Born To Ride
Ricky Carmichael was born on November 27, 1979, in Clearwater, Florida. He was raised in Havana, Florida, by his father, Rick, an electrician known as Big Rick, and mother, Jeannie. Carmichael's first bike was a Yamaha 50 Tri-Zinger that his parents gave him as a Valentine's Day present when he was five years old. Short and stocky with red curly hair and an abundance of freckles, Carmichael didn't always feel comfortable at school so he lost himself in his bike. On his bike he was as tall, strong, and powerful as any athlete. Competing in his first race when he was just five years old, Carmichael had a deep and abiding desire to cross the finish line first, and by the age of sixteen he had a record-setting 67 national amateur titles to prove he could win, and win big.
In 1996, barely seventeen years old, Carmichael turned to the professional ranks, joining the AMA circuit for the last 125-cc Motocross event of the season in Delmont, Pennsylvania. He placed eighth and earned AMA Rookie of the Year honors. For the next couple of years Carmichael raced in the 125-cc division, considered the minor leagues of the sport, before moving up to the 250-cc Supercross in 1999 and the 250-cc Motocross in 2000. In 1997, his rookie season, Carmichael quickly established his dominance as a top motocross contender. Riding for Team Splitfire/Pro Circuit, he took the Eastern Region of the 125-cc Supercross with wins in Atlanta, Georgia; Orlando, Florida; and Charlotte, North Carolina. He was even more impressive in the 125-cc National Motocross series, winning the championship with eight wins and three more podium finishes. He finished the season ranked No. 1 in the 125-cc Motocross and No. 3 in the 125-cc Supercross.
In his sophomore season, Carmichael became the first rider in AMA history to win every round of the 125-cc Eastern Region Supercross series. Taking eight overall wins and an additional podium appearance in 125-cc Mazda Truck Motocross Nationals, Carmichael once again won the 125-cc Motocross championship. Riding for Pro Circuit Kawasaki, he concluded the season ranked No. 1 in both 125-cc Supercross and 125-cc Motocross. Before moving on to the 250-cc class, Carmichael broke every record in the 125-cc division.