The coming of Hangtown MX each year means that a handful of rookies will make their professional debuts. Troy Lee Designs/GoPro/Red Bull/KTM’s Sean Cantrell is one of those rookies, and he’s feeling plenty of excitement for his first race. After a successful amateur career with the team, including a win in the Lites class during the 2016 AMSOIL Arenacross season in Birmingham, AL, as part of the Ricky Carmichael Road to Supercross. Here’s what the talented young amateur rider had to say about taking the next step in his racing career.
We’re just a few days away from you pro debut, how does it feel?
We’re a couple days away from my first professional race. The nerves are starting to kick in. I’m just anxious; I guess wouldn’t really call them nerves. I’m super excited and I’m ready to take the next step in my career. I’m really looking forward to it; I’ve been looking forward to this for over a year now. I did all of the work in the offseason and leading up to this point. I feel ready and better than ever. I’m really excited and I’m looking forward to it.
Over this last year, you’ve said you wanted to go pro a couple of times and it just hasn’t worked out until now, what have you done to be ready and who have you worked with?
I’ve wanted to go pro a couple of times, but I just didn’t feel mentally ready. Physically I felt pretty good, it was just mentally I couldn’t get myself out there. I wanted to go professional after Loretta’s last year and at Anaheim this year. With both of those, I didn’t feel like I was ready, so a lot of people around me thought it would be better to wait it out until I’m one hundred percent ready. I’ve been working with Kyle Lewis on the track and Tyler Kalisiak in the gym. Both of those people have been helping me out quite a bit off of the bike. I’m definitely physically ready, so I’m just ready to put all of the pieces together and test out where I fit in. I don’t know where I stack up against these guys, but I think that’s a good thing. I’m going to go out and expect the best. We’re just going to have some fun and wherever I finish we’ll try to improve. We’re going to try to improve every week and see through to the finish.
So no real high expectations? This isn’t a deal where you need to come out and do top fives right away?
Right, I’m not going into Hangtown looking for a podium finish. Obviously, that’s what we all want to do, but personally, I’m going out there doing what I know I can do. As soon as I get out there and do that, we’ll be happy. I’d just like to keep it fun, it’s a lot of pressure, but I’m just looking past that. I’m going to keep it exciting. It’s a big step, so I’ve got a lot of good people in my corner. We’re going to have some fun and kill it.
There are a lot of good, experienced guys on the team with you. Have they shared any advice with you at all?
We have Shane McElrath, Mitchell Oldenburg, Alex Martin, and Jordon Smith on the team. Obviously, those guys have had a couple of years of experience. All of the mechanics have been there, really everyone’s been there. I’ve definitely been asking questions, and I’ve been seeing them at the practice tracks quite a bit. I’m happy with where we’re at and we’ve got the bike dialed in. I don’t have the experience, I haven’t been to most of the tracks on the circuit. I’m sure questions will be flowing through the year. We’re just learning. The first two tracks are luckily more hometown tracks. Glen Helen is the hometown track, but I’ve been to Hangtown a few times. Obviously, it’s a different schedule as a pro, so we’re learning from the moment we wake up to the checkered flag. We’re just going to have some fun, and it’s a whole new experience. I’m super excited, to say the least.
Is there one track you’re looking forward to the most?
Everyone talks about RedBud. RedBud is probably the biggest exposure-wise. Plus it’s Fourth of July weekend, so you want to be out there to do it and represent the red white and blue. That’s a cool one. Southwick is a really big one as well, but I think for me it’s Hangtown. There’s so much hype around it and you just want to go out there and start the summer off right and get on the right track. I’m getting more excited with every weekend. It’s finally come, the waiting is finally over, and we’re ready to get out there with the number 129 and Cantrell on the back.