Ken Faught Interview
By Donnie Bales
Very few people in the motorcycle industry have had such a unique career as Ken Faught. He started working at a Yamaha/Husqvarna shop called Orange County Cycle when he was 15 years old, then began supplying freelance photography and stories for Cycle News and its sister publication ATV News, before working at CN Publishing full-time. Faught later worked at Dirt Rider magazine for 12 years, achieving the ranks of editor-in-chief along with Editorial Director for upstart magazines ATV Rider and MXracer. Fast forward, and he created the Pole Position Raceway chain of indoor kart tracks, co-founded a vodka company called Soda Jerk, a silicone ring company called Fixate, a photography business called Studio 38, and of course, Speed & Sport Adventures.
We recently caught up with Faught at one of his go kart tracks in Corona, California to learn more about him.
When did you first get the idea of doing a tour business?
I first wanted to do motorcycle tours in 2001 and was in the process of starting the company when the Sept. 11 terrorist attack occurred. It was an entirely different concept and based more on motocross than anything else. We had planned on building a bunch of race bikes and creating a rental fleet for people to use in southern California. We also planned on taking guests to a lot of the cool places in town like the factory Supercross test tracks, Pro Circuit, Troy Lee Designs, etc.
When did you first get the bug to do tours again?
I believe it was in 2017. Mark Kariya, Grant Langston and I met several times, but at that point in my life, I just didn’t have the time to do it right. So it 2019, Jennifer Emig and I were on the Big Island in Hawaii and we started brainstorming ideas. She was a nurse, but because she had breast cancer, and was around hospitals so much, she wanted to change careers.
So after you and Jennifer decided you wanted to create Speed & Sport Adventures, what was your next move?
Jennifer and I first met with Mark Kariya, Destry Abbott and my friend Vanessa Doleshal and we built the business plan. That took a few months, but it was a lot of fun, especially since the planning took place right at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Then we went out to a lot of our friends like Andrew Short, Ryan Sipes, Cody Webb, Scott Bright, etc. and got them to be investors/partners.
What has been your favorite riding destination?
That’s a tough one. I have been lucky enough to have ridden in Australia, New Zealand, France, Costa Rica, Peru, Zimbabwe, Canada, Mexica, Baja, and all over the United States. I think the most fun I have had was with Jeremy McGrath, Greg Albertyn and Steve Hatch in Hawaii. Then I would say New Zealand and Australia because they are so beautiful.
Do you miss your days at Dirt Rider?
All the time. I was very lucky to be a journalist during the best era. The internet changed the magazine industry a lot, but I still have a lot of friends that work for the major publishing companies.
You recently bought a KTM Adventure 890-R. What do you think of that bike?
Adventure riding is so much different than dual-sport riding. The entire mindset is just so different, and I like a lot of variety in my life so it works out well. I can’t wait to see what amazing trips we can create in the future?
What’s your ultimate goal with Speed & Sport Adventures?
We want to create an opportunity for people to get the most out of off-road riding. We want to introduce them to a whole other level and do things that no other company has done before. We want to be innovators, and we want to eventually add a variety of unique tours every year. Right now our focus is on multi-day rides with a base camp, but we plan on doing point-to-point rides in the future?
What’s your favorite aspect of motorcycle riding?
I think it’s the overall freedom that it allows. I have gone to some really remote places in the world that just aren’t accessible in cars, even four-wheel-drive vehicles. You get to see so many cool things if you just take the time to go out and explore.
You seem to really enjoy entertaining people. Where do you get that from?
I get it from my dad, for sure. He’s a character and always enjoys making people laugh. Live is so short and I really try hard to be a good influence on people.
What is your favorite Mark Kariya story?
Haha, I have a lot. But the one that stands out the most is when we went riding in Peru with Mike Healey. I grew up with Healey when we were teenagers, and after his racing career, we took him to Peru along with the Dirt Rider Adventures TV show. We ended up getting separated a few times and decided to play a joke on him.
We were somehow riding on a military bombing range and I was on edge the entire time, so getting split up added to my axiety.
So Mark and I stopped, and I laid on the ground and had Mark pretend he was giving me chest compressions. I took off my helmet camera and positioned it perfectly to get Mike’s reaction. When he got about a half mile away, we could tell that he noticed something was wrong because he started riding faster to get to us. He pulled up, freaked out, and then I started laughing uncontrollably. Needless to say, we never got separated on that trip again.
What’s your favorite Destry Abbott story?
When he was a Team Green Kawasaki rider, I got to race his KX500 during the Mammoth Mountain Motocross and also the Lake Elsinore GP. Both were really fun events, and they heled create a friendship that has lasted well over 20 years?
What was your first bike?
A used 1976 Indian MX70 that was given to me by Jorge and Yanette Posca. I still have that bike, although it hasn’t run in years?
What’s your favorite motorcycle race?
I always like the opening round of the AMA Supercross Series and also the Paris Supercross back in the day when they had a lot of the top riders?
If you could do any type of racing, and be good at it, what would it be?
Tell us about your friendship with Jennifer Emig.
Jennifer and I have been best friends for several years. I am with her about as much as I am with my wife, Amy. Jennifer is funny, extremely talented, and hard working. I wish everyone could have a friend like Jennifer in their life – the world would be a better place.
Where are places you want to travel, you know, what’s on your bucket list?
I want to go to Bora Bora, Greece, Thailand, St. John, St. Thomas and Alaska. I try to do something every year that I haven’t done before.
Didn’t you take Jeremy McGrath hillclimbing when you were at Dirt Rider magazine?
Yes, I took him to Billings, Montana to compete in an N.A.H.A. event. He ended up getting second overall in the state championship on a borrowed bike from Kerry Peterson.
We saw some photos of you on the cover of a Jet Ski magazine. What was that all about?
Well, when I worked at Cycle News, they had a Jet Ski magazine called Personal Watercraft Illustrated and I was lucky enough to be editor of it for several years. I got to go riding all over the United States and Mexico and it was a blast.
Where is your favorite place to ride in the United States?
I really like Utah, Colorado, Idaho and Washington, but there are good places to ride all over. I really prefer to have a lot of beautiful scenery and elevation changes. I really prefer mountains over deserts.
Have you ever thought about doing riding schools?
Absolutely, and I think we will eventually do some with Speed & Sport Adventures.
Who are your favorite motocross/Supercross riders?
Ricky Johnson, Ron Lechien, Broc Glover, Jeremy McGrath, Steve Lamson and Ryan Dungey.
Who are your favorite off-road Riders?
Danny Hamel, Kurt Caselli, Larry Roeseler, Kevin Hines, Ty Davis, and Shane Watts.
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