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Carmichael truly a racing legend

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By Dan Johnson

While living in Tallahassee, Fla., I had the unique opportunity of meeting a lot of professional athletes.

I was lucky enough to work at the city’s biggest - and newest - fitness center. All of the former Florida State University athletes would return to the city during their off-seasons and train at Premier Health and Fitness Center - a 55,000-square foot mecca of physical fitness.

Professional football players such as Peter Boulware, Corey Simon and Brad Johnson spent a good deal of time in the weight room.

But, there was another athlete often working alongside the football players that went on to have the best career of them all.

Ricky Carmichael, the undisputed king of motocross and supercross, has now made the transition to NASCAR. But, back in the early 2000’s, Carmichael was the king of all two-wheel riders.

When he wasn’t kicking up dirt, either on a professional track or the one he had built at his home, located in just outside of Tallahassee, Carmichael was in the gym working out.

At the time, he was one of the first motocross/supercross riders to embrace weight training. I saw the effect of Carmichael’s presence first-hand, as soon after Carmichael began hitting the weights, groups of aspiring riders were in the gym working with trainers that had designed rider-specific workouts.

Carmichael’s extra work in the weight room only helped strengthen his legacy on the motocross/supercross circuit.

There’s a reason he earned the nickname “G.O.A.T.” (greatest of all-time); the guy rarely lost, even after sustaining a torn anterior cruciate ligament in 2004.

Still, for all his millions of dollars earned and titles won, Carmichael was without question the nicest person I met during my time at Premier. While the other athletes mentioned above would usually say hi, that was about all you’d get as they’d be quick to get to the weight room and handle their business.

Not Carmichael.

Before every workout, Carmichael and his manager/trainer would stop and chat with myself and the other customer service employees for a good 10-to-15 minutes before beginning his workout, and again before leaving the gym. Looking back, I’m still blown away by that gesture and think that’s part of what Carmichael special; he treats everyone with respect.

While Carmichael has left motocross/supercross for NASCAR, the sport he left behind is still doing quite well for itself.

This weekend, the motocross gang makes its way to Thunder Valley (located just off C-470 and Rooney Road in Golden), with the fifth-annual running of the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motrocross Championship.

Just like last year, the finals will be raced under the lights. Thunder Valley is the only track on the motocross circuit to race its finals in the evening.

James “Bubba” Stewart, who many have called the next Ricky Carmichael, won at Thunder Valley last year and picked up the 2008 motocross title, winning all 12 events.