June 16 01:53 AM

Marsack jumps to Supercross elite

Allenton man races toward top on Motocross circuit

Jake Marsack shares the podium at Daytona Beach Supercross with a pair of admiring fans.

April 02, 2008
At the age of 3, Jake Marsack could typically be found traversing a small-scale Motocross track built by his dad behind the family home in Allenton.

Today, Marsack continues to blaze over and around Supercross courses, but now he's doing it with and against the best in the business.

At the age of 22, the Allenton native is quickly finding fame, if not fortune, as he takes serious aim at the elite of the sport.

In late January, Marsack surprised more than 37,000 rain-soaked fans at AT&T Park in San Francisco, finishing fourth after having started out near the rear of the pack.

The outcome demonstrated that the young rider from Michigan had become a force to be reckoned with on the Supercross circuit.

In an interview with Racer X Illustrated, Marsack acknowledged the importance of that race and its implications for his future.

"Yeah, it was my best finish ever. I was going for it," he said. "I didn't care if it was dry or raining, I was determined to do good there."

Adding an exclamation point to his San Francisco performance, Marsack finished third March 9 at the Daytona Beach Supercross, the most prestigious event on the indoor racing circuit.

"That was the first time I made it to the podium," says Marsack from his home in Allenton this week. "That was a big accomplishment for me. It's like a goal of a lifetime, and I'm still young."

Equally noteworthy is the fact that Marsack still races as a privateer, without the benefit of a major factory-backed sponsor.

He hopes another successful race or two will catch the eye of a big-name sponsor, affording him the same luxuries and privileges enjoyed by his top competition.

Jubilant supporters of Jake Marsack, number 66, raise their arms in celebration at the conclusion of his outstanding performance in San Francisco.

"It's rare for a privateer to make the podium," Marsack says. "There are basically five factories that build the product bikes and each of them fund a certain number of riders. That means those riders have an unlimited budget and get the best set-ups for their bikes.

"They have their own pit crews and they can focus on the race and winning," he continues. "I have to be my own mechanic, but they can pretty much jump on the bike and ride it. It's a big advantage."

Marsack is not void of sponsorship. As a member of Team Bad Boy sponsored by Bad Boy Power Drink, he is the recipient of some help at the big races.

Rick Ware, manager of Team Bad Boy, is happy to have the young rider aboard.

"Jake Marsack has raised the bar for privateer riders," says Ware. "Team Bad Boy always knew he had what it takes to run with the big dogs. Now, everyone in the industry knows."

When the dust settles and the mud dries after a big race, Marsack recalls his humble beginnings, and the inspiration and support he has received from his family and friends.

He credits his dad, James Marsack, for laying the groundwork for his career as a motorcycle racer.

"I was practically born on a bike," says the racer. "My dad started me out early and he's been a major influence. He serves as my mechanic at the races. We're a good team. Whenever I need help, he's there for me, both financially and for moral support."

Marsack has yet to reach the pinnacle of the sport, but he's confident that he'll get there—possibly sooner than later.

"It's good that I'm young and still learning," he says. "As a rider, I feel I have a lot of strengths.

"I feel like I have a chance to win every race, but the tracks are always different," Marsack continues. "Every week is a new challenge and it's always hard. And the competition is the best."

Outstanding competition isn't the only thing that has deterred Marsack from reaching the winner's circle thus far in his career.

The young man has been beset by some serious riding injuries, each of them postponing his rise on the circuit.

In 2005, he broke his neck while preparing for a race, resulting in a frustrating layoff and many months of recovery time.

"I was practicing loops at the time," he recalls. "I pretty much did a lawn dart with my head into the ground.

"When I tried to get up I couldn't hold my head up," he says. "I had sharp pains going down my arm and I knew then that I needed to get to the hospital quick."

Barely a year after suffering the broken neck, he was back on his bike, scoring a pair of 13th-place finishes in the 450 class at the San Francisco and Seattle Supercrosses. He seemed destined for the greatness that had eluded him up to that point.

But fate would have other plans for Marsack.

In 2006, coming off yet another outstanding ride, he suffered another practice crash that resulted in four fractures of the pelvis and a broken scapula. He spent the next eight weeks on crutches, spending most of his time on the couch, either channel surfing or playing poker.

Injury-free for the past two years, Marsack hopes he can stay on track and continue his rise to the top.

"I still get some aches and pains, but doctors can do some amazing things," says Marsack. "The key is to give yourself enough time to fully recover from injuries. You can't try to come back too fast."

Marsack figures he still has time and commitment on his side in his quest to be the best rider in Motocross and Supercross.

"I'm still young," he says. "A lot of guys ride until they're 30 and 35. The experience is real valuable. But after that it gets tough. The injuries don't heal as fast as they used to."

For now, Marsack continues to set his sights on upcoming races.

On April 12, he'll have a chance to show off for a local crowd. That's when he competes in the Detroit Supercross at Ford Field.

"There should be a lot of my family and friends there to give me support," says Marsack. "I'm hoping to do real well in that race."

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