This time of year is when all of the press releases start rolling out regarding teams for the following year, but hasn’t been any news about yourself. Do you have any updates for us?
No, there is still no news. It’s a pretty crappy spot to be in for anyone. I’ve been in talks with a few different teams though, and they’re going to go over their finances for the year. It’s just one of those “still waiting” type of answers, I guess. It’s a little bit of a waiting game, and it sucks but there’s nothing I can do except wait.
Besides being injured, would you say that the whole “musical chairs” thing is one of the worst aspects of being a professional athlete?
Yeah, for sure! If you’re a plumber or something like that, you’re pretty much guaranteed that career for life if that’s what you want to do. With motocross racers, you’re only as good as your last race. It’s tough because I missed a lot of races this year and people may not want to take the chance with me because of that. I understand it, It’s just difficult to accept. I’m looking forward to a good, full, and healthy year. That would do wonders for me.
This year was a big rebuilding year for you. You dealt with injuries, got through the recovery and you even managed to put in a few good results at the last few nationals. Do you feel that you performed to your expectations at those last few races?
Not entirely. I wasn’t quite 100%; instead I was probably 85% ready. With the two surgeries that I had on my knee, I think it’ll take a good year to get myself back to 100%. I was having trouble with my confidence in left-hand corner’s, as well because I was scared of dabbing my foot on the ground. During the last few nationals though, I ended up with three consecutive fifth place moto finishes, which was pretty decent along with a few top ten finishes. I was happy to be out there, and it felt so good to be back racing.
What would you attribute your string of injuries to? You never had that problem when you were an amateur.
It sucks because some instances I feel weren’t necessarily my fault. Some of them obviously were, but to answer your question I honestly don’t know. I don’t want to say it’s bad luck because sometimes that’s not the case. Everyone makes mistakes. I guess I would have to say it’s a combination of bad luck and my own faulty decisions.
Looking at the situation that you’re in right now versus the support you had when you were a top level amateur racer, there appears to be more support out there for the amateur kids then the top level pros sometimes, right?
In some cases, yes! When you’re a professional, you’re traveling to the races and the team has to supply your equipment, lodging, travel expenses and so much more, so a lot of money gets spent on accommodations. Amateur racers typically travel around the country with their families in their motorhomes and what not, so there aren’t as many expenses. These days, the amateur support programs are signing kids at a younger age in order to begin the grooming process sooner. A lot has changed since I came through the amateur ranks. It seems that GEICO Honda is going to be the biggest when it comes to signing amateur kids.
Looking into 2017 and beyond, are you open to racing outside of the US?
Obviously it would be ideal to race in America, but if I have to go elsewhere to race dirt bikes I’m completely open to it. As long as I could come back to America to race, I would do it. I would have no problem racing in another country for a year or two so that I could further rebuild myself.
Have you been in contact with any teams overseas?
Stefan Everts text me a while back, but we really didn’t chat that much. I’ve been in contact with a few other teams though.
What kind of mental state does it put you in when you know how capable you are and you know what you’ve accomplished Obviously you can sit back and wait for a fill-in ride because injuries are inevitable, but it has to be insulting to think of yourself as a fill-in rider, right?
Yeah, it’s tough because everyone is pretty much locked in for next year. You really don’t know what route to take. I could do the Josh Grant type route. He took much of the year off and managed to do really well at Daytona when he came back. Shortly after he was in with Monster Energy Kawasaki as a fill-in, and he just recently signed with them for 2017. Or do I just bite the bullet and go for a team with less support? I know what I’m capable of and I know how well I can do it. It’s just a matter of getting some more time on the bike and getting healthy.
You’ve probably received plenty of offers from teams with lesser support, but you’re probably waiting for the right team because you obviously want the best equipment possible, right?
Yeah, exactly. I’ve spoken with the people that I needed to speak with in order to ride for them, and I’ve gone out of my way to show them that I really want this and that I deserve the chance. At the end of the day though, it’s their decision. Obviously I let my agent do most of my business related stuff, but I don’t want to be the kind of rider that doesn’t pull their end of the bargain. It’s not an easy thing to do, but I’ve been calling people any chance I could. It’s an uncomfortable thing, but your career is on the line so it has to be done. You do what you have to do to take care of yourself.
The off-season from this point on is three months. How much of that three months do you need to properly prepare for SX 2017?
I think it could be done properly in two months. October has become the month of Monster Cup, really. Everyone that lines up at the Monster Cup typically takes a week or two off after the race, and then everything gets going again in November all through December. Those two months are pretty important, but I still have a little bit of time. I’m guessing Monster Cup is out the window for me, but you never know. Everything is up in the air right now.
I’ll let you race my Kawasaki if you want.
I don’t know, the suspension may be too stiff (laughs).