Thursday, January 7, 2016

All in a Days Work...Derek Rankin and Jon Garrett.

As we look forward to a new season, we are well aware that riders have been pounding out laps on the practice tracks of Southern California and are putting the final touches on their 2016 programs. Behind it all, there are people working just as hard. Spending their days at the track and evenings training along side their riders. Building bikes, driving, cooking, cleaning and nobody is talking about their upcoming season. Mechanics.

Mechanics are the "first to be blamed, last to be thanked." Truth be told, they may be the only ones who really know what's going on in their riders head. A rider puts all their trust in to a person who has become a roommate, motivator, training partner and friend. Jon Garrett and Derek Rankin have spent time wrenching for some of the sports top privateers. They have seen main events and been the last words of advice on a 40 man gate. Their adventures have taken them around the country, gone for months to a year and a half at a time. But the adventures bring stories! Good stories. 

Let's start with the fact that both of these mechanics agreed, there is nothing worse than working on a bike after a mudder. We are just days away from A1 and ever since my phone would show Anaheim on the 15 day forecast down to now, Saturday looks wet. The 2016 Monster Energy Suspercross opener will most likely be a mechanics worst nightmare. 
Jon Garrett (front) Derek Rankin (back)    Photo: GUY B / Vital MX
Jon Garrett was born and raised in Oklahoma, while Derek Rankin was miles away, from Indiana. A life of riding themselves would bring a love for this sport as well as a friendship.

A die hard fan, amateur racer or inspiring mechanic dreams of being in the pits of a professional event. Rankin was no different and as he took his knowledge of working on his personal stuff to MMI in Orlando, Florida, he knew his next step. He'd dress the part. Black pants, a replica Factory Honda pit shirt and his MMI badge on, he'd walk right into the pits of the Atlanta Supercross. Talking to teams, he'd have a job with Team Gus as soon as he graduated. Between June 2013 and June 2014, Rankin would double up classes and put in 10 hour days while specializing in the Honda brand and becoming an MMI grad.

Jon Garrett's family lives and breathes motorcycles. His dad works for Indian Motorcycles and has bestowed a life in the industry. He had three movies as a kid. Top Gun, 8 Seconds and On Any Sunday. Garrett would leave a manager position at National Power Sports Auctions to pursue his mechanic career. Living with long time girlfriend Patti, they would support each other as they chased their dreams. Jon knows that none of this would have been possible without her. Garrett would read a forum post that Team Gus may be the team to contact to get your foot in the door. He'd call Gus and offer to help with some hotel rooms at the next round and help around the pits. He thought he was in when Gus accepted the offer. He got some rooms and headed to the track. In the pits he was shown the grill. He'd be working on making the teams food. He'd grill up the best food the team had eaten all year! 

As the two obtained their status as mechanics for some of the sports top privateers, the dreams of wrenching were coming true. Rankin has worked for riders like Evgeny Mikhaylov, Noah McConahy and currently SpiderEnergy Racing's Alex Ray. While Garrett has worked for Deven Raper and Brice Klippel, he is now hanging up his T-handles to be a dad. How does one who's been on the road for nearly a year become a dad? Bring your girlfriend to RedBud! 
Their time together has them agreeing on many things. They take pride in their setup and the bikes they build. A mechanics motorcycle is an extension of them. Attention to detail is key. Although they both say travel to all the rounds suck, they love Millville. Rankin reflected on his first national with Mikhaylov and being in the 450 A practice lined up between Chad Reed and Trey Canard. He may have been a little nervous trying to pack his line. They agree you need two sets of T-handles, "one at the truck and one in the bag." Garrett's favorite tool is Rankin's torque wrench. 
Derek, Noah McConahy and Jon
When at the races these guys are professionals in their trade, but outside the pits they would probably make just as good a career as a clown. The sense of humor always shines through. They joke as fans take pictures of Alex Ray in his cheetah print Ethika underwear or finding a random drunk girl sitting on their bike in Detroit. They've built great relationships with their riders and can be a little hard on them at times. The pit boards have said "make money, get turnt." or questioned their rider with "John Short ?" They get request from their riders wanting to add their own motor oil and brakes being to stiff, "add some air to my brake line." They've made Frankenstein bikes while combining teammates parts. You've got to keep your rider comfortable. 

Motocross has taken these two on a journey they will never forget. They have slept in vans, motor homes and hotels. They have watched wrestling in an RV while in the driveway of Team Gus owner Gus Decker and fought off repo men with steak knives in the middle of the night. They've had the ultimate dream of spending time at Trey Canard's Oklahoma home and wrenching at The Stewart Compound in Florida all become a reality. Like us fans, they are fans themselves. Garrett looked up to Jeff Emig and Rankin is a true fan of Ricky Carmichael.  
Jon and the JS7 bike.

Jon and Corie Barbee
They have seen main events and scored points and although Garrett is stepping away to be a dad, he will continue in the sport as a manager for Western Power Sports. Rankin will be on the road with Alex Ray. I encourage you to stop by the Spider Energy Racing truck and say hi to one of the friendliest and funniest guys I've ever met. He's hoping that Ray can "Ride The Lightning" into some main events in 2016.

While Rankin says "I am not a perfect man." There is no denying both of these guys work ethics. 

Just remember, when you see that guy standing next to a rider with his backpack or tool bag, dirty and tired. That's the one person in which that rider had put all his trust in. They know everything about the rider and have worked relentlessly to help their rider achieve their goals.
Derek and Noah McConahy

Derek takes pride in race prep.
Follow these two on Instagram.
Jon @jongarrett463
Derek @rankin726

Shake a mechanics hand and #cheerprivateer
-Kyle Pesci

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