From chaplain, to race director, to forming an elite track side mobile medical team, Jake Vanada is a true motorsports enthusiast. Jake served as the chaplain as well as many other roles for AMSOIL Championship Snocross before he received a new opportunity with Motocross and Supercross. Although not being with Snocross for the entire season, Jake still plays a very important role for the safety of our riders and crew. Jake helped form what is known as the FXR Mobile Medical team which is an elite medical staff that follows the National Snocross tour. FXR Mobile Medical has some exciting news being announced at Hay Days September, 9th. We had the opportunity to catch up with Jake to see how he is doing and what he has planned for the upcoming months.
Jake, give us a breakdown of what exactly you have been doing since we have seen you last.
So, I’m wrapping up my second year of this new opportunity that I’ve been pursuing which is the full-time chaplain for Supercross and Motocross. Here we are August of 2017, I’ve been on the road just a tad from A1 which was a long time ago, and this weekend is the Iron Man in Crawfordsville, IN which is the last race. So, gone on the weekends doing ministry and back here at home in the Minneapolis area spending time with my family reconnecting. But it’s been going really well and it’s been incredible to get connected and that’s really what I’ve been doing is trying to get connected and build the relationships that allow for ministry to happen.
What are your plans with sx/mx? Do you plan on continuing this into next year and beyond, or what are your thoughts?
You don’t take a position like this and just decide its only going to be a one or two year deal. The guy who was the AMA Chaplain before me was Steve Hudson, who started the ministry, he was at it for 20 years. I hope I can do this for 20 years. So that’s my plan is being at this for a long time with these riders. I feel like it’s a great fit for me, for how God has wired me, and for what he has called me to do and that’s really why I am doing it. It’s not because I have got nothing else to do, it’s because I really feel like with what I do, you have to pay attention to what God is asking you to do, and when you do that stuff seems to work out okay.
What are some highlights or really cool things that you were able to be apart of while working in the motorcycle racing industry?
There are all these moments that happen in the weekend for me. It is fun when you get to know who these guys are and see them succeed. Whether success means a guy hit his goal to get 15th overall on a summer outdoor because he’s been working like crazy or he makes the podium, these are some of the highlights to celebrate with a rider that gets the results that they want. There’s all kinds of moments like this that happen each weekend and that’s what is really important for me. It makes it more about the relationship with these mechanics, team owners, AMA staff and getting connected with them, then it is maybe just as a fan of the sport. So the highlights for me, might look different then what it may look like to a fan, but there’s these moments of happiness like last weekend when Zach won (Zach Osbourne) it was awesome.Then there’s a story about Shane McElrath who got 3rd last weekend at Budds Creek and he’s been struggling all summer. So for me it’s fun knowing who they are and what a win or that podium represents. There is a guy that I have been working with in the 450 class, he is struggling and battling, and so when you continue to see him work especially as a privateer its pretty dang cool.
I believe that there is gratification for times like this. You are with these riders for the good times and the bad, and sometimes they can be really bad times. But to see them successful or see the good times it’s worth it. Working so closely with these people and riders, you become part of the team. So when they win, they are wins for you as well.
Yeah, when you’re the chaplain, you’re walking alongside of them every weekend and so you’re absolutely right on that. It feels like “we” and when they start to include you in the “we” statements that’s pretty special because it takes a lot to be an elite athlete or to be a professional at any sport. For them to work as hard as they do that’s one of the things that has really stood out to me. It’s incredible, it’s mind blowing the kind of hours it takes to be great and be incredible. It has encouraged me and motivated me to push myself even harder than I have in the past to be great, to be elite, but certainly to see them through the hard times and then succeed it is very gratifying. For me, another thing that fires me up is when I get to walk alongside a rider in his faith and help him follow the One I am following, Christ. It doesn’t get any better than that for me. Another thing, is all the injuries I see first hand. There is a rider that was hurt, and then got hurt again, missed all of Supercross and he just came back this summer and is doing really well. In fact, he has led a few laps. For him, I’m going bonkers and celebrating with him, even though he faded a little because he didn’t have the conditioning, yet, it is really big for him to get back on the dirt bike again and ride; it’s incredible. Or like Ken Roczen – I just talked to him at Budds Creek – you see the posts of him riding again, you have to celebrate with the guy on how big it is to get back on the motorcycle this August after the horrible crash at A2, its awesome.
Now that you have been in both industries, Snocross and Motocross, is there similarities between the two? Is racing? Racing? And is family? Family?
Yeah, I think there are a lot of similarities that I have drawn from the two. Coming from Snocross into Motocross, one of the things you mentioned is family, which is it true. You feel like you are at the carnival, where everyone picks up and moves on to the next weekend where your together again. So there’s a definite similarity between Snocross and Motocross. For me, I think there is a strong comparison between Snocross and in outdoors (Lucas Oil Nationals in the summer) . People are passionate about racing and really care about each other. You’ll see a guy that’s privateer and he goes with his broken parts up to the Honda rig or to the Husky rig and they are helping him out just because of the brand he rides, and that’s really cool. There’s some good people in both of these circuits, and in our country you see a lot of headlines about people that are messing up and making bad choices. However, I see every week the opposite; people that are at the core of who they are. They are there to help and help their fellow competitors have a successful weekend. That is a big similarity between Snocross and Motocross and its pretty cool to see everyone trying to help each other out.
If people may not know, you are the person behind the FXR Mobile Medical Team. Last year it was a huge success, one that had the entire industry backing it. Will we be seeing the mobile medical team again this winter at AMSOIL Championship Snocross races and what can we expect?
Yeah, we’re really proud of the industry getting behind us as a whole and getting behind the idea. It takes somebody to have the idea, and I believe God gave me that idea to do it, so we did it. Some people said that it couldn’t be done on such short notice last fall, so I’m really proud of ISOC, our board, and the race teams who gave financially. We are gearing up for year number 2. Working with building up our medical staff, working with updating and upgrading our medical equipment, we are very excited about all of that. Over the summer, we have acquired some, I call them “medical toys”, our Dr. doesn’t like it when I say that, but the cool equipment we can use to have elite medical care track side. I’m very proud to say last year we saw between 40 and 50 athletes every weekend and helped save many athletes from having to go to the ER. One of the riders had an injury with a deep wound to his hip, we helped him by stitching it up so instead of going from the track, sitting in the ER waiting room, getting checked and then waiting, and waiting, and waiting and then finally getting sewn up and having to go back to the hotel room. Instead the FXR Mobile Medical team got him stitched up at the track and went back to hotel. The next day, he came back for a check-up and we cleaned the wound, then the next day he even raced. That happened last year, so just a lot of gratifying stories of how this work is helping our athletes.
We know there may be big announcements made at Hay Days in a few weeks about the FXR Mobile Medical Team, but can you give us a little insight on what is to come?
We do have some pretty fun stuff that we are going to be announcing at Hay Days, so you will have to stay tuned with what those are, but we are working hard behind the scenes right now not only on the medical side but the funding side as well. We are doing everything we can to build this program up and make it great. (Note: FXR mobile medical is a 501c3 non-profit organization)
Where can fans and racers get information about the FXR Mobile Medical Team?
We are on the web at www.FXRmobilemedical.com. If you go there you can check it out, you can contact us if you are interested in getting involved. It takes great sponsors like FXR, Triton Trailers, Polaris, Cornerstone Chrysler in Elk River, RAM Trucks and there is also a number people who have stepped up with such little notice. That means a lot to me when stuff like this can take forever, but this went very quickly.
One last question, can we expect to see you at any AMSOIL Championship Snocross races this winter? And if so, which ones?
Yeah, so, they have asked me to come back and be at as many as I can. I am excited to announce that I will be at the first 2 races this winter. I will be involved in Duluth and Jackson Hole as chaplain and many other duties that I had when I was on staff with ISOC. I am really, really excited about it especially for the opportunity to help keep making racing great!