Born with the idea that every motorcycle rider is unique and must be treated so in order to reach their highest potential, the former supermoto wunderkind turned flat track racer, founded Moto Anatomy to help riders get the most out of themselves as a riding teacher. As it turns out, not by much surprise, either.
A letter Lewis recently received from his mother proved that point well. The envelope contained a middle-school assignment in which students were asked to answer the question, “Who am I?”. Even as an early adolescent, Lewis had an inspired sense of place: “One of the things I put in the letter was, ‘I love listening and learning from people. And I love teaching.’” Who’d have thought? Well, clearly a young Johnny Lewis did.
Most motorcycle racing fans recognize Lewis for his relatively recent role of tirelessly working to turn Royal Enfield’s beginner-friendly, air-cooled parallel twin into a hard-revving, sideways-sliding success story in the rough-and-tumble world of American Flat Track.
Four years into the project, Lewis has earned two victories in the Production Twins class. The first in 2020 at the notoriously slippery Daytona Short Track and the second a year later at the Lima Half-Mile, the fairground’s famous pea-gravel cushion track in Northwestern Ohio.
With Production Twins having been consigned to history at the end of the 2022 season, the 33-year-old Lewis is now contesting AFT’s premier class, SuperTwins. Competition is stiff, due in part to the more highly evolved entries from competitor brands like Indian and Yamaha.
Let’s turn back the clock some eighteen years. After pocketing three national titles and earning the 2004 AMA Sports Athlete of the Year and the AMA Sports Dirt Track Horizon Award, Lewis left flat track to race in supermoto, becoming the youngest factory rider in the history of the once wildly popular AMA Pro Supermoto Championship.
Competing for Team Red Bull KTM HMC, the then-teenage Pennsylvanian had an immediate and dramatic impact on the hybrid sport, which pairs elements of motocross with road racing. It was a life-changing experience, Lewis told fellow racers Corey Alexander and – former REV’IT! rider – James Rispoli on an episode of the “Pipe Dreams Podcast.”
Lewis was only fifteen years old — too young to race professionally — when he signed a factory contract with KTM. “I couldn’t race the first couple events, but they already knew they wanted me,” he said. “We were at a track in Wisconsin and I set the 250cc lap record the first day I was there. They were like, ‘This kid can ride.’”
“I did a couple amateur races and then my first race. I got fourth or something. The last race of the year was in downtown Reno, Nevada. It was so awesome. Thousands of people hanging out of windows and parking garages. We got done racing, and there was a party afterward. It made you feel special.”
“The next year, they put me on an Unlimited bike, a 610. I was sixteen years old, and I was on this 60-plus-horsepower supermoto bike. There was no electric starter, so I had to kickstart that thing. I was pretty tall — I was the same height that I am now, 6-foot-1 — and I started having some good races.”
Not long after, Lewis scored his first win. “It was a car track, a big, paved oval, and we got up on the banking,” he explained. “Former Suzuki factory road racer, Aaron Yates, was dragging his knee on the banking. He was ten miles per hour faster than anyone else. I was like, ‘I can do that’. I went out in my class, and I tried it. I made up so much time on everybody. I got a big gap, held it, and won my first race at age sixteen over guys like Mickey Dymond – legends of the sport.”
“That night, Mickey came up to me and said, ‘Amazing ride. You scared the sh*t out of me.’ We were coming on to the front straightaway out of turn four on the NASCAR banking,” explained Lewis. “I was wide open and the thing stepped sideways. Mickey said I was drifting right toward the wall, and he shut the gas. Everybody checked up, and I checked out. I won that one, had a lot of podiums, and raced in some really cool places.”
Going forward Lewis had the option to fly to the races or to save money and ride with the truck driver. He chose the latter. “I started traveling the country, learning the ins and outs of how a semi-truck works, and how a race team functions,” he said.
“Years later, I’m running race teams and doing that kind of stuff every day. Those three years were pretty good for me. I built really good relationships with really good people. That’s the biggest thing I miss about the sport: At that age, I didn’t appreciate the places I was going to and the people I was around.”
Lewis started out racing motocross as a child and actually stumbled into flat track by accident. “My dad looked at the district book,” he said, “and he thought the next race was going to be a motocross race. It ended up being a flat-track race. We had a track at my house, and people kept showing up. That’s kind of what elevated me to get pretty fast pretty quickly.”
“When I was fifteen, before I made the transition to supermoto, my dad sent me to the Kevin Schwantz racing school. I also went to Las Vegas and did the Freddie Spencer school. I did a WERA race at VIRginia International Raceway, so I had a little bit of pavement experience. I just love riding motorcycles.”
After four seasons of supermoto competition, 2009 was the year Lewis returned to his roots in flat track. “When the KTM thing ended, I didn’t know what to do,” he admitted. “It was kind of like starting over again. I might have ridden a flat-track bike just once in my whole supermoto career. I went from flat track to supermoto, and that’s all I did.”
“When I came back, Mike Hacker, a former racer, started a school called ‘Ride Academy’. I started helping with that, and I loved doing it. I wanted to start expanding, and that’s when I moved to Florida. I went on my own, and from then it just hasn’t stopped. Every day, I’m trying to help someone.”
Through it all, Lewis continued to teach. Instructing everyone from riders brand new to motorcycling all the way to race-winning, national-level competitors, teaching them the fine art of flat track and bike control in general. In 2015, Lewis founded Moto Anatomy to take things to the next level.
By offering customized training aimed at unlocking rider potential in practically any two-wheel discipline, Lewis gets to do the things he’s most passionate about every single day, combining his joy for teaching with his love for riding bikes.
Johnny Lewis is just one of a select group of riders that represents the REV’IT! brand in top-level racing series all over the world, including MotoGP, WorldSBK, MotoAmerica, and more. Get to know all the passionate, professional athletes in the REV’IT! racing family.