El Pasoan thriving at Dakar Rally

Lorena Bolanos

POSTED: Thursday, January 16, 2014 - 4:33pm

UPDATED: Thursday, January 16, 2014 - 9:46pm

Mike Johnson was born in Minnesota in 1965, but you can consider him an El Pasoan. In fact, in the desert southwest, Mike fell in love with motorcycle off road racing, and currently, he's fulfilling a lifelong dream of racing in the Dakar Rally in South America, the world's most challenging off road race.

Mike's father was in the Army and they moved to El Paso where Mike graduated from Andres High School then later UTEP with a degree in engineering. Mike was named the 2013 motorcyle SCORE series world champion. He hadhis class season point championship in the SCORE Desert Series on a Honda CRF450X.

According to his family, he has been riding motorcycles since he was a little kid. He did a lot of Motocross, about 6 years ago he started racing Desert Races in New Mexico, then moved up to Desert Races in Las Vegas and after that he has been doing the Baja Races for about 5 years and has won about 3 Championships.

The next level up was Australia Safari and Abu Dabhi Dessert Challenge (Dubai) preparing for the DAKAR, his biggest and life time dream.

This is his quote at the DAKAR web page: "At last Mike Johnson will be on his bike on the start line of the 2014 Dakar. Due to start last year, the American had to pull out because of an injury. The engineer based in Texas had prepared things scrupulously coming to the rally in 2012 as part of an assistance team. On a Honda CRF 450, Mike knows that being on a bike will be a different story. After intensive training in his home desert and a taste of the dunes during the last Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, he's focused on one thing and one thing only: to finish.

"I've been riding bikes since I was a kid. It's always been my passion. I remember watching the Dakar on TV in the early 80s and thought it was so spectacular. It's been a dream ever since. I have to say that I'm a little apprehensive. I've prepared a lot for the Dakar and raced many Bajas but the Dakar is different to anything else. Riding day after day will certainly be tough. I'm in a desert where I live but we have no dunes. That's why I went to Abu Dhabi to learn. My main concern however is the altitude. The ambition will be to finish. That's the primary goal. I have to be focused on that."

The race ends on Saturday, January 18th. You can follow the race live here:


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