A portrait of Garrett Gerloff: An interview about his career, roots, BMW and his home state of Texas.
Austin. Garrett Gerloff is the Texan in the family of BMW Motorrad works riders. This season, the 27-year-old US-American competes for the Bonovo action BMW Racing Team in the FIM Superbike World Championship (WorldSBK). Raised in the US state of Texas, he discovered his love of motorcycle racing at a young age. Having twice been crowned champion in the MotoAmerica Supersport Championship, he went on to enjoy success in the MotoAmerica Superbike Championship. That was followed in 2020 by the switch to WorldSBK and the move to Europe. Since 2023, Gerloff has been a BMW Motorrad WorldSBK works rider.
An interview with Garrett Gerloff.
(*BMW X4 M Competition: combined fuel consumption: 10.8 – 10.7 l/100 km according to WLTP; combined CO2 ‑emissions: 247 – 238 g/km according to WLTP..)
Garrett, how does it feel to be part of the BMW squad?
Garrett Gerloff: “It’s super exciting. Joining the BMW squad is definitely a new chapter in my life. And it’s been great so far. I’m really enjoying working with the team that I have and also with all the BMW engineers and everybody. It’s a really great atmosphere and I’m really enjoying myself.”
We have heard that there was already a connection to BMW before you joined BMW Motorrad Motorsport and the Bonovo action BMW Racing Team?
Gerloff: “Indeed. It’s fact that I already have a history with the BMW brand. The link is my dad. For most of his life, he has worked as a car salesman and mainly at BMW dealerships, so BMW cars were around me early on. My dad always brought some different models home and took us to drive around, for example stick shift cars like the BMW Z4. He let me change gears for him when he pushed the clutch. I have such good memories from that and all the different BMW cars with my parents. It has been great adventures, so I definitely have a soft spot in my heart for BMW since my childhood. We used to go to the dirt tracks in his BMW X3. It’s funny as I think this car is from 2005 and I’m actually still driving it around at home, when taking the dirt bikes. And now, being back in Texas recently, we got this amazing BMW X4 M Competition*. It was so much fun driving it around to discover Texas. A BMW product is always a fun thing to experience, whether it got two or four wheels.”
Besides your connection to BMW you also have another relation to Germany, right?
Gerloff: “Yes, it is a really nice link. My last name, Gerloff, apparently has a lot of German heritage, from what I understand. There is actually so much German heritage here in Texas. There’s a lot of immigrants from Germany that came across a long time ago, including my ancestors. My great grandpa has a plaque that was hanging in his house that had the Gerloff seal. My ancestors came and they founded Old Glory, Texas. So, it just feels like full circle. I am riding for BMW Motorrad now, a German brand. My family comes from Germany and has a lot of history there. And here in Texas, my dad basically has been selling BMWs for my whole life. I think it’s a round story.”
Coming from Texas and ending up racing in WorldSBK - it’s been quite a journey.“
You’re called the Texan from Texas, coming from The Woodlands, south of Houston. How did it came that you, as a young boy from the Woodlands, ended up on the international racing scene where you compete in WorldSBK?
Gerloff: “My journey, my story is definitely kind of crazy. Coming from Texas and ending up racing in WorldSBK - it’s been quite a journey. I just try to put my head down. I knew what I wanted to do with my life. I knew where I wanted to go. I knew that I wanted to race in the world championship. And I tried to line up my life the best that I could to make it happen. And crazily enough, you know, it has so far.”
Have there been certain steps in your career? Tell us about that journey.
Gerloff: “My love for motorcycles started back when I was a kid watching my dad ride motocross during the weekends. My dad’s dad was also a motocross rider and my dad’s mum rode motocross bikes in the powderpuff class back when she was young, too. So basically I’ve got motorcycles in my blood. My love for motorcycles started on dirt but soon after that, we started going the road racing route and I was having a lot more fun on two wheels on asphalt, just the sensation of speed and everything. It just got me hooked.
As soon as I started road racing, I knew that it was what I wanted to do with my life. I really put everything into it. I was training every day. I was trying to prepare myself mentally. I was I was doing everything that I could to make sure I could be the best version of myself on the road race bike. I was watching the professionals and tried to apply myself as much as I could to see if I could make it a career one day. It was a crazy series of events that led me from being an amateur to racing professionally in MotoAmerica, to finally moving up to Superbike in MotoAmerica, and then going to WorldSBK. There’s so many details and things that lined up that I never would have imagined. But I look back and just smile, thinking about how it all connected in the end.
It definitely wasn’t a straight shot through. There’s been a lot of difficult times in my career. But I look back at every one and I know that every single time something negative happened, it made me a stronger person and I really had to learn how to persevere through those tough times. And man, it makes the positives, the high points, just so much sweeter.”
Recently, you have been back in Texas and did some laps with the BMW M 1000 RR on the Circuit Of The Americas during the Grand Prix. How was it?
Gerloff: “I’m a Texan at heart, and being here at Circuit Of The Americas was just such a good feeling. It was so nice being back in my home state. Especially since I got to go and do a few laps at COTA with the brand new 2023 BMW M 1000 RR Moto GP Safety Bike. It’s been so nice being back home, seeing all my family and friends at the track. I’ve seen just so many people that I haven’t seen in many years. It’s been so long since I’ve come to America during a race weekend and it just brings back so many good memories, so many good vibes with everybody from my past that I’ve seen. And it’s just stuff like this that really makes me smile.”
I feel so blessed to be able to do what I do.“
What does ‘Texas’ mean to you?
Gerloff: “For me, Texas definitely is home. It’s all about the people in my life. It’s about my family and friends. I feel so blessed to be able to do what I do, to be able to travel around the world and to see so many new places and people. But really, there’s just nothing like coming back home, coming back to Texas. Seeing my close group of friends, family and being able to fully just relax and kind of block out the rest of the world.
Growing up in Texas, I had some friends that were doing the rodeo for riding horses. I found a different kind of rodeo that that suited me. Since then, I have been more on the iron horse side of things.
Some of my favourite things about Texas are the music, the vibe around here, the barbecue. There’s nothing like barbecuing with friends. At the end of the day, the sunsets here just seem to be on another level. I think it’s just that that flat land, wide open skies, it just paints such a such a nice picture. It’s also always nice to meet new people and explore a different side of Texas. There are so many interesting people in Texas. You have such a wide variety. Even in my home city of Houston. There are people from all over the world. It opens your eyes up to all these different cultures. It’s really just a melting pot of cultures.”
Let’s come back to you career. Which profession would you haven chosen in Texas if you wouldn’t have been a Superbike rider?
Gerloff: “That is something I haven’t thought about yet. But if I wasn’t racing, I would still be on two wheels no matter what. I love motorcycles. I love being on two wheels. It’s one of the things that makes me the happiest in life. But if I wasn’t a motorcycle racer there’s a few different things that I that I’d be interested in. I really like nutrition and like the physical side of what I do. I like the training and stuff, it’s something that really interests me. I really love photography and videography, ever since I was a kid. It’s something I’ve been curious about. So that would have been a cool path to go down. I’ve also been interested in construction. I think it’s so cool to be able to build something like a house and to be able to back up and look at it once that project is complete. Building custom bikes is something similar. We went to the Handbuilt Motorcycle Show in Austin and we got to see all these custom bikes that people have spent so much time and energy into making. They make these beautiful pieces of art and being able to step back, to see all your hard work and to see other people appreciating it, too, has to be such a fulfilling feeling.”
You have been partly living in Europe, in Andorra, for some time now. Did you become more Europeanised since you moved over there?
Gerloff: “Yes, I’ve been in Europe for almost four years now. And every time I come home to Texas, people say I get like more and more of an accent, but I don’t know what they’re talking about. I don’t hear it at all. But I think it’s so funny to see my friends and family after a while, and the first thing they call out is that I’m talking a different way now.
Besides that, I think there’s positives and negatives to both. I mean, there’s a lot of things from Europe that I wish the US had. There’s a lot of things that Texas has that I wish Europe and Andorra had. That stuff. But there are pros and cons to everything. I feel like a lucky guy to be able to experience both. And once I get sick of one, I go to the other. But it’s the complete opposite. It’s got mountains there in Andorra, flatlands and sun in Texas, that’s nice. But one of the things I really appreciate about Europe in general, and especially where I live in Andorra, is just how many people are on motorcycles, like how many people are on two wheels. I think that’s such a cool thing. You just feel so free being on two wheels and especially like up in the mountains there in Europe, just being able to ride through the twisty roads, to see other people on motorcycles and connect with them.
I think that’s the coolest thing about motorcycles, it just brings people together from all different cultures, all different backgrounds, all different countries, and we can all come together and have that one thing in common. That’s what you feel especially in Europe where all those countries are that close together.”
(*BMW X4 M Competition: combined fuel consumption: 10.8 – 10.7 l/100 km according to WLTP; combined CO2 ‑emissions: 247 – 238 g/km according to WLTP.)
What else may we learn about Garrett Gerloff? What inspires you?
Gerloff: “In general, I think life is just too short. I really don’t feel like we have as much time on earth as we want to believe. And with this in mind, I like to say yes to the craziest things, just to go out to experience as much as I can. Whenever it’s my time to go beyond this world, I would like to have a story that’s worth telling, that people would be interested in hearing. So that really inspires me to take risks and take chances. And I really wouldn’t have gone to WorldSBK and changed up my entire life if didn’t believe that. I try to live my life to the fullest while I am here on this world.”
Garrett Gerloff – Texas crosscheck.
Burrito or Burger? Burrito all the way. Tex-Mex Baby.
Coachella Festival or Country Western Concert? Country.
Dirt Road or Racetrack? Dirt Road!
Football or basketball? Football.
Water or Whiskey? Both.
Salad or Steak? Steak.
Pick-up truck or BMW Scooter? Scooter.
Texas summer or Texas winter? Summer, I can’t handle the cold.