Rich Cox | The Early Years | Emeritus

By Rich Cox, Photography by Motorcyclist Archive

I would like to say that I studied journalism religiously, and because I was absolutely crazy about motorcycles, had steered a steady course toward a position at Motorcyclist. But that’s far from how it really happened.

It was probably about 1973. I was in my early 20s then, biding my time between lubing cars at the local gas station during the week and doing all things pertaining to motorcycling on the weekends. To be honest, I had yet to discover my calling, and had few prospects on the horizon.

One day, purely by chance, I struck up a conversation with a customer whose car I was currently servicing. The customer turned out to be Dave Ekins, the legendary ISDT competitor who had, at that time, just become editor of a newly launched off-road magazine called Dirt Rider. We naturally talked about dirt bikes and his position at the magazine, and I casually mentioned the fact that I was seriously into motocross.

Ekins started asking me about my MX experience, trying to figure out just how good a rider I really was. I was truthful: I wasn’t a pro, didn’t have the physical training or stamina for that, but I had some talent and could definitely “showboat” it pretty good for a half-dozen laps or so.

Maybe it was my outward enthusiasm that struck a chord, but after much consideration and out of nowhere, he popped the question that was ultimately going to change my life forever: “Would you like to ride some bikes and do some modeling for the magazine’s photographers?”

From that day on, a very special relationship was formed as Dave took me under his wing and became my mentor for all things pertaining to moto-journalism. He eventually offered me a part time position at Dirt Rider, where I performed the riding heroics and the ever-present grunt work as well—the washing, wrenching and transporting. Shortly thereafter, when Dave joined the Motorcyclist staff, he alone petitioned the publisher for me to join them. I was thrilled—no, I was terrified—to be accepted into a starting position as an Associate Editor.

As they say, the best way to learn is on the job. That was never more true than my first full year at Motorcyclist. I shared offices with a group of incredible staff members, all experts and legends in their own fields. There was publisher and all-around motorcycling hero and industry legend Bryon Farnsworth; the dean of road testers, Bob Greene; off-road giant Dave Ekins; and factory roadrace and dirt-track expert, Jody Nicholas. In spite of their status, they all willingly and happily helped mold me into a certified journalist, for which I am eternally grateful.

Dave is actually responsible for unknowingly launching a second career for me. One day early in my tenure at the magazine, he invited me along to witness an MX photo shoot at one of the many tracks that used to dot Southern California. Without warning, he shoved a 35mm camera into my inexperienced hands and simply said “Here, shoot some pictures.” Little did he know that I would eventually fall in love with photography—I didn’t feel like I was that great of a writer anyway—and make a career out it for the next 35 years. Thanks to all you guys!

By Rich Cox
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