Features 30 May 2024

Profiled: Tiger Wood

Honda Canada GDR recruit on turning professional in 2024 Triple Crown Series.

This weekend marks the next step in the career of longtime US-based amateur motocross rider Tiger Wood, as the Australian teenager lines up for his first professional race in the 2024 Canadian Triple Crown Series.

Originally from Townsville, the now 17-year-old started riding dirt bikes on a practice track at his North Queensland property and he raced juniors at home with success, but things quickly escalated when he first ventured to America on a week-long family holiday in 2017.

“Our first trip over was in August 2017, then we did a three-week trip at the end of the year, then it got serious in 2018, as my parents saw something in me and I loved racing so much,” Tiger recalls. “I went over for three months, then another six months, then we made the move here full-time almost six years ago.”

Wood was based at the Millsaps Training Facility (MTF) in Georgia for his first four years in the US, living in a cabin on-site and riding every day on a well-maintained, prepped and watered track. For Tiger, he was living ‘every kids’ dream’.

It wasn’t just about riding every day though, because being so young, Wood’s parents enrolled him in homeschooling and they put just as much emphasis on his education as they did his riding.

Image: James Lissimore.

“Schooling is definitely important and that was a big switch-up for us,” the outgoing Queenslander elaborates. “My parents were like, ‘if you want to do this, we can, but we’ve gotta make it count’. We just had to go all-in with everything.”

Wood raced his first Loretta Lynn’s AMA Amateur National Motocross Championship in 2018 on a 65cc and was ecstatic to finish 10th overall, which put him on the radar of the Suzuki amateur team. The following year he finished 11th in the 85cc 10-12 years class.

After earning his first race podium as a KTM-mounted privateer at the 2020 edition, Wood’s results skyrocketed, charging on to win the Mini Senior 2 class overall in 2021. He also experienced immense success in a variety of amateur events along the way over the course of the next few years.

“That was a breakout year for me,” he says. “I worked really hard up to that point… I didn’t have an expectation on myself to win, but I just believed in myself and knew I could do it. It was such a great feeling.”

After landing a deal with GasGas in their official amateur program, the Ranch in 2022 saw him land on the podium in all six Supermini 1 and 2 races, but despite his consistency, he couldn’t replicate his title-winning ways, finishing third and second in those classes, respectively.

“I was a bit smaller than the other guys and didn’t quite have the stamina late in the races,” he explains. “I came up short of my goal and that really fired me up to work even harder, like if I wanted to do this, I’ve got to work really, really hard at it.”

Image: James Lissimore.

Another year of pushing hard on the 125 saw him come into Loretta’s strongly during 2023, winning the first two motos and topping his two classes early before the torrential rain hit.

Negotiating the mud, Wood logged to P2 results in his second motos, but suffered bike problems with water getting into the electrics during the final races, finishing the weekend with a P7 and P4 overall in his two classes.

Despite the disappointing outcome, he was satisfied: “I still held my head high after that week, as I knew I had the speed and determination, I’d put a lot of work in and I’ve given 100 per cent… things just didn’t go my way.”

In January, Wood moved to Florida to train at the Lawrence’s compound. Even though he was focused on motocross while Hunter and Jett were still heavily focused on supercross, he says the time he spent there, and what he learnt following them around the track was invaluable.

“It was really cool to see how they ride, the way they break down a track is something I’ve really tried to study and put into my riding, and I definitely feel like it’s made me a better rider,” he comments.

While there, he got spin a lot of laps with Canada’s reigning 450 Pro class champion, Dylan Wright, who rides for the Honda Canada GDR Fox Racing Team, and as things would unfold, he was offered a ride with GDR a couple months later to race the Triple Crown Series.

Image: James Lissimore.

Woods jumped at the opportunity to bridge the gap from amateur to professional racing in America, and to get some pro racing under his belt with a full eight-round championship, against some highly-rated and capable racers.

“I’m really excited for this next chapter,” Wood says. “The whole team has been super-welcoming. I’ve been training with Dylan and my 250 team-mate, Tyler Medaglia, and I feel like I’m going pretty good – we should be in a good place for the season.”

Now located in Courtland, Ontario, with his dad, Wood is counting down the days to his debut at Calgary this weekend, before the series heads east across the country, finishing on August 11. While competing for the championship is the goal, he’ll be happy to just gain experience and see the chequered flag every race.

“I want to complete all my laps and get as much experience as possible, find out what it’s like to get two gate-drops, how qualifying works, and learn all I can,” he suggests. “I’ve put in a lot of work and I’m coming into this series feeling pretty confident. I don’t have much expectation on myself results-wise, but I know I’ll give it my all, no matter what.”

After the championship wraps up, the plan is to move back to Florida, and if he’s ticked all his boxes from a results perspective, try and land a professional contract in the United States.

“Right now we don’t really have a set plan after August, but this is a perfect opportunity to bridge the gap to the pro level in the US,” Wood continues. “Hopefully something opens up for me and we can continue moving forward with our ultimate plans to race pro in the States.”