holeshot_book_cover2I was reorganizing all my old motorcycle books and magazines today and came across this old book from one of my hometown racers – Kyle Kilgore. Kyle was a couple of years older than me but his brother Kevin and I were in the same HS class. Other than Gary Bailey and Carl Shipman’s 1974 “How to Win Motocross” it’s one of the few books I owned on racing technique from back in those days.

But Holeshot was a unique book (published 1982 by American Ventures Marketing.) It was all about the mental game. In fact, it’s completely about the mental game. The first chapter is titled “Mind Over Motorcycle”. I don’t know of any other book that ever took this approach to the sport. There’s one chapter on basic physical training, circa 1980, but the rest is all about the head game. Other chapters cover looking within yourself, finding internal drive, persistence, mental targeting, and training your mind to win. Looking back, it’s cool to see how far ahead this little “nobody” book really was.

Today, mental imaging is taken for granted but we call it visualization and sports psychology. Here’s a (dreadfully hard to read) paper from Vanderbilt University on the topic. It’s not talked about much among MX racers, but I’ll wager Eldon Baker (formerly Ricky Carmichael’s trainer and now working with James Stewart) knows plenty about it. It’s kinda cool to look back and realize one of my high school cohorts was this far ahead of the game.

holeshot_photo_sm2Here’s a trivia question for you East Texas readers: Who’s the guy in these pics? I don’t know him. But he has to be from among our same motley crew of East Texas racers in the late-’70s to early-’80s. It’s not Kyle, and it’s not Kevin. So who can name this hard-training racer with all the trophies behind him? Post your answers in the comments and the first person to name him wins an all-expense paid dinner for one at Taco Bell. Click the photo for a bigger pic.

17 thoughts on “1980s Hometown MX book- Holeshot: How to go fast and win from start to finish

  1. Do you know how I can get a copy of this book ? I’m on the cover, it was taken at the start , 1st turn @ Mosier Valley in the early 80’s..
    Any info would be appreciated..


    • Hey Rocky. That’s pretty cool. No, I do not know how to get a copy of the book. I did just move back to Tyler. Maybe I’ll run across Kyle at some point and see if he has any copies stuck away in a storage shed someplace…

    • not sure if any of the books still exist? kyle is in Little Rock has a Company called Kilgore Saw you can email him and see.

  2. Terry, I remember having a copy of this book back in the 80’s. You’re right, Kyle was ahead of his time in writing about the mind game of motocross.
    I’d be very interested in buying a copy for my library.

    • John,

      I only have the one copy and have never seen another one. I haven’t run across Kyle or his younger brother Kevin (who graduated in my HS class) since I got back to Tyler, but I might try to find him and see if he still has the original text and photos. It might be fun to bring the book back via POD technology.

      • Thanks Terry, If you do come across one, please let me know.
        Thanks again.. Rocky..

  3. Very interesting article. I had the hardest time with the mental part…I would beat myself at the gate. My chiropractor suggested that I practice the race in my head (random, I know) . You would stare at a candle in a dark room and go through the race in your head. Starting with packing your gate, each line on each lap then ending with your podium speech. Sounds really weird, but it did help. Try it every night for 30 days before your next race. It’s much tougher than you think.

    • Hey Sean,

      I think the techniques have improved (I’m not sure that’s the right word. Maybe changed is better.) a lot over the past few years, particularly with the growth of digital video. The techniques I’ve seen recently for golfers include the use of subliminal video images and trigger words to not only implant certain ideas but also to change the way we frame the race/game/contest in our minds. So much of the race is mental now, at least for the professionals. How often do we hear a world-class racer have a bad night and say, “I just wasn’t feeling it” or “I just wasn’t comfortable tonight”?

      The difference between a 46.2 and a 45.9 lap time is often how comfortable you feel and how fast you can process all the data coming at you during the race. And those three tenths can mean a drop from 1st or 2nd to 10th or 12th place over 20 laps.

      From what I can gather there is a good bit of evidence that these modern techniques can be very effective at improving our perceptions of all the things going on around us during a stressful event. There’s no magic here, and nothing that’s going to make a B rider a Top Ten guy over night. Nor do I believe they will let you go faster than you can — that’s the sum total of your talent, training, and experience. But I will bet that they are very effective at eliminating the mental barriers that prevent you from reaching your potential on any given night.

      I don’t know of any such product developed for the MX community, and even if some guys were using one they might not talk about it. But I would sure like to know if anyone is. I’d be surprised if guys looking for an extra three-tenths of a second aren’t doing something like this.

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