Last Words | 2014 Glen Helen MX Press Day Interviews

The kickoff of the 2014 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship is just hours away and anticipation is at an all time high. Between sessions on the track during Thursday’s press event, we spoke with a number of riders on what they think of returning to the famed Glen Helen Raceway, how they’ve spent the weeks between Supercross and the Nationals, and their outlook on the summer ahead. No interview was more than four minutes and the same basic questions were asked to each racer.

Need more coverage from the 2014 Glen Helen MX Press Day? Have a look at our prior posts.

Last Words | 2014 Glen Helen MX Press Day Interviews

Jake Weimer
Monster Energy Kawasaki

How is it being back at Glen Helen?

I think it is good, especially since this is where a lot of the teams are based out of and the history here. It's been here for a while and we lost it for a couple of years, but I think it is good to be here. The track is always good, but it is one of the gnarlier ones. I think for raw motocross, it is good with the elevation.

Does extra time on the track equal extra confidence?

We have spent time here, but I don't think the actual track matters. It'll be prepped so much differently and be way softer and rougher.

How will it be to race in the cooler California weather?

Nothing changes. For the first round, it is nice to not start in 110-degree heat because in the past it has been one of the gnarlier tracks.

With a contract on the line, do you go into the season any differently?

It's the same as normal and whether I need a job or not, I'm going to give it 100-percent. For five years, I had one-year deals and the last few have been two years. Obviously that matters in the long run, but if I'm on the gate I want to do well. That (contract negotiations) doesn't play a part in my mentality going into Saturday. Maybe there is some added pressure because you know what the situation is, but there is no change in my effort.

Justin Hill
Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki

As someone that has never raced Glen Helen, how does it feel to line up here soon?

I'm excited they brought it back. We were at Elsinore and it was good, but I think the dirt is a little better here. It's nice that they didn't replace this round with something further from home, because it is just about 45 minutes.

Are there differences in the layout now compared to standard Thursday practices?

Compared to last year when there wasn't a National, it is so much different. They started to really take care of it and give us a feel for what the National will be like towards the end of Supercross. I think it is pretty similar and we rode the same layout, but there are a few things that have been built-up and there are new rollers and other small things. It is going to be so fun.

It's good. It's not that rough on press day and we all just sent it because we know what it is. But it's fun because we all ride here every Thursday and it's good to race on something we test on.

Are the jumps on the track the biggest you've hit during a race?

Other than LaRocco's Leap, these are pretty big. They built them up pretty steep and they aren't just big, because you sail and they are really long. Versus last year when we only had RedBud with big jumps, this is pretty big.

Does it feel "that fast?"

It feels faster [laughs]. It feels like you are going really fast on the hills. On the uphill, you just sit there and the bike goes, "bahhhhh," all the way up and because it is deep it doesn't feel like you are going anywhere. But it will get hardened up and will be fast, one of the fastest rounds of the year I think.

Matt Bisceglia

Are you familiar with the history of Glen Helen?

Dude, I was here when Ricky fell down the hill on the Kawasaki in 2001 [laughs]. The Tuff Block got moved after the hot lap, he hit it and tumbled down the hill, but still finished like 13th or something after having to re-ride half of the track. As a kid I came down from Oregon for the National and I have attended a lot of them. I am super happy that it is back here, because it is way better than Elsinore was. Elsinore sucked, I'm not going to sugarcoat it.

How are the track conditions?

The track right now is awesome, I had a smile on my face riding it. I think it is the best place in SoCal to have a National and I am pumped to be riding it.

Does it feel "that fast?"

Our bikes our super wound-out. It might be a combination of the tilled track and the speed, but we are going really fast. It might sound that way because we are going wide-open everywhere.

We don't really tune our bikes from one race to another, we have a really good package so it's not much different than what I am used to.

Are there differences in the layout now compared to standard Thursday practices?

Yeah, definitely. It is going to be hard to come back and ride Thursday practices after how good it is now. It is by far the best I have seen this track.

What do you think of heading into Talladega with 39 other riders?

It's going to be gnarly. You'll have to have a good start going into that thing and then do 30-minutes plus two laps as hard as you can. It'll be really rough and I anticipate this to be the roughest race of the year.

Any "oh shit" moments coming down the hill?

Every lap [laughs]. Even in that first session, I had a couple of "oh shit" moments that made it scary, but it's fun.

Jessy Nelson
Troy Lee Designs/Lucas Oil/Honda

How is to get ready to race at Glen Helen?

It's great to be here, because we get to ride it during the year sometimes. It's close to home, so we can sleep in our own beds. Glen Helen did an awesome job getting the track dialed in for the National, and it is night and day different than what it is like on a practice day. This is my first time racing here actually.

Do you have much experience here?

I grew up on the central coast, a few hours north of Santa Barbra, so it's new to me. I never really raced Glen Helen when I was younger, only when there was a regional for Loretta Lynn's. Other than that I never came down this way, so this is my first time racing it as a pro and maybe the fourth time overall.

Are there differences in the layout now compared to standard Thursday practices?

The track now compared to Thursdays is a lot different, because it has been tilled up and is a lot deeper. It's freshly prepped and really wet, where on Thursdays it is harder and rough, but with more chatter bumps and big braking bumps compared to the soft rollers.

Are the jumps on the track the biggest you've hit during a race?

There is a big triple in the back that has been here for a week or so and is pretty gnarly. We go to ride it a few times before today, but it's pretty steep [laughs]. But the landings and the faces are good.

Zach Osborne

How is it to return to Glen Helen after racing here four times prior (two Nationals, two GPs)?

It's awesome because the track is sick. They took out the REM section and all of the stupid big jumps. I didn't mind the switchbacks, but the jumps were too big for realistic race conditions. But the track is awesome and I'm looking forward to it.

Are there differences in this track and its prep during the GPs?

Well during the GPs, I want to say the lap times were 3:30 or 3:40 something, so they were really long. Then did the whole REM section and the side of the hill towards the flag instead of just the center. It's the same place, but the track is a lot different.

One of the years we had the GP it rained and was really muddy, and the other year it was pretty windy. This will be really good I think, because it is going to get rough and gnarly as you would expect.

Are there differences in the layout now compared to standard Thursday practices?

It's awesome now because everything is nice and square, and the jumps aren't "bucky."

Does it feel "that fast?"

It is right now, but is it going to be that fast Saturday? No, because it will be one of the roughest tracks in the world.

Glen Helen is notorious for shadows. Is it as bad as some say?

I don't know, because I never really got that. I raced in Brazil where the sun was in your face, but I don't think that will be a problem.

Trey Canard
Team Honda Muscle Milk

How long have you been in California?

I've been here for a few weeks. It's cool because it is good for testing and to spend time with the team, but personally it's not much fun. Oklahoma is home for me and to be away is not too great. But all in all I like it out here because we get a lot done and I enjoyed my time. My older brother lives here, so we rent a room from him and crash there.

How has the recent time spent on a track you've raced before gone?

It is good and today it is awesome, because typically on a Thursday it is hardpack and marble without much traction. But I think this will be a really good National. I think it will be even for everyone, because it's much different now than a Thursday practice. Being here is good, because in California the dirt is so much different compared to any other place we race.

What do you think of the differences in the 2014 track to 2009?

I think it will make for better racing, because it won't be as spread out or a drawn-out deal. It's not that much different, it's just the old layout without going over the REM hill. I think the track is better because it slows it down a bit, which makes for better racing.

How has training in California's recent spell of unpredictable weather gone?

It was really cool the first week, the second week was blazing hot, and this week has been mild. It's been good and last week was a good training week with the heat, while this week let us get some rest.

Even though you're wearing a chest protector, it looks like you've "bulked up."

I have a chest protector on and I'm at 160 pounds, which I've been in my life. I don't know what the deal is, because the calorie intake is the same, the food is the same and so is the training. It's married weight, I guess I'm getting old [laughs].

You've been on the WADA list all year. What are your thoughts on their participation this summer?

I don't know, I'm on the fence right now because I have yet to be tested. I have gone through a lot of trouble to make my whereabouts know but haven't been tested, which I may be due to my absence from racing. I think that if they are going to do it, then they need to do it. They don't need to randomly select a few guys, but be really certain on who they will do. I don't know how much they will find in this sport, because I don't think there is a whole lot going on, but I think it is cool to see the sport grow this way because in any other sport there is a form of drug testing.

How is to train while on the WADA list and avoid accidental issues?

You have to be careful and have the banned substances list with you, that way you can make sure. It's not much different than my lifestyle before, but I definitely have to be a lot more careful with what I do because there is so much going on. Even natural substances can be cross-contaminated and you can get something in your system you never intended to have. I make sure it has the NSF approval.

Your recent speed as been a widely discussed topic. Does that bring confidence for Saturday, or is it a clean slate when the gate drops?

It's all hoopla until we go racing. I have really enjoyed the time I have been out here and my bike is the best it has ever been. I know that everyone says that going in, but I really feel good about it. I just want to put my best foot forward because I don't think many people are counting on me, so I'll just enjoy this time and have fun.

Phil Nicoletti

What are your past experiences racing here?

Being from the East Coast, we have hills but nothing steep like this. It has been since 2008 that I've raced here, so a long time, but today was a rough day. I had a crash in the first session and it took a while to get used to the dirt and hills. I'm glad I got a little warm-up for Saturday.

How is it to ride a shorter layout than 2008?

I guess for the TV guys making the track shorter is easier because they don't need the big crew, but for moto having a three minute lap time made the motos go by quicker. We will see how it is, because the track will still be long at 2:15 to 2:20. It just depends how the track develops.

Does it feel "that fast?"

It's up there. A 450 is definitely screaming and I could notice the difference between a 450 and a 250. I was behind a few 250s out there and they were at a snail's pace compared to me. The bikes are wide-open, especially on the start and through Talladega.

Are there ever any "oh shit" moments coming down the hill?

It depends, but it will probably be like that during the second moto when it is rough and gnarly [laughs]. But right now, it is really smooth and fun to glide down and feel the elevation.

Josh Grant

You have a lot of history at this track. How is it to come back here and race?

It's exciting because it has been since 2009 since we actually got to race a full, gnarly motocross track [laughs]. I'm just glad that we are not at Elsinore or Pala, that's for sure.

You've spent a lot of time here in recent weeks. How is the layout?

The layout is good. I've grown up racing here and ridden these last few weeks, just like everyone else that has been out here, but I feel like I am riding good. I have been working hard and hopefully it stays good this weekend so that I can make something happen.

The track is much shorter than it has been in the past. Will that help or hurt?

I don't know, because I liked when it went back over to REM. It obviously separated the track a little more and was a lot of fun to go over the hills. I think that made it more of a "National" track. And I want to throw down over the REM hill we get out picture on. But it's just the way the sport is going, with the TV package that they have it is harder to get everything wrapped up in a three minute lap. I'd like to see it longer, but it just doesn't work like that.

Are the shadows as bad as some people say?

It's been a while since I have ridden here late in the afternoon and I think it will be gnarly, but I can't even remember what it is like.

Does the talk of your speed give you confidence going into the weekend or is it a clean slate when the gate drops?

It's a clean slate for everyone. I'm not going to take it too much to heart, but it's cool that people are noticing. It's been a while since I have been able to twist'er open and go for it, so we will see. It only counts on Saturday.

Do you feel like you are going "that fast?"

We are going wide open, as fast as we can possibly go. It's for sure the fastest track on the tour. Down the hills are good now, but on Saturday it will be one of the gnarliest tracks.

Justin Barcia
Team Honda Muscle Milk

You've spent a lot of time in California recently. How was it?

I'm not the biggest fan of California, but I have realized it's necessary to get my bike right. It's been okay, just a lot of driving to the tracks, paying money to ride.

Wait, you still have to pay?

Yeah, at pretty much every track besides Glen Helen. It's alright, because I want to feel the same as everyone else, I'm not special. They know I don't like California [laughs]. I have been super busy putting it in, from nine in the morning til five in the afternoon everyday. I feel like the effort has been good from everyone on the Honda side and myself.

How is Glen Helen?

I like it. On practice days here, it is kind of hard packed and not the best, but today it was loose with cool jumps. I thought in 2009 it was cooler with more hills and the REM track, but I think it will be a good track. It's hard to compare it to any tracks, but it is one of the coolest tracks.

Does it feel "that fast?"

Yeah, there is some fast stuff [laughs]. Coming down the hills you are going fast and on the straightaways you are in fourth or fifth gear, just wringing its neck. There are slow spots, but it's a lot of high-speed stuff.

For someone that has never bombed into Talladega with a gate of other riders, how is it?

It's actually really safe because it is so big. You can space out a little, but it's definitely gnarly because someone could cross a line and you are in fourth gear and going for it.

Are you ever thinking, "Oh, shit," coming down the hills?

I like it [laughs]. All of Florida is flat, but I like this because I grew up in New York a little and there are hills there, like at Unadilla or Broome Tioga. I'm a big fan of the hills.