Travis Preston is one of our sport’s most comedic personalities. If you know Travis on a personal level than you also must know that it requires one cool cat to deal with his shenanigans on a day-to-day basis. Now in his fourth year as the man behind the wrench of Presto’s race bike, Shawn Ulikowski has learned to master the fine arts of tuning and baby-sitting. With one Supercross title under their belts, Shawny and TP are looking to double that total in 2004 with another 125cc SX title. Here’s a peek into the life and mind of another of our sport’s nice guys…
Okay Shawn, let’s get down to business: Most of the fans know Travis as the funny guy on the podium. Knowing him on a more personal level, how would you best describe him?
He’s actually just quiet and keepsto himself most of the time. He works really hard on his riding and training, and doesn’t really hang out with anybody. He’ll pretend like he’s going to hang out with you, make plans with you, and then blow you out. (laughs)
We’ve heard through the rumor mill that you and Travis are the cheapest guys in the world. Does that cheapskate pay you enough?
(Laughs) He actually does a pretty good job of holding up his end of the deal, but yeah, he’s pretty cheap. I get about one lunch a year out of that guy. It typically takes him a month or two to pay me because he’s trying to collect that half a percent interest off my money. (Laughs) He’s got something set up that he contributes to every month, and supposedly by the age of 35 he’ll have a million dollars. We’ll see how that goes.
Travis tells us that you’ve made a bad habit out of buying new things, and then selling them off shortly thereafter. What’s up with that?
(Laughs) Yeah, I’ve been doing that a lot lately. I guess I just feel like if I am not getting enough use out of something, or if I am not getting my money’s worth, I sell it. I actually just bought a CRF250 though. I’ve ridden it a few times already and it’s really good! I definitely don’t plan on selling that! Oh, and also my Intense bicycles. I don’t plan on selling those either.
Funny you bring up the mountain bikes. Travis mentioned that you have a very intimate relationship with those things. Care to explain?
(Laughs) Intimate huh? Yeah, I got into mountain biking pretty hard a couple years back. I met some people from Intense and they hooked me up with some bikes. I try to ride everyday, or whenever possible, but when the season comes around it’s a little harder. I really love to ride though.
How’s the mechanical transition been for you with Travis switching over from the two-stroke 125 to the four-stroke 250?
It’s actually been pretty smooth. Last season, when Travis was hurt, I helped out the Honda guys with Windham and Ramsey’s practice bike motors. Plus, we already had a little bit of experience from when Travis rode the CRF450 in some of the east coast rounds last year. To tell you the truth, I actually like working on the four-stroke a little bit better because it’s a whole new learning curve.
Speaking of working on the bike…What’s the one tool that you can’t live without when you’re wrenchin’?
Hmmm… That’s a good one. I’d have to say my custom, ground down, 32mm Cornwell wrench for the headset. I love that thing!
Is it true that your latest pre-race ritual is knocking Travis’ race bike off of the stand?
(Laughs) You know, I am just trying to get the bike the best that it can possibly be for my dearest Travis, and if that did happen to allegedly occur, I am sure it was simply that the wind came up just the right way and blew it off of the stand. (laughs)
And finally Shawn… What’s your prediction for the 2004 season?
Well, our whole team’s looking good, and I know Travis is working hard, so I think he’s got a great shot at another title. It’ll be a good year!