When Antonio Cairoli—better known as Tony—announced his MXGP retirement at the end of 2021, it was bittersweet. In his 18-year career, he’d scooped up a total of nine FIM World Championships, 93 total GP wins, and 177 podiums. At present, he remains one of the winningest MX racers of all time—and is a true Italian motocross hero.
The thing is, racers are athletes, first and foremost. Sure, there’s motorized machinery involved, and both skill and strategy in operating it. Still, you don’t get to the top of any major motorsport without an intense, life-changing amount of dedication, whether you’re on or off the track—something that Cairoli is proving, even in retirement.
It’s true that Cairoli is under contract to KTM, helping the team develop and expand its MX efforts internationally. However, it’s also true that racers love a challenge—and just because you’ve retired from one type of serious competition, doesn’t mean that you don’t want to compete for fun elsewhere. As American MX fans already know, that’s why Tony Cairoli showed up at the first four rounds of the 2022 AMA Pro Motocross season.
In this video, you get a great glimpse behind the scenes of Cairoli’s great 2022 American trip. It’s truly a family affair, with Cairoli bringing both his wife and young son along for the journey. Naturally, he put his kid on a bike more than once, too—and wouldn’t you?
There’s also a little insight into some of the differences between European and American MX racing, and how racers who are used to racing one style may find challenges in switching over to the other style. It makes total sense, since repeated training builds muscle memory. You may not race on autopilot, but certain motions, gestures, and ways of doing things may be so deeply ingrained that it’s hard to consciously shift away from those actions.
It’s cool seeing talented racers like Ryan Dungey, Ken Roczen, and Aaron Plessinger make guest appearances, and seeing everyone just kind of chilling behind the scenes. On track, the competition is fierce, of course—but off track, most racers are just people who love what they do, and it shows.