four wheel.
It is great to hear that you are building
a business around the sport that you obviously have
a real passion for, which will keep you involved well
after you retire once again.
That is the whole point to be involved with this industry
when I stop competing and offer some of my secrets
that I have used and learned through exercise science
and physiology that no one has tapped into yet. It
is a niche for motocross, so I want to be the stepping
stone for some of these guys from things that I learned
and let them see the results.
With a full race program,
I imagine you won’t need to worry about wrenching
much on your own machines anymore, so who will be
Yeah, Matthew Timmerman, and he works for Progressive
Suspension. Matt will be doing all the suspension
tuning and mechanic work.
With your race program really
coming together for 2006, what have you been doing
over the winter?
Just recently, I have hired a fulltime staff member
to join my physical therapy practice, which will allow
me to train, practice, and conduct r&d to prepare
for the upcoming season.
What kind of training have
you been doing?
In New Jersey, I am dealing with the elements and
I don’t have the luxury of going to Florida
or California on a regular basis, so I am putting
my nose to the grind stone and doing a lot of gym
and cardio training. Also, I am getting in some riding
even with the elements.
Where do you go to practice
living near the beach in New Jersey?
I have a practice track on private land within fifteen
minutes of my house, and I practice there by myself
against the stop watch. I don’t get to practice
with anyone, and I have been doing this for so long
over the years. I know what it takes to win, and if
I can keep my lap times consistent at my race speed
that is all that I have to do. The only thing that
I am dealing with now is the cold temperatures, so
I have a set of motocross tires studded with ice studs,
so when the motocross track freezes over, I can still
How does heading into this
season compare to last year?
I am starting this season off in a much better scenario
than last season because by January last year, I was
still guessing on bike setup and conditioning level
because I haven’t competed in several years.
I now have that under my belt, so I feel much more
prepared because I know what it is going to take,
and I am going to come out swinging at the first round.
I see you were doing some
testing out in California?
Yes, I was out there, and I am heading back out for
some more testing at Glen Helen before the National.
Spader has been practicing mostly in New Jersey,
but he has made few trips to the West Coast
for some practicing at Glen Helen in preparation
of the opening round
Even without racing Red Bud
MX, you still finished out the year in 6th Place in
your comeback year, so what do you think are your
chances of winning the Pro Championship in 2006?
I think that I have the support to do it. I know the
pace, and I learned a lot last year. It has definitely
gotten more competitive, and I know what it is going
to take to win. If I am doing my homework right, I
should have a good shot at winning it.
Do you ever imagine yourself
being in this position several years ago?
No, when I quit, I thought that I was done and pretty
much through with the racing, and once I threw my
leg over the quad again in 04, I just got that drive
to do it again, so it was almost like I never left.
Do you still have time to
host any Spader MX schools?
Yeah, I plan on doing two or three of them this year,
but I still don’t have any dates. This year
is going to be a busy year for me. My wife is pregnant
and is due February 22nd, which is the week after
Texas, so if things go as planned it will work out
well. I have the pressure running my business on my
shoulders and racing now fulltime, but I seem to do
well under pressure because I like to keep busy.
Congratulations, so do you
know if it will be a boy or a girl?
Yes, it is going to be a boy, and we already decided
on the name, Travis Jay Spader, Jr.
How long have you and your
wife been together?
Amy and I started dating in high school, so she has
been with me through my whole racing career.
What does she think about
you getting back into racing?
things go as planned for Spader, this is a view
the rest of the Pro Class will get use to seeing
She is supportive and knows that I really want to
do it, and she likes the fact that I have the backing
this year and not have to go through what I did last
year especially with a baby. My number one priority
is going to be my family and racing will definitely
Travis, thank you for sharing so much information
about your career and family with the ATVriders.com
readers, and do you have any parting words?
I hope it is healthy and happy season.