ATV RACER PROFILE: DAKOTA HIBLER
My name is Dakota Hibler and I love to race.
I was born in Orange County California but my family moved to Arizona shortly after. I am currently 12 years old and the youngest of three kids in my family with an older brother and sister. I started racing almost seven years ago when I saw the KTM Jr. kids at a supercross event and told my dad I wanted to race. Since I didn’t have a bike back then we had to find a place for me to race my quad, which back then was a Honda TRX 90. A few years later my dad bought me a Kawasaki KX 60 bike and I rode it a few months before I whiskey throttled over a jump at a race called “the junkyard”.
When I think about who inspires me to race, I can’t narrow it down to just one. Vickie Golden is the first woman to qualify and race in a supercross main event, which is a goal of mine. She also inspires me to always have fun while I am riding. She has told me a few times to always be myself and do what makes me happy. The second person who comes to mind is Eli Tomac. I have had the chance to meet him a few times and always try to copy him when I am riding, especially the way he tackles the whoop sections. The third person who inspires me is Jeremy McGrath. Since I was born in SoCal and my parents grew up watching him, I got the chance to see lots of old videos and understand how great of a rider he was. He also inspires me to go beyond in the motorsports world as he has been able to make a career in so many other realms of extreme sports.
The thing I like most about racing is the people I meet, the friends I make and the time I spend with my family traveling to different places to race. In 2020 I am racing a national series on my quad and will be traveling a lot more than when I only raced a state series here in Arizona. My family and I still actually have time to go out and ride together in the sand dunes, on the desert trails or even in the mountains when we aren’t traveling around for my races. I love riding with my dad and mom as it’s just us having a blast and spending time together. There isn’t any pressure when we just load up and go for a ride. It helps me to relax just going for a ride and remembering why I started racing in the first place……to have fun!
I am fortunate enough to be already be racing on both a quad and a bike, and I love both. I am currently racing a Yamaha raptor 250 quad, and a Kawasaki KLX 140 dirt bike, however, it is probably my last season on both. Soon I will be bringing home a new Yamaha YZ125 and hopefully a Yamaha YFZ450 quad to start learning and training on. My favorite racetracks so far have been Shorty’s Sports park In Blythe, CA; Mesquite MX in Nevada; Prescott Valley, AZ; Payson, AZ; Quartzsite, AZ; and St. Johns, AZ. These tracks have all challenged me in some way and have brought me special memories of my races there. The hardest race was in Payson because the track is challenging with obstacles like rocks, logs, and lots of mud.
My family is super involved with my racing program as it is truly a team effort. I am the only one racing in my family since my dad was injured a few years back and is no longer allowed to race. DirtHalo Racing was my dads way of bringing attention to female racers since I was often the only girl in my field. DirtHalo is a combination of my initials, my love of playing in the dirt and me being the family angel. It also has ties to our SoCal roots with our love for the Anaheim Angels. DirtHalo has become a brand that I am looking forward to expanding into clothing, riding gear and apparel.
Everyone in my family does their part to help with my race program. My Dad handles all the mechanic stuff, sponsorship, marketing, and prep for race weekends. My mom handles the day to day operations at the house making sure my school work is done, my chores are done, and keeping everything in order for my dad to jump in when he gets home. My family devotes countless hours to my racing. From traveling for my races, to making sure I have everything I need, finding opportunities to bring awareness to females racing in off-road, and helping me improve on and off the track.
Prep work on my race machines is usually making sure we have fresh oil, proper tire pressure, prepped parts and fresh fuel. We have laminated checklists to go over before each race weekend so we don’t forget anything. My dad and I usually change the filters as well as wash and detail the machines.
I try to mentally prep for races by having a positive mindset that no matter what happens, if I give it my all and have fun then it’s a good race. I like to visualize the track and take mental notes of where I can make up time or get ahead. I also like to watch what my competition does so I can make my moves when they least expect it.
Physically prepping for a race includes watching what I eat, exercising every day when I can, and stretching before each race. I do get nervous before each race because I am still learning. The energy rush I get right before the gate or flag drops is crazy, its indescribable. I have learned over the years to contain my energy at the start so I have enough in the tank at the end of each race.
We have made modifications to my race machines over the years to improve performance. We have added Fasst Company Flexx Bars which help absorb a lot of the shock from jumps and keeps me fresher in races. We have added Elka suspension, HMF exhaust, Alba Racing wheels, and parts from Lone Star Racing to help with speed and durability. I have also been blessed with the best gear from Fly Racing, protection from Atlas Brace, Flow Vision, and Gaerne, and clothing from Off-Road Vixens. The courses that I race can be brutal for a a stock ride, so all of these products keep me me fast and protected.
My advice for anyone who wants to race is to just do it, it’s the best feeling in the world when you win a race, or win a championship. Be prepared to do the work both on and off the track, and make sure you always race within your means for your safety and the safety of others.
For the weekend warrior always remember to ride with a group of the same skill set, make sure everyone knows the rules and everyone will look after each other. Having a good experience can depend on the group you ride with. The most important thing is do what makes you happy and comfortable, not what others make you do. Its always more fun when you can enjoy the ride.
I plan on racing as long as I can and making a career out of it if possible. I want to follow in the footsteps of Vickie Golden, Hannah Hodges and other females by making a difference in the sport. If I am unable to make a career as a rider, then I want to work with companies involved in the sport. I want to be able to teach my future kids how to ride and make memories.