Ricky Carmichael Media Teleconference

Last week Ricky Carmichael held a media teleconference. Below are excerpts from some of the key questions posed by members of the press during the conference:

On last year, winning a tenth consecutive outdoor title, and being captain of the MXoN team:

Yes, you know, last year was a dream come true, I’ll tell you. It was — I did a lot better than I expected to do. I had a lot of bumps and bruises along the road.

Obviously, I had a lot of bumps and bruises in the Supercross. And still, to come back and win that title was just simply amazing and a great way to accomplish all my goals, and just very — and was very excited about it.

On racing in Canada:

Well, I think that the fans are very gracious, and I enjoy going there. Actually, that’s, you know, the abbreviated schedule that I’m doing. That’s why I picked to do both of those races. I enjoy it. I enjoy the cities. I enjoy the venues.

And, you know, obviously, I think Toronto is a little bit bigger showing than Vancouver, obviously. But I think it’s growing. You know, I think last year with myself and James (Battle) in Toronto. I’m looking for it to be a great crowd and a great turnout.

But the main thing that I can say is just the growth from the two years that I’ve gone, it’s growing and getting to where it needs to be.

On preparing for the parti-time season:

I’m preparing 100 percent like I’m racing the full series. I think in this sport, you — it’s very, very physically demanding. And I don’t want to hurt myself at this day and age.

So, I’m preparing like I’m going to race the whole series.

And the injury is good, you know. I still have to baby it here and there as far as stuff at the gym. But actually riding there’s no pain, and it’s 100 percent riding.

So, everything is going good. And I’m going through my boot camp right now. And training, you have to be fit, so I’m training like I always do.

On which races he will run:

I have decided which Supercross races I’m doing. As far as making an announcement, that’s yet to be determined. So, as soon as I, you know, we come up with the right plan and when we feel the right time is necessary, we’ll do that. But I’ve got a pretty good general idea of which ones I am racing.

I’ve got to at least do 15 more races, so I know I’m going to be doing at least eight to 10 more Supercrosses this year and, obviously, a few outdoors. And I want to do the Motocross of Nations in Maryland. So, that’s the plan.

On his NASCAR schedule:

I’m going to start out doing some late model testing and some ARCA testing, and start out, as far as racing, do some late model racing and see how that goes, and then go on to ARCA after that.

I know that we’re going to start out in the late models, just a lot easier. And actually, Mark Martin’s got some stuff down by Daytona, so it’s easy for me to get down there and drive with him and get the coaching that I need.

But they want me to also get into a ARCA car, too, and test that, because it’s a bit heavier, and it’s more along the lines of what we’re going to be, what our goal is to race someday.

So, but late model and ARCA is going to be most of my stuff going on next year.

On his motorcycle plans beyond 2007:

I’m going to be affiliated with Suzuki. I have a — I signed — I’ll be with Suzuki through ’09, actually, doing some testing, still attending some races, and helping the younger guys out.

So, but as far as actually racing, I’m not sure. I have the option to race some selected events, if I want to. But as far aright now, I have nothing committed after this year to ever race.

On racing Anaheim One (a race he has never won):

You know, I just, I think it’s good to do the first race of any event.

But I think the guys have a lot of trust in me, and I’ve never been the kind of guy that’s just going to go out and take someone down just for a win. You know, those guys are going for a title, and I don’t want to mess anything up. But, man, I’m just — I don’t want to put myself in danger, either.

So, I’m just going to do the best, and hopefully it’ll work out for me.

Yes, that’ll be the last Anaheim race for me. Then I’ll be at the next race in Phoenix, actually. But that will be probably the last Anaheim.

On racing the San Diego Supercross:

I’m not sure yet about that. We’re kind of juggling some stuff. I know that they’ll probably want me down in Daytona. But that one I haven’t committed to yet, just because of that reason.

But San Diego, that race is special for me, because that was the first time I ever won a 250 Supercross. So, I do, you know, I do like that place, so we’ll have to see. I’m up in the air on that one.

On the differences between racing motocross and racing a car:

You know, I think just what you bring to the table. You know, we’re all racers, and I love to race. So, obviously, on the car side, that’s what I bring, and I just have that racing mentality.

But what I find, you know, I’ve always driven the shorter track stuff. And the amount of concentration you have to have is way more in a car than it is on a motorcycle.

For me, you know, a motorcycle, it’s like walking for me, riding a motorcycle. So, when I get in a car it takes way more concentration, and I’m just like tunnel vision. There’s so many things happening and going on.

On watching the MXoN from the sidelines:

You know, it was fun. I was just sick to my stomach when I couldn’t race, when I knew I wasn’t going to race that race, and made the decision not to. It was an awful feeling.

And it’s something — you know, it was cool taking the role that I did, but I wasn’t ready for that role yet. But, you know what, things happen. And it was fun.

I think that I had — gave some good advice. And if I was able to help just a little bit, then I guess it was good for me to be there.

On being the undergod in NASCAR:

Yes, well, I don’t really think that they’ve even underestimated me in the car racing stuff, just because — they’ve actually been very gracious. I’m telling you, you guys wouldn’t believe how gracious people have been to me. I don’t know if it’s because they haven’t raced yet, or what.

But there hasn’t been no underestimating there. And the only things that — it’s just been with open arms from everyone coming there and say, hey, we’re so glad that you’re coming over.

And it’s a great feeling to be involved in a sport that is so big as NASCAR. And everybody knows everybody and everyone treats everyone the same. There’s no entourages getting in the way. They jealous, obviously, isn’t too bad, right now, at least.

I’m sure if I was doing good it would be bad, but it’s just awesome, you know. Those guys are so laid back.

There’s a lot more people talking in that industry, that’s for sure. The respect level is a lot higher, too.

Reflections on last season:

It, you know, it was unbelievable. That was my goal. And that’s why it was so easy to stay motivated, because I knew in my heart, I knew before Canada started, that this could possibly be my last season, you know, last year.

And it wasn’t intended to be that close, that’s for sure. And everyone always forgets about, you know, I spotted those guys 25 points. And it wasn’t because of my doing. It was an unfortunate problem we had with a shock spring.

And it’s just — it’s amazing how people don’t ever — you know, don’t ever remember that. But if it wasn’t for that, I probably would have bagged both, but I got the important ones, and that was the AMA title.

And it just — it was — what an awesome way to go out. I showed up to Vegas. I needed to beat Reed. And I’d been hearing since 2000 — been hearing since 2004 that he was better than me. And I just beat him heads-up.

On going out on top:

You know, the problem, I think — you know, it’s tough as an athlete or as a coach, or whatever. It kind of — it’s a double-edged sword.

When you win you’re like, damn, I think I can go another year. If you’re beat, then you think, well, maybe I could do it next year.

And so, that’s why I’m done competing for a title. I know I’ve had my time, and I feel that the only thing now I can do is tarnish what I’ve done. And I want to go out and race for the love of the sport and race because I love to do it.

And I think it’s time for me now to enjoy what I’ve been able to do, and have fun.

On the favorites to win the Supercross title:

Yes, I think Ivan Tedesco is going to be the heartbreaker this year.

I’ve really focused on trying to get the bike good, and good enough for him to contend for the win and beyond that podium every single weekend. And I think we’ve got it very close.

Roger’s been working very hard. We all have. And I think we’ve got him feeling very comfortable. And I really believe that he can do it. He’s very motivated, you know. He wants to make it a break-through year for him, like he did that first year that he did at Splitfire.

On the future of Supercross and Motocross:

I feel that, you know, with James and him being the first African-American, you know, I think it’s a great story. And I think he has what it takes to take it to the next level. But I also know he has a lot of opportunities.

And I just don’t want — you know, I don’t — I just want — I want the racing to be good. And I think that we need to make a track to make the racing better, at least to where if a guy, a mid-pack guy can get a start, he can lead for 10 laps.

I think that, with that, I think then the sport will keep growing and growing and growing.

I hope it becomes as big as NASCAR someday. It’s provided a great life for me, and it’s what I love. So, obviously, I want to see it do the best.

But I think it’ll keep going. I mean, everyone thought that when Jeremy retired that it would die, and it’s kept going. So, with me not racing, I think it’ll still keep growing.

On Supercross riders learning from drivers in NASCAR:

Oh, no, there is no doubt about it. If there’s one thing that I don’t like about going to the races is the jealousy, the envy, and just everyone. You know, there’s too many people that just — you know, they — that just — you feel so unwelcome. And that can be bad, you know.

It’s not fun for a lot of people. And you can’t just go talk and have a good time. I think the better image you have, it’s better for sponsors. You know, I think that the slicker we dress, the cleaner we look, the better we’re going to appeal to the mainstream.

But that’s just my personal opinion. But that’s the one thing I know that, you know, all the guys — not all the guys, but a lot of guys — in my last season, you know, last year.

And it wasn’t intended to be that close, that’s for sure. And everyone always forgets about, you know, I spotted those guys 25 points. And it wasn’t because of my doing. It was an unfortunate problem we had with a shock spring.

And it’s just — it’s amazing how people don’t ever — you know, don’t ever remember that. But if it wasn’t for that, I probably would have bagged both, but I got the important ones, and that was the AMA title.

And it just — it was — what an awesome way to go out. I showed up to Vegas. I needed to beat Reed. And I’d been hearing since 2000 — been hearing since 2004 that he was better than me. And I just beat him heads-up.

On going out on top:

You know, the problem, I think — you know, it’s tough as an athlete or as a coach, or whatever. It kind of — it’s a double-edged sword.

When you win you’re like, damn, I think I can go another year. If you’re beat, then you think, well, maybe I could do it next year.

And so, that’s why I’m done competing for a title. I know I’ve had my time, and I feel that the only thing now I can do is tarnish what I’ve done. And I want to go out and race for the love of the sport and race because I love to do it.

And I think it’s time for me now to enjoy what I’ve been able to do, and have fun.

On the favorites to win the Supercross title:

Yes, I think Ivan Tedesco is going to be the heartbreaker this year.

I’ve really focused on trying to get the bike good, and good enough for him to contend for the win and beyond that podium every single weekend. And I think we’ve got it very close.

Roger’s been working very hard. We all have. And I think we’ve got him feeling very comfortable. And I really believe that he can do it. He’s very motivated, you know. He wants to make it a break-through year for him, like he did that first year that he did at Splitfire.

On the future of Supercross and Motocross:

I feel that, you know, with James and him being the first African-American, you know, I think it’s a great story. And I think he has what it takes to take it to the next level. But I also know he has a lot of opportunities.

And I just don’t want — you know, I don’t — I just want — I want the racing to be good. And I think that we need to make a track to make the racing better, at least to where if a guy, a mid-pack guy can get a start, he can lead for 10 laps.

I think that, with that, I think then the sport will keep growing and growing and growing.

I hope it becomes as big as NASCAR someday. It’s provided a great life for me, and it’s what I love. So, obviously, I want to see it do the best.

But I think it’ll keep going. I mean, everyone thought that when Jeremy retired that it would die, and it’s kept going. So, with me not racing, I think it’ll still keep growing.

On Supercross riders learning from drivers in NASCAR:

Oh, no, there is no doubt about it. If there’s one thing that I don’t like about going to the races is the jealousy, the envy, and just everyone. You know, there’s too many people that just — you know, they — that just — you feel so unwelcome. And that can be bad, you know.

It’s not fun for a lot of people. And you can’t just go talk and have a good time. I think the better image you have, it’s better for sponsors. You know, I think that the slicker we dress, the cleaner we look, the better we’re going to appeal to the mainstream.

But that’s just my personal opinion. But that’s the one thing I know that, you know, all the guys — not all the guys, but a lot of guys — in NASCAR get along and they work together, because they all want their sport to keep growing.

Where everybody in Supercross wants the sport to grow, but they don’t want to do what it takes to make it grow.

On not having the pressure of winning another SX championship due to the part-time racing schedule:

Ah, man! You have no idea, (Damien), how nice it is just — I’m not kidding you. I think the training has been easier than it ever has. And it’s been — it’s just nice to do my training and know that I don’t have to go through the whole season.

And when I get to the race I can take a step back and do — you know, I can say, hey, I can do this jump today, or I can try this bike setup, because I don’t need to be here at week eight, you know.

So, it’s nice to not have it hanging over my head.

On the importance of being able to run the number four in NASCAR:

Well, I think it would be important just from the marketing standpoint, as far as it — you know, obviously, when I’m out there racing, it don’t matter what number I got on the side of my car, but that’s what we’re hoping for.

But the team that already owns number four, they have a lot of value behind it. They’ve won the Daytona 500 with that number. So, the chances of it happening are slim. But we’ll see. We’ll have to get Mr. Ginn to keep on pushing it.

…But, you know, it’s something that I have no control of, my man.

I mean, I would love to. And there’s so much stuff, you know, like I said, marketing that I have behind it already. But I can only do so much. The teams own the numbers, and if they don’t want to give it up, then, you know, that’s something I have to deal with.

in NASCAR get along and they work together, because they all want their sport to keep growing.

Where everybody in Supercross wants the sport to grow, but they don’t want to do what it takes to make it grow.

On not having the pressure of winning another SX championship due to the part-time racing schedule:

Ah, man! You have no idea, (Damien), how nice it is just — I’m not kidding you. I think the training has been easier than it ever has. And it’s been — it’s just nice to do my training and know that I don’t have to go through the whole season.

And when I get to the race I can take a step back and do — you know, I can say, hey, I can do this jump today, or I can try this bike setup, because I don’t need to be here at week eight, you know.

So, it’s nice to not have it hanging over my head.

On the importance of being able to run the number four in NASCAR:

Well, I think it would be important just from the marketing standpoint, as far as it — you know, obviously, when I’m out there racing, it don’t matter what number I got on the side of my car, but that’s what we’re hoping for.

But the team that already owns number four, they have a lot of value behind it. They’ve won the Daytona 500 with that number. So, the chances of it happening are slim. But we’ll see. We’ll have to get Mr. Ginn to keep on pushing it.

…But, you know, it’s something that I have no control of, my man.

I mean, I would love to. And there’s so much stuff, you know, like I said, marketing that I have behind it already. But I can only do so much. The teams own the numbers, and if they don’t want to give it up, then, you know, that’s something I have to deal with.