Photo by Sam Thiel Pro ATV rider and Wabasso native Derek Guetter performs a trick while jumping over a fire truck during their ATV Big Air Fest event on Saturday in Wabasso. This was the first-ever Big Air Fest in Wabasso.
WABASSO — Derek Guetter and his brothers have performed ATV and big air stunts all over the world, traveling to places such as Australia, New Zealand, Spain, Africa and Europe. But there’s something different about performing in front of a crowd of familiar faces.
Originally from Wabasso, Guetter and his ATV Big Air Tour show came into their hometown Saturday night to provide a free event in the town’s first-ever Big Air Fest at the Wabasso Community Center.
Guetter said moments before the show began, he looked around and was nearly brought to tears to see all of the hard work and dedication they’ve done pay off and it was special to perform for the hometown fans.
“I was almost in tears when the national anthem happened; I’ve done hundreds and hundreds of shows and when the national anthem kicks in, that’s when I’ve had to something really scary or gnarly so I get that feeling in my gut and when I heard the national anthem here I was fighting back tears because we worked hard for this,” Guetter said. “It wasn’t an easy road to even get this to be put on, just dealing with everything we’re dealing with right now and then obviously the financial side of what’s happened this year. It was a big weight lifted off my shoulders when I heard that National Anthem and it felt good.”
Guetter added the support from the community was just overwhelming and they’re blessed to be surrounded by an amazing group of people.
“My wife and I are just so blown away with the support we’ve gotten out of this community with making this event happen,” Guetter said. “That was the big reason to do it; we had people at the grocery store, I don’t know who they were but they were like, ‘We back you 100%’ and it was just awesome. We had so many people doing that so there wasn’t any way we were not going to do it. It feels good to have people behind you for something like this and that people are going to have a good time here.”
From small-town farms
to big world tours
Growing up with his older brothers and sister, Guetter was surrounded by four-wheelers, snowmobiles and dirt bikes on his family farm and watched dirt bike and four-wheeler movies and got immediately interested in the sport.
“My cousins rode dirt bikes and I just started watching dirt bike movies and then we saw a four- wheeler movie and I just thought it was cool. As a kid, I always loved four wheels and I just gravitated towards it; I’m a farm kid so there was always a four- wheeler or snowmobile or something to jump on and break,” Guetter said. “At one point we were doing it better than the people that we were seeing in the videos, so my two brothers and I moved out to California and started a film and production company and we were riding professionally and that’s when we started traveling all over the world.”
Since then, Guetter and his wife Larissa created the ATV Big Air Tour and have been performing around the country for the past six years. Guetter said he’s incredibly grateful to have his wife run all of the small details while he performs and they are trying to improve with each show.
“My wife and I created it. This was so much work, obviously the show part of it is what I do but the small details and the things that really matter, that’s all my wife,” Guetter said. “She takes care of the website, hospitality, making sure everyone is looked after and we really focus on small details on this tour and we’ve been doing this for about six years now. It’s all just trial and error and learning, we go all over the country just booking shows at these conventions and we’re getting experience and just getting better at it.”
The show has definitely become a family affair for the Guetters. Derek’s oldest brother Dan has ridden a Polaris RZR with his sister riding shotgun while his older brother Jon became the first person in the world to do a backflip with an ATV in 2004.
Derek said it’s a lot of fun to be able to perform with his siblings and is proud of the work they’ve been able to accomplish as a family.
“It’s fun. My oldest brother Dan, he’s flown a Polaris RZR off these ramps before and my sister was riding passenger and I was riding in the show; we didn’t have Jon riding that one but we almost had all four siblings riding the ATV Big Air Tour with us. This is seriously the best job ever, it’s so crazy that I get to call this a job and people love it,” Derek said. “This is definitely a family business with my two brothers, you couldn’t have done this solo, so a lot of credit goes to them. My oldest brother is a graphic designer, videographer and everything with PR and my older brother Jon was the first ever in the world to backflip a four-wheeler so that kind of put us on the map. I was always the one that made things work and we just worked our butts off.”
‘It’s kind of a blessing’
Derek said on average, they do about 25 shows a year, but with COVID had to cancel their 2020 tour. Fortunately, that allowed the show the opportunity to put together the event in Wabasso and Derek said it was a blessing in disguise.
“We had 20-some shows booked and then another 50 on the table, so we had our biggest and best year that we were going to have. Then at the end of February, things started getting weird and thankfully we’re a film company too and we started our newest film last summer and we were planning on releasing that this September,” Derek said. “Unfortunately with the tour getting canceled that stopped all of the funding in my films so we were kind of up against a big challenge. Fortunately, we kind of saw an opportunity, especially like this event. We would have never done this had our tour didn’t get canceled, so we’re seeing some silver lining. This is all thanks to COVID-19 because this wouldn’t have happened so it’s kind of a blessing that it did and it leads to other opportunities.”
Taking to the skies
After some warmup jumps, it was time for the main event. With a packed crowd watching in anticipation, BMX riders went off a separate ramp while the motocross and ATV riders flew off a ramp to an air-filled landing area 75 feet away while reaching a height of 34 feet in the air.
One of the biggest highlights of the night was when Derek jumped his ATV over a Wabasso fire truck. Guetter, who was also a stunt double and stunt performer for Zac Efron and Adam Devine in the 2016 movie “Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates,” said it was another amazing opportunity he just couldn’t pass up.
“I’m not going to pass up that opportunity. Doing weird stuff like that, I’ve gotten to be a stunt double in movies, my brother has backflipped over an army tank before so it’s just another thing to add,”Derek said. “We’re already doing some crazy stuff, so might as well add some flash to it and make it look cool.”
Derek added the hardest stunt he performed during the event was going off the ramp with just one hand on the handlebars the entire way. It was also the first time he had ever tried it.
“This was the first night I ever jumped the ramp with one hand. Just coming off the takeoff and doing it one-handed, I’ve never done it,” Derek said. “I just wanted to try it and it might feel alright and it worked out well.”
After the show, the tour premiered their film “Butter2” and held a meet and greet and autograph session for the audience. As they move into the near future, Derek said he’s looking forward to watching the up-and-coming riders perform new tricks and take things to another level.
“I’m looking forward to having my new guys come up. It’s seriously fun watching them because they remind me a lot of myself when I started,” Derek said. “I’m going to be 35 this year and I’m going to retire here pretty soon because it’s starting to hurt but I love watching guys like (John) Langaas and (Nick) Rogers and those guys, they have some fuel behind them to do this stuff.”
Derek added they are planning on making the show in Wabasso an annual event and hopes to have it run during Wabasso’s festivals.
“I want to do this as a yearly thing. This town needs stuff like this; we used to have a lot of those festivals when I was a kid and I remember coming to Wabasso here and the place was just bumpin’ and nothing is really happening anymore so we felt like we needed to step up and do this and turn this into a yearly thing,” Derek said. “We were going to judge how this went and see if we can add this with Wabasso’s festivals and have another reason for people to come to town and have a good time.”
Article written by Sam Thiel originally posted by Marshall Independant Newspaper July 20, 2020