Life After Racing: Mike Lafferty
By Shan Moore
At the end of the 2014 season, eight-time national enduro champ Mike Lafferty retired from racing and began his job with KTM’s Ride Orange program. The New Jersey native will also be working with the National Enduro Promotions Group at the national enduro rounds, working with the clubs to ensure the courses are up to NEPG quality.
We had a chance to talk to Mike in late December to see what he’s been up to.
Q: What have you been doing since the final round of the Kenda AMA National Enduro Series.
ML: September 15th was the last race, and on the 16th I jumped on a plane and went out to California and I’ve been hitting it ever since. The cool part of the job was I got to go out and go on a rider rally, riding the bike 1190 Adventure, and I’ve been doing a lot of cool things. We’ve been doing some KTM demos, and part of my job with KTM is amateur rider support at the amateur nationals, so we did the Mini O’s in Florida. So I’ve been full bore; I’ve been traveling like crazy. Right now I’m working with Mark Hyde to figure out our schedule for next year. I didn’t realize Ride Orange covered so much territory.
Q: So how are you adjusting to everything?
ML: I love it! I like to be busy and I like being part of these programs. I haven’t been home much, but when I am I’m helping my nephew Ryder Lafferty with his riding and practicing. I’ve taking him riding quite a bit and working with him.
Q: Tell us what the Ride Orange program is all about.
ML: The biggest thing that Ride Orange does is handling all the rider demoes for the SX-model bikes at the motocross tracks, to off-road demoes with XC models and the W line. In addition to that is the ARS or Amateur Race Support at the amateur races like Mini O’s. We also have another truck that handles the street demoes, too. At the top of my list, I will be working with the NEPG at the national enduro races. I’ll be at every race and we will have activities on Saturday afternoon, like spaghetti dinners and things like that. Then during the summer, when the new models come out, we’ll be doing some bike intros and demoes.
Q: You also have a commitment to work with the Kenda AMA National Enduro Series too, right?
ML: Above what I do for the Ride Orange program, I’ll be working with the NEPG on the courses, making sure everything is ready for the race. I’m really excited about that and I’m sure I’ll learn a lot from Alan and the crew on how to set up the course and things like that. Of course, I’ll have some input on the courses from a pro rider’s prospective, and also we’ll be working with the clubs on how to deal with a larger number of riders, with the first event having 700 riders – keeping everyone happy from the guys on row 1 to the guys on row 100. We want everyone to get in a quality ride on quality trail at a quality event. I’m not going to jump in and change everything; I’m just looking forward to giving my input and making it a better quality event. Mainly, we are looking at making sure the guys at the rear have as good of an experience as the guys on the early rows and making sure its all equal and fair. Hopefully, it makes for better race and a better experience for all involved.
Q: Of course, you wouldn’t be able to work with the NEPG without the help of KTM.
ML: Yes, when I get to the enduros I’ll put my NEPG hat on and ride the course on Friday and then Saturday I’ll put my Ride Orange hat on and take care of that business, and then I’ll put the NEPG had back on for Sunday for the race and help out with the course and do whatever we can to help out.
Q: Is it going to be tough going to that first race and not lining up on a row?
ML: I think so, but I’ll be riding the course, so at least I get to ride, which is cool. I’m at the point where I don’t need to be competitive any more and I’m enjoying just being a part of it all. But honestly, the whole “racing void” that I had when I retired has been filled by Ryder’s racing, and that’s keeping me occupied too. He’s kind of filled that void for me. Every time we go ride he’s busting out new moves and getting better and better, and for me to see that is cool. I find myself being as excited for him as I was for me back in the day.
So right now, I’m excited about everything I’m doing right now. I love it!