Catching Up With…Gavin Gracyk

As many are aware, Gavin Gracyk has been put through the wringer with many unique and difficult challenges over the course of the past couple of years. With the loss of his father only days after Gracyk completed his first-ever Supercross race at Anaheim 1 earlier this year, Gracyk’s tuner, Dave Derosier, was struck by a car only weeks later and left in critical condition. Though Gracyk’s 2008 campaign was hindered by personal struggles and injuries, the Ohio native still remains positive and excited for his next challenge–whatever that may be. We caught up with the number 273 of Gracyk this morning to talk about his ’08 season, what he is currently up to, and his plans for ’09.

Looking back on your ’08 season, you were a part of the Troy Lee Designs/Red Bull/Honda team for the Lites West Coast Region SX series and then you made the transition over to the Joe Gibbs Racing Yamaha aboard an YZ450F for the outdoor season. Though you were on board with two respectable teams, result-wise things just weren’t clicking.

It was definitely a blessing to work with the guys on the Troy Lee Designs/Red Bull/Honda team, but it was one of those things where my season simply started off on the wrong foot. As you know, I had a lot of personal battles going on at the time with my dad and my mechanic, Dave [Derosier]. During my ’07 season I was able to spend the entire summer with my pops and Dave. Coming into my first Supercross season, I was testing and training to be as prepared as possible come A1. It was a lot of excitement and a great learning experience. I know that I didn’t light the world on fire, but I did, however, learn a lot and put myself into a position to be better the next time. Like I said, I eventually ran into a few things that I had to deal with, but that’s life, and we all have to deal with difficult things. Though it did crumble my blocks, I was able to get through the season.

When the JGR offer came about, Troy [Lee] understood the opportunity they were giving me and was kind enough to let me step away from the Supermoto program they had so that I could focus on my next goal­–Joe Gibbs Racing. That team has a lot of goals and ambitions, and things were going great throughout the time we were testing. Unfortunately, I got hurt at the Las Vegas Supercross, and it was hard for me to finish up what I needed to, you know? I was in the middle of getting things done, but that injury didn’t allow me to finish my preparation. Once I recovered from that, I again had another injury and it felt like I couldn’t escape the injury ball. After that, I had another crash where I injured my elbow. Needless to say, I was only at four or five outdoor Nationals this year. With the injuries and lack of time on the track, I didn’t have an opportunity to show everybody what I am really capable of. You know how this sport is… It’s what you’ve done lately and not what you can do, which is completely understandable. So right now I am just taking care of my mom, who is having some health issues; and I really didn’t have anything come together that I felt 100 percent confident in. Therefore, instead of going into the season unprepared, I am taking a step back and putting all of the pieces together that will allow me to race Supercross. That fire is still burning inside of me, and if it is stronger than ever it is right now (laughs).

Understandably, you do not want to head into a Supercross season unprepared. With that said, however, is there any chance that we’ll see Gavin Gracyk at a Supercross in ’09?

I can’t say yes or no, but there is always a possibility that I will be at a Supercross. That’s what I do… I race, you know? There is a good chance you’ll see number 273 on the track. I don’t want people to think they’ll never see me again, because that is not the case. As far as Anaheim 1, however, I will not be racing. Will I race any Supercross’ this year? There is a very good chance I will. I haven’t lost sight of my goals, and I am trying to set myself up with the right people and keep moving forward. I’ll definitely be racing some outdoors… Dude I have all kinds of things going on right now, so who knows where I’ll be (laughs). Honestly, though, I’ll be racing, but I want people to know that when they do see me racing, I’ll be on a 450. I’m back with my trainer/nutritionist, Drew Robertson, who has stood by my side since day one. He isn’t just a nutritionist and trainer to me he is a close friend. I am just trying to surround myself with people who believe in me, and I am simply doing the work. There is no other way to do it, right? You get out of it what you put into it.

Bud… It breaks my heart to tell you that I am not going to be lining up at A1 in a couple of weeks. Even though I was riding in the Lites class, it was my first-ever Supercross series and to miss your second year is really difficult…really difficult! But I am trying to be patient and let the Lord place me where he wants me. With that being said, I am going to be at the right place at the right time.

Photo by Lutes

Since getting a taste of Supercross, is that something you thoroughly enjoy?

Oh man, I really enjoyed Supercross! I enjoyed being out at the Honda track riding and trying to better myself. It was just one of those things where I needed more time. I can’t fool myself and go into the Supercross season telling myself I have everything handled because that isn’t the case. Until last year, I didn’t even have the equipment to ride Supercross. There are a lot of pieces to the puzzle that you need to have pieced together before you can go race a Supercross. To go into the season unprepared would be a foolish move. My dad always told me that you go into something prepared; otherwise you wait and tackle the obstacle when you are prepared. There is, however, a fine line to that because you don’t really know what to expect until you go out there and do it. With that said, if I went into the SX season unprepared that would make people think that I can’t ride Supercross. I just need to keep believing and fighting the good fight.

Despite all of your personal struggles you’ve endured throughout the last several years, how have you been able to stay strong mentally?

Man, I think that is because of the grace of God. At the end of the day I can’t give myself any credit because that would be lying. I wouldn’t be where I am today without him. It’s through his mercy and grace that I am able to get through everything that’s been thrown at me.

We haven’t heard much about your mechanic Dave [Derosier] in a while. Are things going okay for him?

Dave is actually doing therapy all of the time and getting a lot better. He is up and about, moving around, riding a bicycle, light jogging; he isn’t what he was, but he is also a lot further ahead compared to where he was in January. It is definitely a blessing that that guy is here. If anybody knows anything about Dave Derosier it’s that he is a fighter and will not give up. He’ll fight through anything, whether it be making a bike go faster or learning to walk again. He is a fighter, and he’ll always be a fighter. He realizes that he is getting better everyday, but that it is also a process.

Photo by Lutes

Although you do not have anything lined up for 2009, have you still been riding this off-season?

Oh yeah. I am actually in the process of getting some bikes put together. However, since I moved back home from North Carolina, I haven’t had a lot of time on the bike because of the weather and taking care of my mom. Right now, however, I am in Northern California and I’ll be heading down to Southern California to do some riding. Plus, the program that Drew has me on is preparing me for my next task. I still have a lot of people supporting me and staying by my side like Glen and Ryan at Cycra, 5-8 Motocross, and everybody else who knows that I have a goal I’m trying to accomplish. I want to make sure that they are all there to see it accomplished. I’m trying to do a few things that my dad used to do. My dad used to help out riders who were a less fortunate to get to all the races. As I would accumulate sponsors, he would talk to them to get donations and use those donations to take a less fortunate kid to Texas, Loretta’s, and help to support that kid with tires, gear, and helmets, anything he could to help that kid get through the year of racing. I told him that I would carry his vision out on that, however, I have yet to do so because I have some personal things that I need to take care of first. But I do plan on doing some riding schools and interacting with the kids. It’s really cool to work with kids and those who just love to ride their dirt bike. These kids that are just learning how to ride will be the future of our sport, and I want to help them accomplish their goals.

I am going to be opening up a track as well, but as far as opening it up to the public that wont happen right away. It’ll be a place for me to train and do my job once the outdoor Nationals roll around. I want to come into the opening around at a 110 percent and use that momentum towards the following season. I want to leave round 12 of the Nationals on a good note that will allow me to instantly start preparing for the Supercross season… That’s basically what’s going on in my life right now, bro (laughs).

If we do see you at a Supercross in ’09, you’ll be on a 450, correct?

Yes sir.

Would you say that you’re more comfortable on the big bike compared to a 250F?

I don’t know what it is, but for some reason I just struggle on a little bike. I’m not saying that I can’t ride a little bike, but I feel like I am in a better position to be on a bike that I’m more confident on. In the Lites class, I am racing guys who are 30 or 40 pounds lighter than I am, and they are able to do things that I may not be able to do. On a 450, however, I have confidence in the bike, and I know that nine times out of 10 it’ll get me over whatever obstacle I am faced with at that particular moment. I think the lowest I got down to was 163lbs, and that was last season. You know what my problem is, though? I like to eat, and when I don’t I get cranky (laughs). When I am racing a 130lb feather on a rocket ship it makes things tough (laughs). I want to be in the 450 class, because that’s where I feel like I belong.