It’s that time of year again when the professional racing season wraps up and the teams begin either searching for new riders or testing with their old ones. As a newcomer to the powerful Amsoil/Chaparral/Honda squad Jake Weimer is one of those new riders that is just beginning to test out his unfamiliar equipment, and getting to know his new team.
This past weekend at the U.S. Open Jake made his professional racing debut, and like most rookies at their first race Jake was nervous. After winning his heat race on the first night of competition Jake went on to finish seventh in the main. The next night—with the butterflies out of his stomach—Weimer went on to take second in his heat and third in the main. All in all, it was an impressive debut for the relatively unknown rider from Idaho.
Between nights at the glitzy Vegas race we caught up with him to see what his thoughts were about his first race, and his upcoming rookie season.
What were your original plans for this year before you got a call from Amsoil/Chaparral/Honda?
Obviously everybody knows about the new Rockstar Suzuki team that is going on. Originally, I thought I had a spot on that so I didn’t shop around. I just went to the races and did my thing, and didn’t really talk to anybody. Then it didn’t work out and I didn’t have a spot on the team, and it was pretty late to be finding a ride. So I talked to these guys (Amsoil/Chaparral/Honda) and they were interested. We had a couple meetings, and went out to the Honda test track to ride a bike. Then I had a contract a couple of days later.
What bike did you ride that day?
I rode one of their bikes. They pretty much just wanted to see me ride to make sure I was legit. It was good though.
How scary was it to get close to the end of the season and suddenly not have a ride?
It was very scary. You get some offers, but you might rather go over here or over there, and I wanted to go over here at Amsoil/Chaparral/Honda. I did have some other offers, but I felt that I wanted to be here. I knew the people here, I knew how they ran their program, and I knew their bikes were good. So I really took a shot at losing all my other offers, it’s kind of rolling the dice. But it worked out, and it was a good thing. It is nerve wracking for sure though.
Would you have ridden another year in amateurs, or what would you have done?
I don’t know… I have no idea. I haven’t had to think about that. I mean I did think about that, and I prayed that that wouldn’t happen just because amateur racing is very expensive—ridiculously expensive. And I just wasn’t in a position to do that again. I felt it was time for me to move up and I wanted to ride Supercross. Luckily it worked out, because I don’t know what I would have done.
Where are you originally from?
Rupert, Idaho. It’s like two hours east of Boise.
How did you go from the local level to the National level?
I don’t know. I really don’t know how I did it. I have a couple of buddies at home that ride that are decent. But really, I ride by myself. My dad is really a big part in how I got where I am, because the local races where I live are really… the competition is not very strong at all. It’s not like California. It’s not like back in Florida and Georgia; it’s not like that at all. I mean, there are not a lot of people that ride in Idaho, there’s not a lot of tracks to ride and really the only thing that saved me was my dad; just him pushing me racing the stopwatch. I went down to California when I was young and saw that those kids were fast. So I went home and worked on that. I went to a couple of Nationals and just kind of went from there. I knew what I needed to do, so I just raced the stopwatch pretty much.
Weather is kind of an issue up in Idaho too isn’t it?
Very much so. In the winteime I would go down to California as much as I could. So that was pretty much how I did it.
How were you able to travel down to California?
We are really, really good friends with the Fasst Company people. And we stayed with Kevin Townsend —he’s in that family. We stayed with him for a couple of winters. We just stayed with friends pretty much. We rented a house one winter, because I had a couple of my buddies come down.
What would you say some of your strengths are in riding?
I’m definitely better at Supercross. It may not show it here at the U.S. Open just because I’m really nervous. But I think in the end I will definitely be better at Supercross. I’m not really good at riding on the edge. I kind of ride my limit, and I have a tough time making myself push over my head. I think in outdoors you need to be able to just pin it sometimes. So with Supersross I just feel a little more comfortable jumping and flowing.
What have you learned so far in your short time with the team?
As far as the racing end goes, I learned that these guys are really good at riding offensively and going forward, but they don’t leave the door open. That’s one thing that I have to work on. Obviously you can’t ride defensively and offensively at the same time. I try to block my lines a little bit too good, and then I end up losing pace with the leaders. I just need to learn to keep the door shut but still hold onto the fast pace. One thing with the team is just that it’s very professional. It’s serious now. We have a good time and it’s all fun. It’s serious and during the week you put in your time and do your job. I did know that, but I guess it’s just experiencing that now.
How difficult of a transition was it to the Honda?
It’s never really been that hard for me. I’ve never really had a hard time jumping off one bike and onto another, but there definitely is a learning curve. I think one thing with this bike is I will gain a lot more confidence. Just because the bike is so much better than what I have ridden before. I think that that gives you a lot of confidence. When you go through the whoops one time and the bike goes straight, then you’re like, “Oh yeah, that was pretty good,” and the next lap you go a little faster. So I think definitely it is going to build some confidence in me to step up my game.
Will you be riding east or west?
West. I was going to ride east but then Tommy Hahn got hurt, and that bumped me up to the west coast. It should be fun though. Those guys on the east coast go really fast but we go really fast over here. I guess I’m just used to the dirt.
Is it cool being here at the U.S. Open and in the same rig with Mike LaRocco and Kevin Windham?
They’re really nice guys and it has really been enjoyable hanging out with everybody. A lot of people kind of get the wrong idea coming to the races, and seeing the rig from the outside. But when you are on the inside it is totally different. Everybody might seem a little uptight, but it’s just because everybody’s… I mean we are clocked in right now. We’re here to do our job. So everybody is pretty serious, and looking forward to racing with out heads down and focusing. I think sometimes people can get the wrong idea, but I have really enjoyed being around everybody. Everybody is really nice and friendly.
So you don’t get star-struck with some of these guys?
No not really. Honestly I do look up to them, but I try to stay away from that just because, if you are so star-struck when looking at Kevin Windham… well I may not be racing Kevin, but I am racing Andrew Short. I’m racing him and if I’m looking at him like that then chances are I probably won’t beat him, but if I put my head down and go, “Andrew Short? Eh…” I mean, I do respect what he has done. He’s a great rider, he’s good, but it’s my job now to put it up there and race with him. So it’s kind of time for me to stop looking at him as so up above me, because I am there now and I need to step up.
job now to put it up there and race with him. So it’s kind of time for me to stop looking at him as so up above me, because I am there now and I need to step up.