In the latest installment of our occasional conversations with Fort Worth leaders, Josh Cartwright, BI analyst at the University of Texas Dallas, talks about his recent move to Fort Worth, what it’s like working in the IT field, his hobbies and his biggest passion, supercross. 

This conversation has been edited for length and clarity. For the complete version, please listen to the audio file attached to this article.

A Few Minutes With Josh Cartwright, an BI analyst for UT Dallas and a supercross racer.

Thomas Martinez: So, how are you, man? 

Josh Cartwright: I’m doing pretty well. Yeah, just got home. Just washed my motorcycle, actually. And just finished work about 30 minutes ago. So everything’s going pretty well. How are you? 

Martinez: Good. Thanks. So you’re new to the Fort Worth area, right?

Cartwright: I am. I just moved here in August. 

Martinez: OK. So what precipitated the change to move here? 

Cartwright: The job I have. I work for UT Dallas as a BI analyst. A few years ago, Fox Sports featured me about being one of the only college kids who’s ever done college and raced supercross at the level I’ve done and done as well as I have. Most motocross kids don’t go to college at all. And most kids are homeschooled from seventh grade. When they did that special on me, a guy from here named Scott Willett, he worked for UT Dallas. He messaged me on LinkedIn and just said he loved my story, loved my work ethic and all that. He said, “let me know if you ever would like to get into the IT world” because that was my major in college. We kept in touch and I actually ended up talking to him last summer because I just turned 26. I was like, man, now I’m off my parents’ insurance. I gotta get some real insurance. I wanted to get my IT career started but I still wanted to race. I can’t come back into the IT world at 30 years old after racing. He gave me a little bit of time and I did an interview with one of his teams that’s under him. Tony Otakpor, he’s a really good guy, he’s my boss now. And I ended up getting the job with them and so I headed to Fort Worth. 

Josh Cartwright, a BI analyst for UT Dallas, sits at his desk and points at his three computer screens. (Courtesy photo)

Martinez: You grew up in the Florida area?

Cartwright: I grew up in Tennessee. Memphis. I lived there for 18 years and then my senior year of high school, I moved myself down to Tallahassee, Florida, by myself for racing and for school because there’s major training facilities down there.

Martinez: You went to Florida State then? 

Cartwright: I did. I’m a Seminole. 

Martinez: You talked a little bit about balancing that racing career while also going to school, which is not the path a lot of young racers make. How did you find that balance, and how did you settle on IT school, for example?

Cartwright: Yeah, so balancing that was definitely a big learning point. I had to see what I could do with riding and going to school. I figured out a schedule where I went to school in the morning, and then headed to the track after classes for practice before going back for more classes. It was a busy, busy schedule, always doing something all the way until like 7 p.m. And then I’d go home, either work out, do my studies, homework and all that. I was pretty used to having a busy schedule and so it was definitely fun on that point.

Martinez: How did you settle on IT? 

Cartwright: I actually wanted to be a doctor. I wanted to be a surgeon. It was my dream, but I ended up talking to some people who were like already four years in. I asked them some questions, like, so how busy is it? They’re like, it’s busy. I asked, do you think I can race? They are like, No. When you want to be a doctor, it’s doctor only, you don’t have time for anything else. I still wanted to race and pursue my dream of being a professional motocross racer. Both my parents are in IT. My mom’s an IT manager. And my dad’s a system administrator. I’m in an IT family. They said if you don’t know what you want to do, just take a couple IT classes. You don’t have to do it. If you like it, you can keep doing it. Even if I didn’t want to do IT in the real world, it’d still be good to have a degree. I ended up staying in it and this is my first real job with it, so it’s definitely a new new stage. 

Martinez: What exactly does a BI analyst do? 

Cartwright: We review data to produce reports about finance and HR. Let’s say someone needs some information about a student’s high school he went to, his degree and all that. We’ll pull the data from the source and make a report out of it so they can understand it in like a graph or in an Excel spreadsheet. I’m definitely at the beginning stage of it. I’m definitely learning a lot. 

Martinez: Nice. Did you have a little bit of shock when you moved to Texas? I mean, the DFW metroplex is a pretty big area, man. 

Cartwright: Yeah, it’s definitely a big area. I’m from Memphis and it has about a million people, so I’m used to kind of a big city, but this one’s a little bigger, because it’s kind of two big cities combined. But I lived in Tallahassee for eight years and that’s a tiny town. It’s like 250,000 people. So I was ready to be in a normal city with stuff to do. In Tallahassee, it was just a college town. That’s all you did. There were college parties and that’s it. Here, there’s Topgolf. There’s just all kinds of different stuff you can do. There’s million golf courses. I’m big into golf. And just a good nightlife. I came here in Texas as an amateur racer, a lot of racing in the DFW area, because there’s a lot of national tracks here. I definitely know a few people here, so it wasn’t too big of a shock.

Martinez: That’s good. It’s always good to have that kind of support system. 

Cartwright: Yeah, it definitely is. 

Martinez: Are there a lot of tracks around here that you ride or how does that work? 

Cartwright: Yeah, there are quite a bit of tracks here in Dallas, DFW. So, I race supercross. There’s a difference between supercross and motocross. Motocross is outdoors, and there’s a lot of tracks for that around here. But supercross is when we race in the football stadiums, it’s where we raced in the AT&T Stadium here. There’s not many tracks for supercross. Only pros race them or ride them. It doesn’t produce much money for the facility, but there’s one in Bridgeport. There’s one in Malakoff south of Dallas, and then a buddy of mine who lives here, John Short, he has a track in Pilot Point. 

Josh Carwright takes off on a jump during a supercross race. (Courtesy photo | LS2 Helmets USA)

Martinez: It’s kind of unique to be just a supercross only rider, isn’t it? Isn’t the trajectory most people start out on is motocross and then kind of learn supercross or race both, maybe. 

Cartwright: Yeah. So, I mean, my whole life, I raced motocross as an amateur. That’s what you do when you’re an amateur racer. You race these races to get to this big national called Loretta Lynn’s in Tennessee. It’s the biggest national in the world for amateur racing and your whole entire life as an amateur, that’s what you race. So it’s motocross. Once you go pro is when you start focusing on supercross, that’s where the money is nowadays. There’s an outdoor series, everyone races it, all the top guys, but some people only do motorcross. Some people only do supercross. And I like supercross. It’s a little less harsh on the body than outdoor riding. I raced and was in college at the same time and it was easier to do supercross just because it wasn’t as grueling on the bikes and the body.

Martinez: What class are you racing now? (250 cc displacement four-stroke engine, less powerful and lighter bikes, usually for younger pros vs. 450 cc displacement four-stroke engines, heavier bikes and more powerful.)

Video clip courtesy of NBC sports.

Cartwright: The past two years, I was in the 450 class, but this year I actually dropped back down to the 250 class for a couple reasons. Because I knew I had a full-time job and this was going to be the first year of me trying to balance the job and racing. So I wanted to just do the 250 class because the 250 class only does half the races. There’s an east coast and west coast. I missed the 250s, and the racing team I ended up talking to needed a 250 rider, so it kind of worked out perfectly. It’s been pretty good because I’m older in the class and it’s usually young kids, so I’m kind of more mature than a lot of them and have a lot more experience.

Martinez: Those kids are crazy though. I mean, sometimes those races are chaotic. That’s for sure. 

Cartwright: Some of the kids like Jett Lawrence, he’s so young and unbelievably fast, like he is probably going to be a 450 champion very soon. Like he’s going to win the championship this year in 250 and he’s only 18, I think. So it’s pretty impressive. 

Martinez: Yeah, it makes me wonder how they learned to go that fast. 

Cartwright: I was talking to my buddy today, actually who lives here, Henry Miller, and we were talking about this. Anyone really our speed (top pros) can go fast. It’s who wants to turn their brain off pretty much. It’s just like, you can’t think, you just do it. Some people just will turn it off completely and just send it as hard as they can. And some people like me. I know I have to go to work in the morning or Monday. I like my head. I like being healthy, so I prefer not to go all out and just wild. Because a dirt bike — It can bite you like that. So it’s definitely something you need to respect. 

Josh Cartwright during a supercross race.(Courtesy photo | LS2 Helmets USA

Martinez: When you’re at the beginning of the season, you know you’re working full time, you know there are other guys who just do this supercross thing as a full-time gig. How do you set goals for yourself or what’s realistic? 

Cartwright: So this year it definitely is a whole new set of goals because I was dropping down to the 250 class. When I was in the 450 class, the goal was always just to be in the main event as much as possible. But now that I went down to the 250 class, I told myself I wanted a top 15, almost every other round. I wanted to be in the main event every weekend, obviously, but I wanted a top 15 and I wanted a top 10 by the end of the season. I’ve almost matched my goal this year. I still need to get a top 15. I think I had a 20th and the 17th and the main events. It’s the best year I’ve ever qualified every weekend. I’ve had 16th, 13th and like 12th, and in this stacked field, this is one of the most stacked fields I’ve ever seen in 250 class, deep wise. So it’s been an up and down year for me. I’ve been happy and mad at the same time, happy with my riding, happy with my qualifying. I just need to put it all together for the race. 

Martinez: So you talked about your team. Is that like a privateer team? Is it a full effort team or how does that work? 

Cartwright: It’s a satellite team. It’s privateer team, but they are very well-rounded it and works very well. It’s called MADD Parts, Circuit Equipment, Namura, Jonesboro Cycles Kawasaki. It’s my first year on the team, they are very professional. I haven’t had any frustrations with them. On a lot of, smaller teams that I would ride for, it’s usually there’s a lot of frustrations because there’s not much money. Like with the factory teams, their budget is $15 million a year. It’s just unbelievable. But then you come to teams like us who are trying to work with a $100 grand for the whole entire season for everyone and everything to spend on gas, flights, hotels, all that type of stuff. This team, I’ve been very happy with. I haven’t really had any frustrations with them. I haven’t had any fallouts. I get along with the team owner and the team. The team owner (Bubba Pauli) is actually one of the riders. I’ve been really happy with it.

Martinez: Besides golf, what are some of your other hobbies?

Cartwright: So golf is a big one. My boss Scott, the boss’s boss. He golfs a lot, so we go quite a bit. Other than that, I’m a gaming nerd a little bit. I just bought the VR headset and golfed with it, but I play Xbox a little bit. My life now that I’m racing, it’s pretty busy with just riding and training and then work and all that. So I don’t have much time to do much anything else, but when I have time off, I’d hang out with friends, just kind of do whatever we want. Golf is a pretty big part of my life right now. 

Martinez: You did mention that you’re the “old guy” in the class. Do you have a vision of how many more years you might want to do this? 

Cartwright: I’m 26 right now. I turn 27 in May. Usually, the normal retiring age is around 32 or so, 33, but I mean, but right now, like (Justin) Brayton, he’s 37 I think. I’m pretty much just kind of going to play it by ear every year. As long as my body is OK and feeling good, and my work is still OK with me doing it. I’m going to keep racing as long as I can. I love the sport. I will never stop racing. Even when I’m finished as a pro, I’ll still go back to amateur races and just have fun. I’m going to be 50 years old on a motorcycle. I just love it so much that I’d never want to leave it. 

Martinez: Is there anything else you want to add Josh about the IT life or your racing life or anything like that? 

Cartwright: I mentioned my boss, my boss’s boss, Scott Willett (Executive Director of UT Shared Information Services), who really gave me a chance, gave me an opportunity here. Couldn’t thank him enough. And my boss, Tony Otakpor. He has been very helpful with everything. It’s been very understandable with me flying out like a day early. My whole team has been very helpful with helping me out and getting me used to the whole IT world and everything. Their names are Sindhu, Asha, Sailaja and Judy . Two of them are at my office and the others are at a different office by the UTD campus. But other than that, everything’s been going well here, happy with Fort Worth, happy with my new house here. And I look forward to staying here for a while. I like it here in the DFW area. 

Martinez: That’s cool, man. 

Cartwright: Thanks for hitting me up and giving me this opportunity to do this.

Thomas R. Martinez is the managing editor of the Fort Wort Report. He can be reached by email or on Twitter.

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Committed to strong community journalism, Thomas R. Martinez brings more than 25 years of experience as a writer and editor, mainly in Texas and Colorado. He believes strongly in five core principles of...

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