Interview: Meet The Markolf Brothers
Brothers are a common sight in motocross, and we can list off a number of speedy siblings without much thought. The next pair to add their names on the list are Will and Max Markolf, a pair of teenagers from South Carolina that are currently climbing the amateur ranks. With the help of Seven MX, the two ventured west to California and spent a number of weeks living behind the Troy Lee Designs race shop in a motor home in order to prepare for the Monster Energy Cup and other amateur events. Just before the family loaded up and headed back to Club MX, their home facility, we stopped by the shop and chatted about the rigors of amateur racing, testing in California, and living in a cramped space for a stretch of time.
What brought you both into racing?
Max: Our dad used to race local stuff and got Will his first bike when he was one year old.
Will: We started riding when we were five and six, and we started racing in 2007. It got serious pretty quick after that and one year after our first race, we did our first National. We didn’t do much, but it was a good experience because instead of racing the local guys, we got to see how the “real deal” was. It was an eye-opener, because we got to see who the best were. Three years ago, we joined Club MX and started taking things seriously and our speed has picked up since then.
How have the last six weeks gone? You drove cross-country and lived in an RV behind the Troy Lee Designs shop so that you both could practice and train.
Will: We decided to come out here so that Max could get prepared for Monster Energy Cup and ride the dirt here. We were both riding Supercross and mostly came out for it, but we found out about the Dodge National and did that right away. We went to Vegas and Max raced, and we were going to head back home but decided to stay for two more weeks because we hadn’t ridden many outdoor tracks with the group of guys here.
How many people were in the RV and did you ever have cabin fever back here?
Max: It was our Dad, us, and our practice mechanic Tyler. Don’t get me wrong, four people in a motor home gets a little tight, but we just dealt with it for now [Laughs].
How did you decided who would sleep where?
Both: It just kind of happened!
Will: Our dad slept in the back, and once he flew home that made it a little easier until he flew back right before the Monster Energy Cup.
Being young amateur riders, did you have much Supercross experience prior to this? How difficult was it to learn?
Max: A few years ago we started to do Arenacross, which is an East Coast thing, and had the taste for tight racing. I have always liked Supercross and Arenacross, and I like banging bars, so it wasn’t too hard. To jump into with some other kids who have never ridden Supercross, I feel like I have an advantage there and I enjoyed it a lot.
Max, how did the Monster Energy Cup go?
Max: At Loretta’s, Feld came and said that they’d like for me to be a part of the event and it was an honor to do it. I was excited from the get-go, because I went last year and watched, and this whole year I have been looking to race it. This was the last time that I could race it on a SuperMini and I wanted to do good. I trained hard for it and was ready, but qualifying didn’t go the way I wanted and I had troubles with bike problems in the first practice when I blew out my front wheel. I had some bad luck in the first moto and I landed on a kid and couldn’t get my bike restarted for an entire lap. In the second moto, I got a bad start again and came back from 14th or so. When we got the white flag, I thought we were just two laps in! Six laps go by quickly when you have a bad start. To go there and do that, to ride the same track as the pros is a great experience.
How is that track as a SuperMini rider?
Max: I’ve hit big jumps before, so I am not afraid to do them and I have that Arenacross experience from the past. When I was walking the track, I knew what I could do and at some point it was a little intimidating, but at a point you have to just go for it.
How is it to work with the Seven MX crew?
Max: It is great, especially being with James Stewart. He is a legend in the sport and for him to make a gear company and want us to be a part of it is great. With him coming to us, it is crazy how involved he is in everything. He tells us how things work and asks us what we think.
Will: He lets us try the gear out and for me, he will use me for reference and see what I think and where they would want to place the logos. To see the material they are using is pretty gnarly. What was your program here like?
Max: The first few days of riding, we were on the new Supercross track at Club MX and then came out here, raced the Dodge National, and rode Supercross for the next week and a half. We stuck to riding at Milestone and Pala, just because we had such a short time.
How long is the drive back to Club MX from Southern California?
Will: It’s 36 hours, but it usually takes 40. Tyler and I drive sometimes, but our dad drives the majority of the time.
What is your daily program when you are back home?
Max: We wake up at 7am and go on a 45-minute to an hour run, have breakfast at 8:30am, ride from 9:30AM until noon. After that we have free time until 4:30PM, which is when we get anything done that we need like laundry, bike work, or school work. From 4:30PM to 6PM is our workout, after that we have dinner, and after that until 9PM we have free time again. It is a pretty busy day there.
Will: We stay there fulltime through the week in our RV with our mechanic, Tyler. Sometimes we go home to get a bike or parts, but it is easy to go back and forth.
How often do you race the bigger amateur Nationals? Do you go to all of them?
Max: We start in Texas and race Oak Hill and Freestone, then hit the qualifiers for Loretta’s, then race the Mini O’s. Every now and again will we do events like the Dodge National, but we stick to the main ones.
If you have a bad moto at a race like that, does it weigh on you or do you have to forget about it?
Will: It is kind of hard, because you always get mad when mistakes happen but it’s part of the sport and you have to deal with it. You always want to look at the next race.
Max: I always look towards the next moto at the positives, but it doesn’t always work out as well as you plan. When you are coming back from a bad moto, you have to remember that another one is coming up. What do the next few weeks look like for you both?
Max: We have two weeks at Club to ride and train, and then we will head to James Stewart’s right before the Mini O’s, which is pretty exciting and we are looking forward to going there. We may take a week or so off, but then we will come back to California.
How about the next 12 months?
Max: Moving off of the SuperMini is something that I have to wait for. I have seen a few kids make the move too early and other too late, so we have to time the move to the big bike perfectly. I don’t think I will be on a 250 too soon, because we are taking it race by race.
Will: B class this year was hard for me, because it was my first year on the four-stroke fulltime. I got the hang of it at Loretta’s, but I had some bad luck in the mud. Next year I think I will be in the top-three.
The plan is to go pro, right? This wasn’t all to skip school for six years.
Will: Definitely. It takes a lot of hard work, but I can see it happening. I don’t to say that I will be a top-pro, but I want to be. If everything goes to plan, it is the goal.
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