For 18-year old Gunnar Buhr, dirt bike racing isn’t just a sport it is a way of life. The Gaylord, Michigan native doesn’t recall a time when he didn’t feel comfortable atop the seat of a KTM. Even though Buhr doesn’t remember life before dirt bike racing, he also can’t imagine a life without it.
“I didn’t really make a choice to start riding. I just kind of was born into it. My dad got me into it in early age through the family aspect of things and I guess that kind of just took off. Dirt bike racing is going to be a part of my life forever.” Stated Gunnar, whose dad Paul raced motocross in his teens & twenties and then rediscovered his passion for the sport in the wooded side of things with Enduro around the time that Gunnar was born.
At age two Gunnar got his first real taste of dirt bike action while riding “buddy” with Paul in AMA District 14 Enduro events, around the same time “G” as he is often affectionately called, got his first dirt bike, a Yamaha PW 50 with training wheels. There was no doubt he was instantly hooked. His mother, Jennifer often laughed over the fact that in preschool colors were not just colors, it was “Honda Red”, “KTM Orange” and “Yahmaha Blue”.
By age four Gunnar was riding competitively in Enduro and Motocross events throughout the state and his no.206 machine could often be found at the front of the pack. Although motocross held some allure; It didn’t take long before Buhr found his true calling in Enduro & Hare Scrambles, “I like Motocross, but it’s definitely a little bit more intense and a little scarier. I can jump and I like doing jumps, but I will admit it’s a little nerve wracking being around other people while you’re doing it!” Laughed Gunnar.
A methodical and critical thinker by nature; Gunnar is also drawn to the precision and patience that is required to be successful in Enduro, Sprint Enduro, and Hare Scramble events.
Although the thought that most typically fills the minds of fans when talking about dirt bike racing is motocross; Enduro racing is truly the purest form of motorsport. To successfully navigate winding paths through dense woods, over fallen trees, rocks, sand and ever changing terrain at a high rate of speed takes an agility and adaptability that is unique to Enduro.
As the 2019 AMA District 14 Class Open B Hare Scramble Overall points champion; Gunnar certainly possesses those skills, and the challenges that come with obtaining them are what keeps him coming back year after year.
That 2019 season was a pivotal one for Buhr, “I have a lot of great memories but the 2019 season is one that really stands out to me. That year I won the overall points but also that year I won Jack Pine Enduro Class Open B overall, it’s a very prestigious race and that was a really big deal for me. Unfortunately, last year they didn’t have it for Covid reasons, but its on for this year and I am hopeful that I can be in the running for an overall win in Class A or at least a top 10 finish”
Moving into the Open A Class is a new challenge for the teenager, but Gunnar has never been one to back down from any challenge. A recent high school graduate, Buhr not only balanced a full time racing career and the commitment of playing varsity hockey for Gaylord High, but also graduated Suma Cum Laude with an impressive 4.255 GPA.
AMA Enduro and Hare Scramble racing is equal parts physical and mental. With 3-4 hour events, riders must keep themselves paced and focused because anything can happen in the blink of an eye. And when a rider does find himself/herself in trouble, it is the competition that is the first to help, a fact that sets Enduro apart from other motorsports. As Buhr explained, “Your battling your friends out there! At the Evergreen Sprint Enduro (in July of 2021), in the first section I went down pretty hard and one of my buddies came to a stop to make sure I was okay. That’s the kind of relationships that come out of dirt bike racing.”
That’s why for Buhr the magnetism of AMA Enduro competition goes beyond the track, “The racing is always fun”, Smiled Gunnar before adding, “but Saturday nights when friends and family there just hanging out, talking about the race, talking about previous races, kind of bench racing. I guess you could say that’s the most fun part of a race weekend for me. Everybody around the whole racing community supports everything that us younger generations do. It’s a very tight knit group and everybody knows everything about what you’re doing throughout the whole year, whether it be racing, or schoolwork or playing other sports like hockey.”
The coming year will be an exciting one for Buhr, but there is no doubt that racing remains in the forefront of his future, “I’m going to college this fall for the next four years. So I might have to slow down the racing for a little while just to get that all settled” stated Gunnar before adding, “But I do hope to go to the pro class in a in a timely manner, and then later on in life have kids that maybe want to race or ride”.
Gunnar’s rookie season in the Open A class is already shaping up to be a breakout one. The easy going, humble and ever kind college Freshman has already secured two top five finishes in only four events and sits 11th in overall Hare Scramble standings despite missing two races and is sitting 8th in the Michigan Sprint Enduro point standings.
Off track, Buhr also has many exciting changes in store; beginning with his move to Saginaw Valley State University to pursue a career in Electrical Engineering. The decision to attend SVSU might have been slightly influenced by the college’s proximity to Enduro events. “Most of the events are actually only an hour to two hours away from Saginaw, so it’s actually a little closer than where I am now”, chuckled Gunnar. Being less than 2-hours from home will also enable Buhr to still enjoy some of his other favorite pastimes such as hunting, fishing, hiking, and spending time with his friends and family.
To learn more about AMA District 14 action, check out the AMA District 14 website, and to catch Gunnar in action, be sure to check out the 95th Annual Cowbell Classic Jack Pine Enduro in Moorestown, Michigan on Sunday, August 22nd.