CORONA, Calif. – Zach Osborne didn’t take the conventional route to his new position with the powerful GEICO Honda race team. But after nearly five years of hardcore racing in Europe, he’s ready to test his mettle for a full season on the top-flight Monster Energy AMA Supercross tour.
“I did four-and-a-half seasons in Europe,” Osborne said. “I was a huge change for me compared to living in the states, where it’s set up as the land of convenience. In Europe, daily life can be much tougher and not-so convenient.
“It definitely taught me patience and I grew up as a person. It was a great opportunity to ride a lot of different tracks in a lot of different places, which has prepared me for just about anything.”
As one of the few Americans to challenge for the best in Europe, Osborne had to deal with new environments and language barriers on a weekly basis.
“Quite often you would go to places where they didn’t speak any English,” he said. “Other places they’d speak loads of English. I never really learned a full second language, but I did learn bits and pieces of enough other languages to get by.”
In 2012, he decided to race the first four rounds of Lites West in Supercross before heading over to Europe. His objective was to make an impression with some American teams. With two podium finishes in those four races, Osborne quickly reached his goal.
“I think those two podiums showed what I was capable of doing,” Osborne said. “I did a lot of work behind the scenes to get the results I got and to get where I am. I rode by myself, mostly, on the East Coast and just kept pushing and pushing to get better. The fear of the unknown about what everyone else was doing helped push me along.”
When the top-flight GEICO Honda team came calling after those four races, Osborne said it was hard to contain his excitement.
“I was super-pumped when I heard from them,” Osborne said. “I was expecting to hear from somebody after those two podiums. I was thankful I got the call, and happy to have the opportunity to be a part of such a great team.
“I tried to be cool but at the same time it’s hard to hold your emotions in. I worked five years in Europe to be in that position, so it was hard to contain myself completely.”
Osborne comes from a racing background, as his father, Mark, was a professional drag racer in the NHRA’s Pro Stock class. Zach said that straight line racing never sparked his passion quite the way dirt bike racing does.
“I didn’t think much of drag racing when I was a kid,” he said. “I actually like it more now than when my dad was still racing. But racing dirt bikes was what came naturally to me and I stuck with it.”