A familiar face showed up under the Moto-XXX team tent at Glen Helen, and fans were delighted to see Larry Ward return to action after sitting out the entire 2001 Supercross series. Returning to the 125cc class for the first time since 1992, Ward is more excited about racing than he has been in years. TWMX caught up with Ward just before the start of the first 125cc moto of the season and here’s what he had to say…
TWMX: So where the hell have you been?
LW: I’ve been having fun! I did some European races in the winter, but mostly I did a lot of hunting. In January I started flying an airplane and right now I am about six hours away from getting my pilot’s license. I’ve also been shooting the shotgun competitively and racing a few enduros and GNCCs. Then, recently, I bought a Yamaha YZ250F and have been racing some local races and getting back up to speed.
TWMX: Tell us more about this competitive shotgun shooting thing… Is it skeet?
LW: No, skeet is more like a game. What I do is more modern, it’s called sporting clay and it’s a lot like golf. You shoot a round of 100 shots, but you go around to 12 different targets.
TWMX: Is there arm pump involved in this sport?
LW: (Laughs) No, no there isn’t.
TWMX: Is there finger pump, then?
LW: (Laughs) No, but you can damn well shoot your fingers off if you aren’t careful!
TWMX: So how is your speed right now?
LW: My speed is high. I have been racing some local stuff with Damon Bradshaw and I feel really good. I really like the YZ250F and I knew that if I were to race the Nationals, I wanted to do it on a 250F.
TWMX: Was it hard to sit out the SX season? Why didn’t you race?
LW: Well, I had some offers but they kept falling through, or not panning out. I just figured that it wasn’t meant to be, so I sat the series out. It was hard to sit and watch at first, but once Ricky got about eight wins in a row, I thought that it was better not to be out there! (Laughs)
TWMX: So how did this deal pan out?
LW: Well, a couple weeks before Glen Helen, Kurt Haller from Moto-XXX called me up and asked if I wanted to race a YZ250F, and I said, “Hell yeah!”
TWMX: So what are you expecting from yourself?
LW: Well, I have some goals for myself, but I am keeping those personal. I think that as long as I have fun out there, I should do well.
Ward started well in the first 125cc moto of the season and finished a strong fourth behind 125cc World Champion Grant Langston, Mike Brown and National Champ Travis Pastrana. Ward actually looked faster and smoother than he did throughout all of 2000.
Unfortunately, a tip-over in a corner in moto two saw Big Bird drop way back, as he was unable to start the YZ250F for several minutes. If Glen Helen was any indication, Ward should make the rest of the season interesting! Welcome back, Larry.