Larry Ward’s name is synonymous with motocross. He has been competing in the sport for well over a decade and throughout his career, he has always been on top of his game. Larry’s results have always been consistent. At 31-years old, the rider that we all know as Big Bird is about to show his face on the 125cc circuit again, but will it be for SX or MX? Larry rang the TWMX office today to fill us in on what he has been doing since we last saw him at Steel City. Big Bird’s positive attitude is one of the reasons he will always get the job done. Here is how our conversation went.
TransWorld Motocross: We hear that you are going to be racing the Eastern Region 125cc Supercross series. Is that true?
Larry Ward: I don’t know. I can’t comment on that right now. I am not going to confirm or deny it!
TWMX: Why can’t you comment on it? Is it a contractual thing?
LW: No, I just don’t know if I am going to be there for sure or not. I just don’t want to say I will be there and not show up.
TWMX: What have you been doing with yourself?
LW: Since Steel City I went on a three-month hunting binge. I went to New Mexico, Idaho, South Dakota, Illinois, North Carolina and South Carolina. I was hunting everything from ducks to elk for three solid months. Then, when I got back I have just been riding a lot. I have been riding a lot of off road and a lot of supercross stuff. Actually, I have been riding everything. I’m riding with a bunch of good guys John Dowd, Keith Johnson, Gary Hawk and Randy Hawkins. I am just trying to be ready for whatever comes up, whether is Supercross, GNCC, or whatever. I even raced an enduro two weekends ago! I am for definitely riding the 12 outdoor nationals this year on the Yamaha YZ250F for Moto XXX.
TWMX: What do you think about what is going on in Supercross now? The 250 class is off the hook! Would you agree?
LW: I haven’t watched too much, it’s nothing that is too surprising to me. I figure Ricky is only human, he rode the same thing his whole life. Combine that with getting on a new bike with new power, new suspension, new everything, and the results aren’t that surprising. I knew it wasn’t going to be as easy as everybody thought. Then he got hurt at the first race, and that held him back. I think he will get it figured out eventually. The only thing that surprises me about Vuilemin, is that he did not do last year what he is doing this year. I thought last year he would have been better and won more races. In 2000, Vuillemin won six races, I think. He took a year off or something! Jeremy is surprising, I did not expect he would be as far back as he has been. He tried some new stuff in order to better himself to try to beat Ricky. It sounds to me like he lifted to many weights and trained too hard. I am sure he will get through that and figure it out. LaRocco is not too surprising; he’s always been in the top four every weekend. Pastrana to me is the biggest surprise He is doing a lot better than I thought he would.
TWMX: Is there any pressure racing for Moto XXX?
LW: No, there is no pressure whatsoever. Actually, I do pretty much my own thing. My mechanic and I we do our own testing, it is real cool. Moto XXX is an agency that puts the whole thing together. It was really cool last year when I won a national on Team Moto XXX. It was like when I was on Team Noleen,it was just a private team that got some money together and got the best parts they could scrounge up. It’s a lot different than having a three- or four-million-dollar budget! You are expected to win when it’s like that. When you win on a team like Triple X it’s like, “Wow, we won!”
TWMX: Do you feel you can run the pace with the likes of Chad Reed, Grant Langston and Michael Byrne?
LW: Well, I raced Grant last year and I know that if he does not have any problems he will be the man to beat. Chad Reed looks great from the results in 250 Supercross, and so does Byrne, but I have no idea if they will go fast outsidee. I can’t really worry about those guys, I need to be as ready as I can and ride the best I can. I am not going out there with the attitude to win every race; I am going out there to do the very best that I can every weekend. Anything could happen, like with Mike Brown last year in the middle of the season, he just kept doing the best he could. Things happened with Pastrana and Langston and Mike ended up on top. Winning a race is a lot easier than winning a series.
TWMX: Do you think that beating the factory guys at Red Bud last year gave you any extra fire?
LW: No, it didn’t give me any extra drive. I have always tried as hard as I can. Sometimes, you feel more comfortable in a certain situation. I can’t explain why, no one puts more pressure on myself than me. I want to do good for myself, it’s embarrassing to go out there and do bad.
TWMX: What do you think of the rookie sensation James Stewart?
LW: I had heard many stories, that he was really good and that he was just okay. In the last six months he has gone from just okay to super hero.
TWMX: Do you know your Moto-XXX teammate Kelly Smith at all?
LW: No. I hardly know him at all. As far as I know, he is just riding 125cc East Coast Supercross. I think he has a performance clause that he has to reach in order to ride the 125cc Nationals, so I don’t know if I will ever be in the truck with him.
TWMX: Are you looking forward to racing the outdoor nationals this summer?
LW: Yeah for sure, I had a blast last year! I had some really good races and I won a national. I can’t wait to try it again.
TWMX: Did you try to race 125cc Supercross last year?
LW: Last year, after I got done with Kawasaki, I considered trying to ride 125 Supercross because it would be a place where I could still get a good ride. The AMA said I was not eligible and they gave me five or six reasons why, which was fine. I accepted the fact that I was ineligible. After that I just waited. I didn’t want to go out there and not be competitive. Supercross is a little harder than racing outside. You need good equipment in supercross,especially suspension. I just raced the nationals only and I think it was a smart decision. I am in a better position this year because of it.
TWMX: All right, thanks Larry. So maybe we will see you in Indy?
LW: Okay. Maybe. We will see!