Luke Lucky Huff is a professional motorcycle racer from a small town in Ohio. He now resides in Los Angeles with his partner and is the owner of Lucky Management helping to promote careers in motorcycle racing. Luke plans to run a full season of AMA as well as the WERA Motorcycle Roadracing &Willow Springs Motorcycle Club. The racing season begins this coming weekend, Jan 7 & 8 at Autoclub Speedway in Fontana, CA. Queers4Gears’ Adam Lovelace sat down to ask Luke a few questions:
Q4G: Where are you from?
LH: I was raised in the small rural farming community of the Village of Berkey, Ohio. I attended school in the same building from preschool, kindergarten, and 1-8th grade. I went on to St. Francis de Sales High School in the city of Toldeo, Ohio (our neighboring metropolis). After graduating, I wanted to pursue my passion at the time, filming professional skateboarding (and skateboarding myself). My parents helped me find an apartment and a job in San Diego and I was on my own on the other side of the country at age 19. After less than a year I yearned for more action than the sleepy town of Ocean Beach had to offer, so I moved north to Hollywood in the year 2000. I stayed in Hollywood for about 6 years during which time I had asked my parents to help me find a used motorcycle (my parents had owned a used car dealership in Ohio since 1982). When I found the one that I felt suited me, they surprised me by paying for it as a combined x-mas/birthday present in 2004! From then on, I slowly leaned toward sport bikes and learning how to go faster and began to love sport bike racing. In 2009, I was hit on the freeway and it forced me to re-think what I was doing on a bike. I had been riding canyons aggressively and knew I should probably start going to the track where aggressive riding belongs. This was the wake up call that I needed.
Q4G: What series do you currently race in?
LH: I currently participate in the following race series: AMA Pro Racing, WERA West, Willow Springs Motorcycle Club (WSMC), American Federation of Motorcyclists (AFM), California State Championship (CSC).
Q4G: Did you really just start racing in 2010?
LH: I bought a used Yamaha R6 in the summer of 2010, about a year after my accident on the street. I did a handful of trackdays in Aug/Sept. of ’10 and then picked up my novice race license that September.
Q4G: Do you race full-time?
LH: I would say I do race full-time in that I compete in some of the above mentioned series for their full seasons. Next year, I plan to attend the complete seasons of AMA, WERA West, WSMC, and CSC barring any conflicting dates between series. That should keep me busy from January till October in 2012.
Q4G: How did you get started in racing?
LH: Before I had the accident on the street, a friend of mine who had brought me under his wing to show me the ropes on how to ride a sport bike well had begun his own sport bike racing career. Jeremy Simmons had previously raced dirt bikes in his younger years and decided “why not see how far I can go with road racing motorcycles”. Due in part to that ideology and my recent accident, I thought I should adapt that idea and see if I can answer it on my own.
Q4G: Do you follow any other racing series?
LH: Sometimes I think I follow too many race series! haha. I’m pretty much up-to-date on the goings on in MotoGP, Moto2, 125s (soon to be Moto3), WSBK, WSS, BSB, AMA, Australian SBK, South African SBK, TT racing, TTXGP, and then there’s the 4-wheeled racing… WRC, ALMS, F1, etc.
Q4G: Your Facebook page has a photo of you with Marco Simoncelli who was killed in October, 2011 in the Malaysian MotoGP race. How has his death affected you and/or the sport of motorcycle racing?
Luke Huff and Marco Simoncelli
LH: Many feel Marco’s death has put somewhat of a dark cloud on the risk involved. Just this past weekend, I had organized 2 screenings of the new MotoGP documentary, “FASTEST” with director, Mark Neale. In the documentary, Marco Simoncelli is interviewed and shown repeatedly because it was finished before his passing. Many said they find it more difficult to watch and it makes it somewhat sad to see. I find it the exact opposite. Marco clearly had a love of life and his life was centered around his love of racing. Many pictures, quotes, etc demonstrate his passion for racing and seeing him on the screen again, being shown more of his personality, and watching him race one more time just invigorates my soul and makes me want to live my life as much as he did. I had the chance to meet him very briefly when the photo was taken and he was more than happy to allow a whole crowd of fans take pictures and ask questions during an impromptu visit to his garage at Laguna Seca in 2010.
Q4G: Not only do you race, but you also own your own management company where you represent other riders? Tell us about that and how that is going?
LH: My entire life I’ve always held management positions in various lines of work. I always find myself somehow directed to management whether I do it consciously or not. When I had decided to go racing myself, I think I had 3 sponsors before I had my race license. My brain just can’t stop thinking like a business, so I address those issues before silly things like having a license. I had 13 sponsors on my list by the time I held a novice license for just 2 months. Many of my friends I raced against didn’t understand how I did it because most racers have the mind-set of “I go fast, then sponsors come to me”. Using this knowledge, I noticed many incredibly talented riders were struggling with obtaining sponsors and more importantly, funding. I thought to myself, I seem to have this innate ability to make the business side of anything work, so I took on one racer that was destined for greatness, Bryce Prince. As a purely voluntary effort, I wanted to help Bryce gain more sponsorship and help direct his career as he began his transition from winning multiple club racing championships to racing on the Pro level in AMA for 2012. As I started to explore what he would need and how to get him the proper funding, I realized there are a lot of people in the same situation, and none of them seem to understand the complexity of their situation. At that point, I decided to form Lucky Management where I could represent a variety of racers and hopefully enable them to go racing at the pro level. I just recently launched my new website: www.Lucky-Management.com which is a B2B website to help facilitate my goals of drawing out funding for my riders. The initial response has been wonderful and I’m in discussions with numerous companies to make this work for 2012. I’m taking a new approach to sponsorships where the companies are forming partnerships with the riders and their team managers to fulfill whatever needs the companies have specific to them. Gone are the days when a fast rider can slap a sticker on his bike and ask for a big chunk of money. Now we must be open-minded and get creative to bring those companies a better and more real return on their investment. The roles have changed and we are now given the responsibility of pleasing the needs of the partners (sponsors).
Q4G: You are putting together a fund-raising charity race to benefit cancer research. How is that going? Do you have any details that can be released yet?
LH: I can tell you the fund-raiser is a motorcycle race event which will be held at Willow Springs International Raceway after the end of the 2012 AMA Pro Racing season has ended. The beneficiary is www.CancerResearch.org. The event is tentatively scheduled for September 30th, 2012 but the exact date has not been confirmed. The idea behind the event is to bring together motorcycle racers from across the country to raise donations for cancer research and do what we know (racing) to give back to the community. I’m expecting a lot of participation from racers of many different series including, AMA, WERA, WSMC, AFM, CSC, CVMA, etc. We may even have a guest or two from outside of the US. As soon as more details are established, a website and Facebook page will be set up and the word will go out in force.
Q4G: What are your future aspirations?
LH: My main focus is the management company. I view that as my long-term project that I will continue to fine-tune and operate for many many years to come. Over time, I would like to build the site much larger to include partnership opportunities with racers and teams around the world in various motorsports, not just motorcycle racing. For 2012, I’m planning to run my first season of AMA Pro Supersport to further push that idea of “how far can I go in road racing?”. I would like to win a couple club racing championships as well. I will always be working for the riders I represent, even when I’m at my own race weekend. IPhone in hand and laptop open constantly doing whatever I can to improve the business and help their careers. I also just had an article written about me in the December issue of RoadRacing World magazine on pages 76 & 77.
Q4G: Being openly gay in the series, have you had any negative reactions with competitors or the sanctioning body?
LH: Being openly gay in racing sounds like a difficult marriage of personalities, but it’s not really. One’s sexual preference rarely comes up at the race track other than an occasional cat call or comment about women in general. Since almost every race series also has women racers that regularly beat many of the guys out there, the comments are quickly dissipated when someone makes a remark about that same girl passing them and knowing how to race a bike better. The same can be said about negative comments about gay people in general. It’s very rare I’ve ever heard anyone act or speak with a homophobic tone at the track. Even then, the person who made the comment in poor taste would usually apologize later when word gets around to them that I or someone else in the paddock is in fact gay. I don’t feel that I have any larger hurdles to clear than any other racer in the paddock and the sheer fact that your performance on the track by you alone riding your motorcycle is one of the reasons I’m so drawn to this sport. No one can claim they are faster or better. They either beat you on the track or they didn’t. Lucky for me, not many have.
Q4G: I see that you are engaged. Does he race, or is he involved with racing?
LH: I put my status as “engaged” more as a joke because well, I can’t be engaged to another man in the State of California. I have been with my partner, Danny, for a few years now and he doesn’t have much interest in riding a motorcycle after dealing with my accident a couple years ago when our relationship was still new. Although it worries him to see me risk so much on the track, he knows it’s my passion and it’s not something that can be taken away. Danny is slowly accepting the idea that I’m going to be involved in racing more and more, so who knows; maybe we’ll get him on the track some day.