Supercross Press Conference Notes and Quotes

Here’s a collection of quotes from Thursday’s press conference at Anaheim. The scene was the usual mix of excitement and anticipation, but this year brought a few new elements, with the strongest 250cc class in years, and the X factor…in this case, the possibility that the U.S. season-opener could be a mud-fest.

Interest from the non-moto press was high, with Shav Glick from the L.A. Times, The O.C. Register’s Damian Dottore (who are both very motorsports-friendly), as well as plenty of TV and other writers.

During the press conference, both Chad Reed and Heath Voss were presented with their championship hardware. Reed scored a heavy-duty championship ring for his AMA title, while Voss got both a championship ring, and a gold medal from the FIM for his World Supercross Title.

While the Dirt Wurx crew were hard at work outside, and already completed portions of the track were covered in heavy plastic, here’s a little bit of what was seen and heard inside…

Jeremy McGrath

The last time I was at this table I was crying and retiring, so it’s a lot different now. I am proud to be a part of Team Honda, and excited about the year. As far as my expectations go, I am looking to get a good start. I think I have been doing plenty of riding. I don’t want to go into any excuses of this being a comeback; it is a comeback of sorts, but I miss racing and I’m excited to be here.

My passion is riding, that is all I ever do still. I have a lot of fun. I like getting to ride with my friends, and do all the stuff that I couldn’t do before, but it’s just not the same. I wanted to test myself, and I wanted the challenge. Obviously, with this pack of riders this year — and plenty more who are not at this table — it is going to be a great season, and I am glad to be a part of it.

I suppose if I would have known I was going to make a comeback, I suppose last year would have been good because it wasn’t as stacked. Now, there is plenty of competition this year, and it is just a personal challenge for me. I’m not here to claim that I’m going to be the victor. I just want to join the race, have fun and test myself, and hopefully the work that I have been doing is going to show.

I want to make this low pressure, and obviously if I can battle up front that will totally make me happy. I’m going to race and have some fun. I expect a lot from myself, but no matter what happens come Monday, I’m not going to get fired! (laughs)

I have been doing the same thing that all of these guys have been doing. I’ve been putting in a lot of time on the test track, and doing a lot of motos.

Travis Pastrana

This year things are going to be a little different. I broke my wrist a couple of months back, so I haven’t had the bike time that these guys have had. Haven’t had a lot of testing on the bike, so I am just going to go out there and have some fun, and try to finish the first couple of races! I know that sounds like a really low goal, but pretty much for me just staying on two wheels and having a good time, and try to limit the damages. Maybe after the first four or five rounds, or a couple of months into this thing, I hope to be battling up front.

I have always done my homework and the training, I just have a lot of extra-curricular activities that I usually do afterwards. Right now, this is where I want to be; I want to race supercross. Freestyle is fun, it really is, but right now cars and freestyle are on the backburner. All I want to do is go out there and be competitive with these guys. Shoot, I figured this year when I started getting healthy in October and then I got hurt, that I would just take another year. But that is what I have been doing, trying to get healthy every year. But look at this lineup here, and you have guys like David Vuillimen and Sebastian Tortelli who aren’t even up here. This is the best year osupercross history and I want to be a part of it. I have a great team with Suzuki this year, so I just want to have a good time, and I hope to be there all sixteen rounds.

The bone structure of my wrist is 100%, the big problem was the major dislocation of all the ligaments and stuff. So basically, all the cast is for is to hold my wrist in place. I will have it on all year. I call this the racing brace, supportive fast mechanism (laughs). The big thing that affects me is the lack of riding time. Everything is holding together great, I started riding hard two weeks ago, and it is not half as much as the top guys in the world are doing day-in and day-out. I haven’t really set my expectations that high. In the past, I have said that I will either go out there and win or crash, and that just can’t be my philosophy this year. I need to just take what I can get, and hopefully in a couple of weeks I will be able to run with these guys.

If I win a main event, I don’t think anyone is going to say, “Uhhh, you can’t do any tricks! But that is a long way off right now, I’ve got to go out there and live first, that is the goal.

Suzuki has stepped up this year and basically built factory Suzukis. Jeff Cernic, longtime sponsor and owner of Cernics, one of the best Suzuki shops in the country, has supported me my whole life. I just use all of the guys that I want to be a part of this. There is not one of my sponsors that I am just running just because, I am running everything because it is what I want to run. Instead of being restricted to run what the team runs, I just run whatever I want to. We really have the best of all worlds going for us.

The Winter X games are definitely out of the question this year. It is too cold! Summer X is after supercross, so we will deal with that when we get there.

Kevin Windham

It was a great season last year and Chad rode great. It was nice to be back to Supercross again. A lot of people questioned how it would be for me and I think it went better than expected. It was a great season for me to build along even more. This is the year where you have to have had those building blocks. I think that everybody can’t wait for these season, and we aren’t going to let anyone down. It has been a good year for me. There has been a lot of other stuff going on, but I have been able to keep my focus annd be on a good team with good surroundings, so I am ready to go.

My preperation has been changing somewhat, even before the hype was being built up. I have a new training program, but it has been really good and I am happy about it. My bike is working great. I have been dealing with some personal issues, like the birth of my daughter. It went smoother this time; our first daughter was premature, so that was a little bit of a hurdle to get over. But everything is going well, I know that the family is in good hands and I can go out there and do my job, and I am prepared for it.

You definitely have to take what you can get and put yourself in a positive environment, whether you are on the track or off. Riding has inevitable risks, but you can’t really go out and make something happen that is just not there for you. But with the talent that is here, saying that you are going to go out and be on the podium every week is going to be a tough feat. Consistency is going to play a huge part, along with getting a good start.

I don’t think that the bike differences (from a 250 to 450) play a part on anything but the positive. I think that I can always get a great start on it, and I am confident in my starting ability. As the bike gets older the testing gets better, and I think that I am riding better as well. To say that I am at a disadvantage because I am on the four stroke is completely inaccurate. I think that it is better, and there are going to be more and more guys riding them. They say that it is the best bike outdoors, and I am here to prove that it is pretty darn good indoors as well.

My mechanic is a guy named Brent (Myron), he just moved over to Honda and worked in house. We did some testing together before and things went well, he really impressed me. I didn’t know what to expect, but I have spent several days with him and we have really come around. Coming into the season right now, we are on the right page with each other, and he is going to be the guy. I don’t think this is a part time position, I think he may fill the shoes for me for hopefully the rest of my career.

I don’t feel like there is that much to really talk to me about. I took a lot of time off to prepare for my second child, and I didn’t really do any races.

We all have great respect for each other, and we are all confident going off a triple along any one of these guys, or any of the other riders on the track for the main event. Accidents do happen, but we take every precaution possible to ensure our safety. Part of being a professional is being able to channel your focus when you take off. I love my family like no other, there is no doubt that they are the most important thing, but I don’t feel like doing my job is a lack of love for them.

I took a lot of time off this year by not doing a lot of extra races. Reality then set in that I needed more time off, so I took it. I realize that I have a job to do indoors and outdoors, and to do extra events may not be good for certain people, depending on what stage of life they are in, or where your drive and motivation is.

James Stewart

There are a lot of guys out there that are not at this table — David Vuillemin and Ernesto Fonseca — all these guys that are capable of winning races that are not here. I am not looking at just the people at the table as who I have to beat, I am looking at everybody. It’s going to be good, I am really excited to be out there.

I think anything is possible. We’ll find out. I don’t think that I am in the same situation as a few years ago — I was only 16 then. I think that I learned a lot last year. I win a lot more races than I crash out of, so just look at my stats.

It’s all a new challenge. I have been prepared for a while. I think people have forgotten that I know how to ride a motorcycle. Coming up on the 250 has been an easy change for me from 125’s. I am definitely excited, but for sure no more excited than the rest of the guys here.

I don’t think it’s about luck, it’s more about confidence. I train to win the championship. (McGrath leans over to speak to Reed). Excuse me, are you talking? I don’t talk when you talk! (everyone laughs)

I don’t look at a track as just a double, double, double. I look at it as totally different. That’s how I ride. I think that what separates me from the other guys. I was like that on 125’s; I would always be the first to try something new. But there is a difference between trying something that is do-able, and trying something that is totally stupid.

It’s funny, I went to Lake Elsinore a few weeks back to practice. As I was coming in, I was on the list and I told the lady I was James Stewart. She looked on the list, and said there was no James Stewart on it. So I paid the $50, no big deal, and when I was on the track they came over to me later and said, “No, you are on the list as Bubba Stewart! (laughs). So I got my money back! But I don’t think there is ever going to be a point where people know me as James Stewart, I think it will always be James Bubba Stewart. Maybe when I get into something else, I will drop the Bubba and just go by James Stewart.

Ricky Carmichael

I think I am ready. I am comfortable, and I had a great off-season. Training went well. I have done everything I can do at this point. I have tried to better my riding. It has been a while since I have raced at Anaheim. I know there is a lot here to prove that it is pretty darn good indoors as well.

My mechanic is a guy named Brent (Myron), he just moved over to Honda and worked in house. We did some testing together before and things went well, he really impressed me. I didn’t know what to expect, but I have spent several days with him and we have really come around. Coming into the season right now, we are on the right page with each other, and he is going to be the guy. I don’t think this is a part time position, I think he may fill the shoes for me for hopefully the rest of my career.

I don’t feel like there is that much to really talk to me about. I took a lot of time off to prepare for my second child, and I didn’t really do any races.

We all have great respect for each other, and we are all confident going off a triple along any one of these guys, or any of the other riders on the track for the main event. Accidents do happen, but we take every precaution possible to ensure our safety. Part of being a professional is being able to channel your focus when you take off. I love my family like no other, there is no doubt that they are the most important thing, but I don’t feel like doing my job is a lack of love for them.

I took a lot of time off this year by not doing a lot of extra races. Reality then set in that I needed more time off, so I took it. I realize that I have a job to do indoors and outdoors, and to do extra events may not be good for certain people, depending on what stage of life they are in, or where your drive and motivation is.

James Stewart

There are a lot of guys out there that are not at this table — David Vuillemin and Ernesto Fonseca — all these guys that are capable of winning races that are not here. I am not looking at just the people at the table as who I have to beat, I am looking at everybody. It’s going to be good, I am really excited to be out there.

I think anything is possible. We’ll find out. I don’t think that I am in the same situation as a few years ago — I was only 16 then. I think that I learned a lot last year. I win a lot more races than I crash out of, so just look at my stats.

It’s all a new challenge. I have been prepared for a while. I think people have forgotten that I know how to ride a motorcycle. Coming up on the 250 has been an easy change for me from 125’s. I am definitely excited, but for sure no more excited than the rest of the guys here.

I don’t think it’s about luck, it’s more about confidence. I train to win the championship. (McGrath leans over to speak to Reed). Excuse me, are you talking? I don’t talk when you talk! (everyone laughs)

I don’t look at a track as just a double, double, double. I look at it as totally different. That’s how I ride. I think that what separates me from the other guys. I was like that on 125’s; I would always be the first to try something new. But there is a difference between trying something that is do-able, and trying something that is totally stupid.

It’s funny, I went to Lake Elsinore a few weeks back to practice. As I was coming in, I was on the list and I told the lady I was James Stewart. She looked on the list, and said there was no James Stewart on it. So I paid the $50, no big deal, and when I was on the track they came over to me later and said, “No, you are on the list as Bubba Stewart! (laughs). So I got my money back! But I don’t think there is ever going to be a point where people know me as James Stewart, I think it will always be James Bubba Stewart. Maybe when I get into something else, I will drop the Bubba and just go by James Stewart.

Ricky Carmichael

I think I am ready. I am comfortable, and I had a great off-season. Training went well. I have done everything I can do at this point. I have tried to better my riding. It has been a while since I have raced at Anaheim. I know there is a lot of hype around this race, but there are 16 races. I want to be the guy at Vegas! It is a long time.

To look back, I am just glad to be back racing. Being gone, I realized what I have and how much I have a choice to be here. It is going to be a fun year to be a part of and I am really excited.

I think that in the situation we are in right now, I have been happy that I (raced the World SX rounds) from the start. Especially since we aren’t riding until Saturday, I am really happy because I know what my bike is going to do, I know how it is. I haven’t been on the West Coast riding, I have been back home where the weather has been good. I had a blast up there, it was definitely a good thing considering the situation this weekend (with the rain).

I think that Honda has had a lot of success, they are a great company. I have a lot of friends there that I still talk to, and I have no regrets. Things just didn’t work out there. I think that Honda has always won, and it is where I wanted to go. They didn’t buy me, it was my decision. People think that Honda has so much money that they buy their champions, but that is not the way it works.

“I am kind of the underdog, I’m not the defending champion, and everyone likes an underdog! I think it is a good situation to be in. I think that I am as good as I was in ’01 when Jeremy was racing.

“I’m not gonna sit up here and run my mouth, because if I don’t back it up, then I have some big boots to fill and I’ll be eating mad crow. I know what I’m capable of. There are great riders out here, but it is a long season. I know what I can do. Yeah, I think I can win. My bike is good, and I think that I put myself in the best position. I am going to do what I can do. If Bubba is going to quadruple some section, go for it. I don’t care, I’m doing my own thing. When he wins 108 races, then he’s the man. But he probably will. I have said before that when he gets it figured out, the guy is unbelievable. I love to watch him ride, and when I am gone and done from this, things are going to be long for everybody. But I feel like I have a few more good years in me, and I am going to do the best that I can do. If it’s enough, it’s enough. If it’s not, I have no problem admitting that.

Heath Voss

The Yamaha guys have decided to put me out of their truck for the first four or five races to see how things go. But it is going to be a big opportunity for me to ride out of the Yamaha truck, and I just need to go out and do some good riding.

I’m not as good of a rider as all of these guys here (at the table). I started racing when I was 13, the first time I saw this was on ESPN and I knew that it was what I wanted to do. My mom and dad didn’t want anything to do with motorcycles, because they are dangerous. But I got a bike, loved it and rode it everyday. I knew that I wanted to race as a professional someday, but I never thought that I would be doing this for a living. Every year I get better and better.

Mike Larocco

I don’t really care, none of this stuff (press conference) really matters. I would just as soon not be the guy who has to deal with all of this. I just like to race and not worry about all this stuff. Honestly, I know the bar is going to be raised, and I just want to see that I am capable of passing it. Coming into this season with the expectation of these guys, I am just going to see what I can do.

Michael Byrne

Testing has been really good. Is has been good to have James (Stewart) on the team and to have a second person’s input on the bike. Last year it was just me, so it’s a lot better now. We have Craig Decker, our test guy, and last year he was injured so he couldn’t really test for us. But we have done a lot of testing this year and we have a great bike.

Everyone is in the same boat. None of us like rain, but if iit happens then we just have to deal with it. That is the way it is, because everyone has to ride the same track. You have just got to enjoy it. There is not much to do in a mud race; you basically just survive, and try to get out of this weekend.

We have been done testing for a little bit, we have been through for a couple of weeks now so it is good that we got everything done before the rain came. I feel really comfortable on the bike. It has been tough not being able to ride the supercross track all the time. I have been riding a little bit of motocross and stuff as well, just getting time on the bike, so it will be good. It’s just one of those races where if it gets muddy, we will just have to deal with it. Next weekend we have a covered roof, so from then on out we will have dry conditions and great racing.

The bike has been changed a lot. Kawasaki has done a great job this year as far as the production bike. I think we have a much better bike, even to start with. The bike is a big improvement and everyone has done a great job with it. They changed the engine, swingarm, linkage and all, so it is a much different bike. I love riding it, though, and I am looking forward to the season.

Ernesto Fonseca

I am just happy to be here, and happy that the season is finally here. I am ready to do some racing. The bike is feeling really good, I am on a 2005 this season. Mitch from Pro Circuit has been helping us a lot, and I think that the bike is a lot better than last year. I am totally ready, and hopefully I can get some good results.

The weather isn’t really in our hands, so hopefully it will be the best that it can be for a mud race or not. I am ready either way. Whatever happens, we are prepared for whatever. Right now, I am totally focused on the supercross season because it is here now, but I am always going to do my best whether we are it is indoors or out.

Sebastien Tortelli

I think that I am about ready. The world round went good, it was too bad that I didn’t end up where I wanted to be. But it went ok, and I am ready to go for this first race. I am riding the 450 four-stroke so we have been testing quite a bit, but I am all set to go.

hype around this race, but there are 16 races. I want to be the guy at Vegas! It is a long time.

To look back, I am just glad to be back racing. Being gone, I realized what I have and how much I have a choice to be here. It is going to be a fun year to be a part of and I am really excited.

I think that in the situation we are in right now, I have been happy that I (raced the World SX rounds) from the start. Especially since we aren’t riding until Saturday, I am really happy because I know what my bike is going to do, I know how it is. I haven’t been on the West Coast riding, I have been back home where the weather has been good. I had a blast up there, it was definitely a good thing considering the situation this weekend (with the rain).

I think that Honda has had a lot of success, they are a great company. I have a lot of friends there that I still talk to, and I have no regrets. Things just didn’t work out there. I think that Honda has always won, and it is where I wanted to go. They didn’t buy me, it was my decision. People think that Honda has so much money that they buy their champions, but that is not the way it works.

“I am kind of the underdog, I’m not the defending champion, and everyone likes an underdog! I think it is a good situation to be in. I think that I am as good as I was in ’01 when Jeremy was racing.

“I’m not gonna sit up here and run my mouth, because if I don’t back it up, then I have some big boots to fill and I’ll be eating mad crow. I know what I’m capable of. There are great riders out here, but it is a long season. I know what I can do. Yeah, I think I can win. My bike is good, and I think that I put myself in the best position. I am going to do what I can do. If Bubba is going to quadruple some section, go for it. I don’t care, I’m doing my own thing. When he wins 108 races, then he’s the man. But he probably will. I have said before that when he gets it figured out, the guy is unbelievable. I love to watch him ride, and when I am gone and done from this, things are going to be long for everybody. But I feel like I have a few more good years in me, and I am going to do the best that I can do. If it’s enough, it’s enough. If it’s not, I have no problem admitting that.

Heath Voss

The Yamaha guys have decided to put me out of their truck for the first four or five races to see how things go. But it is going to be a big opportunity for me to ride out of the Yamaha truck, and I just need to go out and do some good riding.

I’m not as good of a rider as all of these guys here (at the table). I started racing when I was 13, the first time I saw this was on ESPN and I knew that it was what I wanted to do. My mom and dad didn’t want anything to do with motorcycles, because they are dangerous. But I got a bike, loved it and rode it everyday. I knew that I wanted to race as a professional someday, but I never thought that I would be doing this for a living. Every year I get better and better.

Mike Larocco

I don’t really care, none of this stuff (press conference) really matters. I would just as soon not be the guy who has to deal with all of this. I just like to race and not worry about all this stuff. Honestly, I know the bar is going to be raised, and I just want to see that I am capable of passing it. Coming into this season with the expectation of these guys, I am just going to see what I can do.

Michael Byrne

Testing has been really good. Is has been good to have James (Stewart) on the team and to have a second person’s input on the bike. Last year it was just me, so it’s a lot better now. We have Craig Decker, our test guy, and last year he was injured so he couldn’t really test for us. But we have done a lot of testing this year and we have a great bike.

Everyone is in the same boat. None of us like rain, but if it happens then we just have to deal with it. That is the way it is, because everyone has to ride the same track. You have just got to enjoy it. There is not much to do in a mud race; you basically just survive, and try to get out of this weekend.

We have been done testing for a little bit, we have been through for a couple of weeks now so it is good that we got everything done before the rain came. I feel really comfortable on the bike. It has been tough not being able to ride the supercross track all the time. I have been riding a little bit of motocross and stuff as well, just getting time on the bike, so it will be good. It’s just one of those races where if it gets muddy, we will just have to deal with it. Next weekend we have a covered roof, so from then on out we will have dry conditions and great racing.

The bike has been changed a lot. Kawasaki has done a great job this year as far as the production bike. I think we have a much better bike, even to start with. The bike is a big improvement and everyone has done a great job with it. They changed the engine, swingarm, linkage and all, so it is a much different bike. I love riding it, though, and I am looking forward to the season.

Ernesto Fonseca

I am just happy to be here, and happy that the season is finally here. I am ready to do some racing. The bike is feeling really good, I am on a 2005 this season. Mitch from Pro Circuit has been helping us a lot, and I think that the bike is a lot better than last year. I am totally ready, and hopefully I can get some good results.

The weather isn’t really in our hands, so hopefully it will be the best that it can be for a mud race or not. I am ready either way. Whatever happens, we are prepared for whatever. Right now, I am totally focused on the supercross season because it is here now, but I am always going to do my best whether we are it is indoors or out.

Sebastien Tortelli

I think that I am about ready. The world round went good, it was too bad that I didn’t end up where I wanted to be. But it went ok, and I am ready to go for this first race. I am riding the 450 four-stroke so we have been testing quite a bit, but I am all set to go.

but if it happens then we just have to deal with it. That is the way it is, because everyone has to ride the same track. You have just got to enjoy it. There is not much to do in a mud race; you basically just survive, and try to get out of this weekend.

We have been done testing for a little bit, we have been through for a couple of weeks now so it is good that we got everything done before the rain came. I feel really comfortable on the bike. It has been tough not being able to ride the supercross track all the time. I have been riding a little bit of motocross and stuff as well, just getting time on the bike, so it will be good. It’s just one of those races where if it gets muddy, we will just have to deal with it. Next weekend we have a covered roof, so from then on out we will have dry conditions and great racing.

The bike has been changed a lot. Kawasaki has done a great job this year as far as the production bike. I think we have a much better bike, even to start with. The bike is a big improvement and everyone has done a great job with it. They changed the engine, swingarm, linkage and all, so it is a much different bike. I love riding it, though, and I am looking forward to the season.

Ernesto Fonseca

I am just happy to be here, and happy that the season is finally here. I am ready to do some racing. The bike is feeling really good, I am on a 2005 this season. Mitch from Pro Circuit has been helping us a lot, and I think that the bike is a lot better than last year. I am totally ready, and hopefully I can get some good results.

The weather isn’t really in our hands, so hopefully it will be the best that it can be for a mud race or not. I am ready either way. Whatever happens, we are prepared for whatever. Right now, I am totally focused on the supercross season because it is here now, but I am always going to do my best whether we are it is indoors or out.

Sebastien Tortelli

I think that I am about ready. The world round went good, it was too bad that I didn’t end up where I wanted to be. But it went ok, and I am ready to go for this first race. I am riding the 450 four-stroke so we have been testing quite a bit, but I am all set to go.