The young rider from Kentucky is now in his second full season as a professional racer. Marred in controversy before even acquiring his pro license, Bowers has moved on and is beginning to show the promise he displayed during his amateur career. Now aboard a Honda CRF450 on the recently formed Moto Concepts team, Tyler has continued to improve through out the season and is looking to have some strong finishes in the 2009 Outdoor Nationals.
How did Supercross end up for you?
My season started off on the Warthog Racing program. It was going pretty good; I had my own bikes and my own thing going and a bunch of people were helping me out as a privateer. I was getting some decent results and then Moto Concepts came on board. Cole Siebler had gotten hurt so they had an opening and they wanted to give me a try. I went to San Diego and flopped around a little bit and didn’t really do any good. Then we went back east, I got my head screwed on straight, started focusing a little bit more and when we came to Atlanta I had top ten lap times in practice. I ended up seventh in my qualifier, then ran up front with (Kevin) Windam and (Tim) Ferry in the main and I just wasn’t ready for it. I had done one main and was coming from watching these guys when I was growing up to having to dice it up with them. About 11 laps in, I wasn’t breathing and had to come off the track before I killed myself (laughs). After that I went back and did my homework and started making it through the mains, working my way up getting 18’s, then 16’s, then 14’s, just moving up the latter.
Now the year is moving along and the Nationals just started up last weekend. How did the opening round go for you?
I came out for outdoors with Moto Concepts, training and testing with them. With Glen Helen last week, the first moto didn’t go as planned and I made some adjustments afterward. The second moto I came from the back up to 13th right up there with Weston Peick and Cody Cooper and I think Byrner was in there too. I got some sweat inside my goggles and I couldn’t really see so I backed it off a little bit. Then on the last lap I stalled my bike in a turn and ended up 17th.
I am just excited because I lived through the first round; I know a lot of guys got hurt. I didn’t the ground and I feel good and healthy so I think things will keep going up from here.
What did you think of the track?
It was…different; it was Glen Helen. It’s a one-off race and totally different. I had fun and personally, I like the ruts because coming from the east coast that is more my style. It took me a little while to get used to them again because I have been out here and haven’t seen a rut for a while, I like rocks now, but I haven’t seen ruts for a while (laughs). Once I got used to the ruts, it really showed in the second moto and I was riding a lot better. I was surprised that I didn’t get worn out until the last lap, and I think Balbi got around me. I think the first couple of rounds are just about living through them than going out and riding your ass off.
Backing up to last year, you were on the Yamaha of Troy team aboard a 250F. As a bigger rider, you still had some really good finishes, but it still must have been a big challenge.
Yeah, at the Atlanta Supercross, I got fifth in my first race so it went really well. Unfortunately though, since (Trey) Canard won the thing, and then won the next two rounds so I got overshadowed a little bit. But props to him, he had an opportunity to do well and he really took advantage of it. After that I think I was top seven all year. I got another fifth in Dallas, and was on Canard and Davalos for third. Then came outdoors and it was a completely different story. I felt like I was pushing the bike up the hills at Glen Helen, not because the bike was slow, but because I was a tank at 190 pounds, which is what I weigh now. I think I ended up 18-18 in both motos for 22nd overall. At Freestone I popped my knee and took a few rounds off until Red Bud. Then the team had some problems, Osborne and I weren’t able to make it to the races anymore and they told us to just stay home. We pretty much called it quits about halfway through outdoors. The team couldn’t handle getting people to the races anymore, there was the thing with (Jason) Lawrence and whatever he was doing.
As it turned out, I had a broken wrist for most of the season. It kept swelling up and I knew something was wrong but they weren’t finding it in the X-rays but it finally showed up in an MRI. I got that fixed up and then came in as a privateer for Supercross.
So you immediately jumped onto the 450’s for Supercross and didn’t even bother with the 250F?
When I got on the 250F last year I knew I didn’t want to be on it. The AMA had that stupid rule at the beginning of the year where I couldn’t ride a 450, then they changed the rule halfway through the year. I was already tied into YoT for the east coast so I couldn’t switch.
If AMA didn’t have that rule, then you would have been on the 450 all along?
I actually had a deal with the L&M team and that’s the only reason I stayed on Yamahas. I signed the deal and then the AMA said I couldn’t get my license and I said, “What? Are you kidding me?” I needed to get 20 points to ride 450’s, I went out and did that, but by then it was too late. They went out and got Stewart and Chisolm, so I got screwed, but I’m happy where I am right now.
It definitely sounds like you were a victim of the system. But now you are on a well funded team with some good support.
Yeah, Mike Genoa, the owner of the team, is really serious about Moto Concepts. He wants to make it a huge team and is looking to get some factory support for next year. Right now he is doing everything out of his own pocket. Now he has Steve Lamson in there and a bunch of other good guys helping him out.