WASHOUGAL — Tommy Weeck’s motocross career resembles the tracks he has raced on since age 6.
There have been ups. He has raced on the nation’s top circuit, finishing 11th at his hometown Washougal Motocross Park in 2014.
There have been downs. By his count, Weeck has broken 26 bones and had 14 surgeries.
And like those motocross tracks, Weeck has come full circle.
When Weeck, 26, lines up in the 450cc race Saturday at the Washougal MX National, it will be his only major race of the year.
Weeck now focuses on teaching riders, including young ones that give him flashbacks to when he used to tear around Washougal Motocross Park as a child. His lessons focus primarily on proper technique to prevent crashes and physical preparation should a crash occur.
“My time racing the circuit was a bit of a rough patch,” Weeck said. “I had a lot of injuries. A lot of bones broken. A lot of surgeries. I want to give back and hopefully prevent them from making the same mistakes I did.”
Though Weeck spent several years living in the Seattle area and California, Washougal has always been home.
Two years ago, he moved into a house just downhill from Washougal Motocross Park, where his brother-in-law Ryan Huffman is the track manager.
Weeck teaches riding classes regularly at the track. He also helps with track maintenance including preparation for this weekend’s event, which will draw about 20,000 fans to the track northeast of Washougal.
“I had a burn pile near the starting line that was pretty incredible,” Weeck said, recalling the groundskeeping work he did this week.
Nowadays, Weeck is just as likely to marvel at the Washougal track’s forest greenery as the speed riders get on the sloped straightaways.
He wasn’t always that way.
“When I was younger, all I wanted to do was go fast,” he said. “If you’re just going fast every day, you’re bound to get hurt and you’re bound to be tired.”
And go fast he did. In 2009, Weeck made his pro debut on the American Motocross Association’s 250cc circuit. The following year, he placed 21st in the overall points standings for the 250cc class. As a “privateer,” he paid his own way to get to as many events as he could.
By 2011, Weeck was touring the country and racing in football stadiums on the Supercross Lites circuit.
But in 2012, he suffered what he described as his worst injury. A crash during a Motocross race shattered his lower leg, which required 12 screws and two plates to repair.
“That one took a long time to overcome,” Weeck said. “To this day, I still have issues with my leg.”
Weeck healed, but there were bills to pay. So Weeck went to work for his father’s construction company in Southern California.
Being away from motocross made him realize how much he loves the sport, despite the physical toll it has exacted.
“I never had that passion for (construction) that he does,” Weeck said of his father. “That’s why he’s so good at what he builds. He has the drive behind it. For me, my drive has always been with dirt bikes. That what I grew up doing. That’s what I do best. It’s my happy place.”
Weeck returned to racing in spring of 2013. In 2014, he moved up to the highest classification, the 450cc.
That year, he had his best Washougal MX National finish, placing 11th.
Yes, he could still ride fast, but plenty else was slowing down. He took up yoga and meditation. He stopped chasing the AMA Tour as a crisscrossed the country.
In a young man’s sport like motocross, Weeck has plenty of knowledge to share with professionals as well as up-and-coming riders.
“There’s so much more than just riding the dirt bike,” he said. “How do you stretch? How do you eat? How do you sleep. There’s a whole angle of life that you teach your body off the bike that makes the reaction on the bike.”
Yet, there’s still that thrill when the engines roar, the dirt sprays and the bikes fly.
Weeck will feel that thrill again on Saturday. He expects to ride well, but his final placing won’t be his main goal.
“Just to have fun,” he said.
If you go
Washougal MX National
8:30 a.m., qualifying and practice
12:30 p.m., opening ceremonies
1 p.m., racing starts
Where: Washougal Motocross Park, 40205 NE Borin Rd.
Tickets: $40 general admission (7-under free), available at track or online at www.promotocross.com