After Hours: Bryan White
You know him as the executive director of the Automotive Oil Change Association (AOCA), but that’s just the beginning of who Bryan White is. White’s family and friends know him as the guy with a need for speed who plays in the dirt and has skills on a Suzuki RM-Z450. As a high school kid, when he wasn’t on a dirt bike, White spent time working at a tire and oil change shop never thinking he’d get to combine his love of motorsports and mechanics with his keen eye for business. White’s had his fair share of bumps, bruises and broken bones, but those hard knocks prepared him for life’s school of hard knocks. White credits motocross for teaching him more about life than it’s ever taught him about how to win a race or service a dirt bike.
“When I interviewed for the job at AOCA, Jimmy Grant [former president of AOCA] asked me what I could take from my sport and apply to my job? I told him, ‘I was never the most gifted or talented rider, but I always worked harder than most. I’ll never claim to be the smartest, but I won’t be outworked. I can — and I will — work hard and put in the hours. Motocross has helped instill those things in me, and I carry them with me.’ I still believe that,” White said.
For White, long before college, careers and certainly, AOCA, there were dirt bikes.
“I’ve been racing motocross for about 25 years. My dad used to ride when I was younger. He got me my first bike so we could have something to do together on the weekends. When I was eight or nine years old, I wanted to race really badly. My dad took me to an amateur race, and from then on, I raced amateur. When I turned 16, I had qualified in enough races to get my professional license. By my junior and senior year of high school, I was racing professionally,” White reminisced. “I went to school part-time because I had a work/co-op program where I went to school for half-a-day and the other half I went to my job racing dirt bikes.”
Like many young adults suddenly faced with navigating the real world after graduating from high school, White realized the only way to stay on his parents health insurance — as you can imagine, health insurance is especially crucial to someone who competes professionally in extreme sports — was to go to school as a full-time student.
“I decided to go to a junior college for a couple of years. I continued to race professionally through that time, and after I got my associates degree I thought, ‘you’re halfway done, you might as well finish this thing,’” White said. “The shelf life for a motocross racer is pretty short — around 22 years old. By that time you’re banged up and worn out. I knew the time to slow down was approaching. I continued going to school and graduated with a bachelors in marketing, but I was still racing full-time. It wasn’t until after a bad string of injuries it became tough financially — because if you’re not competing, you’re not winning. With all of my injuries stacking up, I decided to start teaching motocross schools and instructing classes instead.”
It was then that White’s career took a turn, and his talents, skills and interests began to cross and combine, eventually landing him in a meeting room being interviewed by AOCA’s executive committee and evolving into the successful career he has today.
“One of the guys I had been giving private lessons to over the years was a director at a national association for roofing contractor’s. At the time, I had two broken arms and was pretty banged up. He said, ‘You know, if you’re looking for a normal nine to five, I have a job for you.’ At the time, I didn’t even know what an association was. Now, 10 years later, I’m still working for an association,” White said.
But the rest isn’t history, and I wasn’t done asking White about his life after hours. I knew White had to have some pretty gnarly stories about injuries and spills on the track, and I knew our readers would want to hear them. Don’t worry, I did us all a favor and asked the question, “So, what’s been your worst injury?”
“I’ve had a few biggies,” White replied. “However, the one that put the nail in the coffin for me to quit was actually a practice run. It was 2008, and I was getting ready for the season. I felt great — better than ever before. While practicing, I ended up crashing going down a high-speed straight away. I landed on my side. Immediately, I started throwing up blood. I knew I had broken some ribs and had bruised a lung or something, but I’ve bruised a lung and broken ribs before. I didn’t really think anything of it. I just knew I needed to get to the hospital. Since the track was pretty rural, I was about 30 minutes away from civilization. I was able to load my bike up and drive to a gas station to call my dad. Since he had had an internal injury on a motocross bike before, I asked him what it felt like. He said as long as my stomach wasn’t distended and hard I was probably fine but he suggested I go to the hospital. I had about a two-hour drive home and over the course of the drive I started to feel a little better. So I decided to sleep on it when I got home. I ate dinner and felt OK, but I was still hurting. I went to bed only to wake up at about 3 a.m. with sharp pains in my stomach. On top of that, I looked about seven months pregnant. I drove to the hospital right down the street where they told me I had lacerated my spleen, small intestine, adrenal gland and had a slew of other internal injuries. That was the wreck that really made me decide I needed to get a nine to five. I’ve got some metal and pins and a card that I can show [to airport security] that documents it all.”
After hearing that story you may be wondering, “Crazy, why would someone choose that sport?” But for White, that’s a no-brainer.
“I like the competitiveness of [motocross]. I like that it’s an individual sport. I played baseball, football and other traditional sports as a kid. But with motocross there are no excuses because at the end of the day, your success is your success, and your loss is your loss. I also like that it’s both physically and mentally demanding. You’re on a bike that weighs 220 lbs. and you’re going over bumps and ruts and practically wearing a suit of armor in 90-degree heat. It’s physically taxing on the body,” White said. “But that physical and mental toughness, it keeps you engaged. To master the skill is hard, but once you do, it’s so rewarding.”
That’s probably why White has found a good fit in the automotive oil change industry. This industry, like motocross, constantly requires you to stay on your toes and get tough, so you don’t get left behind.
Get to Know Bryan White in Five Seconds
We know Bryan White is quick on a dirt bike, but we wanted to see if he’s just as fast at giving us the “As” to all of our “Qs.” We put him to the test with this rapid-fire interview.
Q: Favorite pizza topping?
Q: Apple or Android?
Q: Basketball or football?
Q: Facebook or Instagram?
Q: Netflix or Hulu?
Q: Favorite TV show?
A: House of Cards
Q: Rock or country?
Q: Most used emoji?
A: Smiley face
For almost 30 years National Oil & Lube News (NOLN) has highlighted industry events and news, and we know this industry is made up of some of the best folks in the business; people like you. In 2016, we’ve made it our goal to tell more of your stories, find out more about you and get to know you beyond your regular business hours. If you work in the industry and have a hobby, story or want us to get to know you or someone you know better, we’d love to consider featuring it in an upcoming issue of NOLN. To tell us about your idea, visit: www.noln.net/article/after-hours-profile