Grafenwöhr soldier gets down, dirty with quad racing
GRAFENWÖHR, Germany — While many folks around the Grafenwöhr training area were engaging in traditional regional summer activities — swimming, biking, slapping at the bugs — Spc. Andy Green was up to something different.
Or, rather, down to it.
Rolling through the dirt at high speed, the 32-year-old mechanic from the 615th Military Police Company was being chased down by his own 400-pound all-terrain racing cycle as it careened down the track behind him, wrecking itself in the process.
Green had just crashed the four-wheeler in spectacular fashion as he tried to negotiate the crowded motocross racecourse in Hochstadt, Germany, where he was competing for points in the seven-race Northern Bavaria Motocross Championship series.
“I crashed it really bad,” he said, chuckling. “Luckily I was OK. I just kind of rolled around on the ground. The quad landed on top of me. I’ve got bruises and stuff. No big deal.”
Green is a regular soldier with an irregular habit: quad racing, the motocross-like adrenaline sport featuring speeds of up to 70 mph, hairpin turns and frequent wrecks.
Sitting astride snarling little four-wheeled demons, riders have to tear around a course studded with bumps, pits and jumps while trying not to collide with one another in the blitz for the finish.
Green, who picked up ATV riding when he was 12, said he wanted to do something to stay active when he arrived in Germany in 2003, so he sought out some local quad racers and found himself in a motocross gold mine, he said.
Northern Bavaria, apparently, is one of the country’s few hotbeds for the sport, with a number of racetracks within a short distance of Grafenwöhr, Green said.
“Grafenwöhr is a really good location for doing this whole series,” he said. “I’m really fortunate to be in this region.”
Tapping into the local racing community, the Missouri native quickly became somewhat of a maverick among the other riders: Green is the only American on the circuit, and competes on a relic of a four-wheeler, a 1988 Suzuki Quad Racer.
“I pull into the track and all these guys are like, ‘Look at that old four-wheeler,’” he said. “But then I get out there and it’s real competitive; I go real fast on it.”
Currently, Green is in 10th place in the Northern Bavaria series standings, but hopes to break into the top five by the end of the season, he said.
But it’s an expensive habit, he said, costing him about $10,000 a year in maintenance, fees, parts and aspirin, a figure that makes his wife Jenny’s eyes roll.
Now pregnant with the couple’s first child, a daughter to be named Kaylee Sue, Jenny has been absorbed into her husband’s racing world, she said, and they both enjoy the social aspects of the sport. She even tried to drive the Suzuki once, the week before the couple’s wedding.
“I wrecked it and I broke his arm,” she said. “I floored it and he fell off the back.”
Now with a child on the way, the potential for danger on the powerful machines worries her, and she’s made it clear that Andy is not allowed to try to win at all costs.
“He knows if he gets hurt, I’m going to kill him,” she said.
Green barely avoided that fate in his last crash, but said there’s little that could keep him away from racing. So far, his worst injury sustained while racing is a broken collarbone.
“A lot of people try to keep me from doing it” because of the risks and the money, he said. “But the fact is, I love it, and it makes me happy.”
The best part?
“I like the freedom,” he said. “You just forget about everything else and you concentrate on … just going real fast.”