Photos and Words by Mike Emery | @emeryphoto
Fresh off his rookie year of professional racing, Yamalube Star Racing Yamaha’s Mitchell Harrison is prepping for what he hopes to be a breakout performance in 2017. Among the many big name pros at Milestone putting down laps yesterday earning their Thanksgiving Day turkey, the new number 45 looked solid and we headed over to the Star box van to chat. Hear all about his move to Florida, his trainer change, and what kind of tunes he’s been into below!
So you're out here at Milestone spinning some Supercross laps the day before Thanksgiving, but fill us in on what you've been up to!
I've just been putting in the work down in Florida, that's where I've spent most of my time. Just putting in the work, doing some little things with the bike – I'm out here testing right now. But mainly down in Florida, I just got my own place and it's been fun.
And where was home growing up?
I'm originally from Michigan.
So what makes you decide on Florida as a base? There are more and more riders living there.
My new trainer, Dylan Turner. That's where he's located but I also love it down there. Tallahassee is one of my favorite spots, so I packed everything up and moved down there!
New trainer is a big change in your program, right?
Yeah, it' a big change for me. I'm really excited to be working with Dylan; I think he can really step up my program.
That's a unique deal for you and the Yamalube Star Racing Yamaha team because every other rider trains with Ryan Swanepoel, correct?
I would say so. It was time for a change, my rookie year I learned a bunch about what I needed and Swanny just didn't offer the services that I personally needed. Dylan is a great trainer and trained Jeremy Martin to a championship so I'm excited to work with him.
So this will be your second year with the team, and it's a two-year contract correct?
Yep, two year deal and last year was my rookie year.
So the rookie year is completed, do you feel good coming into the New Year knowing how much you learned last year?
Yeah, the rookie year was a lot of learning for me and I'm glad I gained all of the experience. Now I know what I'm getting myself into, and I feel really confident and I'm ready to give it all I have in 2017. I'm looking to be a top guy, if not a championship guy.
What do you think the biggest surprises were last year being a rookie?
I had to overcome a lot of just how everything worked with the team, the racing. Supercross was a lot different then I expected. So, I tried to overcome all of it and made some progress and became faster. I got more on the other guys' pace, and at least I know I had the pace last year and now I feel way better so I'm a lot more confident.
So today you're out here testing, but the Florida spot is going to be your permanent base?
Yep, I just came out to California to do some testing with the team. They do a great job with it and we're always making the bike better. I love it out here, but I love Florida too.
So where do you ride out there?
Mainly at Climax Motorsports, which is located in Climax, Georgia right next to Bainbridge. It's a great facility; they have two Supercross tracks and a great outdoor track. I love that place, and there are a bunch of other tracks down there. It's kind of like the California of the East Coast; there are a lot of different tracks I can go to.
I think most people think of the Clermont area where that little hotbed of Florida tracks is, but you are North of them correct?
Yeah, I'm more in like the Florida Georgia Line area. I'm always in Georgia or Florida, I mean we can go down to Clermont but where I'm based is the Tallahassee area.
So do you listen to Florida Georgia Line all day?
(Laughs) I actually do! I love that band. AP (Aaron Plessinger) got me into country music, so I've been listening to that a lot more.
I recently met Tyler Hubbard, the singer of that band. Nice guy, and loves moto.
Really? I know he's a huge motocross fan so that's cool.
You'll have to check a show out sometime or meet him someday!
I hope so!
So who are you riding with on the regular?
Jace Pennington has been down there training for Mini O's, Gannon Audette is based out there so I've been riding with him a bit. Luke Renzland lives about an hour away and has that famous Dreamland track. We have a lot of good riders down there, so it's nice.
So after spending Thanksgiving out here with your family what's the timeline after that?
More riding, definitely just making adjustments with testing. My mom definitely wants to see me, her and my dad are based out of California so when I fly back and forth it's not too big of a hassle. But mainly just testing, getting the bike more dialed in. It already feels great, so we just a few more adjustments to be made. Can't beat that!
Riding Milestone can turn into a stopwatch challenge for every rider and mechanic on the track, but that has to help coming out to ride with all the California pros, right?
Yeah it's good to come out here, especially with all these fast people. It's not just about riding with the fast people though, it's that there are so many riders on the track and it kind of feels like a race. You pass guys, and that can be more beneficial. It's also good to be by yourself sometimes so you can focus on what you need to work on instead of focusing on the others!
So do you know which coast of Supercross you'll ride? Most teams don't know until just before Anaheim 1.
They haven't told me yet; I'm just getting ready and will be prepared for either coast, and I'm excited!
Follow Mitchell on Instagram: @mitchellh45