Twins Cup rider Heather Trees in action at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta. Photo by Brian J. Nelson.

Twins Cup riders Heather and Jared Trees are never on the racetrack at the same time. But they are always at the racetrack at the same time. Who are these two Trees growing roots in the MotoAmerica Series? I decided to find out.

There’s a “Heather Trees” and a “Jared Trees”, and you both race in Twins Cup. This is probably going to seem like a crazy question, but are you guys related in any way?

HT124: Yes. I’m Heather Trees and Jared Trees is my husband.

Did you meet because of motorcycles? How did this whole thing happen?

HT124: We met down at the Herrin Compound. So, I lived in Tennessee at the time, and Jared lived in Ohio. But we met in Georgia at the Herrin Compound.

Same bike, different livery and number. Jared Trees takes his turn in the saddle during Twins Cup action at VIRginia International Raceway. Photo by Brian J. Nelson.

So, you both knew about the Herrin Compound, and you went and rode minibikes on the supermoto track or the road race track?

HT124: On the little kart track.

And you got to know each other there. So, your common bond was and is motorcycles?

HT124: Yeah, at the time. We kind of figured out we have a little more in common since then.

It broke the ice.

HT124: For sure.

That’s pretty cool. Have you been riding for a long time?

HT124: I actually started on dirt bikes when I was five. Kind of on and off raced a little bit. Then I was avid most of my teenage years and then, I bought a street bike in college and discovered race tracks shortly after that.

So, it sounds like you’ve probably done some racing in WERA, as well?

HT124: Quite a bit, yeah. I’ve been racing with them since 2011.

How long have you and Jared been married?

HT124: Two and a half years.

Was Jared racing in WERA, as well?

HT124: Yeah. He’s done some WERA and CCS racing.

So, did you know who he was before you went to the Herrin Compound?

HT124: No, I did not. He was friends with some people from Ohio that I knew, but I didn’t know him. He went down there with them, and then saw this girl that showed up in a van by herself to ride motorcycles, and I guess he thought that was cool.

Yeah, I would say so. You guys both race in Twins Cup, and now we know that you’re married, but you have two different team names. Why is that?

Sizzle Maniac Racing Twins Cup Rider Heather Trees. Photo by Brian J. Nelson.

HT124: Mine kind of came from my maiden name, Szymanik. Someone at one point in time, who also races in Twins Cup, when he first was friends with me on Facebook back forever ago, he’s like, who’s this “Sizzle Maniac” girl? Do I know her? Just joking around. Then I kind of didn’t think about it much at that time, but when I got custom leathers for the first time, of course, I wanted to put something on the back of them. So, I was like, “I’m going to use that.” Jared’s is just really creative with “Trees Racing.”

When I see you in the paddock, can I call you “Sizzle Maniac”?

Sure. Most people just call me “Sizzle.”

Derived from your maiden name, and Jared is okay with that?

HT124: I guess.

So, you had that sort of persona and continued with it. Of course, Jared has his own thing. It sounds like you share a bike. Have you ever raced in MotoAmerica on the track at the same time? Let me couch that by saying we see your name on the entry lists for one event, and then, for the next event, suddenly Heather’s name is changed to Jared. Tell us about that.

HT124: We have not raced at the same time. We did kind of briefly talk about Jared racing his Suzuki SV650, or another friend’s SV so we could do the same rounds. But his SV is not quite competitive in the class. Although, he’d probably still beat me.

So, your bike is faster than his, you’re saying?

HT124: Our MotoAmerica bike is faster than his personal SV650, yes.

It’s not that you don’t want to be entered in the same race, but it’s the way the current situation is with the bike, or was this past year? If you had two bikes, would you guys both race together?

HT124: I think we would probably consider doing it just because I don’t honestly know that we’ve ever had a husband/wife on the same grid, at least not in MotoAmerica.

No. Obviously, the first married couple I think of is Josh Hayes and Melissa Paris, but they were in different race classes.

HT124: So, I think we would probably consider doing it just for that just because it would be fun, but I don’t think we would do it on a permanent basis because he’s the mechanic. I can do things, but he’s the primary mechanic so if he had two bikes to work on and also ride at all the events, I don’t think he would be too excited about that.

When you’re entered to race on a weekend, he’s your crew chief?

HT124: Basically. When we show up, it’s him and I. We’re both going, it’s just who’s riding.

So, when he’s racing, are you his crew chief?

HT124: Sure.

You hold the board for him or anything?

HT124: You can call me the crew chief. I do hold the board. I occasionally don’t notice when he’s come into the pit, so I kind of failed once at that. I was holding the board looking for him to come in and I turned around and he was there, and I didn’t recognize him. It was the first time I’d seen him ride that bike. Luckily, some of our friends were there on another team that helped him out, because he was ready to go back out before I realized he was in.

I’ve heard stories like this before. This is very similar to two people I’m sure you know very well – Beth Braun and Chris Parrish. Beth doesn’t race, but she’s had that situation before. In fact, Brainerd was a problem because of where everybody was versus where they started the race. I’m sure you knew that.

HT124: I heard some weird things about that. We didn’t race at that round, but during the broadcast, they were talking about there being two different places where people could hold pit boards or something.

Yeah, if you were on the starting grid, that wasn’t really where everybody was lined along the wall with their boards, so you had to go from the starting grid. It wasn’t super far, but it was far enough that it was weird. Especially for these two-member teams. Most of the teams, obviously, you’ve got somebody with your rider over on the starting grid and somebody with a board over on the wall, but if you only have one person, it’s pretty hard.

Between you and Jared, whose lap times are quicker?

HT124: Not mine. By quite a bit.

It’s just so cool that the both of you do this. And you’re going to race Twins Cup again in 2022?

HT124: Yeah. Actually, a few more people are going to be participating in the riding of the motorcycle this year. It’s the community bike. We’re kind of looking at who is going to do what rounds, but it looks like at least Jared and I will be doing, I think, two rounds each. He might be doing three. He just held up three fingers. He’s doing three.

Trees Racing Twins Cup Rider Jared Trees. Photo by Brian J. Nelson.

Jared, I’m not trying to play favorites in talking just to Heather. I want to talk to both of you guys.

I absolutely love this story. I told Heather, I want to get around the paddock and talk to everybody and I haven’t been able to do that with you guys yet, but I’ve been wanting to. In fact, you probably didn’t see this on social media, but somebody the other day tried to point out that Kayla Yaakov is the only female rider in MotoAmerica, and I said, “No. Heather Trees is also racing.” So, we notice that stuff. I want you guys to know that we know who you are and pay attention to you. I’m glad to talk to both of you. How are you doing, Jared?

JT154: I’m doing good.

You must race at Mid-Ohio a little bit, huh?

JT154: Only once, ever.

What’d you think?

JT154: The pavement was lacking.

You know why we don’t go there then.

JT154: Yeah.

It’s interesting to hear that because we’ve got so many fans who always ask us about Mid-Ohio, and we have to say the same thing all the time. Obviously, it’s even worse when it’s raining.

JT154: I love the layout, but new pavement would certainly be nice.

The layout, the location… It’s close for you. It’s like 45 minutes for me. It would be pretty nice to have that on the calendar.

HT124: It would be great. I rode there once, as well. It’s a really fun track, but the pavement was not confidence-inspiring.

So, Jared, you had a two-rider team this past season, but you’re going to have more than just the two of you in 2022. Are you still running the same bike, a Suzuki SV650?

JT154: Yeah, it’s the same bike. It’s getting a few tweaks to get a little bit more horsepower this year. But mostly the same.

Have you done anything mechanically with the bike, like having the engine built by Mike Copoulos or anybody like that?

JT154: Yeah, he’s the one building my motor.

What do you guys think of Twins Cup, in general? Do you love the class? Is it everything you want it to be? Are you okay with the influx of more bikes, younger riders, that whole thing?

JT154: Yeah. I’m a little bit torn on the rules package. It’s so open.

It is very open. “Tuner class,” we call it.

JT154: Yeah, but at the same time, you couldn’t race an SV650 against the Aprilia RS 660 without it like that. I’m kind of cheap, so I could go with a spec class where everybody runs the same bike. I think the speed of the bikes is a good step from Junior Cup because the gap between a 600 and a 300 or 400 is huge.

It’s funny because Twins Cup was originally never conceived to be a stepping stone. It’s amazing how it’s become that way. When Alex Dumas went in there, and then Rocco (Landers) and others, it’s been great for young, up-and-coming riders, as well as experienced club racers.

Heather, there’s a strong spirit of camaraderie in Twins Cup. Do you enjoy that?

HT124: Yeah. Honestly, the whole MotoAmerica paddock, obviously, it’s more professional. There’s more rules. You do everything on time. But, it reminds me a lot of the WERA paddock. At first, it was kind of intimidating, and then I realized it was just what I was used to from forever. But I definitely think, within Twins Cup, there are a lot of people who’ve been club racing together for a long time. I know pretty much every class has people that are willing to fix your bike so they can beat you tomorrow, but I feel like it’s even more so in Twins Cup.

Let me ask you both this, and this is a big cost thing, so you may immediately say no. One of the things I noticed when looking at your headshots is that you guys wear completely different leathers. Not just the design, but the brand. Would there be any desire to have more of a coordinated effort there, or is this just what it is and you’re already doing everything you can to get on the track?

HT124: We did for a bit. We actually had the same leathers, but Jared wanted to go with the air bag suit because he doesn’t crash gently. So, he’s got that now. I kind of stuck with the suit that I’ve had.

Obviously, you must both work, or one of you does. Tell us about that.

HT124: We both work. I’m in accounting. Basically, as opposite as you can get from racing motorcycles. Jared works at Honda R&D doing testing and development.

Jared, you’re over in Marysville (Ohio)?

JT154: Yeah.

That’s interesting. You’re working with the cars, not bikes, over there?

JT154: Yeah. Primarily just the engines.

That’s awesome. Where did you go to school?

JT154: MMI down in Florida for motorcycles.

You did? So, you took an MMI course in motorcycles and now you’re working in cars for Honda.

JT154: Yeah, cars pay better.

Sure. I just love the fact that that MMI works that way. How about you, Heather? For accounting, where did you go to school?

HT124: I went to the University of Central Florida.

And did you go for accounting?

HT124: I did. I graduated in 2008, though, and I didn’t get a job in accounting until 2019. It was two years ago yesterday. So, I took a really long time to use my degree, but I had fun racing motorcycles in the meantime. I worked in several restaurants for a while, and it gave me the flexible schedule to do what I wanted, and it paid the bills.

Was it important to you to eventually get into accounting because that’s what you went to school for?

HT124: I liked it when I went to school for it. Honestly, when I got my job, I was kind of convinced that I would hate it, but I really like it, oddly enough. There’s a lot of problem-solving and stuff. I do more of the research type stuff, not so much just data entry. So, I do like that. It kind of got to the point where I had been working in restaurants for so long, and I wasn’t going to go anywhere. I was going to make the same amount of money for the rest of my life. So, I figured I should be responsible and do something different.

That is very responsible of you. I absolutely agree.

HT124: Seems to be working out all right so far.

When I was in high school, I had a guidance counselor who had this whole thing regarding the concept of Data, People, or Things. Some people can do all of them equally, while some do one better than the others. I’m definitely not a Data. I’m a People probably most and then Things. So, I’m going to ask you both this. Heather, being an accountant, you’ve got to be into Data. It sounds like maybe Data and People, but also Things, too? Although, you said you don’t do the mechanical work on the bike.

HT124: I can, I just don’t anymore because I do laundry and dishes, and Jared works on the motorcycles.

So, you’re probably all three of those, right?

HT124: I guess. I like to think I’m moderately okay at most things.

That’s pretty good. Of course, you know it involves both sides of your brain. How about you, Jared? Are you equal on all three?

JT154: I would say I’m much stronger on Data than anything else.

I can tell that. Do you know (Robem Engineering team owner) Matt Spicer very well?

JT154: I know him, but I don’t know him well.

Do you think of him as being fairly non-emotional? That’s how I view him. He’s got a dry sense of humor, but you’ve got to look him straight in the eye to realize he’s joking. Is that the way you are?

JT: Yeah, sort of.

I can tell. You and I would get along well because I’d always be trying to crack you up because you’re so serious all the time.

JT154: (laughs) Not that bad.

It sounds like Heather does that with you, anyway. Does she keep you going? Is that part of it?

JT154: Yeah, probably.

HT124: He’s a little quieter than I am, so I make up for it.

Motorcycle road racing brought Heather and Jared Trees together for life. Photo courtesy of Heather and Jared Trees.

That’s how it works. That’s why you guys belong together and belong on motorcycles and belong in MotoAmerica and share the bike and all that good stuff.

What is the origin of your last name “Trees”?

JT154: I don’t know.

I always like to ask origins of people’s names. “Szymanik,” is that Eastern Europe or something?

HT124: Polish.

But “Trees,” you don’t know, Jared? Is it British?

JT154: I don’t really know. I know it’s somewhere European.

HT124: Wasn’t it derived from “Treese” or something, with an extra “e” at the end?

JT154: I don’t really follow it too much. I’ve got some people in my family who do, but I don’t know the whole backstory.

I may have to do some research for you just because I’m curious about it. I’ll report back to you.

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