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PJ Doran- Competitive Riding to Hosting Pit Pass Moto

On this episode Pit Pass Moto host PJ Doran tells us how he went from competitive rider to host of Pit Pass Moto. He shares his history of being a mechanic on vintage bikes, who makes the best low-country boil at the tracks, and what he does when he’s not riding.

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Pit Pass Moto is a production of Evergreen Podcasts. A special thank you to Tommy Boy Halverson, Chris Bishop, Producer Leah Longbrake and Audio Engineer Eric Koltnow.

[00:00:14.570] - Dave Sulecki

Welcome to Pit Pass Moto, the show that keeps you up to speed on the latest in motorcycling and brings the biggest names in motorcycle racing right to you. I'm Dave Sulecki. And this week we are flipping the script and we're going to talk to Cohost PJ Doran this week in motorcycle racing.

[00:00:30.350] - PJ Doran

We had a World Superbike race from here. The big news in World Superbike, of course, is the tooth and nail battle going on at the front between Top Rock ROSAT Leagu and Jonathan Ray. Ros got had one point coming into this event at Hares, and after two race wins, he was very happy to leave the event with a 20 point lead over Jonathan Ray. We've got three rounds left in this season of World Superbike, and it is going to come down to the wire barring someone getting injured.

[00:01:00.940] - PJ Doran

We hope that does not happen. It's been an incredible season. Jonathan Ray, of course, a perennial favorite multi time champion. Ros Got Leagu absolutely asserting himself in this series. It is just going to be exciting. I can't encourage you more. Watch the final three rounds. It's going to be amazing.

[00:01:19.760] - Dave Sulecki

Yeah, it sounds like a real dog fight. And it's great to see. I love watching World Superbike man for off-road racing. We had the Motocross of nations this last weekend in Manova, Italy, and it was a mutter. They had a very wet and challenging event. But for me, the highlights was watching Jeffrey Hurling win two motos. A guy, the bullet they call him was on fire and really held up his country well for Netherlands. But really, for me, the story of the weekend was Italy winning the event, taking home the Chamberlain Trophy and Antonio Carole finally winning them event.

[00:01:54.870] - Dave Sulecki

He's never done that well there. He always has bad luck at the Motocross of nations, so it's good to see because he did announce his retirement this year for him to go out on top like that. That's big news, I think.

[00:02:06.050] - PJ Doran

Absolutely. You can't be happier for a guy that's certainly worthy and finally got his just dessert.

[00:02:12.680] - Dave Sulecki

Yeah, I agree. And the other big news about the MOT across the nation, it is coming back to the United States next year. They're going to have it at Red Bud. You can in Michigan. It'll be in September like it always is. I at least next year we'll have a US team representing so they can run the American flag and go up against the world. I'm really looking forward to that event.

[00:02:32.700] - PJ Doran

Yeah. You played it on attending that one day. That's when I could see myself going to getting an RV and camping out for a while.

[00:02:38.540] - Dave Sulecki

You know, I am going to start looking for tickets and hotel rooms now because I want to get up there and watch that also got some results from the GNC this last weekend. Stewart Baylor has been on fire all summer. He's really been a surprise for Yamaha to see him when XC One again and actually take the points lead. He's got a point up on Ben Kelly, good on Stewart Baylor, and he did his now famous backflip at the finish line where he flips the bike over after he passes the checkered flag.

[00:03:08.870] - Dave Sulecki

It's pretty funny to watch, but he does it whenever he wins. So it's entertaining and he's just full of life in X Two. Jonathan Gary just continues to dominate that class, so some really good racing in GNC. If you get out and check it out. And it's a great thing this week's Pitpass Trivia question is it's known as the Olympics of Motocross. What year was the first Motocross of nations started and named the country where it took place and for bonus points, what country won that first event?

[00:03:42.960] - Dave Sulecki

To answer that question after our interview with DJ Doran, welcome to the show. My partner in crime here at Pit Pass Moto, former racer industry guy and monkey bike wheely master PJ Doren. How's it going, Bud?

[00:04:14.740] - PJ Doran

Hey, doing great. Thanks for that intro, Dave. Far better than I deserve. I must say, doing well. Good to talk with you about myself. One of my favorite topics I must have. Yeah, absolutely.

[00:04:25.700] - Dave Sulecki

I'm sure you know the material well, I know you worked in the industry for quite a while, but kind of stuff back to the beginning. When and where did you first fall in love with motorcycles? And where did it begin?

[00:04:37.030] - PJ Doran

It takes photographic evidence, fortunately gathered by my mother, but I believe it started before the age of one. My father was stationed in Hawaii at Scofield Barracks during the Vietnam War, and my mother and I were living there. He had a Bridgestone two stroke that are notorious if anyone is familiar with them for not exactly running. So it was generally in pieces in the parking lot outside of the apartment that they had given. My father and I was often captured sleeping on it. My mom has a whole album involving me sleeping on the gas tank at a very young age, draped over while my dad was in some form or another rebuilding it.

[00:05:17.160] - Dave Sulecki

Now that Bridgestone motorcycle that didn't happen to have Lucas technician did it.

[00:05:21.280] - PJ Doran

I assume it did. Bridgestone was popular brand, apparently in the 60s day. I remember riding one as a kid in the 70s, somebody I knew had a Bridgestone 90. Likewise, to my dad's example, it was pretty much always in need of some form of repair. It didn't run for us very well at all.

[00:05:40.860] - Dave Sulecki

I think that's how we all kind of became motorcycle mechanics over the years. Zoning motorcycles like that that required a lot of work or at least being around them right.

[00:05:50.030] - PJ Doran

Oftentimes I was the guy who could fix them, so I got to ride bikes that I didn't get to own because I could actually make them run. And I think you're exactly right. It was out of necessity so tell me.

[00:06:00.860] - Dave Sulecki

Which was the first motorcycle that you perfected the wheel on.

[00:06:04.300] - PJ Doran

I would have to say that was a Trail 70. I really started working out the kinks on some of my cousins trail 70s, as we all know, they were or ubiquitous across the country. Every farm or barn seemed to have one, two or three of them no different within my farming family. Every generation before me apparently had a Trail 70. I never got to own one, but I certainly got hand me down rides. And if I could make them run same rules, if you knew how to clean the carb and you found it in the barn, you could ride it.

[00:06:36.310] - Dave Sulecki

So from there, I think eventually you worked your way into the industry. And I know I'm probably leaping way ahead. Somehow your love of motorcycles routed you into the industry. How did you end up here?

[00:06:47.960] - PJ Doran

Yeah, definitely. Growing up on motorcycles is absolutely at the core. My dad went from that Bridgestone. Thankfully, when he got state side and as we grew, the family grew, he transitioned into BMW. So I've had a long stating love affair with vintage BMWs. They were current at the time my dad was owning him, but now considered vintage. All of that led to the first thing I want wanted to do. When I got my own money. And as it turned out in the military, I was able to buy motorcycles.

[00:07:19.450] - PJ Doran

That leads you to motorcycle dealers. Once I was at dealers, I realized real human beings work there, and I made it my goal. At some point I had to work at a dealership, and I was able to start doing that. When I lived in Minneapolis in my mid twenties, I worked at the time very popular dealership called Track Star. They went on to infamy with some very, very serious shenanigans pulled by the owner of the business. Fortunately, I was long gone before felonies were handed down, but I did work there for a while.

[00:07:51.650] - PJ Doran

It tracks are, and it gave me a taste for what could be a career in the motorcycle industry as a mechanic at the time.

[00:07:58.120] - Dave Sulecki

So formal training in mechanics, or was that something? As you said, you kind of picked up. You went as you were younger and obviously qualified to do that.

[00:08:06.010] - PJ Doran

Yeah. Mechanics work, really, I think stemmed from necessity. Again. My dad was constantly testing me as he was a thrifty guy. So we always had vintage cars, vintage motorcycles. And I constantly put to task. Can you make this thing work or that thing work? And next thing you knew, I was a mechanic. I came to College after the military, and I owned my own series of junky cars that needed attention, and I gave it to them. And ultimately, occasionally, there are things you can't do if you don't have all the right tools, which a poor College kid doesn't.

[00:08:41.330] - PJ Doran

I found a local import garage to work on my various Volkswagens when I couldn't tackle the task and I usually could tell them what was wrong. I didn't have the tools. Can you guys do this? And they hired me in pretty short order. They said, you know what you're doing? Why don't you come in and use our tools? We'll pay you to do it.

[00:08:58.680] - Dave Sulecki

And as I understand that was a long career in the dealerships from there. I mean, you've gone from several different ones since then.

[00:09:05.670] - PJ Doran

Yeah, absolutely. And I've bounced around from automotive. I started in a European import garage at Iowa State, then Minneapolis. I worked at Yamaha Moto Goosy Biota dealership, worked on a lot of things and got my start racing, doing some flat track up in the Minnesota area. Then I ended up at various garages in Chicago whenever I needed to make a buck. If I didn't have a job, I would usually pull my toolbox to somebody's garage and offer a hand, leading to my most recent nine plus years at a big time Yamaha dealership here in the Midwest for Bart Hicklin at Hicklin Power Sports.

[00:09:48.390] - Dave Sulecki

And that was your final stop, at least most recent final stop?

[00:09:52.080] - PJ Doran

I know, absolutely. I was the service manager there and oftentimes a technician. In the early days, we're and we didn't have enough technicians as we were growing as a dealership, it's hard for dealers all the time even now to get all the talent you need under one roof. So being able to switch it and do a couple of things certainly helped me in the industry and any job I've taken and certainly is also what led to my involvement with Pitpass.

[00:10:20.070] - Dave Sulecki

Okay, that was one of my questions down the line, and I wanted to touch on because you mentioned racing. So you've spent some time in the race track. You've self admitted you've got the disease like a lot of us do tell me about your racing history and kind of where that led you.

[00:10:34.810] - PJ Doran

Yeah, that 1st 1st organized race, let's say, because I was constantly racing people on my motorcycle, I won't count the entire lifetime of trying to outrun every guy to stop light in an organized fashion. Flat track in Minnesota was my first go at organized racing, and I did really well better than most people. On the very first day, they sit on one. I was competing for the lead in AMA races, certainly at local dirt track, but that gave me an idea that I might want to do more of this.

[00:11:05.160] - PJ Doran

That leads to needing more money. As we know, racing is far from the cheapest thing you can do. It's terribly expensive at every level. So I got a little more serious about work so that I might indulge racing and ultimately led me to doing track days on road race bikes and then road racing with Vera amateur race organization here in the US and did that off and on for quite a few years and loved every minute of it as we all tend to do.

[00:11:32.680] - Dave Sulecki

Now, I know you're a race track rap. You love to go, and you're known for your wheelies, but you're also known for your cooking ability. So I want to know what's your favorite, your best trackside meal that you can prepare.

[00:11:46.800] - PJ Doran

Well, the ones that I can prepare. I think that people have been misled to think that I Cook. There's always food at my camp sites. I have awesome habit of surrounding myself with great cooks, so people think I can Cook because I'm really good at invitations. I'm the socialite. I generally go around and make sure everybody knows we're going to have food at our site. I will take very little credit for it. It's generally the people I'm camping with when left to my own devices, we get hamburgers.

[00:12:16.710] - PJ Doran

That's pretty much what we get is hamburgers on the grill. My favorite meal at the track is prepared by one of my friends, Mark Peroni, and he he makes the world's best low country boil trackside. He brings out the Turkey, the Turkey frying pot and fills it with water and does an absolutely amazing low country seafood potato crawfish. Whatever he's got, he throws it in there, and it's amazing.

[00:12:41.200] - Dave Sulecki

I'm getting hungry. Just listening to this. So that's your track side stuff. Now, I always wanted to ask you this question when you're not spinning laps around the neighborhood or doing wheelies. What are your hobbies? What do you do Besides is motorcycles that fill your time?

[00:12:57.360] - PJ Doran

That's a good question. I am an avid skateboarder, and as luck would have it to Mon, Iowa now has the biggest and best skate park in the nation. So recently, as in this year, I am now skateboarding a lot more than I had in five or six years, and I'm really enjoying it. Hopefully, I don't hurt myself too badly. I'm pretty much constantly covered in scabs now knees and elbows, much like motorcycle riding. The joints are not up appreciative of the impacts with the concrete. So I'm slowly finding out what I can and can't do, given my age and disability, so to speak.

[00:13:36.510] - Dave Sulecki

As we all do, we all age, and it takes longer to heal every time we get off. That's for sure. And I'm sure helmets are required. At least I hope so.

[00:13:44.560] - PJ Doran

I'll be honest. They're not required. It's much like skate parks around the country. They're all run pretty much the same way cities generally own them. There's a generic waiver at the gate. You're on your own that's that's the only way they work. Otherwise, lawyers are going to come in and take them away before they even get started. Yes, I have helmets. Yes, I have worn a helmet as my comfort level grows. I'm not. And that's a bad idea. So whoever's listening. Where your helmet to the skate park?

[00:14:09.280] - Dave Sulecki

I couldn't agree more. And one last question was you touched on it earlier. Which was your path to bit past Moto. How did that begin for you? How did you get invited on? How did that come about?

[00:14:21.750] - PJ Doran

Well, back in the grand old days. Long time. It's probably been ten years now. Tony Wink and I met Fortuitously. I moved to town. I was at the time very active road racer and I purchased a flat tracker. I was getting into racing here locally in the Demon, Iowa area. Impossible not to run into a guy like Tony Wink, who owns a race track, is an incredible racer and I began working in Hicklin Power Sports. He was shopping for sponsorship sponsorship dollars for pit pass at the very same time I'm he and I were meeting, so he encouraged me to join and it was an immediate good fit between he and Scott and I back then I filled in some holes.

[00:15:04.240] - PJ Doran

Tony, as we know, is brilliant off road guy and had all the connections offroad. Didn't know much of anything about road racing and he admittedly would say it showed in his commentary and interviews. So it was a good fit to bring me in and I continued to try and fill that role now as you do.

[00:15:22.320] - Dave Sulecki

Absolutely. It was great hearing some of the story behind the story. Pj I appreciate you taking some time with us today and is there anybody you want to give a shout out?

[00:15:31.560] - PJ Doran

I want to give a big shout out to my cohost Dave Sale going on here and doing this with me.

[00:15:37.000] - Dave Sulecki

Alright. Thank you man. I appreciate it. Thanks for spending time with us. Pj this has been great right on this week's Pitpass trivia question is known as the Olympics. Motocross. What year was the first motocross of nation started and named the country where it took place for bonus points. Who won that first event? And the answer is of course it was 19. Initial race was held at the Wassenaar track in Holland and that first event was won by Great Britain.

[00:16:13.090] - PJ Doran

Great Britain, the powerhouse of the day.

[00:16:15.250] - Dave Sulecki

They are and they've won probably more motor cross of nations than any country. The United States had a run since about 1981, but they've fallen off and obviously didn't attend this year. But they're always a force to be reckoned with. Just because Motocross has really grown in this country since about 1970.

[00:16:32.500] - PJ Doran

And did you say what year was that?

[00:16:34.670] - Dave Sulecki

The first one took place 1947. So it was after World War Two right after the war.

[00:16:40.210] - PJ Doran

Yeah, that's impressive.

[00:16:41.340] - Dave Sulecki

Yes, sir. Well, he had a lot of servicemen looking for things to do and they all picked up motorcycles as a way as a hobby, much like ourselves, actually. And they eventually once you get two motorcycles together, what happens?

[00:16:53.490] - PJ Doran

We got a race.

[00:16:54.420] - Dave Sulecki

We have a race. Absolutely.

[00:16:58.120] - PJ Doran

Coming up in the motorcycle race world. We've got the Moto GP of COTA, Circuit of the Americas, Austin, Texas, October, the Third World Superbike will be happening in Portugal October 1 through the third and American Flat Track will be holding their event at the Charlotte Half Mile on October the 8th.

[00:17:18.500] - Dave Sulecki

Look forward to that event in offroad racing. We've got the MX GP of Germany round eleven of 18, that will be October 3 and then GNC Racing Round twelve, which is twelve or 13 round, is going to be the Buck Week 100 in Newburg West Virginia October 9 through ten.

[00:17:59.620] - PJ Doran

Thank you for tuning in. If you enjoyed this episode, make sure to follow us on your favorite podcast app so you never miss an episode. If you have a moment, please rate and review us as well. We really appreciate it. Make sure you're also following us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and visit Pitpass Moto dot com where you can check out our blog.

[00:18:18.740] - Dave Sulecki

This has been a production of Evergreen Podcasts. A special thank you to Tommy Boy Halverson, Chris Bishop, Producer Leah Longbrake, and audio engineer Eric Koltnow. I'm Dave and I'm PJ. And we'll see you next week.

[00:18:31.450] - PJ Doran

Weelie On.

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The Team

Dave Sulecki

Dave Sulecki is a 37 year industry veteran, and a lifetime motorcycle rider, racer, builder, restorer, and enthusiast.

Dale Spangler

Dale Spangler is a lifelong motorcycle enthusiast, former racer, and powersports industry marketing specialist, writer, and content creator.

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