Cody Johncox, an 18-year-old dirt-track racer from Alexander has experienced extremes in one season from breaking his leg to breaking into the list of AMA Pro winners. In just six months, Johncox went from a broken femur to earning his first-ever AMA Pro dirt-track race win this September at the prestigious Springfield Mile, in the AMA Pro Singles class.
Johncox, who began his motorcycle dirt-track racing career at the age of 5, turned pro on his 16th birthday. His years of amateur race wins and championships began at his home track in Medina. In amateur nationals in the USA and Canada, this Western New Yorker earned the Canadian Youth 65cc National title as a 9-year old, and at age 12 Johncox became the AMA Amateur Grand National Champion 85cc Mod. 12-15 Class. At 13, Johncox took the prize of AMA Amateur Grand National 125 Class Championship, winning every race that season on his way to the title.
Following his numerous amateur championships, Johncox moved up to being a pro racer, battling the world’s best riders in the AMA Pro Singles class for the last two years on dirt tracks and TT courses. In a race this spring in Savannah, Ga., Johncox was knocked from his motorcycle and then run over by other bikes, breaking his femur. What for some might have been a career-ending injury has now been proven by Johncox to just be a passing setback.
In just six months, and not quite yet at 100 percent of his abilities, Johncox outsmarted and out-rode his competition, taking the AMA Pro Singles win at the Springfield Mile, in Springfield, Ill., on his Yamaha. This crowd-pleasing win was a photo finish of 11 motorcycles side-by-side and wheel-to-wheel, separated only by half a second from front to back, from first to 11th. The difference between Johncox’s first-place finish and second-place is measured in thousandths, at .004-of-a-second, which is three times less than it takes a hummingbird to beat a wing.
About his first AMA Pro win Johncox said, “We were in a single-file line of bikes on the restart after a red flag, and I was the 10th bike. I worked my way up the inside and on the second-to-last lap I led over the line. Then I tucked in behind Zakk Palmer and drafted him across the line at the end.”
Third-place finisher, Michael Bickerton, was just a 100th of a second behind the leading pair, finishing .018-of-a-second behind Johncox. If that wasn’t enough to make Johncox nervous, Cole Anderson took fourth also at less than a 10th of a second behind Johncox, trailing by a mere .064 of a second.
It wasn’t until the fifth-place rider crossed the line that a single competitor had finished a full tenth of a second or more behind Johncox. In these passing fractions of a second at the finish line, Johncox could have finished anywhere from first to 11th; but on this day it was first for Johncox, showing his concentration, commitment and character.
Asked why he prefers dirt track to motocross racing Johncox said, “Dirt track is what my dad did and I like it better than motocross. It’s about more than hitting jumps. You really have to learn how to ride the corners at high speed. Dirt track is more about the riding, about controlling the bike.” In talking about his goals, Johncox afford, “I now try to qualify for the Pro Twins class. Just a couple races ago I was just one position from making the final. I hope to one day be an expert champion.”
Cody’s father, Eric Johncox, builds Cody’s bikes at his Sunnyside Cycle shop in Alexander, and said he does what he can to help him do well. “I raced as a novice at the national level and had to stop when I was injured after just working my way into the junior class. It’s my sport. I try to give Cody the best bike possible.”
Cody, who is in his first year at Monroe Community College, will be racing at the two final events of the 2012 season, at the Half Mile at Tucson International Raceway in Arizona on Oct. 6, and the historic Half-Mile at the Los Angeles County Fairplex in Pomona, Calif., on Oct. 13. Look for Johncox on his number-96B Yamaha in the Pro Single class, and look for him as he attempts to qualify his Harley-Davidson XR750 for the AMA Pro Twins class.
The sponsors that make Johncox’s racing possible are: Sunnyside Cycle, Yamaha Motor Corp. Top Gun Construction, RLJ Engines, Arai Helmets, Dynotech, Applied Business Systems, DC Enterprise, Zoladz Construction, Motion Pro, Motul Lubricants, Rev'It Leathers, Alpinestars, Smith Optics, K&N Filters, Oury Grips, Wadco Racing, Stan’s Harley-Davidson, American Harley-Davidson, Saddleman, and Racers Tape.