Ride of his life


December 5, 2013

After a week of work, most people like to kick back, relax and enjoy a couple of well-deserved days of rest. Not Rhett Halpin.

Halpin spends his weekdays working for Bio Bug Pest Management based in Bellingham, Wash. But on Saturday mornings, Halpin doesn’t stare at a big-screen TV with his feet propped on the coffee table; he races motorcycles.

The pest management technician, who was given his first dirt bike when he was 4 years old, began dirt-bike racing at age 7 at a track 10 minutes from his home. When he was 12 years old, he broke three bones in a year, so he switched to enduro racing (the motorcycle equivalent to rally car racing), which he competed in through high school. At age 28, Halpin races sport bikes, which can reach speeds as fast as 200 mph, on asphalt tracks.

“We do the whole knee-dragging thing on the corners,” he says.

Even though Halpin’s skills have improved, danger still exists. His last significant injury was in 2004 — at the time, still considered a rookie — when he broke his femur.

Halpin spends 40 hours a week running down pests and almost as much time on the weekends chasing other racers around a track, riding for BIG V Superbike Racing. The team, which travels throughout the Western region of the country, includes two pit technicians and a crew chief, who’s part owner of the team, which takes the No. 329 motorcycle as far away as Las Vegas — a 24-hour drive from their home. Halpin usually rides in four races, in four different classes, a weekend. Each race lasts about 20 minutes. If Halpin is lucky or skilled enough to win all four races, he could earn $3,500.

“It’s the opposite of professional sports, in which you get a contract for a million bucks and get paid,” he says. “Whether you win or not, you still get paid in professional sports. If we don’t show up, we don’t get paid.”

A team player

Racing motorcycles is Halpin’s first love; and while pest management might not have been his childhood ambition, Halpin has grown to appreciate what the industry has to offer. His industry career began because of a change in the way payments were made in motorcycle racing and needed to find a day job. A friend of the girl he was dating at the time worked at Bio Bug Pest Management. Halpin walked in the day after another employee put in his two-weeks’ notice.

“I enjoy the freedom and team atmosphere of the job,” he says. “Everybody looks out for one another. It would be just a job if it wasn’t for the way the company is run and the people in it.”

Bio Bug operates as a team, just like the one Halpin is a part of on weekends.

“Road racers and superbike racers are some of the most dedicated individuals you’ll meet,” he says. “I get to keep doing my thing, and I’ve got a bunch of guys taking care of the rest of it.”

Dan Jacobs is a contributor to PMP. Contact him at jacobs3927@gmail.com.


About the Author

Leave A Comment

Comments are closed.