Garrison member first American to win Euro racing title

Those serving in the Profession of Arms understand the inherent dangers associated with their chosen professions to serve their country, and most probably don’t tempt the odds by inviting additional hazards to their safety by doubling down during their off-duty time.

However, one retired military member and current U.S. Army Garrison Rheinland-Pfalz employee defies those expectations. He speeds along with a hobby that requires donning a helmet and suiting up in heavy-duty protective gear to lessen bodily injury as he hurtles around a racetrack in excess of 140 kph, with top speeds of 295 kph.

While some folks prefer to travel, read, cook, or even crochet, Maurice “Reese” Evans races motorcycles in his spare time. In fact, the new garrison communications chief earned honors as one of the best around, winning the 2021 European Supersport Championship at the September finals in the Czech Republic.

“Reese” Evans displays his trophies.

Even that feat involved added layers of peril on top of the “routine” risks. Reese took the title on a wet track in a steady rain while racing with the wrong tires to compensate for the bad weather. He admitted it was a gamble.

“Honestly, it was the farthest thing from my mind as the rain subsided and the track was rapidly drying,” he explained. He and a few other riders took a calculated risk and started the race on slick tires while most others chose treaded rain tires, or at least a combination of rain front and slick rear. Unfortunately, the rain returned as the riders headed out for their sighting lap, a non-competitive lap before the start of the race to assess track conditions.

“Reese” Evans on the rain-soaked track in the Czech Republic on his way to securing the 2021 European Supersport Championship.

To compound his sudden handicap, he started from the 24th position on the grid because he couldn’t attend the Friday qualification runs, planning to log his time on Saturday instead. But while Friday was a nice, dry day, Saturday’s time trials were washed out by constant, heavy downpours so Reese was placed in the 24th spot for the two final races to determine the 2021 champion.

Reese could have avoided the added risk of racing in the rain and pulled his 2007 Yamaha R6 into the pits, forfeiting the race. However, he’d done the calculations. Based on his season-long point’s standings and current first-place ranking, he only needed to finish in the top 10 of the first race to clinch the championship — a 600/750cc sprint race.

“I lined up on the grid in the rain and that’s when the insanity began,” he said. “I got a great start and flew all the way up to 8th place heading into turn one, on slick tires!”

He did, however, experience one small rear-end slide coming out of the first chicane (a serpentine curve designed to slow racing speeds for safety). “After refocusing on being smooth on the gas, I passed a few other riders under-braking while accelerating throughout the race.”

That’s when Reese found himself in a back-and-forth position battle with his rival and championship runner-up Tobias Erbe. While Reese had a sizeable lead in points heading into the International Bike Promotion (IBPM) Supersport 600cc Class event, the IPBM season finale had double points on offer for the final two races. Reese knew he couldn’t afford to take anything for granted.

“Reese” Evans leans into a turn during a 2021 race on his Yamaha R6. Courtesy photos

Reese and Tobias resumed their frequent battles during the final three laps by passing each other at every opportunity. On the final lap, both were passed by another rider who had full rain tires and neither Reese nor Tobias could respond. Tobias then kept a defensive line and as the two riders exited the final turn, Reese drifted onto the rumble strip. The rear of Reese’s bike started shaking frantically as he tried to get on the gas early to repass Tobias, but as they crossed the finish line, Tobias edged him out by a mere two-tenths of a second.

Reese, however, had done enough to clinch the series title and enjoyed his rain-soaked victory lap as the first American to ever win the European Supersport Championship in his class.

“It was an amazing season of racing in 2021,” said the 11-year Department of the Army civilian. “I’ve had some great epic battles this season that fed my determination to push even harder. Although I was tracking the championship points, it was not my focus. I enjoyed each race separately; probably why I started the penultimate race on slick tires in the rain!”

It wasn’t the first championship for Reese. He started riding competitively 20 years ago in Hawaii, winning the 2016 V-Twin Open Class riding a 2012 MV Agusta 675cc. It also wasn’t his first sports championship. The former All Air Force Team wrestler had previously taken home several state and European championships. “My experiences and discipline in wrestling has continued onto the race track as well as my day to day job — commitment and the willingness to strive to be the best.”

Reese is grateful to garrison leadership for allowing him time to pursue his racing passion and offered this advice for motorcycle riders in general: “For those riding on the streets and highways, always ride defensively and as if drivers can’t see you. Most car drivers aren’t conditioned to notice motorcycles, unless it’s loud or extremely bright and stands out.”

With his recent European championship, Reese is tentatively scheduled to move up to the next level in 2022 and plans to upgrade to a 2020 Yamaha R6 “as my weapon of choice for the new season.”