Robbie Horton was talking from his desk at Continental Construction, his employer and a company his father owns.
Now was not a good photo opportunity, he said. The Martinez resident was sweaty and covered with dirt after another day of work in the August heat.
If everything falls into place for Horton during the next few months, his line of work will still deal with dirt. But he'll be racing on it.
Horton races SuperMoto, which is done on a track with both asphalt and dirt. He picked up the event in 2007 after years of racing supercross.
He finished eighth in his first X Games last year, and broke through Aug. 2 with a X Games silver medal in Moto X SuperMoto.
Horton's big finish brought him a horde of attention from the media -- he was in the media tent for four hours after the race -- and from sponsors. People were surprised to find Horton had a day job.
"All these companies now are like, 'Geez, this guy's not even getting to practice and put much effort into it, and he's finished second at the X Games,' " Horton said. " 'If we can pay him some money next year, where he can train and practice every day, he'll be winning everything,' is the way they look at it."
Horton said his team operates on one of the smaller budgets in the sport and spent around $200,000 in 2007, primarily on travel expenses. He is locked in to his current sponsorships through the end of the year. He said he hoped to finalize new deals in the next month or two -- with prospects he'll be paid enough next year to race full time and leave the construction business behind.
Until then, he'll have five more races before the season ends and will continue to juggle construction work with trips like the one last weekend.
He was in Charlotte to watch dirt bikes Friday before heading to Connecticut on Saturday for the New England SuperMoto Grand Prix.
He has come a long way since his days at Lakeside High School, where he might have graduated had it not been for a decision based on his love for racing. Under scrutiny from school officials for approaching the limit of 10 absences, Horton left the country for Africa and won the Zimbabwe Supercross. He returned, started a home school program and graduated in 1998.
"I got picked out of everybody in the U.S.," Horton said of his trip abroad. "I'm like, 'Look, I'll never get a chance to go back there again.' "
Ten years later, Horton's silver medal has made him a fixture on the national scene. He was beaten out for gold by Jeff Ward, a 47-year-old who has been winning championships for more than 20 years.
Horton started the race in sixth place, and when he finally pushed his way into second, Ward held a 12-second advantage. The gap closed to around five seconds at the end.
"If I had a few more laps," Horton said, "it would have been real exciting."
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