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Tim Furches started racing ATVs in 1985. He was introduced to the sport of ATV MX & TT racing by his boss and his best friend. He raced at both the local and national levels. Tim and Stephanie, who always had an interest in motorcycles and ATVs but was never introduced to them, met in March of 1994. Tim had his 1987 Honda 250X in the back of the truck the very first time they met. Over the next couple of weeks Stephanie because engrossed with it. She quickly learned to shift and ride his quad. They married in October 1994. Racing was hard because they only had one quad. Tim continued to race locally and for the nationals both Tim and Stephanie were able to race. Then in the Fall of 1995 they made a tough decision. Stephanie raced a Poker Run where she wrecked and was seriously injured. “It affected us in many ways and we both made the decision to hang it all up,” Stephanie said. Now, they are back in the family as they support their son Chris’ career. Chris has autism, and you can read part 1 of this story here.
How did Outer Limits ATV choose it’s name? And what is the purpose now?
We chose the name Outer Limits because of Chris’ great love and interest in NASA, rockets, and outer space. Our main purpose when we established our team name was just being a simple family who enjoys riding and racing ATV’s, Loving God, MX, and to support Chris’ racing. But the truth is we have evolved into so much more. We are about sharing Chris’ story, bringing Autism Awareness, supporting others who have autism, mental challenges, and special needs. We want to encourage others to try riding or racing that have special needs, we want to support the growth of our sport so that it will be here for our next generation. We want to help others get into the sport as well. We have truly enjoyed the journey we have been blessed with.
How have your roles changed/developed as Chris has grown into racing?
When Chris started racing both Tim and I were stressed and worried at first because we didn’t know how he would fit into the racing community, would he get hurt, and if it would encourage him or tear him down. Yet we let him continue racing because he showed he truly enjoyed it and showed natural ability. You see we tried various sports but none worked out for multiple reasons. To name a few: he didn’t have the ability to understand the game rules, plays, and cues. He had difficulty with the social side of team sports. Coaches didn’t understand him and/or didn’t want to work with him, and Chris was left on the sidelines. Our roles as parents changed as Chris’ racing progressed. Of course we wanted Chris to do well and win. Tim and I are very competitive but Chris wasn’t for several years into racing. In the early years we pushed Chris. We wanted him to push himself yet be safe but Chris’ progression was in his time and not ours. That was a huge lesson for Tim and I to learn. It changed our relationship with Chris at the track for the better. Chris just wanted to fit in with the racers, look like all the other racers, race like all the other racers, and just be a part of it all. It made him happy. Then one day the light switch came on. He began to seriously focus, his racing skills went to the next level. He became driven and strong. He didn’t want to just race he wanted to win. Our roles certainly have changed from the beginning. We are not as relied on by Chris as we use to be. He’s growing up and we are more race support than emotional [support] but we are always there for him if he needs us.
Where do you see the future of OLR? Do you plan on helping other Autistic kids get into racing, or continue to raise awareness and support?
Outer Limits would like to establish a team in 2016. Nothing is set in stone but we would like to have a group of racers who truly love the sport that is willing to learn about the basics of Autism and help us continue to bring awareness about it. We are always ready and willing to give advice or direct parents of autistic kids to help them get into racing. We feel it’s in an honor to help others. We also would like to establish a regional program in our area that could possibly grow into a national program. ATV riding is like other kinds of therapy such as horse riding, water therapy, social therapy, and so forth. The only difference is this therapy would be on a basic 50-70cc mini quad with trained adult supervision. We know this isn’t the answer for everyone. Each autistic/special needs child is different but we have seen first-hand what this sport can do for a child. It all depends on how comfortable we make the process and to ease any stressors that would inhibit a child from relaxing and truly enjoying the experience.
What will it take to get more families and more kids like Chris involved with racing?
We feel getting Chris’ story out there is vital! It’s important to tell his story on his behalf. This sport brought him out of his shell he was trapped in. Many people see this sport as dangerous and scary when in reality it is very safe and structured. The rules, regulations, and racers help with that. Racing isn’t for everyone and we understand that, but there are kids out there with autism, mental challenges, and special needs that if given just the opportunity to experience riding a mini quad it will hold the key to opening them up from the shell they are trapped in. It will make a difference in their lives in so many ways. Their families feel the effects of the positive changes too! We also want to mention the ATV community and moto parents are extremely supportive and we all are like family. We all not only support our kids racing we support all kids who race.
How do you imagine racing helping Chris in the future? He’s come a long way in 5 years already!
Because of racing Chris continues to learn responsibility. He knows he is responsible for the decisions and choices he makes on the track. None of us can tell him what to do when he is out there which leads to being independent. He has to trust himself. Because of this it builds up his confidence, self-control, and self-worth. He has learned to really focus before a race and is very driven. He has learned through the years of racing to speak to others, especially children. Instead of being secluded and not knowing how to interact with other kids of all ages he is quite able to play and converse freely with them. He still acts and talks very much below his age but to see him come out of his socialization shell he was in is just incredible. He still has difficulty with eye contact but surely that will get better over time. He continues to learn about being prepared. Now preparing to travel to a race for him is making sure he has all his toys and games yet this teaches him to prepare. This will change and will grow as he matures. He also knows through routine what to do before race time such as putting on the all his protective gear, getting the bike warmed up, and such. He is learning to be aware of when he needs to race. Just like your work schedule, racing is Chris’ job and he is learning there is a schedule to everything and you need to be ready to go on time. He is very humble when he wins and he is humble when he loses. Losing is never easy for anyone and he continues to learn to keep his emotions in check just as we all have to throughout our lives. He has learned to think ahead on the track. He lost an indoor race because of lap traffic. From that point on he looks and thinks ahead now. All these skills above are needed in daily living just in different scenarios and he will be able to take these lessons into his future.
Where do you hope to go from here both with OLR and with Chris’ racing career?
We hope our team will grow into a name that is known for the accomplishments of Chris and what he has overcome. We want to be known for being everything Autism Awareness. We are not doctors and do not know everything about autism but we know allot based on our own experience with an autistic child and the many hours of reading and research. We sincerely hope that his story will lift up and encourage others. As for Chris’ racing career we are about to embark on a new journey in racing. This is Chris’ last season on a mini quad due to aging out. He is still quite the little guy at 5’1” and 91 pounds. He will have to step up to the larger full size quads and can legally race up to a 300cc machine now that he is 15. He also still doesn’t know how to shift so he has a lot of obstacles ahead of him. Chris knows he has to step up. We hope to get him into a larger quad soon in order for him to begin his transition and help him adapt quicker. We are also honored that 2X AMA ATV Pro National Champion Joe Byrd will be taking Chris under his wing and is going to help Chris not only with bettering his skills but to help him learn to shift and transition into the larger quad. We will continue this journey as long as Chris is having fun and has the drive to do so.
Also we want to mention his wonderful sponsors. We have had a few of them since 2011 and we follow contracts to the letter and some clearly state to mention them in any media opportunities.
His 2015 Sponsors are: Corrosion Specialties, Inc., Roadrunner Markets, Fasst Company, EVS Sports, Torc1Racing, Dynamic Graphics, Elka Suspension, 100% Goggles, RK Racing Chains, FLY Racing, PowerMadd, PitPosse, Hetrick Racing, LEATT, G-Force Powersports, Frankenstein MX, SLICK Products, Spider Graphix, GoPro, TKeller Photography, AMSOIL, (The Parrish Family), Papaw Story, GG & Pop Pop, Papaw Furches.
Stay tuned for Part 3.