Thursday, May 20, 2010

Zimmerman Races To The Professional Ranks

By John Severance

SOCORRO – Graduation will begin a whirlwind weekend for Socorro’s Dillon Zimmerman.
Zimmerman says he will “walk the line” with the rest of his fellow Socorro High graduates Friday night at Warrior Stadium. Then he will catch a flight in Albuquerque to Reno, Nev., at 5 Saturday morning and then travel to Milford, Calif., to compete in Round 5 of the West Coast Nationals WORCS series.
Zimmerman also happens to be a professional ATV racer and he holds a position in the top five in the series.

In 2007, Zimmerman caught the eye of Johnny Leach, the Motoworks/Can Am race team manager, who signed him to his team for 2008 and he has been racing for him ever since. Before racing for Leach, Zimmerman finished second in both Pro-Am and Production A in 2007.
How did Zimmerman start his career as an ATV racer?
He started at the age of 4 while racing a Suzuki 50cc ATV and he gradually progesssed to a 90cc over a two-year span. And when he was 10, he was racing a 2-stroke Honda 250rs and by 12 he was racing a Honda 450 4 stroke.
“I’ve always liked to race for as long as I can remember,” Zimmerman said.
Racing, though, has its perils.
And Zimmerman knows that all too well.
In June of last year, Zimmerman was racing in Phoenix at Speed World.
“I got a bad gate pick and was way on the outside,” Zimmerman said. “The gate dropped and I gunned it out of there trying to get to the front. The track narrows down and we all tried to squeeze in there and I couldn’t do anything. I hit a bump and it threw me into a wall. That’s all I remember. The next day, I woke up in the ICU.”
Zimmerman spent a week in the ICU and another in the regular hospital, fighting for his life. Zimmerman suffered nine broken ribs, a punctured kidney, a collapsed lung and a broken shoulder. After being released from the hospital, Zimmerman spent two weeks rebuilding his lungs and letting his injuries heal.
About two months later, Zimmerman climbed back aboard the ATV.

“At first I was scared because I didn’t want to happen again,” Zimmerman said. “But I kept practicing and I put it behind me. I know my parents (Ty and Melissa) were scared, too. My mom didn’t want me to race anymore and my dad was scared but he knew I was going to get back on.”
Melissa Zimmerman said, “Life’s not worth a trophy and that is what I told him. But I support my kids no matter what they do.”
Zimmerman ended up back in the driver’s seat, winning his next race in Washington state.
“I learned a lot from that,” Zimmerman said. “I have been in that same position again and this time I just back off. I’m a little smarter about things.”
Zimmerman plans to pursue his racing career for the time being.
“But I also know I have a lot of opportunities if I don’t race anymore,” Zimmerman said.
For now, Zimmerman will come back to Socorro after racing this weekend, attend a graduation party next weekend and then move out to California.

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