Most people have seen it, been intrigued by it, or blown away by it, but may not know it by its official name: powersports.
It’s the gonzo wildchild of motorsports, involving almost any vehicle with an engine that requires handlebars, steering and some unforgiving exposure to whatever nature can throw at you: mud, snow, hail, dirt, fate.
The inventory reads like a bucket list for weekend warriors: ATVs, Side x Sides, and Sport Adventure bikes.
The Holy Land for powersports: Idaho. The nucleus: Gosselaar Powersports in Grangeville, offering service, repairs and rentals for all of your powersports needs -- and wants.
Also available: an adventure package, for the ultimate Mountain West experience. Gosselaar Powersports provides transportation to and from the airport, as well as lodging and recreational vehicles for hunting, fishing and exploring. In short, no excuse to deny yourself big fun.
With owner Mike Gosselaar, you’re in good hands. He’s won 13 American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) Supercross and Motocross national titles, and has more than 30 years experience as a technician in various industries. He’s traveled the world, making vehicles secure for the sport’s best riders.
Mike is making Idaho functional for funseekers. His skill-filled reputation travels well beyond the state’s borders: Mike is The Man who will assure you happy motoring, even if you’re not local.
“People send me engines,” he says. “They’ll put it in an ice chest and ship it off via FedEx. I never know what I’m going to be working on -- stuff just shows up.”
Mike is a native of the the San Fernando Valley of Southern California -- the hotbed of the motorcycle industry (you could race there year round). It’s home to the sport’s largest manufacturers and racetracks. It was there where he first fell in love with motorsports as a kid in the 1970s.
“If my neighbors had a motorcycle, then I would be over there, begging to ride it,” he says. “As a teenager, I started getting into racing. In Southern California, you could pretty much race five or six days a week. It was just the place to be.”
Being in the right place at the right time became a recurring theme of Mike’s career. While in high school, he received a job offer from a local motorcycle dealership. From there, his career path was paved.
“For me to go to high school in the San Fernando Valley and get a job at a motorcycle dealership was a pretty big thing,” he says. “I worked there for half a dozen years, and enjoyed the heck out of it. It just all went hand in hand.”
Of course, it was as much about skill as it was about luck. Mike had the mechanic gene, and also an unstoppable internal motor. Dad was a millwright, who installed, repaired and maintained machinery in factories. As a youngster, Mike would find lawnmowers in the trash, rescue them, and figure out how to get their engines running again. He would then earn money mowing lawns.
“I remember as a kid being able to do tuneups on my dad’s cars,” he says, “and also figure out how to hotwire them and drive them before I was 16.” Hands down, this is the guy you want working on your powersports gear.
The motorcycle dealership gig led to a stint with the California Highway Patrol (CHP). The job was rather exclusive -- the entire organization has only four mechanics in total. At age 20, Mike was maintaining 75 motorcycles.
“I was basically learning as I was going,” he says. “They had a lot of faith in me.”
During this time, the NBC TV series CHiPs was being produced, filmed largely in downtown L.A.. The show was a big hit -- a weekly dramatization of the brave work of the highway patrol, and the unpredictable situations they encountered. Naturally, the cycles used on the program were as important -- and as popular -- as the rest of the cast. Mike did repair work on stunt bikes for the show and in the entertainment industry in general, but show business did not move as fast as a motorcycle.
“It didn’t interest me as much,” he says of the gig. “It was really boring because I would build a bike for them and then I would have to go down on the set and wait and wait and wait. Sometimes you’re waiting days before they say, ‘OK, start it up and bring it to the set.’ It just wasn’t fast-paced enough for me.”
He stayed with the highway patrol for ten years as a mechanic and three years as an inspector. Along the way came marriage and four sons. Being a husband and dad were great, but the inspector gig was more paper-pushing than engine revving. He eventually returned to his first love: motorcycle repair.
He landed at Team Honda, home of the world’s largest motocross team. The impressive resume grew branches; he worked on racing bikes for Suzuki, Twotwo Motorsports, and Team Yamaha, recently completing his 23rd season in the sport.
Mike never let his tank get low. In 2005, he bought his place in Idaho. He bounced between there and Southern California, all the while traveling the world as a motorsports mechanic.
When he’s not off to the races, he’s servicing the growing popularity of powersports among amateurs and civilians. The hobby has become a religion for some, an obsession for others, all of them gunning through Idaho looking for dirt roads to conquer. It’s a good thing that Gosselaar Powersports is there, if and when.
“My shop is right on Highway 95, the only highway that runs north and south through Idaho,” he says. “I see people riding by, on their Harleys and their sport adventure bikes. It’s still the Wild West out here. If you’re into outdoors, this is the place to be. This is just a big outdoor state, beautiful mountains, lakes and rivers. It’s a slower-paced life -- country living. It’s not for everybody, but for me, I have to pinch myself to remind myself that I live here.”
Staying stationary is not a usual mode for Mike -- with a typical gig, he could often be traveling to 20 cities within a nine-month period. Back at his shop, he’s more reflective on what he’s accomplished so far.
“I’m on the tail end of my career now,” he says, “but I’ve made a darned good living at it, and I think I’m one of the few people who ever have. I just happened to be at the right place at the right time, with the right opportunities. Everything just kind of fell into place. Even if you have good mechanical skills, you still need the right opportunities and be at the right place at the right time. I got really lucky being able to do what I’ve done.”
Regarding entrepreneurs who are making a life out of what fuels their ambition, Mike has given that some thought as well.
“If you have a passion, seek something out where you can involve that passion,” he says, “and stick with it. That’s the hardest part. If you have a desire, somehow you will make it happen, one way or another.
Click here to find out more about Gosselaar Powersports.
Photo credits: Vital MX.