Andris Lagzdins, a 44-year-old racer who lives in Burbank, Calif., was on a mission in 2012 in the AMA Hare & Hound National Championship Series—to win his second national ATV title in a row.
He did it, winning the ATV 100-Open A class.
“It’s great to back up last year’s title with another championship, and ending this season with a hard-fought win is the best way to go into the off season,” Langzdins said after earning the title. “For me, the biggest accomplishment in racing has always been the AMA No. 1 plate, and to attain that is very satisfying.”
But the title didn’t come easy. The AMA Hare & Hound National Championship Series features some of the fastest desert racers in America. His main competition for the series title came from Bill Markel, the 2012 District 37 (Southern California) Overall ATV champion.
“Bill does an unbelievable amount of races in the California desert, and he knows every nook and cranny out there!” Lagzdins says. “The two Utah rounds were won by Utah riders Chris Brigman and Colt Brinkerhoff, so there is something to be said for having the home field advantage.”
During his 2012 championship-winning season, Lagzdins raced a Honda TRX450R prepared by DirtFirst Racing. He says he’s had great results in various disciplines with the machine, including racing Baja.
“My longtime engine tuner, Loren Duncan, puts together a motor package that is perfectly suited for the Hare and Hound events,” Lagzdins says.
Lagzdins spent more than a decace racing enduros and other events on the East Coast before moving to Southern California, where he felt he would fit in.
“Not being able to ride the course before the event, having to negotiate very technical and rocky terrain, and doing dead engine starts are all facets of racing in which I was able to carry my skills over,” he says.
His very first race, in 1988, was the Blackwater 100, which he tackled with a Honda ATC 250R three-wheeler. He then raced at the AMA District level in the 1990s, earning state championships in District 5 (Western Virginia, Western Pennsylvania) and District 7 (Maryland, Delaware).
“I moved from Maryland to California in 2009 to concentrate on the Score Baja Series, riding for the Christy’s Racing Team,” Lagzdins says. “Everything came together there in 2009 and we won a championship in the Best in the Desert Series as well as the Score Overall ATV title.
“In 2010 I discovered the Hare and Hound Series while looking for other races to participate in to stay sharp for Baja,” he says. “I won the last Hare and Hound in 2010, and came back in 2011 and won the series, then backed that up with [the 2012] title.”
Following the end of the 2012 season and before the beginning of the 2013 season, Lagzdins planned to focus on the Baja 100 and then spend some time in Maryland, where he hoped to do a little “muddy, tight woods, enduro-style riding because I just can’t get that here in SoCal.”
His plans for the future?
“I am always looking to travel to new areas to race, and I had a blast racing in some 12-hour events in France a few years ago,” he says. “I would like to get a ride for a couple of the European Quad Championship races and check out more of Europe.
“Another goal is the Dakar Rally, which is probably every desert racer’s dream,” he says. “I also have an Isle of Man trip in the works for 2014, but just to spectate, for now!”
Lagzdins is a rider. You can find him riding quads, dirtbikes and even streetbikes.
“Whether it’s carving canyons on my Honda RC51 streetbike, or doing laps on the MX track on my CRF450R, I like it all,” he says. “A good, relaxing Sunday is me and my wife, Avila, taking the dirtbikes up in the mountains north of LA and exploring. I can honestly say that I have dedicated my life to motorcycling, and everything revolves around that.”
Lagzdins knows that a racer can be successful without strong support, and he had many people he wanted to thank.
“Most importantly, I have to thank my family for helping me keep pushing myself to succeed,” he says. “The guys at DirtFirst Racing who made my whole program escalate to where it is now, including my mechanics Tony Kwiatkowski and Jim Quesinberry, and racing coordinator Tom Nalepa.
“Christy’s Racing, Duncan Racing, Elka Suspension, Rolldesign, IMS Products, ITP Tires, TireBalls, Rpm Axles, GPR, ATVRiders.com, Moose Racing, Alpinestars, and 100% Goggles all contributed to make my program a success,” he says.