After a morning of motos at Glen Helen, we caught up with the five-time Arenacross champ Buddy Antunez. The Blimpie/Suzuki rider was putting in some blistering laps on his factory RM125. Buddy plans on a strong return to the Nationals this summer, and watching him ride, it is obvious that he has done his homework. At Glen Helen the “Bud Man” could be seen dicing it up with AMA’s east coast 125cc champ Chad Reed. The fast Aussie could not shake the former Arenacross champ! Being inspired by his skills, we chased Buddy down and asked him for five minutes of his time. Here’s what transpired in the back of his pickup truck.
TransWorld Motocross: Your Supercross season started off good. At your first race you got on the podium. Did the rest of the series play out as you expected it to?
Buddy Antunez: I think it played out good. I got fourth overall in points. I am pretty happy with my performance. Getting a third at the first round was great. In Minneapolis I had some bad luck and I got taken out in the first turn. I came from last to tenth, which was good. In Atlanta I got a fifth. I was in the hunt, but unfortunately I got sick before Daytona and could not race Daytona or New Orleans. If that had not happened I feel I could have been on the podium more, and possibly been top three, but that is all hind sight now. I gave it everything I had and I am happy with the end result.
TWMX: I know you watched the Arenacross series this year, what did you think of what went down?
BA: To tell you the truth I was a little disappointed. I thought there were going to be more guys that were going to give Demuth a run for it and they let me down. Nobody thought Damon Bradshaw was going to get hurt. When Damon got hurt it opened it up for everybody. Josh is a great rider. I think that given the right circumstances he could be a future rider in Supercross and Nationals. He did a great job. I just wish that the other riders would have stepped it up and challenged him; instead they took a step back.
TWMX: What made you leave Arenacross? Were you lacking motivation? Or, did you just want to move on?
BA: I just wanted to try something different. I did not know if I would get that opportunity again to go back and ride 125’s. If I would have waited a year or two and chased more championships in Arenacross it might not have happened. Suzuki put it out on the table for me, and I wanted to challenge myself as an athlete.
TWMX: Did you think you were lacking anything coming back to Supercross?
BA: My lap times were really good. It was obvious that Chad Reed was a step ahead of everybody. As far as everybody else I think I was competitive. I could have been stronger in the whoops for sure. The whoops in Supercross are made differently than the ones in Arenacross, so it took me some time to adjust. I had been riding the same type of whoops for five years. That was probably my weakest point in racing the series this year.
TWMX: You have not raced the Nationals since 1999. What are your goals for the outdoor season?
BA: In the previous years I would always be coming off the Arenacross circuit. The Arenacross series is a lot of racing and physically demands a lot out of you, so I was kind of tired going into the Nationals in the past. Right now I feel fresh and fast outside! I haven’t raced on the tracks for over two years and I’m pumped to get out there and give it all I have.
TWMX: I saw you out there doing laps with Chad Reed, you were hanging with him!
BA: Yeah, like I said, I feel great! It was a real confidence builder for me to go back and fourth with Chad at a track like Glen Helen. Nobody has really seen him ride outdoors, but for me to go out there and run with him lets me know that I have the speed and our Blimpie/Suzuki’s are able to do the job.
TWMX: How is the mood in the Suzuki camp with no 250cc rider in the last half of the SX series?
BA: I really can’t say. I have not spoken to them too much about it. II am just concerned about doing my job to the best of my ability. Travis and Kevin will be back, and when they do they will be a force to be reckoned with. I hope they get back soon because we definitely miss their presence on the track as well as in the pits.
TWMX: What happens after this year for Buddy Antunez? Is your contract up with team Suzuki at the end of the year?
BA: You know it’s too early to say what I am going to do next year. My contract is up at the end of the year. I am just focused on these Nationals and trying to do the best job I can for my team. TWMX: With the age of the competitive rider increasing, do you see yourself racing in five years?
BA: At this particular point I had planned on racing through next year, and then seeing what is available to me at that particular time. I am not one of those people that want to beat a dead horse. When my speed is not there and I don’t feel I can be competitive, I will be done racing. Hopefully I’ll have made my mark in motorcycle racing and people will remember me. I am hopeful there will be paths for me to go down in this industry when I am done racing.