Racing Through Retirement
Words by Dale Spangler
Photos by Ben Giese | Portraits courtesy Fly Racing
One of the hardest decisions a racer has to make during his or her career is to decide when to retire. In the ideal scenario, the rider walks away at the top of their game—as a champion—on their own terms, as a racer who could have continued on with their career, but instead walked away on top and moved on to the next chapter of their lives. The reality (for the majority) is nowhere near that ideal. Some riders exit because of injury; others are unable to secure a factory ride or the proper equipment they need to race at the highest level—while others simply burn out. Regardless of how they do go out, most don’t want to leave the lifestyle behind.
For Andrew Short, that moment came at the final round of the 2016 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship at Ironman Raceway in Indiana. In the twilight of a long and successful career, during which he’d ridden as a factory rider for the American Honda and BTO Sports KTM squads, the Colorado native-turned-Texas transplant knew in his heart it was time to move on. “When you get older in a sport where you see people retire on top at the age of 26, you let outside influences creep into your head and begin thinking it may be time to stop,” Andrew recalls.
“The problem was, I still loved racing and was addicted to everything surrounding racing dirt bikes. It’s hard to comprehend when you hear guys say they aren’t having fun racing, riding or preparing to go race anymore. To me that’s different than a racer who has fear sitting on the starting line and can’t focus or get in the zone anymore because of past injuries. I respect Trey Canard because he had the heart of a lion and fought demons to come back and race at an incredible level. No racer wants to stop racing, let alone has the luxury to choose when to stop, especially on your own terms. Typically you stop getting paid or lose your ride. I was very blessed that I knew the window was closing and could choose to call it a career with no regrets.”
Upon retirement, some racers disappear into a life of normalcy – choosing to live the married life and raise kids, or perhaps even step into a “regular” 9-5 job. Some avoid travel like the plague unless it’s for a personal vacation. Still others choose to stay involved in the industry and work as a team manager or a riding coach—even a salesman. At 34 years old, Andrew Short could just have retired to his sprawling Smithville, Texas, ranch with wife Jacki, daughter Emma and son Hudson and lived the simple life. But that’s not Andrew Short: Idle time is not part of his makeup. For the most part, he knew what his new life after racing would be even before he retired.
Ever the consummate professional, Andrew Short is known as one of the best test riders in the sport, having helped develop bikes for Honda and KTM. He’s also known as one of the nicest, most approachable riders in the professional paddock—always with time for his fans in a sincere manner. In other words, even before he began to consider retirement, he was heavily sought after in the motorcycle industry.
Since his retirement, Andrew has crisscrossed the country for events such as the Honda Africa Twin launch, the CRF250R intro at Loretta Lynn’s Ranch, an ADV bike ride in Baja, and the Sonoma Rally in Mexico. More recently, he participated in a trail ride with longtime sponsor FLY Racing at the brand’s summer camp event, where members of the media were treated to an epic ride in the mountains of Idaho and introduced to the 2018 product line. There is no doubt that Andrew Short is enjoying his retirement. He’s getting back to the basics of why we all start riding: for the pure joy it creates, which is evident when you are around him. His enthusiasm and curiosity for all things moto is infectious and inspiring.
“I was never the best in moto or supercross, but I was close for a few years,” recalls Andrew. “I’m thankful I love riding more than ever."
"The best part of retirement for me is I’ve ridden a ton of supercross, tested motocross all year for the American Honda guys, and raced Rally in Mexico, to just a few weeks ago riding enduro in Colorado. I go explore and trail ride all the time. I’ve been able to trail ride numerous places like Moab, Utah, this year for the first time and met amazing people who have a like-minded passion for two wheels. It’s awesome because I’ve ridden ADV bikes in Mexico with old dudes and legends, and the following week I’ll be testing supercross with Ken [Roczen] and Cole [Seely] at the test track in Corona. I look forward to going to the Colorado 600 to see what the Trails Preservation Alliance is doing for the sport as well each year. Another event I really enjoyed was the GRINduro that benefits the Kurt Caselli foundation.”
Hang out and talk with Andrew for just a few minutes, and you quickly realize how lucky you are to be able to ride a motorcycle. Whether it’s motocross, off-road, dual-sport or rally, Andrew Short is the epitome of the “like a kid in a candy store” idiom when it comes to motorcycles—he’s a true enthusiast. Not only has he become an ambassador for the Honda brand, but in some ways he’s an ambassador for the enjoyment of riding motorcycles as a whole.
“When I observe those [racers] that are burned out, it bums me out,” Andrew says. “I would love to take those guys in the mountains of Colorado with plated bikes and just ride for the fun and adventure; it’s like being a kid on your own exploring on your bicycle for the first time, with freedom, growing up back in the day.”
He adds, “Most racers are so one-dimensional and have specialized in racing the same tracks year in and year out. As they should, because that’s what they get paid to do and have sacrificed so much to get there, but the passion gets lost from maximizing their ability and sacrificing in other areas. The balance in life is lost, and fun somewhere along the way, as well.”
"I love waking up in the morning stoked on bikes and thinking of ways to be productive and improve. "I can’t wait for the next adventure and hopefully giving back.”
If we are lucky, we may even see Andrew Short participate in some rally racing in the near future. “What I love most is riding off-road and exploring. Rally is rad because you have to go fast, be fit, and most of all smart. I want to race Dakar one day. To me it’s the Everest of dirt bikes,” he explains. “That’s the goal I want to accomplish someday. To me, I think the crossover would be great exposure and also shine more light on Dakar. I hope to have the opportunity one day. It’s a massive race in terms of media exposure worldwide, but in America it doesn’t have as big of a following.”
Only time will tell exactly where Andrew Short ends up and what he’ll be doing five or ten years down the road, but one thing’s for certain: Whatever it is, he’ll have a smile on his face and an abundance of enthusiasm. Adds Andrew,
“Life is too short, and if you lose that passion or love, go find something else to replace it."
"Whether that’s art, golf—who knows?—it’s endless nowadays! I ride more than ever now and enjoy knowing I don’t have to peak on race day, and just enjoy the moment each day for what it is.” Seems like sound advice from a rider racing through retirement at his own pace—enjoying life to the fullest.
To be continued...
Since publishing this feature Andrew has signed with the Husqvarna Motorcycles pro rally team. Congrats on the amazing opportunity to continue chasing your dreams. The team at META wishes both you and the team at Husqvarna the best in this exciting new chapter of your career!
Read the story in Volume 010
Fly Summer Camp
Summer Camp in Idaho
A lot of parents pack up their troubles and send them off to summer camp, but for me that was never the case. Forty some odd years had passed and although grown, this kid at heart finally got the opportunity to experience...