It started out as just a hobby. David Della Maggiore and his wife Robin began traveling once a month to watch his grandson Kenny Cross, now 18, compete in BMX (bicycle motocross) competitions. The speed, the competition and the trophies all led to his own fascination with the sport. But it wasn’t until his wife, and daughter Jessica made a simple suggestion that changed his life — why not give it a try?
“I’ve never done anything but ride a bicycle as a kid, jump over this and jump over that. I had no clue what I was doing,” said Della Maggiore, 59, a trucker for D&D Transportation out of Gooding, Idaho.
On September 2, Della Maggiore became an Idaho state champion, racing in the USA BMX series for the Northwest Region.
“Here I am. I walk into this thing and win a state championship [a two-day event] my first full year. I’m almost 60. Who would have thought I’d be riding a kid’s bike against other guys my age?” Della Maggiore laughed. What might be most shocking is how he often competes with others who have been in the sport for years. “I don’t think it’s common” for someone like him to win a title this quick, he admitted. “I sit on my butt all day driving a semi-truck and when I get a chance I race. I don’t train at all. I do eat healthy and get my exercise. I have people on my team who train every day, go to nationals every week.”
Della Maggiore, who lives in Caldwell, Idaho, drives a 2016 Freightliner Cascadia, typically to the Green Bay, Wisconsin, area or Dallas. He started trucking in late 1986 after realizing “I didn’t like being indoors all day long.” His father did local deliveries for a liquor distributor, so Della Maggiore looked more closely at trucking. He worked for UPS and for about seven years, he worked as fire rescue for NASCAR at a dirt track on Saturdays in San Jose, California.
“It was 25 bucks and all the beer you could drink after the race,” he laughed, but added that it was an important gig. “When they crashed, I’d run and pull them out of the car when the car was on fire. All these guys rely on you to save them when they wreck.”
After breaking his knee, UPS did not allow him to drive for the company.
It wasn’t his first major injury, though, which makes his BMX career even more astounding.
“When I was 16 years old I was in a motorcycle accident. I broke both my legs. The doctor said I’d never walk again. I proved them wrong,” Della Maggiore said.
He became a career over-the-road trucker, which allows him the flexibility to compete wherever he shuts down for the day.
“I take my bike with me,” he said. “I race anywhere there’s a racetrack on my route … I’ll ride around the truck stop parking lot” to practice.
While he has yet to win first in a race, the point-system in the series allowed him to win the championship against the five other racers in the 56- to 60-year-old category.
“I started with 17 points, then had 35 championship points. The guy I needed to beat had 34. I went there knowing I’m guaranteed second spot,” Della Maggiore said. “Being just a year racing, I was satisfied going home with second spot. But when they announced I had first spot, I was like a kid in a candy store.”
Typically, the competitors will race side-by-side, 45 seconds on a 1,000-foot track. Three races, or motos, qualify bikers for the “Main Event,” the featured race of the night.
“I fell twice already this year. I got tangled up with another bike. When we fall it hurts, being our age. When a 16-year-old falls, they spit on it, wipe the blood off and go back. When we fall we go home,” Della Maggiore said about his age category. “We don’t really battle it out. When you’re in the lead for the first turn, we let you go. It’s not like we follow one by one, we just don’t fight about it anymore.”
He’s never officially raced against his grandson, who has been competing for about 10 years, but the two have practiced together and his grandson’s team, the 510 Bay Area BMXers, sponsors him, despite the fact that he’s in Idaho.
It’s clear from Della Maggiore’s trucking career and BMX racing that doing things half-heartedly is against his nature. While a fulltime career and a hobby might suffice for most, he also helps transport animals for rescue shelters. In a year and a half, he’s transported 127 animals. His white boxer, Ms. Bella, was a “transport failure,” and he adopted her as his truck dog. Since she’s deaf, he’s taught her multiple hand signals in the three years since adopting her.
“We walk around the truck, we go down the street. She wants to learn everything; she wants to know what’s going on … Everybody adores her. Bella likes to put her paws up on your chest and lick your face. That’s her way to say hello to you,” he said. It’s something he warns people about on the front end, though most truckers hardly view that as a reason to shy away from her, he said.
Along with safety officials and others in the industry, Della Maggiore is also an administrator on the Facebook group “Give Truckers Room.”
“We’re not a drama group,” meaning their purpose is not to complain about inept drivers, but to educate drivers of both four- and 18-wheels on safety. They also update drivers on accidents and impending weather.
Della Maggiore may be knocking on 60, but his desire has never been to slow down. Fresh off his BMX state championship, he’s already eyeing his next prize — to be a Gold Cup Champion.
“It makes me happy. It may sound funny; you’re out there sweating and peddling. I want to say it was a hobby, but now it’s like God, I want to go ride,” he said. “It’d be like entering a cake at the fair — you always see all these little blue ribbons and you want to get one. Now I want to ride and I want to win.”