Randy’s passion for roadracing started in the ‘80s when he was riding a sport bike on the street. “Me and several buddies would road trip every year to MidOhio for the national event. I saw the TZ 250 there for the first time with riders like John Kocinski and Jimmy Filice. I was standing at the end of the straight, and they would come into the corner, not as fast the 750s, but they never lifted for the turn—just rrrrrrrrrrrrr! I knew someday I was going to ride one of those.”
In Colorado, that dream also came true. With a nearby track and enough money to buy a TZ 250, he started in a new venue with the same enthusiasm. “I went fast and crashed a lot: crashed six times in my rookie year, but I moved to expert in my third race. All the other racing I’d done to that point helped me adapt.” When the United States Grand Prix Riders Union formed an all 250 class, Randy saw it as a chance to see how he stacked up against other 250 riders.
He did well enough to finance another life change. He used his winnings to buy a dynamometer. After seven years working for the dealership, he was able to open his own shop, Speedwrench.
For Randy, the competitive path has been long and twisting. “I’ve competed in 3-wheelers and 4-wheelers on O-tracks and terrain events, on two wheels in motocross, hare scrambles, drag racing, raced enduros at the national level in 1998, did trials in ’98 and 99. In 2000, '01 and '02, I rode bikes on the ice, both indoors and outdoors. I raced snowmobiles from 1997 to 2000, even at the national level. I raced in Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Alabama, Louisiana, California, Idaho, Arizona, Texas, Nebraska and Colorado. I’ve had some of the best friends, the best trips and the best times because of racing.”
But there was still one place on the bucket list. “The wizards of the speed world end up at Bonneville. I want to join the elite.” In 2009, Randy’s friend Steve Recknor suggested they go to the Salt Flats as spectators, but Randy figured, why not take a bike and get closer to the action. When he mentioned the idea to another friend, Rob Williams, Rob said he would like to go, too. “Actually,” Randy told him, “I was hoping you’d drive.”
The BUB Speed Trials is an ongoing challenge for Randy. In 2012, he and his APS 1350 Buell will be back, pushing the limits. The Bonneville Salt Flats may finally be the perfect venue for Randy Miller. Full throttle is the way he goes best.
How does a farm boy from an Amish community in Indiana end up building and racing motorcycles? He wants to.
Certainly Randy Miller wanted to. Kokomo, Indiana was home to one of the fastest quarter mile tracks in the Midwest, and when the wind was from the right direction, it would carry the sound of the feature through the bedroom window to where young Randy lay. “My dad was into it, too,” Randy says. “We went to sprint car races pretty much every Sunday, like religion.”
Despite the fact that his mother thought motorcycles were “evil,” Randy was riding his best friend’s Yamaha GT 80 two-stroke dirt bike when he was seven years old. For his eighth birthday, Randy’s mother relented and allowed him to have a Honda ATV with balloon tires, a steel frame and no suspension. Within the year, he had replaced it with a bigger 110 which he modified by replacing the tires with those from the family lawn mower. It wasn’t long before he was ready to try his hand at racing.
His first opportunity came at the local county fair where as an eleven-year-old boy he was racing his three-wheeler against what Randy describes as “full-grown men.” It must have been intimidating, because young Randy drove off the end of the track. “Honest to God, I got the hole-shot and never turned. I just went right off the end of the track.”
After attending tech school, Randy was racing again in a new venue; he began riding motocross. In September of 1997, he was third in the points in 125 B when he broke his collar bone and injured his neck, which prevented him from racing again that season. He dropped from third in the points to eighth. “Which was kind of a good thing,” Randy acknowledges, “because I’d never won a race in 125 B. I had some good finishes, some podium finishes, but never won a race. I went into a hole shot one time with a full gate. That’s kind of the highlight of my motocross career.”
Randy was looking for a change. “The top ten guys automatically moved into “A” class, and to tell the truth, I wasn’t fast enough for “A” at that time. I really was a “B” rider. I was bored with motocross anyway: just going in circles. I started doing hare scrambles.”
He did well racing hare scrambles, but his passion for motorsports (“among other things”) was taking a toll on his recent marriage. The final race of the season fell on his second wedding anniversary. “It’s like that bumper sticker: My wife says if I go to one more race … I was third in the points. I made it home for dinner—a little late, but home for dinner. I figured, no harm, no foul.” Randy’s wife saw it differently. She filed for divorce the next day. “Sure I miss her, he says with a shrug, “but I was third in the points.”
Once again, Randy felt it was time for change He planned to come to Colorado for four months and ski most of it. He got a job at a trials bike shop in the mountains and briefly competed at trials. “Pretty fun. I got beat by juniors, but it teaches a whole different skill set.” Then he discovered snow mobile racing.“I was just aggressive enough and knew how to fix my stuff good enough. He quickly worked into a semi-pro position with Arctic Cat.
He stayed with Rex Hibbert in Driggs, Idaho, and raced RMHCA and cross-country sleds. One of Randy’s proudest racing memories came in snowmobile hill climbing in South Dakota, where he raced a stock sled in a semi pro modified class that included Rex’s cousin Tucker Hibbert. Against a full gate, on a ski hill at elevation, Randy came in fourth. “All these guys were whining that their sleds wouldn’t run; they had no power. I thought, that’s what a Colorado boy can do with tuning.
Randy calls the 100-mile races “the most fun I’ve had in my life. I really felt like I was going somewhere.” By the end of the season, he was tied for second in the points with Charlie Jonner, “both of us riding Arctic Cats, going as fast as I’ve ever gone, when I fell off and broke my arm.”
Randy had just moved back to Denver and gotten a job with Mile High Harley, “a chance to work at a Harley dealership instead of an aftermarket shop. I didn’t want to jeopardize my new job, so I never went to the hospital.” He wrapped the arm in an Ace bandage and went to work on Monday as though nothing had happened. “I tried not to move the arm, and did everything left-handed. That was a rough month waiting for it to heal.”
That summer in Denver, he rediscovered an old passion. “I learned they rode speedway bikes right here at Mad Max’s old place.” Even in financial straits, he could afford a speedway bike. “I jumped on one of those things and immediately got a reputation as a fast guy/loose cannon on the track.” Ironically, in his first race, he recreated an embarrassing error. “I pulled a hole shot and drove right off the end of the track, exactly like when I was eleven years old.”