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Year-Round Mud Season

Research has shown that daredevils have a specific gene that creates an urge to do crazy stunts. For example, attempting a near-impossible flip during the Olympic finals, driving fast on the highway, cliff jump or going off trail on a ski slope. People who perform and seek out extreme, daredevil conduct, researchers presumed, likely process dopamine differently than those of us that just enjoy watching, according to the New York Times. Turns out this is true.

Jake Varney, a senior at Thornton Academy and motocross racer has these daredevil genetics and spends most of his time dreaming of his hours on the track.

Jake first got into motocross when he was a kid. At five years old he started to ride around his house just learning the basics. At 6 years old he had his first race at Skowhegan MX, which is in Skowhegan Maine, and his second race was at MX207 in Lyman Maine.

“So my first two races were in the fall of 2007 and I was hooked.”

Jake knew he wanted to motocross race for the rest of his life, and he taught himself how to ride because no one in his family had any experience with motorcycles or dirt bikes. Regardless, his family was supportive.

” I am not worried or scared for Jake when he races. I am however very much aware of the dangers of the sport.  It is clearly a dangerous sport and we accept that. I would have loved to have had the opportunity to try motocross.  Our family was not in the position to make that possible. I had everything I ever needed, but the expense of motocross would have been too much and not possible. It is likely that I would never have had the overall success that Jake has had in the sport. He is very talented and dedicated to getting better all the time,” said Mr. Varney.

As for the history of motocross, we have to take a step back to the beginning of motorcycle production itself. In the times of post World War 2, motorcycle manufacturing, vital to the war effort, motorcycles became a vibrant industry as civilian demand grew exponentially both in Europe and further afield. Motorcycles went from 50cc to 250cc engines in the 1950s and 60s. This resulted in bikes that had greater agility and that were lighter and faster than their predecessors. All of these qualities were essential for motocross racing. Therefore, this process and evolution slowly shaped the machinery and bike we have today for motocross racing.

Jake races all over New England but mostly locally in Maine. Jake has also ridden up and down the east coast. He has been going to Florida motocross trips during school vacations for the past 5 years, raced and rode in Virginia, and practiced all over North and South Carolina.

“I’ve ridden in some pretty cool places and definitely want to expand that like traveling out west end riding in California.”

There is more to Jake than just motocross, and his work and passions are connected by his love for all things with engines. In all his spare time, Jake works at Moody’s Collision Center where he works on other people’s car for a paycheck and is able to play with his own Chevy Truck when there is any downtime. Fixing cars has become natural for Jake since he grew up through racing and working on his bikes. “My dad would have me be right beside him turning wrenches with him and then probably when I turned 14, he basically said do all you’re bike work and maintenance or we won’t race, so I stepped up and learned a lot quickly.”

Jake’s dedication to his job at his age is rare in today’s day and age. Balancing school, a 30 hour week job, and a sport that requires traveling is a skill that not a lot of high school seniors have. Moody’s has entry-level positions within the company to help bring in new talent and works to train everyone to grow in their roles. Moody’s training consists of on-site training and 3rd party training.

“The qualities Jake possesses that we look for are his attitude and tenacity. Jake is respectful to his peers and presents a positive good attitude in the shop. He also likes to try everything he can and wants to do well no matter what that task is. Overall Moody’s looks for individuals who have a good attitude, a true desire to work with vehicles and are motivated to succeed and grow. I believe Jake does well here because he possesses these qualities,” said Chris Diaz.

Jake appreciates the freedom he has working at Moody’s and appreciates all he has learned from the older guys with more experience during his time there.

“I can come in on my free time during weekends, after hours, and work on my own thing. It’s a big shop to work on whatever I want or to do my own personal vehicles.”

Jake says that if someone wants to get into motocross, you have to really want it. Motocross isn’t just a weekend hobby, it’s a passion. Something you work on five days a week. Jake looks at it as it’s all or nothing. That’s a commitment you have to make to go to the highest levels of the sport. Jake thinks that anyone can do it and anyone can learn.

“My goals are to be able to raise a family through motocross racing and be able to do it without money being an issue.”

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