Catching Up With Mike Brown

Former 125cc National Champion Mike Brown is no stranger to the FIM World Championships, and his 2008 campaign with CAS Honda marks his third stint in Europe. We caught up with the friendly rider from Tennessee in between Saturday practice sessions at the Uddevalla GP of Sweden, where steady rains made the action on the track a slippery, muddy mess…

TWMX: So tell us a little about the team you’re on…

BROWN: The CAS Honda Team is an English team but it is based in Belgium. I am living in England. The team is supported by HRC Honda and my bike is plenty fast and good. Any bike, really, is fast enough in the 450cc class. Though I am racing the MX1 class in the GPs, I am in the MX2 class in the British Championships and I am struggling a bit on the CRF250R. The 450, though, for sure has enough power. The team never quits working and we are always trying new stuff to get more power.

So what kind of works parts are on your CRF450R race bike?

Some stuff in the motor, plus the basic stuff you can see, like the wheels. The ignition and carburetor are works, and the suspension is factory Kayaba stuff instead of Showa, which most Honda teams run. It works really well.

So how has your return to the World Championships gone thus far?

It took me a little while to get used to switching back and for the between the two bikes for the World Championships and the British Championships, and it was also hard to get used to the 450 because it is so fast. But now, we’re halfway through the season and I am getting back into the swing of things. The high-speed tracks took some getting used to again. Back at home, all the tracks are very rough and technical, but the GPs are held on some fast, wide-open tracks that make my arms pump up. I usually never get arm pump outdoors, but the combination of the fast 450 and the fast tracks made me pump up.

You had a breakthrough at the Sugo GP in Japan, winning the second moto…

That track was rough, like an American track! It has sawdust worked into it and it rutted up nicely and got real rough. I got great starts there and felt right at home because of the conditions. Plus, it was real hot and that is what I am used to. The cold weather in Europe, I think, has been hurting my arms and making me pump up. It all switched on that day in Japan and it has for sure turned everything around for me.

It must have been good for your confidence, as well, especially since you’d been struggling up to that point…

Yeah, for sure. Even last year in the States I struggled with some stuff. Up until that win in Japan I was kinda over it, really. I knew I had the speed but there were all these things holding me back. After I won in Japan, though, it changed my point of view a lot and it has turned my performances around. Oddly enough, I haven’t had arm pump since them! (Laughs)

One of the biggest differences in the racing we noticed here is the 96 db sound limit and how easy the bikes are on your ears, as a spectator…

Oh for sure. It sure is nice as a race, even, you can actually hear the loudspeaker and the crowd when you are riding. When you are racing against everyone else who has to abide by the same noise limits, it is no big deal. Racing is racing. And like I said, on the 450 the quiet pipes are no big deal and the bikes are plenty fast enough. In the MX2 class, though, I think they are all struggling to have fast bikes with quiet pipes. The sound limit is 96 db this year, and the new limit in 2008 will be 94 db! When I go back home to Tennessee and ride my practice bike, it sure seems loud. I think that if they implemented stricter sound levels in the US, it would be fine. As long as no one is cheating and everyone is complying, it will hurt everyone’s bikes equally and the racing will still be the same out on the ttrack.

What are your plans for 2008?

I’d like to stay in Europe for another year, but if I could find a ride in the States that didn’t require me to race Supercross, that would be interesting, too. But I like it here in Europe; it is more laid back. Sure, you don’t have the “rock star status here like in the United States, but that also makes it nice. I still love racing, and I am not ready to retire, so I would say that you will probably see me back here again in 2008.

Have you been able to spend much time at home?

Well, at this point I have been in Europe for two months because there have been eight races in a row. When I get a week’s break, though, I go home every chance I get because my family stayed back at home. I had a new baby early this year and it was too early to bring the family over here just yet. I’ve been home probably four times since February. I get to go home again in two weeks after the Italian GP. I can’t wait!

Will we see you in any AMA Nationals this year?

Yeah, I am planning on racing Glen Helen. The MDK Honda team is gonna have a bike all set up and ready for me. I was supposed to do the Hangtown National, as well, but I had a British Championship race to do, instead.