Local Racer Finding Success in the Big Leagues

By Johnny Martin | Reporter

Growing up in the outskirts of Los Angeles, Josh Herrin, 26, knew from the day he could walk he wanted to be on a bike.

As a kid, Herrin played the typical sports a boy would play growing up; baseball, basketball and motorcycle racing.

“It was my dad, he raced and that’s how I got into it,” Herrin said. “I started racing when I was six years old but since I was born, I’ve been on a motorcycle.”

At the age of 14, Herrin’s family moved to Georgia to get away from the busy life of Los Angeles and to focus on racing, so they bought some land to put in a half-mile track in their backyard.

“To succeed in our sport, you don’t have to but your chances on making it are a lot better if you’re growing up doing it,” Herrin said. “You get your name out there, lucky for me I started early so I was able to.”

When he was 16, Herrin made the choice to turn pro and started his first full year as a professional in 2007. He found success right off the bat, landing a spot on the factory Yamaha team, the best team you could be on in America. Herrin won his first “big name” championship with the Yamaha team in 2010 when he won the Daytona 200 Championship.

That is when the hardware began to pile on for Herrin. In 2012, he took home the 2012 AMA Superbike Rookie of the Year award and just a year later, he won his first major championship – the AMA Superbike Championship.

Early success had its moments for Herrin, but those did not come without struggles. After winning the championship in 2013, he decided to travel to Europe for a year to race with the best riders in the world in Moto2, but success was hard to come by.

“Mentally it was hard because you go from having all the attention and doing good to struggling and being stressed out all the time,” Herrin said. “Halfway through the year I was like ‘yeah maybe I wasn’t meant to do this’ and I started questioning myself.”

After roughly about a year, Herrin decided to come back to America and race again for the championship he won in 2013. However, the hard times weren’t over just yet. When he got back to America, nobody wanted Herrin on their team. For some reason nobody was interested in the champ anymore and the second thoughts continued.

“Again it got me thinking, maybe this wasn’t to be and that maybe I just go figure something else out,” Herrin said.

Herrin continued to look for rides when finally one came up, and he was able to get back to what he loved. He joined a family-owned team, but it put him in a role he wasn’t used to. This team didn’t have the budget like the corporate-ran, factory teams did. Instead, it was a much smaller team.

“It was pretty hard times but you got to learn that in any situation, you have to just keep digging and never give up on your goals,” Herrin said. “It’s what you were put here to do so you got to just keep fighting.”

Not being on the factory team did not stop Herrin. He hopped on the bike he was given and took second in the 600 class, finishing runner-up in the 2015 MotoAmerica Supersport.

Following the second place finish, Herrin and his team decided to jump up to the next class the following year. The higher class was no problem for Herrin and his team, as he took home the 2016 MotoAmerica Superstock 1000 championship, a championship he clinched before the final race of the season.

“It was kind of the dream being a privateer,” Herrin said. “To get the same results as everybody else even though we didn’t have the same equipment, and not much money in our pockets.”

Herrin and his fiancé, Teesha Kitterman, have now been living in Clovis for six years, where he anxiously waits for the start of the 2017 season in April. Herrin plans on getting back on the bike, but this time competing again with the best riders in America in the Superbike Championship, a title he won back in 2013.

“If we get into that bigger class next year and get the right equipment on a bike we could keep up with them and win,” Herrin said. “That’s kind of my goal next year is to be the underdog and try and get the title I won in ‘13 on this smaller team, it’d be really cool and get people to realize the talent there.”

For more information on Josh and the 2017 series season, go to motoamerica.com