July 21, 2016 – It’s noon on a Thursday afternoon in Arlington, Virginia, my hands are sweating, and I’m doing all that I can to keep cool. Aside from the fact that it was 100 degree Fahrenheit outside in Virginia, I was also awaiting a call from Bucky Lasek, rally racing star and professional skateboarder. It’s hard not to be a little nervous.
Right Foot Down covered the Red Bull Global Rallycross event last year, and this year we were given a chance to interview a driver. Bucky Lasek was an obvious first choice of someone to chat with. He’s a humble, grateful, father of three, who happens to be an amazing race car driver, oh and champion skateboarder. And I happened to be the lucky guy who got to talk with him for 45 minutes.
Bucky and I talked about racing (of course), cars (Subarus, obviously), family (being Mr. Mom), marriage, gluten-allergies, friends, being a one man show, and how he stays grounded in an ego-centric world.
If you’ve ever seen Bucky Lasek perform in any aspect of his life (racing, skateboarding, being a dad), he has such cool, calm, collected personality, and I had to know how he keeps so zen and grounded. Bucky told me that he’s been a professional athlete for over twenty years, so that helps, and he never makes it about himself, he always wants to help other people. Going out of your way to help people can be a rare trait in superstar athletes.
Bucky Laskey calls himself “Mr. Mom” when he’s at home, and lets his wife (Jen) sleep in the days he’s there. Bucky doesn’t have a typical Los Angeles morning routine (i.e yoga, meditation, green juice), but he loves to take the kids to school, make breakfast, help out with chores, do yard work, and by 3 pm he’s skating. He says it’s amazing to come home to a supportive and loving family after a tough week – that’s what keeps him going.
When asked how growing up in Baltimore impacted his career, he was very positive about growing up on the east coast, and says it was easy to find skating friends and develop his own scene in Baltimore. So rather than following the crowd, Bucky was able to create his own crowd, and skated everywhere with his friends (think “Lords of Dogtown” Z-Boys).
The hardest part for him was growing up in a single parent home, essentially being raised by his aunts, cousins and grandparents. Bucky said he was always a daredevil growing up, and would do anything to get some attention. And I guess that meant doing crazy things on a skateboard. Bucky started skating at 12 years old, his first sponsor was a company called “Sundancer,” and Bucky told me that he would even mod the shape of his skateboards to his preference.
Like every good story, there’s a turning point in one’s life where everything changes, and for Bucky that was in 1999 when he moved to California. It wasn’t an easy choice either, he had just gotten married, and recently had his first child. Bucky had wanted to move out to California for two years, and just never had the courage to do so. His wife, Jen, really pushed Bucky to step out of his comfort zone. So with a new marriage, a new baby, Bucky and his family set out on a new adventure to California (think Beverly Hillbillies – this was Bucky’s reference, not mine). His long time friend, and international superstar Tony Hawk offered to put him up in his house, till 23 year old Bucky and his family could get settled in. Bucky’s first neighborhood out on their own wasn’t the best; he was once borrowing Tony Hawk’s car and it was broken into.
Skateboarding is not the only professional sport that Bucky dominates, in 2012 Bucky became a factory driver for the Subaru Rallycross team. To some might see it as an odd transition from skateboarding to racing. Bucky told me that racing cars has been something he’s been doing since he got his driver’s license and his first car, a 1991 Civic Si. (Side note: My first car was a 1993 Civic Si.) It was the first car he bought when he became a professional skateboard at age 18.
Bucky competes in Redbull Global Rallycross, and a different kind of rallying, Rally America. Two completely different racing series that require two completely different kind of racing styles. Global Rallycross is more fast paced, using more high strung cars, and you have to adapt quickly to tracks and even contact with competitors (think bumper cars for grown-ups). There’s not much time to think, practice, or react, you just GO! Bucky says he’ll only get about 30 laps per event, which is not much time to get to know a track. When he races Rally America, it’s much different. it’s more traditional rally racing. You have more seat time, you are driving all day, it’s more of a mental endurance, you drive 100 stage miles in a weekend, and someone is next to you feeding you stage notes. So when asked which is his favorite? Bucky couldn’t pick one.
Bucky told me his GRC rally car has 600 horsepower from a tiny 2-liter turbocharged engine, and that’s restricted, his Subaru could make 1,200 horsepower. The suspension needs to be able to handle big 65 foot jumps. Bucky told me that in one race he totally overshot the landing ramp. He was going bumper-to-bumper with last year’s DC GRC winner Patrik Sandell, and his spotter told him to floor it on the straight before the big jump. Normally before hitting a jump you lift from the throttle, this time he had to keep the throttle pegged and landed flat. Bucky did note that he was able to stay ahead of Patrick, and won that heat.
The Rally America car that Bucky uses is a modified stock Subaru WRX STI with a similar suspension setup to the GRC car. Bucky has two WRX STI’s currently, but keep an eye out for his 2012 STI, it will be posted for sale on his social media accounts (@buckylasek – twitter and instagram). It’s pretty cool that you’ll have a chance to own Bucky’s car, he’s put a lot of time into building a great daily driver that you can track. Bucky is loving his 2016 WRX STI, he says he can immediately feel that the chassis is much stiffer, and the steering rack is quicker.
When he’s not flying 30 feet above the ground, Bucky is at home making a gluten and dairy-free breakfast of french toast (his favorite meal of the day). But he’s also been known to cook a mean steak, and even exotic curries for dinner. Since he’s gluten and dairy-free, eating out is tough for Bucky, and has to stick to more bland food when dining out.
Since we are Right Foot Down, I had to ask him about what he would change to the Subaru BRZ, a favorite car among our staff. What would Bucky’s ultimate BRZ look like? Try a 300 horsepower, all-wheel-drive BRZ in matte metallic rally blue. The staff at Right Foot Down has started a daily prayer that Bucky has enough pull at Subaru to make this happen.
I wanted to finish the interviewing focusing on Bucky’s family because throughout our 45 minutes discussion, him being a family man seem to come through the most. Family was a consistent theme that came up in our conversation, and it was refreshing to hear. Bucky has been married for almost twenty years, and he has three daughters who also love driving (very cool). I told Bucky that I was getting married next year, and Bucky shared his wedding story. Bucky got married at the young age of 23 to his wife Jen, and they wanted to keep it low key and fun. Essentially bring all their friends together. So they rented a VFW hall, invited 200 people, had friends cater, and maybe spent a total of $1,000 dollars. If that doesn’t sum up Mr. Lasek for you, I don’t know what can.
Thanks Bucky for your time. And don’t forget to see Bucky Lasek race in Washington D.C this Friday/Saturday, July 29.30, at RFK Stadium.