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Tuesday, November 20, 2012
Updated: November 29, 6:51 PM ET
Deegan embraces role as a 'mini dad'


A far cry from the old days of being a punk rocker with a dirt bike, going against the grain and ticking off the establishment, life for freestyle motocross star Brian Deegan has come full circle. Father to three young kids -- Hailey, Haiden and Hudson -- Deegan has been finding himself at the mini bike track or the races more often on the weekends because his oldest son, Haiden, is following in his footsteps by riding dirt bikes and racing karts.

Hanging out with other mini dads, dialing in the mini bikes and packing gates has become life for the 14-time X Games medal winner, four-time off-road truck racing champion, and two-time Lucas Oil Off Road Racing series driver of the year recipient.

Appreciative of his past, he likes the basic fundamentals that racing motocross provide youngsters and more specifically how they groom them to be good people in life off the bike.

Motocross is no easy sport and to want to win you have to be willing and you have to put in the work. These basic fundamentals to be successful on the bike will drive who a rider will be off the bike and seeing his kids succeed is the most rewarding for Deegan.

Deegan's own career on four wheels has been reaping the benefits of his hard work, dedication and will to win. In the Off Road Racing series, Deegan battled his way back from a big points deficit at the beginning of the season to ultimately win a championship for the second year in a row. In Global RallyCross we saw a battle down to the end with defending champion Tanner Foust, with Deegan having to settle for an impressive second place overall.

Deegan acknowledges his success in auto racing is owed partially to his experience racing motocross bikes when he was younger. "Motocross is a tough sport and you have to be tough to succeed at it," he said.

Brian Deegan, Haiden Deegan
Proud papa Brian Deegan lifts Haiden as his son shows off medals won at the Lake Elsinore MX park.

Now, while he is making his mark racing automobiles, he is watching Haiden and daughter Hailey become racers. Driving for Ford Motorsports, Deegan is looking forward to carrying his motocross skills into winning simultaneous championships in off road and rallycross in 2013.

Always known to make a funny skit or two, Deegan's latest role to hit the Internet is "Mini Dad" [see above video]. No more shiny pants, glitter bikes, and ghost riding his bike off bridges. This video is all about spinning wrenches, packing the gate, and in some cases taking over the controls to show how it's really done. Mini dad is in full effect now and soon life is going to be all about pit boards, getting to the track early to park with your posse and paying early entry fees.

ESPN.com: So how did the rallycross and off-road truck series end up for you?
Deegan:
Rally and truck this year has been my main focus racing for the titles, it came down good, you know, I won the championship last year in my rookie season in the pro 2 class in off road, which was the premier class in the Lucas Oil Series. And I was able to back it up again this year. I started off with a new truck this year, so I had some issues getting it dialed in. I came from a big points deficit and came back to the last round to win the championship. It was tough this year, we had to fight for it. It was cool to beat the best guys in the industry; Rob MacCachren, Carl Renezeder, Jeremy McGrath, all those guys, it was a good battle to the end.

Then two days later I had to be in Vegas at SEMA for the rallycross championship. Tanner Foust and I battled it out, head to head, I had a few points deficit to make up and we battled to the very end, he ended up winning and I got second. So it was almost a perfect season, you know, I had a perfect season the year before, I won [the Off Road championship and Rally X at X Games]. This year I came up a tad bit short but it was still a success.

And you know coming from dirt bikes and growing up racing motocross, to get back racing when I had gotten away from it to do FMX, racing is what I love to do. It's just cool to be able to race four wheels and be dominant at it. I've seen a lot of people try it and not many people succeed at it. It's been a pretty good feeling.

Yeah, you seem to have had a lot of success with four wheels and specifically this year with both series coming down to the wire?
I'd say for me I've dealt with pressure a lot and I feel like there's no more pressure than lining up on a drop at X Games in best trick and going, "All right I'm getting ready to do a 360 or do something that I hopefully will land and if I don't I'm probably going to die and there's no backing out of it." There's no more pressure than that! That's like the ultimate pressure situation, you know.

The pressure I have now is different. I'm in a racecar, my sponsors are standing there, like in rally car I had the owners of Ford standing there, Edsel Ford, standing there telling me all right we wanna win this race. That's a different type of pressure, you know, and it's still intense and for me. I tell myself this is why I race, I put myself in these situations for a reason and I want to be there and I feed off the pressure is the way I see it.

I have to embrace those moments, this is why I'm here and everyone in the pits would die to be in this position right now and I have to enjoy it. But coming into those last rounds it's hard to sleep sometimes, its not all what people think it is, there is a lot of pressure that goes with it, I just find ways to deal with it and when it's all said and done it's just a big feeling of accomplishment.

So you had Edsel Ford standing there with you at rally? The Ford legacy is a huge piece of automobile history.
For sure, for me my whole life was about getting the factory ride, you know, it never happened. I came close, I did win an SX, I felt like I was one of the top racers at the time and couldn't get support. And maybe it had to do with having a bad attitude, which really fed into freestyle and to be able to get back to racing and get sponsored by Ford Motors, that just dwarfs anything I've ever wanted to do on dirt bikes. And for goals in my mind I've accomplished way more in a car than on a dirt bike. So it's been a good justification of my career.

Definitely, that is big. Switching gears a bit back to motocross, your son Haiden is now doing some motocross racing of his own. Does this bring you back to the days of when you were a kid?
Yeah, you know I didn't start racing until I was 10 and Haiden started riding at 3. You know he's always watched it because it's in our yard. I have a jump park at my house and the guys are always riding, and it's what's natural to him, it's nothing different [because] he thinks it's ordinary life to him.

And I wish I could've done that when I was that young but, yeah, it reminds me of when I finally got a bike and started riding. That's all I wanted to do every day, it was like gear up and go ride my dirt bike and that was everything.

John Deegan, Brian Deegan
In contrast to his intense competitiveness, Brian Deegan says his dad, John, was a calming influence during his early days of motocross racing.

What's it like being a mini dad at the races now?
I would say growing up racing I used to go to Ponca City, Loretta Lynn's, all the amateur nationals and I could pick out certain rider's dads that were crazy, and I'd always laugh because they'd get so gnarly and it's crazy because now that I have kids I go to the races and you can't help but fall into that trap of being the intense mini dad.

And I think it's just that I want to win so bad at everything that I feel like he should too. In the end he's his own person and he's going to do what he wants. Yeah, I get full on [laughs] at the races, I get amped you know, I'm the dude freaking out, packing the starting line, the whole deal. I'll say it, I'm not afraid to admit it [laughs] you get nuts when you're a mini dad.

On a scale from one to 10, 10 being the mini dad who's had way too much Mountain Dew or coffee, where do you fall in?
I don't know, I'd like to think that I try to be cool with it but I think somewhere between an eight and a 10 [laughs]. I would say when he's riding and not trying I'll get crazy for sure or when someone's kid is trying to take him out or he's just not giving it his all, the bike is having problems, I'd say I'm definitely at a 10 for sure [laughs].

My dad was probably like a two, when I grew up my dad was always real mellow, calm. I'd have a bad weekend and he would say, "It's OK, don't worry." And I'd get amped, I'd get mad because I'd ask my dad why aren't you getting more into this? Why are you not getting crazy about it? Because I see the other dads getting crazy but in the end it was really good that he was like that because I was always agro.

And now for me I'm definitely agro, you know. I go to the kart races and spot for my kids on the radio and it's hard, man, that spotter stand gets nuts, the parents start battling and fighting, and it's pretty funny. I've yet to beat up another mini dad but not to say it's not in the near future [laughs]. But you know how motocross is, sometimes you get some real quality individuals. It's better to leave the [jerks] alone [laughs].

How many classes can Haiden enter right now, when will you have a bike for every class?
[Laughs] Dude, he already has four mini bikes right now. I bought him a KTM and then I realized all the kids ride Cobras. So I had to buy a Cobra and then I bought the wrong Cobra because he was too small for the one I got, and then I had to buy the smaller one so I have four mini bikes in my garage.

Haiden Deegan
Haiden Deegan rides the Lake Elsinore MX park with style.

It's funny, it's almost like he needs this full time mini bike mechanic and his own rig. I just bought a set of tools, and I'm going to set up one of the rigs here just for him, just to go to the mini bike track, going to the kart track. It is its own world now and if you want your kids to be good at something you've got to invest and start early. And for me I see a lot of dads out there that are like: it's about me and I got to win the next race. And I feel like I'm content, happy with my career and what I've done and everything from here on is bonus, so I want to see my kids be good at something.

Someone asked me the other day on Instagram: what's more rewarding seeing your kids win or you winning? And I'd have to say that it was a thrill for me to win but seeing my kids win is so much more rewarding, you know, because you feel like you're a parent who raised that kid to be who he is and that just shows you what kind of effort and parent you are.

You see a lot of parents who are angry and negative and then their kids grow up to be like that. I don't want to send my kids out into a world that's already a corrupt world, already being a negative person. You know I want my kids being positive and going out there doing positive things. And that's why I get pumped when I see them doing good.

Have you joined a circle of mini dad friends yet?
Ahh, I have the full mini dad clique, the mini dad mulisha [laughs]. I do, though, I have a whole new group of friends and when you get older and have kids you'll know, it gets different, you have a different crew of people that have kids.

Unfortunately not a lot of the guys in the [Metal] Mulisha have had kids. It's hard to relate at certain times when we're about to go to the track and take the kids to do mini bike racing. It's a different world. But, yeah, I have a clique and I call 'em up, we all park together, it's pretty funny.

How far out do you pack the gate?
[Laughs] I definitely battle when it comes to the gate pack. I'd say at least halfway (laughs), going out halfway is where I draw the line though. I figure that's where I have to stop or people are probably going to take pictures of me and start clowning me [laughs].

Brian Deegan, John Deegan
Brian Deegan holds his KX 60 while his dad John watches a tech inspector go over his bike at the 1986 Ponca City amateur nationals.

But it was raining the other day at Perris [Raceway MX track in Perris, Calif.] on the starting gate and I was like, damn the cement is getting all wet. And so I remembered the mini bike days, so I got a towel from my trailer to lay down on the cement and everyone was laughing and they said I took the cake on that one (laughs), but I come here to do good and I know the tricks already from racing myself.

It was pretty funny, though, seeing everyone's gates were all wet and mine was dry. He still spun though coming out of the gate [laughs]. It happens, I'll pack the gate and he'll come out sideways and miss the whole lane (laughs). And that's when it gets funny, that's when you just start laughing. But Haiden's usually pretty good on his starts, he usually does good, it's when he doesn't it gets funny.

Motocross is a good way to teach your kids good fundamentals, not just being a good person as a rider but also off the bike in the real world?
Yeah, Haiden racing mini bikes, I told myself I would never do it, I would never chase the amateur nationals thing because I know how much work it is. But I truly believe why I've been able to succeed at life and at other sports is the foundation and the lifestyle of motocross.

There's good people at the races, there's family and the skills you learn from riding a dirt bike are translated into everything. And I feel like if I'm going to take him to the races I want him to do good, but I want him to learn those skills.

Let's say he's 8 or 10 and we're racing cars and he's racing trophy karts, which he does too, maybe his career is going to translate into Indycars or NASCAR or these opportunities I could've never had that he will have because of where we're at and what we've done. I want him to have that foundation of motocross.

I know the dangers that come with motocross, though, and I don't want to see him get hurt, I just don't know how far we are going to go with it. I always try not to put him in situations that'll be dangerous but you know what, they're dirt bikes and they are dangerous. It's just the risk you take and hopefully it's all good.