It’s a family affair
Daytona Bike Week marked the beginning of the American Flat Track 2023 season. If you are a flat track fan, the first two rounds were not a disappointment. Round 3 will be in Senoia, Georgia on March 25th, a little closer to the home of RoadDirt.tv. Perhaps you’re planning on attending the races with family and friends. If so, you’ll want to wander the pits to meet the riders and gather some autographs. I am always a little star struck when attending a race to photograph these confident and talented men and women. Often, they are happy to make time for a quick chat and friendly banter. One such rider is Andrew Luker who earned two top 10 finishes at the Daytona Short Track in the Parts Unlimited AFT Singles class.
Luker tucked in and flying down the front straight on the Mile.
Andrew Luker may have just celebrated his 25th birthday on a motorcycle at Daytona, but he is a seasoned competitor. Last month I talked with Andrew for this piece and our conversation was enlightening. His racing number is 11 for the 11th of March, his birthday. He began riding 50cc to 80cc bikes while just 4 and 5 years of age. Andrew is all business when at the track, but approachable and friendly. He is married and met his wife Kenzie in 2013 at the San Jose Indoor Short Track when he was just 14 years old. He told a friend, “She’s the girl for me!” Kenzie #171 and son Wyatt #10 (born on the 10th) both race at the club level. Baby Addyson, who may also choose her racing number as #12 for her birthday, just got her first Strider bike and will be cruising the pits this coming season. Kenzie has also applied for Royal Enfield’s 2023 “Build. Train. Race.” flat track program. Good chance that she will race #17 in honor of Andrew’s grandfather, Buddy whose birthday is of course on the 17th.
The family that races together places together. Team Luker at the Outlaw ST in Carson City, Nevada.
Andrew’s family actively participates in supporting his professional career. His father Billy Luker and his grandfather Buddy first got Andrew into racing. His mother Stacie takes care of logistics and her husband Kevin is Andrew’s mechanic. Andrew’s grandparents Don and Cathy drove his equipment all over the country in 2017-2019. All in the family. When not racing, Andrew works full time as a heavy equipment operator in the San Francisco Bay Area. He and his father often make the long commutes together after 10-12 hour work days. His superintendent Ricky Smith, who also used to race, understands the planning involved to balance your livelihood and a professional racing career. When I asked Andrew where he gets his confidence on the track he replied, “I can commit to making tough decisions on the track because I know that my family supports me and that I have a secure job to provide for my family.” He also told me that in the beginning he struggled with the excitement of racing and slowly had to learn to relax while competing. Andrew is not only an AFT rider, but a husband, father, son, and grandson. There is a lot going on for this quiet, polite, and dedicated young rider.
Luker kicking up dust in Turn 3 on the Lodi Cycle Bowl’s Blue Groove.
Geoff and I have been able to photograph Andrew frequently at our local flat track in Lodi, California and other local events. The Lodi Cycle Bowl is known as being the “Home of the Blue Groove”. It is the longest running motorcycle racetrack in the West. The Lodi Motorcycle Club has continuously run races since 1953. Its AMA sanction was actually granted in 1937. Many famous riders have graced this quarter mile dirt oval. “King” Kenny Roberts, Chris Carr, Rick Hocking, Alex Kim, and Toby Jorgenson, Doug Chandler, Jim Rice, Skip Aksland, Dave, Ben, and Eric Bostrom are but a few.
Nowhere to go but up. Coming down the front straight in Lodi.
This past year, Andrew won both the District 36 Open A Championship as well as the Lodi Motorcycle Club Open A. Like his father, Wyatt also won both the District 36 Pee Wee 50cc Championship as well as the Lodi Motorcycle Club Pee Wee 50cc. Father and son also took first place trophies at the Santa Rosa Indoor ST race on February 25th of this year. Team Luker is off to a winning season. If you see him at the track, be sure to ask for an autograph and have a chat with him. And say hi to his family.
*Photos by Geoff Nickless
Father and son taking a victory lap at Lodi.
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