Anaheim 1 Press Day: Notes, Quotes, and Interviews

There’s so much going on this week that one Kickstart’s not enough. Soooo, here’s the rundown on some of the other things happening in the countdown to the start of the 2006 Amp’d Mobile AMA Supercross series.

On the night before Press Day, James Stewart hosted a go-kart event at Pole Position Raceway (www.racep2r.com) for his friends and sponsors. James is amazingly smooth and fast in a kart, and the electric karts were ultra-quiet and surprisingly quick.

After some bumping and banging at the start of the main, James took the win followed by his teammate, Michael Byrne, and Oakley’s Anthony Paggio. You can see a video of the action in Thursday Theater.

The list of quickest lap times from the previous week held some interesting names, like KTM’s Kurt Nicoll and Marc de Reuver. The site is also home to quite an impressive collection of moto memorabilia, and is definitely worth a look.

Just like every year, a pre-race press conference was held at Anaheim Stadium to let everyone hear what’s on the rider’s minds heading into Saturday night. On-hand at the speaking portion were Team Kawasaki’s James Stewart, Team Makita Suzuki’s Ricky Carmichael, Team Yamaha’s Chad Reed, Team Sobe/Samsung Wireless/Honda’s Kevin Windham, and Team Honda’s Jeremy McGrath. Later on in the day when the question and answer portion was over, the press got a preview of what’s to come this season, as both Supercross and Supercross Lites riders took to a semi-complete Anaheim track.

Now, without further delay here’s a quick rundown on what each rider had to say, a little interview with RC, and a recap on who’s riding what coast in the Supercross Lites Division.

Jeremy McGrath:

On why he returned again this year:

“I told myself that if I decided to compete I would treat it like a hobby, but it’s difficult to actually do that. This year has been fun, I’ve put a little more time into riding, and hopefully I won’t make a mockery of myself on Saturday.”

About his competition:

“I’d be a fool to sit here and tell you that my results didn’t mean much to me. I didn’t drive 80 miles each day to go to the test track if I didn’t care about them. It would be nice to race up front with these guys, but mostly I just want to be safe.”

On how he expects to do:

“I would be a fool if I said that I am going to come race with these guys and beat them. Yes, there is a number in my head of where I want to finish, and I’ll be unhappy if I don’t finish there, but you guys aren’t going to know what it is.”

Kevin Windham:

On his crash, and returning to racing:

“It was just a little crash. That always seems to be the way things happen. Things were going well; testing was going great; I was excited about my bike; I had also just come off the break I had from hernia surgery, so things were looking up. The crash just happened. Coming out of a whoop section I just lost my front end over a little double. It was just a little double, probably 10 or 15 feet, I lost the bike and came down right on my arm. I broke both bones—compound fracture—and got a plate with 11 screws put in. That was kind of all she wrote; within a blink of an eye it was over.

On his time off:

“I go to the doctor tomorrow (Friday), and I’ll have a better idea of how things are shaping up for my return. This isn’t an opportunity for me to go into hiding like I did after I broke my femur. I hate that that happened, and I love the sport. I wish I was on the track, but I’ll be there soon enough.”

Chad Reed:

On coming to Anaheim:

“It’s pretty common knowledge that Canada was a pretty pathetic performance for me. We had a lot of work to do, and the week after Vancouver I took a bit of a break and just stepd away. I hurt my knee up there, and I just decided to rest that for a bit. I just stepped back, looked at where we were and where we needed to be, and just worked on that. Nothing out of the ordinary, I just tried to hit my marks for this weekend.”

Why he didn’t do well in Canada:

“It was pretty much just me; I didn’t perform well. We had our reasons but that’s a part of racing. We fixed it, and now we are just ready to start this weekend fresh and new. ’05 was a tough season for me, and I was happy to get that over and done with.”

On Anaheim:

“Anaheim is a really fun stadium. I grew up watching Jeremy (McGrath) race here, and it was always called Jeremy’s House. It’s cool to come here and see all of the people. We come here three times a year, and all three times it’s sold out.”

James Stewart:

On the work he has done after Canada:

“I’ve done a lot of work. It was great to go up there and race in the World rounds. I felt that after last season it was definitely very helpful for me as far as my confidence goes. My dad and I just went back and really worked hard. It’s been great.”

On his motivation:

“I’m really more motivated to do it for myself. I’m not really out here trying to prove things to anyone. I know that I have the talent to do it; it’s just putting all of the pieces together and getting it done. It’s going to be a long season, and it should be fun.”

On his goals:

“I’m just trying to stay consistent. I actually see this as the third race rather than the first. Like I said, going to those World Rounds really helped me a lot. This is a 16-race series, not a one-race shootout. Last year I tried to win every race, this year I’m just going to try to win the race at Vegas, and try to win the title.”

Ricky Carmichael:

On his championship rings:

“2005 was an amazing year for me. I felt like since I was on a new bike, a new team, and I sat out ’04 spectating all of Supercross that I had a lot to prove. It was amazing. I definitely didn’t expect it to go as well as it did. I just came with the intentions of doing what I always did in the past, and luckily things worked out.”

Following the press conference we took the opportunity to pull RC aside and find out exactly what is on his mind going into Saturday at Anaheim. Below is what he had to say about Stewart, his new 450, and how he has adapted his riding style. It’s amazing what a difference a year makes in a rider’s confidence. In ’05 the 25-year-old was an underdog, this year he is the defending champion.

Last season you were kind of the underdog after sitting out the entire 2004 Supercross season, now you are the guy to beat. What are your thoughts on the shift from season to season?

I don’t mind it. I’ve been in this position before, and I feel that I can handle it. I don’t really look at it quite as much as the press does—like I’m the guy to beat. I just always look at it like I’m trying to beat the other guys out there; I look at it in reverse.

What are your thoughts on everyone changing to 450s, have you had to change your riding style at all since Vancouver and Toronto?

I’ve tried to get better, for sure, since Vancouver, absolutely. I think I hold a little more momentum. I feel—for sure—that I’m better than I was at Vancouver. The bike has gotten a little better, and I just need to get some good starts and put myself in a position to do better. I think we will be fine, I really do.

What are your thoughts on James? In the past you have said that he is the next guy to come up and be the dominant rider. After seeing him win the first two rounds do you think this could be his year to, in a sense, de-throne you?

I know he is going to be better than he was last year, but I still feel that I have a bunch of strengths. I think the thing about James is the unknown right now. All I’ve done is just try to prepare for him to be there every weekend, and I’m ready to do battle. What ever happens will happen, but I really feel that I have a great shot to be there at the end—I really do. What ever happens is what happens, that’s just the way things go. Obviously, I hope and I feel that I really have what it takes, but I think it is crucial that I am in the right place in the right time. I kind of need to make my own luck.

How much longer do you see yourself racing?

I have an option for ’07, but right now I have nothing in stone for ’07. The great thing is that I have the option. I want to take this year first. I’ve really had a great off-season training, and I really feel good. I haven’t had much time to think about ’07, but as the season wears on I’ll think about it. Right now I’ve just been really focused on training; who knows where ’07 will lead, it’s just up in the air. I have the option to go so we’ll see.

If this is your last year racing would you want to still stay involved with the team?

Absolutely, I want to train the younger riders, and try to get them on the right foot. If there are good guys, that work hard, it will create better racing. I just want to set a good example.

As far as the Supercross Lites class goes, a few of last year’s West Coast riders will be returning. Team Honda’s Andrew Short will be showing up to give it his all for the Championship again, as will Team Red Bull KTM’s Nathan Ramsey. Last year both were consistent front-runners.

Another notable racer is 2005 East Coast Champion Grant Langston. He’s going to be looking to complete the coasts before moving up to the Supercross Class next year, while his young rookie teammate Ryan Villopoto will also be joining him out west.

As for Team Yamaha of Troy, they were absent from the press activities; however, their two riders out west will be Brett Metcalfe and newcomer Andrew McFarlane.

In other Supercross Lites Class news, during the press conference last year’s Arenacross Champion Darcy Lange was awarded his championship ring, and as it turns out he will be competing in his first full season of Supercross Lites competition. “I’m really excited about it,” Lange said. “It has been my lifelong goal to race Supercross, and Kawasaki gave me the opportunity to do it. They are supporting this team 100 percent. Pro Circuit has built us an awesome motor and suspension, and the whole Richmond team is coming together. It’s pretty much the same team that I have always ridden for, but we are prepared for Supercross this year. I feel like I have a really good shot at doing well at this, so I’m going to go out and give it 100 percent.”

As for what the entire year holds for the Arenacross Champ, he says it’s back to Canada for the summer. “That’s the plan so far,” Lange said. “I ride for Richmond; it’s a Canadian-backed team and I kind of have to go up there. It’s fun though, there are a lot of good tracks, a lot of muddy tracks, until I get a ride down here I’ll be doing that.”

Thursday’s press day was a short one for MotoworldRacing.com’s Justin Brayton. After entering the track at the tunnel, he made it about as far as home plate before the engine on his Yamaha came to a screeching (literally) halt. When we caught up to him in the pits, he said the guys at the race shop were already working on a new one.

With no Friday practices this year (which most of the factory riders seem to love, and privateers seem to hate), Fridays are reserved for team parking and setup. It seemed like few riders planned on visiting the track, and instead will try to find spots to do some light riding on Friday to stay loose for Saturday.

I have a bunch of strengths. I think the thing about James is the unknown right now. All I’ve done is just try to prepare for him to be there every weekend, and I’m ready to do battle. What ever happens will happen, but I really feel that I have a great shot to be there at the end—I really do. What ever happens is what happens, that’s just the way things go. Obviously, I hope and I feel that I really have what it takes, but I think it is crucial that I am in the right place in the right time. I kind of need to make my own luck.

How much longer do you see yourself racing?

I have an option for ’07, but right now I have nothing in stone for ’07. The great thing is that I have the option. I want to take this year first. I’ve really had a great off-season training, and I really feel good. I haven’t had much time to think about ’07, but as the season wears on I’ll think about it. Right now I’ve just been really focused on training; who knows where ’07 will lead, it’s just up in the air. I have the option to go so we’ll see.

If this is your last year racing would you want to still stay involved with the team?

Absolutely, I want to train the younger riders, and try to get them on the right foot. If there are good guys, that work hard, it will create better racing. I just want to set a good example.

As far as the Supercross Lites class goes, a few of last year’s West Coast riders will be returning. Team Honda’s Andrew Short will be showing up to give it his all for the Championship again, as will Team Red Bull KTM’s Nathan Ramsey. Last year both were consistent front-runners.

Another notable racer is 2005 East Coast Champion Grant Langston. He’s going to be looking to complete the coasts before moving up to the Supercross Class next year, while his young rookie teammate Ryan Villopoto will also be joining him out west.

As for Team Yamaha of Troy, they were absent from the press activities; however, their two riders out west will be Brett Metcalfe and newcomer Andrew McFarlane.

In other Supercross Lites Class news, during the press conference last year’s Arenacross Champion Darcy Lange was awarded his championship ring, and as it turns out he will be competing in his first full season of Supercross Lites competition. “I’m really excited about it,” Lange said. “It has been my lifelong goal to race Supercross, and Kawasaki gave me the opportunity to do it. They are supporting this team 100 percent. Pro Circuit has built us an awesome motor and suspension, and the whole Richmond team is coming together. It’s pretty much the same team that I have always ridden for, but we are prepared for Supercross this year. I feel like I have a really good shot at doing well at this, so I’m going to go out and give it 100 percent.”

As for what the entire year holds for the Arenacross Champ, he says it’s back to Canada for the summer. “That’s the plan so far,” Lange said. “I ride for Richmond; it’s a Canadian-backed team and I kind of have to go up there. It’s fun though, there are a lot of good tracks, a lot of muddy tracks, until I get a ride down here I’ll be doing that.”

Thursday’s press day was a short one for MotoworldRacing.com’s Justin Brayton. After entering the track at the tunnel, he made it about as far as home plate before the engine on his Yamaha came to a screeching (literally) halt. When we caught up to him in the pits, he said the guys at the race shop were already working on a new one.

With no Friday practices this year (which most of the factory riders seem to love, and privateers seem to hate), Fridays are reserved for team parking and setup. It seemed like few riders planned on visiting the track, and instead will try to find spots to do some light riding on Friday to stay loose for Saturday.