Earlier this week we received an invite from Metal Mulisha’s Jimmy Fitzpatrick to join he and some fellow Fitz Army riders at Fitzland in Temecula, CA for a evening sunset session. After heading down there and shooting well past sunset, we caught up with Fitzpatrick to see how the world famous Fitzland came about and to see what he’s been up to this year after he and the Fitz Army contested on NBC’s America’s Got Talent.
So what’s been going on this year for you, Jimmy?
It’s been actually a pretty crazy year between all of our Fitz Army shows and everything else. We had shows almost every single weekend over the past three or four months. We’ve spent a lot of time on the road with so much traveling and I’ve also been busy working on Fitzland; which is nothing new. It’s been a great year for us!
For those that are unfamiliar with the Fitz Army, can you explain what exactly it is?
The Fitz Army is basically all of the guys that ride at Fitzland on a daily basis. As a group, we’ve never really had a name, so that’s where the Fitz Army came into play. I’ve been doing jump shows for the last 12 years now, and by giving ourselves a name we’ve ultimately become more marketable with even more talent. The Fitz Army consists mostly of Metal Mulisha riders – with a few other non-Mulisha riders – and it’s become somewhat of a sister company to Metal Mulisha. We get to travel and put on freestyle motocross shows for people all around the country.
Since the creation of the Fitz Army, do you think that gave you guys some legitimacy in the eyes of others?
Yeah, like I said I’ve been doing shows for a long time, and throughout the past I’ve always done one or two shows a year by myself, so finally I thought it would be wise to start my own deal. I got my own set of ramps and traveled around doing all of my own shows using a lot of the same contacts that I’ve utilized over the years. I was just really tired of relying on other people to try to book shows. I was constantly having to change things the day of the show because nothing was ever set up properly, so that’s what prompted me to start my own deal. I wanted to keep it as close knit as possible, so that’s why I recruited a bunch of the guys that ride at my house all the time. I wanted to take care of my buddies, and I wanted to give them everything necessary to progress and make money, so that’s another reason for the Fitz Army. In a nutshell, I just wanted to work for myself.
Recently, you’ve been no stranger to the reality TV show world, as you and the Fitz Army were seen on America’s Got Talent. How did that whole thing come about?
Yeah, we ended up getting ninth overall out of 530 acts. I actually didn’t even realize there were that many people contesting for the show. They had actually contacted me roughly two years ago while I was doing the Nuclear Cowboys tour, and they asked if I’d be interested in doing the show. It ended up being some pretty bad timing because I was already in the midst of the Nuclear Cowboys tour, and I was one of the guys doing the fire flips in the show, so I had do decline. They contacted me again sometime after that asking if I was interested in the show, and I said, “Hell yes, let’s do it!” We ended up getting a perfect score from the judges during our first time out, which advanced us all the way through to the semi-finals. We were stoked on that because it saved us a lot of time. Like I said, we ended up in ninth overall, but I strongly feel that everyone on the show was particularly looking for some sort of dancer or a contortionist or something like that. Even though we didn’t win, I was told there were roughly 60,000,000 viewers per episode, so it really put us on the map when it comes to the Metal Mulisha and the Fitz Army. Since then, nearly every jump show we attend people will recognize us from the TV show, so it was really good for us because otherwise it would have cost millions of dollars for that kind of exposure. It was definitely a great experience! At first though, we were stuck in Manhattan for a month and a half and each day we would have to do a 15 minute interview, and once that was over, they just sent us on our way. The hardest part about the whole thing though, was because this was all taking place during the heart of our season, so there was always a feeling of needing to work since we were unable to. When it was all said and done though, we were all very happy with the exposure that we got and we were very thankful for the opportunity. All of us are really happy that we did it.
Let’s change gears and talk about Fitzland. How did the property come to be as it is today?
I moved out from the Whittier/Huntington Beach area when I was about 15 or 16 years old and since I grew up in the city, I never really rode dirt bikes. I was into diving and I played football, but I was always a fan of dirt bikes growing up. Once we moved out here in Temecula and onto that big chunk of land it was game on from there because I rode every single day. I would get up really early around sunrise to start building jumps with a shovel. I used to stack hay bails and then I’d throw dirt on top of it for a landing until my dad got us a tractor. I was able to build bigger jumps with the tractor, and then I moved up to a dozer and a water truck. Once I got my hands on the dozer, it was on! I started building all kinds of stuff, and over the years it’s continuously changing. Actually, for about four or five years the city of Temecula nearly banned dirt bike riding on private property, so that was a huge headache to deal with. I even had a few neighbors fabricate complete lies to tell the city at that point in time, but luckily we ended up winning. It’s sad to say, but the loss of Jeremy Lusk really opened the eyes of city officials to what the motocross community really is; a close-knit family. Since the Temecula area houses a lot of the motocross industry, the loss of Jeremy was evident everywhere, and I believe it showed those people that we’re not a bunch of hooligans on dirt bikes. Since then, everything has been fine for the most part, as my neighbors and I have come to some agreements. Whenever the neighboring wineries host events or weddings they will put a flag up in their parking lot to let us know that they prefer no riding at that time. I have always done my best to comply with my neighbors and the rest of the community, so we’ve all come to a happy medium with what times we can ride. By no means are we ever out there looking to piss off the neighbors; that’s just not smart. We get a lot of people that ride horses out here, as well, so whenever we see people on horses passing by the property we shut the bikes off. Again, we are not here to piss anyone off. We are just a bunch of dirt bike riders trying to make a living doing what we love.
Speaking of the career aspect of dirt bikes, FMX has taken a turn over the last few years that many didn’t see coming. What is your take on the current state of FMX?
With the introduction of the Nitro World Games, I think that’s really opened the doors again as to what can be done with safer landings and better ramps. I think all of this stuff opens up a new realm of tricks, and as far as the demo scene goes, I think everything is going great. No matter what’s going on at the events we attend, and whether you’re three years old or 83 years old everyone loves to see a motorcycle flying 35 feet through the air doing a backflip. There’s definitely a wow factor in the sport still, and I truly believe FMX is here to stay. With Pastrana helping all of these guys do these innovative tricks on those crazy ramps, I think that’s going to open doors for a revolution of new tricks with an increased wow factor.