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Supercross: Dad sold family farm to fund career of local favorite Jake Weimer

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(Kim Raff | The Salt Lake Tribune) Jake Weimer competes in the AMA Supercross heat 1 qualifying race during the AMA Supercross at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on April 28, 2012.

By Jay Drew

The Salt Lake Tribune

First published Apr 25 2013 10:52AM
Updated Jul 7, 2013 11:35PM

So you are going to Saturday night’s big AMA Supercross motorcycle racing event on the imported dirt at Rice-Eccles Stadium, and you are looking for a rider to cheer for when the big bikes roll out for the main event, the 450SX class race, around 7:30 p.m.

Why not pull for the local guy?

That would be Jake Weimer, a 25-year-old rider with the Factory Kawasaki team who grew up just across the border in Rupert, Idaho.

"For me, personally, Salt Lake is the closest race I have to my home," Weimer told The Salt Lake Tribune earlier this week. "I spent a fair amount of time racing in Utah growing up, and still have a lot of friends there now. I sure hope [the fans] see me as the hometown favorite."

Just don’t bet the farm on Weimer, who is struggling through an injury and illness-plagued season and is a mildly disappointing 12th in the 450SX series point standings heading into the series’ penultimate race.

After all, that’s already been done.

When Weimer was 14 and trying to make it on the national amateur circuit (riders can’t turn pro until they are 16), his father, Jason, sold the three-generation family farm in southern Idaho to pay for the undertaking. Jake estimates his father spent $100,000 to $150,000 a year to fuel his blossoming career.

"It was a major sacrifice," Jake said.

About a decade later, the rail-thin, blonde Weimer has been so successful in the cutthroat sport — his hometown reports him to be one of its most famous products, along with former CNN anchor Lou Dobbs, on its website — that he has been able to buy several pieces of land near Rupert, and Jason Weimer is back to farming again.

He grows sugar beets, wheat, barley and, of course, potatoes ­— it being Idaho and all.

There were times in his early teens, before the sale of the farm, Weimer recalls, when his father would cut up scrap metal with a hacksaw and sell it to a local recycling plant to get money to travel to the next race, or for racing equipment. Sometimes, Jason Weimer would sell farm machinery and the like at local pawn shops to keep his son’s career going.

Jake remembers scrounging for change under couch cushions, and out of a rusty tin lunch pail, so he could buy gas for after-school practice sessions.

"Unfortunately, for as cool of a sport as it is, and as fun as it is, it is not cheap," Weimer said. "It is an expensive sport, especially when you are trying to do it at a high level as an amateur, going to all the amateur nationals. So, yeah, my family did everything they could to keep me racing."

Weimer first climbed on a motorcycle when he was 4. He doesn’t remember doing it, but he’s been told that he stopped midway through his first race to ask his mother how he was doing.

By the time he was 11, however, he was taking it far more seriously, and his achievements have piled up ever since.

Prior to the 2011 season, Weimer moved up to the big bikes after winning the Supercross Lites West Region Series Championship in 2010 and signed on with Kawasaki, where he is teammates with points leader Ryan Villopoto. At the end of 2012, he signed on for another two years.

However, he missed the fourth race this season, at Oakland, with pneumonia. When he tried to get back to racing too fast, he wrecked in Anaheim and suffered broken ribs, which sidelined him the next two races. Last weekend at Seattle, he placed fifth, though, tying his best finish this season.

"It has been tough, and it has been frustrating," Weimer said. "But that’s how it goes. You just gotta keep pushing forward. But I go back to what my dad taught me — you don’t ever quit, no matter what. You just work harder."

And sell the family farm, if that’s what it takes.

drew@sltrib.com

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