Toby Price: Switching Gears
Toby Price: Switching Gears
You’ll be hard-pressed to find someone on the planet with a better attitude than Toby Price. Tom Hanks? Oprah? Maybe, but that’s an extremely high bar.
The 34-year-old off-road and enduro motorcycle racer has an unmatched passion for life. Which makes sense, given the fact that he’s had a few brushes with the end of it.
He believes anything is possible, that all you have to do is “sign up, give it full gas, twist throttle, and hang on.” The rest will take care of itself.
When you talk to Toby, you get a sense his hypothesis is true — that crazy goals aren’t just attainable, they’re imminent. But only if you hang on, and give it everything.
From the Farm, to Finke
Toby grew up in a small town of just over 1,000 people about eight hours west of Sydney, Australia. His parents managed a 43,000-acre farm, which meant young Toby had more than enough land to learn how to ride a motorcycle.
After getting a feel for the machine, he tried his hand at a local club day race event. He won. Then, he went to a state championship event. He won again. And he kept on winning.
His list of accomplishments includes multiple wins at the Australian Off-Road Championships and National Enduro Championships, a couple Dakar Rally wins and numerous wins at the Finke Desert Race — including being the only person to have won the race on both two and four wheels.
Broken Bones and Bucket Lists
Toby Price has been described by friends and competitors as “fearless” — fitting for a man willing to fly through unpredictable terrain at 100-plus miles per hour without a seatbelt.
One thing he’s definitely not scared of is crashing. In his 30 years of racing, Toby says he’s broken about 30 bones: his left wrist (six times), his right wrist (five times), both femurs, and his shoulder, among others.
“And I’ve broken three vertebrae in my neck,” he says. An orthopedist’s dream.
Even still, his positive spirit shines through. Through a chuckle, he says “there’s definitely a lot more people out there who have got a bigger tally than that.”
His neck injury came scarily close to putting an end to his racing career. He says people shake their heads at him. If they were in his shoes, after four broken bones they would’ve hung up the helmet. For Toby, crashes only make him more determined to conquer the next item on his bucket list.
A Race You Can’t Prepare For
The 12-stage Dakar Rally is, for lack of better words, soul-crushing. It has earned its title as one of the toughest off-road races in the world. And in his first attempt in 2015, Toby Price got an overall podium.
The following year, he became Australia's first-ever overall winner. He won again in 2019, racing the entire thing with a — you guessed it — broken wrist.
He didn’t expect to win that attempt. He didn’t even plan on racing the entire thing.
“I was only planning to do three, four days and pretty much pack my bags and go home.”
But the unexpected is exactly what you should expect at the Dakar Rally. You’re not allowed to pre-run the course, you only get the maps 20 minutes before each stage and if you break something in the middle of a stage, you’d better fix it yourself, or you’re out of luck. Oh, and the shortest stages are 300 miles.
In 2021, Toby found himself with a punctured back tire and a lot of stage left.
“I basically just came up with the best thinking possible that I could get to. And that was trying to seal the hole off and stop dirt and everything getting in.”
When he got to work, he was able to plug it up with duct tape and a handful of zip ties — creativity that wasn’t able to win the 2021 rally, but did get him a pretty good meme. He’s been known as the “Bush Mechanic” ever since.
Editor’s Note: Toby finished tenth in this year’s Dakar rally. Not the result he wanted, but (knowing Toby) it’s one he’ll use for motivation moving forward.
Racing on four wheels has always lingered in the back of Toby’s brain. Growing up, his dad raced off-road vehicles, and in 2010 he encountered his first unlimited truck at Finke.
“I saw this truck that blasted by me at one million miles per hour and I was like ‘fwah, that looks pretty cool.’”
In 2016, he raced his first race on four wheels. He rented a spare truck, took it to Finke and managed to take second in class four. Then in 2019, he snagged another second place finish at the Baja 1000, co-driving with Jesse Jones and Nasser Al Atilyah.
From that point on, Toby’s just tried to keep his foot in the door of four-wheeled racing. But, because Toby is Toby, he’s invited himself inside and put his feet up.
In 2021, he won the Finke on four wheels. Now that victory’s grasped, his new goal is to win on both two and four wheels in the same year — a feat where he’d finish first in the truck, take a bush plane back to the start and win the race again on his bike. Easy, right?
Riding into the Future
There’s an age where the body can’t take riding motorcycles anymore.
It came for Mr. Dakar, Stéphane Peterhansel, who won Dakar six times on the bike. Then in 1999, at the age of 34, he started racing on four wheels full time.
He went on to win the race an additional eight times, bringing his overall total to 14 wins — the most in the history of the race. And he’s still racing at the age of 56.
Toby would like to follow that path, and win just as many Dakar trophies.
It’s a lofty goal, but, hey, give it full gas, twist throttle, hang on, and the rest will take care of itself.
All photos from: RedBull Content Pool