It was many years ago that a young Hazard kid was riding his new motorcycle when he decided to lead a city police officer on a chase. That chase ended in the officer wrecking his cruiser, and didn’t show well for this competitive wild child’s future. Luckily, he was able to harness that motorcycle riding talent for good instead of evil, and now Bill Dixon is the nation’s top motorcycle stunt rider.
To many in Hazard, 29-year-old Bill Dixon is known as Bill D, a Hazard High School graduate whose family owns an auto body shop. He used to drive his motorcycle fast and loud through these hills.
Dixon said he was admittedly a bit of a show off and loved to try to impress people with his skills on a motorcycle. He began teaching himself different tricks on his motorcycle, unaware that it was actually a part of a growing movement called stunt riding.
“I don’t know if it was a talent for stunt biking as much as it was a talent for showing off,” said Dixon. “I just really liked to show off, which got me into a lot of trouble growing up, but I developed a skill to control motorcycles like a maniac.”
Dixon started riding at a young age, coming from a family that was heavily interested in vehicles. Both he and his brother Jeff grew up riding four wheelers, motorcycles, and driving RC cars. It wasn’t until he attended to a stunt riding competition that he began to understand that what he was doing with his friends was actually a sport.
“When I first started riding and doing the stunt riding thing, I had no idea anyone else in the United States or the world was doing it,” said Dixon. “I thought it was just me and my brother, and we started a team called The Road Hazards.”
At a competition in Florida in 2001, Dixon and his brother showed off their tricks to a stunned and dazzled crowd. “It blew their minds,” Dixon remembered. “I decided I can do this, I can do this better than anybody, and that is what I wanted to do from the beginning.”
Since then, Dixon has worked on his technique to the point that he is the top stunt rider in the world in a very convincing way. He is on track to win his fourth straight national title in the XDL Championship series. At one point he even became so good that the death-defying stunts simply were not hard enough for him. According to his media representative, Josh Berman, he started doing all of the stunts backwards.
Going into to the last competition of the season this weekend in Portland, Oregon, Dixon is still trying to figure out if he even needs to show up. “Basically, after four rounds, he is sitting very comfortably in first place,” said Berman. “We don’t even know if mathematically anyone can beat him, but we would love a big old win just to close out.”
Despite his considerable fame in the sport and across the country, people in Hazard seem to have a hard time seeing him as anything more than just Bill D. “He did a local show at a church recently. The interesting thing I have noticed is after they become these big riders it is almost like these guys in their local towns are still seen as Bill D who runs from the cops,” said Berman.
While this may be how some in Hazard see Dixon, in the stunt bike world he is the best in the business. He has recently invested in a new tour bus for the 20 shows he performs across the country. One of the shows he used to do was the Black Gold Festival here in Hazard.
“I used to do one at the Black Gold Festival, but the other vendors said that I made way too much noise,” said Dixon.
According to the other stunt bike riders, Dixon has done his hometown proud by being one of the nicest guys in the competition. Berman said that Dixon has been known to help competitors work on their bikes before they compete.
Dixon joked that this was part of his element of surprise to kill them with kindness and then beat them in competition. He looks back at his time growing up in Hazard as a motivating factor in becoming who he is today.
“Coming from Hazard is the reason for me being so good at what I do,” said Dixon. “It is the perfect recipe in Hazard. There really wasn’t much to do but going out and partying and things like that, and for me it was riding motorcycles and being a competitive person.”
Dixon has been given the key to the city, but joked he would still love to see a sign saying “Perry County Home of Bill Dixon.”