Michael Corbino Jr. used to run around his parents’ house wearing goggles and boots.
He dreamed of being a professional motorcycle rider.
Corbino’s father, Longboat Key resident Michael Corbino, whose Corbino Galleries was located in the Centre Shops until 2003, raced before his son was born.
The younger Corbino rode his first motorcycle in his father’s friend’s front yard when he was 4 years old. He still remembers the feeling.
“It was awesome,” he said. “It was the most fun I’ve ever had.”
Corbino, 24, is now living his dream as a rising star in the world of professional motorcycle racing.
Recently, he had two of the best races so far in his career.
In August, he placed third in one race and sixth the following day in another race at the American Motorcycle Association Pro Vance & Hines XR 1200 Series at the Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix.
Then, Oct. 7, he crashed in the AMA Pro Vance & Hines XR1200 Series at NOLA Motorsports Park in Avondale, La., but still took home fourth place.
So, how does riding feel two decades after that first spin in a front yard?
“I still get the same feeling,” Corbino said. “I just don’t get the nervousness that I used to. I feel at home.”
Corbino grew up on Longboat Key and attended the Out-of-Door Academy in Sarasota before moving to California as a teen to pursue his dream of racing.
He began his career in 2006 in California, but had to take a break in 2008 and 2009 because of injuries. In 2010, he returned to Sarasota and began racing on the Florida circuit.
Corbino, who rides a Harley-Davidson XR 1200 Sportster, only trains on his motorcycle about three times a month, because the closest racing track is in the Miami area, more than three hours away.
But he devotes between 30 and 40 hours a week to training on a bicycle, at the gym and doing balance exercises such as slacklining, which is walking on a tether similar to a tightrope. He also is extremely conscious of his nutrition, in part because it helps him to heal from the injuries that are par for the course on the race circuit.
“The race is going whether you’re in it or not,” Corbino said. “Staying light is also important because the lighter you are, the faster you are.”
He trains nearly full-time while also managing properties in the South Gate area of Sarasota.
Corbino’s next big goal is to return to the XR 1200 Series in 2013 and take as many podiums — i.e. first, second and third prizes — as possible. In the long term, he hopes to move on to bigger races, many of which take place in Europe.
According to Corbino, the length of a racing career is largely dependent upon injuries, but some racers pursue the sport into their 30s and 40s.
Six years into his career, Corbino knows who his biggest fan is: his dad, who is also his biggest sponsor and with whom he enjoys riding from time-to-time.
“None of this would be possible without my dad,” he said.