- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 11, 2014

SAN DIEGO (AP) - Larry Linkogle, the co-founder of the Metal Mulisha freestyle motocross group, says he’s cleaned up after a debilitating decade of drug abuse and wants to return the company to its roots.

That means having to get along with fellow co-owner Brian Deegan in a business relationship that Linkogle says exists only through intermediaries.

Deegan, the action sports star who has branched out from freestyle motocross to rally car racing and off-road truck racing, has for years been the public face of the company known for its logo of a fierce-looking skull wearing a German military helmet.

Linkogle is the self-described quiet partner who’s no longer willing to be quiet.

Linkogle said he and Deegan haven’t gotten along since the early 2000s.

“We coexist. We have to,” Linkogle said in an interview.

Neither Deegan nor his business manager responded to requests for comment. Deegan forwarded emails seeking comment to his New York spokeswoman, who said he would not comment.

Linkogle, who turns 37 on Wednesday, recently wrote a book with Joe Layden, “Mind of the Demon, a Memoir of Motocross, Madness and the Metal Mulisha.” It’s full of graphic images from an out-of-control decade during which he said heavy drug use contributed to him being pushed aside from helping to run Metal Mulisha.

Linkogle describes a visit to a heroin dealer in which several people were shooting up. “As dopesick as I was, I just couldn’t bring myself to dip into that pool of Hep C sitting on the table,” he wrote.

He told of hanging out with violent acquaintances who were “bordering on the outright psychotic.”

There were gory accidents, including impaling himself on his motorcycle’s handlebars when he crashed while practicing a trick, and sustaining a severe brain injury when he collided with a helicopter while rehearsing an elaborate stunt for a movie starring Vin Diesel.

It also tells, from Linkogle’s point of view, how at a party in 2002, while messed up on drugs and alcohol, he signed papers that essentially locked him out of Metal Mulisha.

It was a mistake that he said took him five years to fix.

“I was heavily under the influence. It was stupid on my part but I was able to get out of it,” said Linkogle, who lives in Temecula and has a motocross compound in his backyard.

In the book, Linkogle contends that in his absence, “Metal Mulisha had been run into the ground. I was furious with Brian, and I was disappointed in myself for having ever let it happen.”

Linkogle said in an interview that he felt Metal Mulisha is “definitely strong, but I think it’s in a lot better place than it has been the past couple of years.”

Linkogle wrote in the book that he was trying to buy out Deegan. In an interview, he said he couldn’t comment further.

Linkogle’s Irvine-based lawyer, David Brown, said Metal Mulisha is “very sound” financially. “But like many partners, Larry and Brian don’t always see eye-to-eye. However, disagreements over the merits of individual deals don’t threaten the viability of the company. Despite their disagreements, the company has continually grown and over the last six or seven years has thrived.

“The direction of the brand strayed from its core identity as Brian’s competitive energies shifted to rally car and off-road truck racing,” Brown said. “But the company is getting back on track brand-wise and Larry has committed himself to re-establishing the integrity of the brand with its core followers.”

Linkogle wants to steer the company back to its roots and have some revenue from sales of apparel go to support the next generation of freestyle motocross riders.

He’s also worried the sport has pushed itself to the point where riders try tricks that are too dangerous, sometimes with fatal consequences.

Linkogle thinks his story is more perseverance than redemption.

“No matter how rough and difficult and hard things are, you can’t ever give up, even though it seems hopeless,” he said. “Keep putting your head down and working toward something better.”

___

Follow Bernie Wilson on Twitter at http://twitter.com/berniewilson

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