09/25/2012 by Jimmy Shoe
“Why don’t you start riding again?” After a nearly 30-year break, a few simple words from his wife led Jerry Lambert back to racing, reigniting the passion he’d felt for the sport when he was a boy. Jerry, now 43, was 10 when he was first introduced to motocross. He had friends that rode, and the bug quickly bit him. He asked his dad if he could have a dirt bike, and his father agreed on one condition — that Jerry earn the money himself to pay for it. After a year of working on his dad’s construction crews, mowing yards and stuffing money away in a coffee can, Jerry had saved enough for his first bike — a KX 80 that came in a crate and that he had to assemble himself.
Jerry first rode with friends at a little dirt track called “The Pit” near his home in Burleson, Texas, just south of Fort Worth. It wasn’t long before he got the itch to race, and his first attempt to qualify at the local track in the beginner’s group didn’t go well. But two short weeks later, he qualified and continued to improve throughout the year. Soon he had a dealer sponsorship, and then worked out an arrangement for both a dealer and Kawasaki sponsorship. He moved from riding 80s to 125s and raced at tracks all over Texas. However, about five years after he started racing, his parents got divorced, and he stopped riding. It wasn’t until his wife urged him to start again that he considered making a comeback.
“People in my age group are very tight, and we look after each other,” says Jerry. “But racing is a lot different now.” Getting back into the groove took some time, and, at first, Jerry beat himself up for not finishing higher than fifth or sixth place in his races. “It was rough, but one of my friends told me not to worry because my age group here has some extremely talented riders — faster than in a lot of other areas of the country,” he says.
After starting on a 250F, he recently made the switch to a CR450. “I’ve been on it two months and am placing better than ever,” he says. “I love this bike. It’s a beast!” Unfortunately, Jerry suffered a pretty nasty crash just a couple weeks ago and ended up with some bruised ribs and a damaged bike. But he’s waiting for a few parts and then plans to be right back competing with the pack.
Jerry still does most of his riding at the track in Burleson. He says he’s extremely grateful to owner Chester Czajkowski for his hard work keeping the track going, especially during a drought when water bills alone must be overwhelming. Jerry also rides at Village Creek, River Valley and the Underground MX Park in Kemp. His wife, Shelley, often comes out to cheer him on, and sometimes his sons, Charlie and Joshua, come along as well. His boys are more into sports like baseball and football than motocross, but they enjoy taking pictures at the track with their iPhones.
Having a family and a full-time job makes finding time for racing a challenge. “I coach Little League and work during the week, so I’m often up late working on the bike,” says Jerry. But, he says, it’s worth it. “Racing is a like riding a rollercoaster. At first it’s a little intimidating, but then when you’re on the bike, you get a huge adrenaline rush. And when the ride is over, you have the pure satisfaction of knowing you made it through.”
So, what does Jerry’s future hold? He’d like to continue on his current path and eventually get to a point where he’s winning all his races and possibly even work for a sponsor. At his age it’s hard to stay pro, but it’s a dream. His good friend, Mike Klement, has been instrumental in helping him recover some lost skills, and they push each other to keep improving.
Beyond winning, Jerry cares a great deal about maintaining the sport’s integrity, which led him to organize a grassroots group called RTHC — Riders That Honor Christ. “I see younger kids who aren’t racing right, and this group promotes sportsmanship,” he says. “As a kid, I looked up to guys who were good, clean racers, and I think we need to continue to encourage young people to honor the sport.” Jerry remembers having posters of Jeff Ward all over his room, and today he loves watching Ryan Dungey and Ryan Villopoto race.
Whatever comes his way, Jerry intends to keep riding, and he advises others who might think the sport is only for young people to give it a try. “You don’t have to race. Even just getting on a bike and trail riding is a lot of fun,” he says. “Me? I’ll ride until I can’t ride anymore.”
Thanks and Recognition
Jerry wants to give recognition and thanks to Jesus Christ and his wife, whose support and encouragement play an important role in everything he does in life. He also wants to thank sponsors Pivot Works, Hot Cams, Hot Rods, Cylinder Works and Vertex Pistons. He says the tools we provide make it easy to promote C&L brands. He also gets support from O’Neal, Amsoil, Yoshimura, 100% Goggles and Dunlop.