Mark "Kato" Kariya
Vice-President/Co-Founder, Speed & Sport Adventures
In the world of off-road motorcycle racing, one of the most recognizable figures on the sidelines would have to be Mark “Kato” Kariya. As one of the world’s most experienced photo/moto-journalists, he’s covered motorcycle racing both here and abroad for a good 40 years, earning the AMA’s prestigious Media Award four times since its inception in the early 2000s.
He got his start even before graduating with a degree in print journalism at the University of Southern California by freelancing for the weekly paper Cycle News, covering local CMC motocross races every weekend at the famed Saddleback Park and Carlsbad Raceway venues.
The SoCal native continued that work after graduating and shortly afterward landed a job on staff as an editor at Cycle News where he learned the in’s and outs of motojournalism and the many facets of the motorcycle industry and its various sporting genres.
After a couple years there, the opportunity to get in on the ground floor of startup Dirt Rider magazine was too good to pass up and he continued to learn more about photography, vehicle testing (including automotive reviews) and feature stories. He’s also done stints as the head of Australasian Dirt Bike magazine in Australia as well as 4-Stroke Dirt Bikes in the U.S.
The features he’s written included a number of adventure tour stories which helped augment his already established enjoyment of travel, a passion brought about in covering the International Six Days Enduro (ISDE) which is often termed the Olympics of off-road motorcycle racing and is held in a different country each year. He’s covered Six Days 37 times as of the 2019 ISDE in Portugal (making him one of the most grizzled vets in the press room) and guesses he’s traveled to over 30 countries over his career. Among them are Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Finland, France, Greece, Italy, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Senegal, South Africa and Zimbabwe—not to mention others he’s been to on non-motorcycling visits.
As a professional observer of the sport as well as someone paid to evaluate various motorcycles (especially competition machines), it was impossible for Kariya to resist trying his hand at racing. While a middle-of-the-pack enthusiast at best, he enjoyed racing in a wide variety of the sport’s smorgasbord of disciplines: motocross, hare scrambles, Baja 1000 (eight times, in fact), enduros, ISDE Qualifiers, observed trials, an early Arenacross, a race for editors at a Supercross (and on the Pro course), plus the road racing and speedway he did on his own.
But he counts trail rides with friends among his most enjoyable times, rides that have found him exploring a number of U.S. states as well as trips abroad.
In addition to motorcycling, Kariya is passionate about tactical training, hunting, running/track & field and spending time with family and friends.