Joe Ellington (Inducted in 2020)
How long have you been riding (or have ridden), and how old are you now?
This is my 44th (my race #!) year of racing. August 15, 1976 was my first race. I am currently 52.
How did you get started riding / racing?
A couple buddies in the neighborhood had mini-bikes, and I was sitting home doing nothing, so I asked my dad to get a bike to ride with them. He said that if I didn't strike out in Grasshoppers (a youth baseball league) he'd buy me a bike. Well, I struck out, and cried for two weeks, and my dad broke down and bought the bike. We went to Larry's Sports Center in Pennsylvania to look at a bike for me. I told him I knew how to ride, and they let me test a bike on a circle track in their back field. I made two laps, came back, and I didn't know how to stop. I ran into the side of their building, and my dad said "Sold!"
How long have you been or were an expert?
I've been an expert since 1983. Dave Phillips and I were archrivals, battling in 125 am. I started the season on a 1982 Yamaha YZ100, and rode it in the 100 and 125 class, because we didn't have any money for a 125. Scott Hildreth let me run his 125, and Dave Phillips and I had some great battles. He moved up to expert, so I moved up too, before I pointed out.
All-time favorite bike?
The Yamaha YZ250 is my favorite 2-stroke, and the 2008 Honda CRF450R was my favorite 4-stroke, but now I really like the KTM Factory Editions.
What was your first motorcycle?
A 1976 Yamaha YZ80.
What is your favorite music?
Rap, but I also like almost everything else but country.
What is your favorite food?
Chicken Parmesan. I like to cook, as all my Facebook friends know, and I might join in a recipe blog soon.
How do you (or did you) train for motocross?
If I had to do it over, I would have trained more. I didn't train a lot, but when I got my pro license in 1987, I started to bike, swim, go to the gym, run a little bit, and ride 2-3 times a week. I never trained as hard as I should have. I was just happy to qualify for nationals, but I was always so nervous in the main. I was beat mentally before the race started. I've always treated motocross as more of a hobby than a career.
What motivates you?
The gate drop of a motocross race! I love the adrenalin! At my age, the shorter the motos the better. There is no better feeling than being lined up behind a starting gate!
I am a Verizon land line phone technician.
Cooking, doing things with the kids, and going out and having a good time. I also enjoy following the sport, watching supercross and outdoor motocross, and helping promote the sport.
I was co-rider of the year in 1987 (Dave Phillips was the other, we were attached at the hip). I won the WNY #1 expert plate 4 times, I got my pro license and I qualified for 125, 250, and 500 nationals. I also raced two USGP races at Unadilla. At my first national in 1988, Mark Page had a 250 license, and I had a 125 license. We went to Southwick together, no mechanics, and helped each other out. In my four lap qualifier, I led for three laps, and choked on the last lap, and got third behind George Holland (overall winner) and Pat Barton.