Carey Hart Quick Chat Sturgis: From Good Rides for Vets to Pink’s Bike

Carey Hart Sturgis 2017

We got a few minutes to chat with Carey Hart after his Good Ride, a fundraiser that helps U.S. veterans through the Infinite Hero foundation, at the Sturgis Buffalo Chip. 

Brand ambassador, bike builder, pro racer, team owner, dad. Freestyle motocross icon Carey Hart hands are full. If all those roles weren’t enough, he’s also a philanthropic man who had had just finished the Sturgis version of his Good Ride, a fundraiser for veterans through the Infinite Hero foundation. This year’s Sturgis run was sold out and the number of local veterans participating in the ride exceeded expectations.

“My wife’s family is all military. My brother-in-law is a Sergeant in the Air Force and her dad and step-mother both did tours in Vietnam and it’s just really sad to see what happens when people come back, they go get tore up to defend our country and then they come back and get thrown to the wayside by the government. So that’s why we try to raise money to try and make a difference and Hero does a really good job of that with their foundation. If we can help out a little bit it’s better than not,” said Hart.

We met Hart outside the East Gate of the Sturgis Buffalo Chip, the drumming of American Flat Track Twins in the background an appropriate soundtrack for a man who’s made a living of slinging a bike around. Hart candidly fielded questions from our group of journalists.

When asked about his background.

My timeline was I was a privateer racer turned professional racer. I raced Supercross up until about ’98. And then in ’98 I was one of the first handfuls of guys who started doing Freestyle on motorcycles. From about ’98 to present, Freestyle motocross took off, got really popular. We’re in the X Games, the Gravity Games and over the last 20 years I’ve won a good handful of medals and have a pretty successful career through that.

Explain what Freestyle motocross is:

Freestyle motocross which is different from racing is, racing is the fastest guy wins, sees the checkered flag. We’re much more like BMX Freestyle, we do tricks. So I was the first person to do a back flip on a motorcycle back in 2000. We would get scored doing tricks.

Just one back flip? (Laughter) Yes, just one back flip. That’s it. Actually one guy just did a triple flip. But for me, it’s not about quantity, it’s about quality, I got that first one. (laughs)

I’ve got a few tricks named after me. I mean, I guess that’s what happens when you’re the “Grandpa of a Sport,” when you’re around from the beginning, you get to put your namesake on stuff.
Then my business side kind of kicked in while I was still a professional athlete. I had one of the first tattoo TV shows, it was called “Inked.” I own a chain of tattoo shops and we did a reality TV show on that. Then myself and Ricky Carmichael, the winningest motocross racer, we’ve had a race team for the last 10 years together, a factory Supercross/Motocross team.

I’ve been getting more on the business side over the last 10 years but still at my core I’m a professional rider.

American Iron: How’d you get hooked up with Indian?

The way the story kind of goes is at the 75th rally I was the grand marshal and I had a Road Glide that I’d done some custom work to. I went to the rally and I did my job, I hosted the rally, I hosted the Mayor’s Ride. When I was there a bunch of magazines took interest in my bike and shot photos of my bike.

I didn’t really take in much more than that so I went back home from the rally and was getting ready for the new race season. Then the phone started ringing, some other magazines called and asked if they could shoot my bike and it really just kind of snowballed.

Through my motocross side, I had a relationship with Polaris. I’m sort of sponsored by Polaris and our race team is. So I said hey, who’s your counterpart over at Indian, love the Indian platform. I love the brand itself and the bike’s amazing. So I got hooked up with Reid who’s the head of marketing over at Indian and we just hit it off. And so I said hey man, why don’t you let me see if I can help move the needle for ya and sell some motorcycles. We started off slow about a year-and-a-half ago and now we’re full borne moving forward.

American Iron: You built a Hooligan bike for The Chip, right?

Yes I did. It’s a true race Hooligan bike. It’s identical to my personal bike. I’ve got a couple little things set up different on it but it’s just like my personal race bike. And they’re really, really fun. If you’ve never done Hooligan racing and you get the chance, it’s so much fun.

American Iron: Recently you’ve been customizing a Chieftain?

Yeah, I did this Chieftain. It’s my bike but I kind of built if for Indian. It got unveiled at Daytona this year. I did one, Yaffe did one, and Brian Klock did the Jack Daniels one. And then I recently just completed my wife’s Chieftain, I built my wife one.

It’s based off the Memphis Belle B-17 bomber. So it’s all green patinaed and distressed and all the panels are riveted. It came out really good, I’m excited about it. It even has Rosie the Riveter on the back fender.

And now I’m actually in the process of building another bike, an Indian Springfield with a sidecar, it’s all based off the B-17, and the sidecar is for my daughter. She rides.