Photo by: Chase Yocom

These “Privateer Showcase” interviews presented by Race Tech Suspension at MotoXAddicts tell the stories of the guys in the trenches week in and week out trying to chase their dream of racing professional motocross and Supercross. While the riders at the front of the pack get the money, the T.V. time and the glory that goes with it, there’s a huge pack of guys just hoping to get a spot inside a factory semi. We tell their stories.

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This week’s “Privateer Showcase” is with the #471 on the TEAM PR-MX.CA Kawasaki. Logan Karnow turned pro back in 2015 after a quiet amateur career and surprised a few people when he made a main event in Indy that year. He went on to make a second main event that year and one in 2016, but things got derailed when he broke his wrist early in 2017 and then his T1 through T4 vertebrae in his first race back from the wrist injury. The Ohio-raised rider was told he would be out for a full year, but just six months later, he was back on the bike preparing to make another run in 2018 at becoming a regular main event guy.

His return to racing started out West on the 450, and while he wasn’t able to make any main events, he did put the 450 into the night show at all but one round. When the series went East, Logan got back on the 250, and in Daytona, he got back into the main event for the first time since March of 2016—two long hard years ago and you could see it meant a lot to him. While some might not understand when they see a rider in tears after just making a main event, those of us that have dreamed of one day being there totally get it. Logan was not able to back up his main event in St Louis, but Daytona alone was a huge accomplishment when you consider what he has gone through to get back there.

Logan says he isn’t good outdoors, but he had his best night of ’18 in the Daytona sand. Photo by: Chase Yocom

After we witnessed Logan making the main in Daytona and the celebration that went with it, we wanted to call Logan and find out a little of the story that was behind that emotion.

How have you been Logan?

I’m hanging in there. I’m kind of under the weather, but I’ll be alright. I’m not injured; it just seems like the flu’s going around. As soon as I came from Florida and went to St. Louis, I did press day on Friday morning and I woke up sicker than a dog. It’s been rough.

 

That’s not good. I’ve been thinking about calling you for one of these Privateer Showcase interviews for a while so our readers can get to know the #471. I know you’re from Ohio, but where do you grow up racing?

I grew up doing the local thing in Ohio. There’s quite a few tracks around there, and I rode 65’s, 85’s and 125’s. I didn’t have a great amateur career, but I did okay with that. I actually quit riding for a couple years and got really big into BMX for a while. I just started riding good again and I told my dad I wanted to ride SX and he was like, “Yeah? Okay.” We went to the first Pro-am and I won the overall and got 25 points. He was pumped, we kept doing them and a couple rounds later I actually got my pro card.

 

I’m sure you rode a lot of Arenacross growing up. AX is big in Ohio and a lot of the best AX riders over the years have come out of that state.

Yeah, I always did the AX amateur day. I was big into that. We did Las Vegas and the AX World Finals and all that stuff. It’s crazy how many top AX guys come from Ohio. One year, like seven out of the ten top guys were all from Ohio.

Logan rode the 450 out west to start the year. Photo by: Mark Lester

You come from a strong moto family. There’s a few Karnow’s that have had some real success at The Ranch. Are you related to Vincent Karnow? He was super fast out there.

Yeah, Vincent is my uncle and my dad, Ken Karnow, actually won Loretta’s in 1995. Vincent ended up going Pro and he did pretty good. I think he made a couple main events, but I’m not sure.

 

Let’s talk about your SX season so far. You started out West on the 450. You didn’t make any mains, but you were a regular in the night show. Was the plan always to race the 450 West and 250 East?

That was kind of always the plan. I wanted to use the West to build for the East, and I think it helped. I’m not the greatest 450 SX rider. I struggle quite a bit on the 450. I was still qualifying, but I wasn’t riding to my potential. Then when I got back on the 250, it was like night and day. I rode ten times better. I felt like I was riding a pit bike; I loved it. It’s not that much weight difference, but oh my gosh, it’s so noticeable. 450’s are scary on SX too. (laughs)

 

You went the first three rounds on the 250 without making the main, but then came Daytona. You were good all day there and qualified for your first main event of the year. How cool was that?

I’ve made a couple main events a couple years ago. I made one in 2016 and back in 2015 I made one, but Daytona was special to me, for sure. Last year I had a really, really big injury back in Detroit. I had rods and screws put in my back–I broke my T1 through T4–and they thought I was going to be out for a year. It’s cool; I was able to get back a lot sooner than I thought. To get back to where I was before and make a main–especially at Daytona when I suck at outdoors–was just so crazy. It was emotional; it was awesome.

When you’re surrounded by factory machines like the #471 privateer is every night, your confidence in your starts might get rocked. Photo by: Chase Yocom

I knew you were gone for much of ’17 but didn’t know why. Man, that’s gnarly. How was that?

I wanted to do what I’m doing this year, last year. Me and my teammate when out west and then at the 2nd round in San Diego in my 450 semi–I was riding 250 in the 450 class–I decided I wanted to tap my rear brake off the SX triple, endoed into the back side of it and snapped my wrist. I had surgery and was back six weeks later in Detroit–my hometown race. I made a stupid mistake in the whoops and it wasn’t that bad of a crash, but I sat up after the crash and my chest hurt really bad. I thought I broke my sternum and I went to Asterisk [Medic Truck] and they actually gave me the okay to ride which I did. I putted a lap ’cause I really needed the money. Me and my buddy loaded up, we went home and I went to bed. I woke up the next morning and I couldn’t move–not because I lost feeling, I was just in pain and so stiff. I went to the hospital to get X-Rays and they came back 15 minutes later say, “We have good news and bad news. The good news: your sternum is only bruised. The bad news: you broke your T1 through T4 vertebraes and we have to transfer you by ambulance right now to Cleveland Metro. I ended up being there for a week. They told me it would be a year, but I was fully cleared to ride in six months. I worked with a guy named Dr. Chris Tomshack who makes these crazy things they put on my chest to speed up the healing. It worked great.

 

That’s wild. Did the thought of hanging it up ever enter your mind?

Ah, no, not at all. As soon as they told me, I was like, “Shoot, I don’t think I can race SX next year.” (laughs) We’re good now. To make the main after all that, was crazy. I was tearing up and crying. My mom, my dad, my mechanic, they were all crying. My whole family came down for Daytona. My mom drove the motorhome down with her boyfriend and everyone was there. It was awesome.

 

It was a weird night in Daytona. There were a few 250 and 450 guys that made their first mains of the year.

I actually ripped the holeshot, and I haven’t ripped a holeshot in my whole career. I just rode it in for 2nd. I’m pretty much the worst starter in the game. (laughs)

 

Since you had all the friends and family in town, did you guys go out and celebrate?

I haven’t been out after any of the races this entire year. I’ve just been working hard, but I thought, “If I make it tonight, I’m going out to have a couple of beers.” And I did. I went to the after party with all my buddies, and it was fun.

With a 12 month journey from breaking his back to making the main event at Daytona behind him, Logan didn’t hold back the emotions of it. Photo by: Chase Yocom

Real quick, before I let you go, I wanted to ask about your team. I don’t know much of anything about them, but you’re riding for the PR-MX.ca team. I believe they’re like a Canadian retailer, like a BTOSports.cpm type thing. How did you hook up with them?

The relationship came to be because I used to run TLR Performance’s engines out of Florida and the guy that I ride for, Julien [Perrier], had engines done by TLR. Julien asked if they knew anyone that needed a ride for the last few rounds of SX and that’s how we started talking. The next year, I started riding their bikes, and since then it’s been great. He’s helped me more than anyone ever had in the past with bikes, gear, parts and other funding stuff if I’m in need. He has my back and I wouldn’t be here without them. Their goal is to be a bigger retailer, like MotoSport, in Canada. He’s a distributor for some companies too.

 

I heard that you’ve been training during the week at RJ Hampshire’s track in Florida. With RJ hurt, is that still where you’re riding? And how did you hook up with RJ, through friends?

I was actually out there a couple days after he got hurt and he was out there too. He was in a lot of pain, but he’s super cool about letting us ride there. I had never met him; I just messaged him on Instagram. I just asked him if I could ride there and it worked out. I think he liked me, so he let me come back. I try to ride there at least twice a week and ride with a few of the guys. It’s really helped me with my speed.

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Thanks for talking with us, Logan, and good luck this weekend at the East/West Shootout.

Thanks, man; I appreciate it.