Murrieta, CA – FMF KTM Factory rider Charlie Mullins announced his retirement from professional motorcycle racing today after confirmation that his wrist injured in 2014, would never heal in a manner that would safely allow him to compete.
Mullins, a former GNCC and National Enduro Series Champion, has spent the past two years battling back from dual-wrist injuries. Despite six surgeries and relentless hours in the gym, training to the best condition he has been in during his career, the wrist could not be repaired to the level of stability and flexibility needed to race professionally.
An excerpt from Mullins retirement letter stated, “The injuries I sustained in my practice crash in May 2014 were career ending. At the time, I knew my injury was bad, but in retrospect had no idea the severity of my situation. Every time I ride the pain gets more unbearable and I become a little less in control of the bike. I have no grip strength in either hand. I cannot physically bend my wrist back far enough to twist the throttle properly. I cannot hold on to the bike. In fact, I do not even have the tendon responsible for grip strength, in either hand. I am a danger to myself on the track, and I do not feel comfortable racing at the speed it takes to win.”
Mullins injury included a perilunate dislocation and torn ligaments in his right wrist and a scaphoid fracture in his left wrist. He received surgery on both wrists that year and came back at the end of the season. In the final GNCC, he re-injured his left wrist. Not knowing the severity of that injury he competed in the ISDE the following week. He raced the entire week to help Team USA earn 2nd overall that year. When he returned home, the doctor informed him that the screw in the left wrist was broken and damaging the bone further. The doctor performed a bone graft surgery on the left wrist in hopes of saving the scaphoid bone. In the right wrist, Mullins was experiencing popping and grinding in his wrist and it was deemed unstable. At this point Mullins decided to repair the right wrist with a partial fusion at the same time (as the bone graft) in hopes of making it more stable and being able to return to racing quicker. Six months later, the doctor determined the bone graft failed when the bone died in the left wrist and a partial fusion would be necessary, resulting in both hands have partial wrist fusions.
Mullins took the entire 2015 season off to recover from those surgeries. He raced 5 races in the 2016 season with great pain. On his most recent doctor visit they informed him that the bones in the right wrist have shifted and the staple from the partial fusion appears to be coming undone. There are no viable solutions to fix the wrist to a level he would need to compete.
“It is truly devastating news to find out Charlie can no longer race,” stated FMF KTM Factory Team Manager Antti Kallonen. “I was looking forward to seeing Charlie complete a healthy season. However, there is nothing worse than trying to ride through pain and putting yourself or those around you in danger. At the same time, he could cause further damage to his wrists that could have bigger lifelong consequences.”
Mullins stated, “I want you (my fans, family, sponsors) to know I fought to not be the statistic. I thought if I trained harder than anyone else, put in more time on the bike, rode through the pain, maybe it would work out for me. I could be the exception. Man, I wanted that to be true. I held on to that hope for two years. I spent two years, praying and sweating my way through the pain, trying to get back to where I was and it’s taken a toll on me. It wasn’t until last Thursday that my hope was gone. Once the hope is gone, I knew I couldn’t get on the bike safely again. I have family to care for and I cannot risk my life knowing I’m not in control.”
Mullins concluded by thanking his family and sponsors for continued support and remarked, “Feel no pity for me. I had a decorated career. I won races. I battled with the best in the world and I am proud of what I was able to accomplish in my 10 years of professional racing.”
Kallonen added, “Rather than feeling down, I want to look ahead on the new opportunities that Charlie will have as I know whatever the future holds he will be successful. I also want to recognize his racing accomplishments and to thank him for being a great role model for young riders and representing our off-road industry with the highest standard.”