Locker room: Dane Westby
A young Tulsa native is riding his way to the top of the nation’s motorcycle circuit.
Dane Westby celebrates his first win at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio, in 2011.
Brian J. Nelson/Courtesy of Dane Westby
Life in the fast lane apparently agrees with Tulsa native Dane Westby.
In motorcycle races from Utah to Florida, from Michigan to Texas, Westby — the grandson of Katie Westby, late co-founder of the Arts & Humanities Council of Tulsa — is making a name for himself in this dangerous but exhilarating sport.
Westby, 25, got his start with motorcycles at a young age, thanks to his father, Tryg Westby, who raced Superbikes and had a small repair and accessory shop in Tulsa.
As many young boys do, Westby was soon emulating his father. Then, he began riding street and dirt bikes, exhibiting a natural talent and skill beyond his years. He won several amateur championships at age 16 and turned professional five years later.
TulsaPeople caught up with Westby between races.
How did you begin racing?
Motorcycles have always been in our family, and I started riding when I was 4 years old. I remember riding my little motorcycle downhill in our driveway. At first I could only ride it with the engine off. I would then push it back up the hill to ride it down again and again. I finally was allowed to ride with the engine on, but I totally forgot where the brakes were. I ran right into the garage.
You were in a pretty serious crash in 2009. What happened?
It was the last lap of the Daytona 200 and everyone in the lead pack was close together trying to draft off each other. The track at Daytona is really a very steep bowl-like track. We were at the bottom of the bowl and came upon a slower rider, whom we were ready to lap. As I passed the slower rider, he made contact with me — and this is not really a contact sport — and I crashed. Luckily, I ended up with just a broken thumb. We have great protective equipment or it could have been a lot worse.
What motivates you to succeed?
At first, it was just a fun thing to do with my dad. Now, it’s neat to be able to compete with the best riders in the world and see if I can come out on top mentally. That’s what I like about the sport.
Do you have any specific goals in racing?
Once I win a championship here in the states, I would like to ride on the world circuit called “World Superbikes.”
Do you plan to go back and finish college?
I actually studied art previously. I definitely plan to go back and take some business-oriented classes, perhaps not full time, but I do want to get my degree.
What advice would you have for a youngster interested in racing?
Racing is a pretty expensive endeavor and it takes a lot of effort. You’ll need to find some sponsors. But just never give up if you enjoy the sport. You’ll soon know if this is the sport for you.
Dane Westby’s Stats
- Progressed from the club level with the Central Motorcycle Racing Association to the semi-pro level in 2005 with the American Motorcycle Association (AMA) and the Western Eastern Road Racing Association, winning several championships in the process.
- Made his AMA Pro Road Racing debut in 2008 and has captured five championships and set new track records at the Texas World Speedway and at Hallett Motor Racing Circuit.
- Finished eighth in 2009 in his first Daytona 200, America’s largest and most prestigious motorcycle race.
- Joined his first professional team in 2010 and captured second place in the Daytona 200.
- Earned five podium finishes and 12 top 10 finishes in 2010, culminating with fifth place at the Daytona Sportbike Championship.
- Joined Team Hammer in 2011, winning the Daytona Sportbike race in Ohio. He ended the year in seventh place in final championship standings.
- Finished fifth at this year’s Daytona 200 despite mechanical troubles. He made a serious run for the 2012 championship in the season standings. In October, New Orleans hosted the final round, where he finished second.