Mike LaRocco: Exit Interview

Mike LaRocco has had a career that many racers aspire to have. He has won championships, been to the Motocross des Nations, won numerous races and has taken his career into his 30s. Unfortunately, though, it all had to end sometime, and a few weeks ago in front of a packed stadium in Indianapolis he announced his retirement.

That race not only marked when LaRocco announced his retirement, but it could have also been the final time we may get a chance to see him on an AMA Supercross track, as he dislocated his wrist in the first practice session of the day, leaving him on the sidelines to watch. With a career of superb accomplishments behind him, we decided to catch up with “The Rock” to see how he’s healing up, and what the future may hold for this Supercross superstar.

What have you been up to lately, and how has your wrist been doing?

Well it’s doing okay, at the moment. I got surgery on it last Wednesday; I had dislocated the radial ulnar joint when I crashed at Indy. So I pretty much had to get it all repaired, screwed back in place and the ligaments repaired—all that good stuff.

Was it the same wrist that you have had problems with in the past?

Well, I’ve had problems with both, so I guess the answer is yeah (Laughs).

Are you going to be doing any races the rest of this season?

I’m going to do what I can to return, however, with the ligaments and the time that I have left it doesn’t look really good. I’m just going to keep an open mind, though, heal and kind of see where I am at once that happens.

Was the season going how you wanted it to go before you crashed at Indy?

No, not even close.

Is that what prompted you to retire, or did you know going into this season that you would be retiring?

For me, I don’t know… I look at it two ways. What’s motivated me in the past is that I’ve had the ability, or opportunity, to win. Last year, the pace kind of picked up—actually the last two years it has, but this year especially. It’s just that I wasn’t making the pace, and I was getting beat ever weekend. Not having the opportunity to win just makes my motivation dwindle, and it’s kind of been dwindling for the last couple of years. In the off-season, I have been trying to put my head down and try to make the difference. In the end, though, losing the pace is kind of what prompted me to retire. This year, I was going to give myself the first five races to make the decision, and if I miraculously got faster, and I was in the race, I would probably reconsider retirement, but seeing as how that didn’t happen, I chose to retire.

Looking back on your career, what do you see as your proudest moment?

I don’t know. I fell short of most of my goals, which isn’t a great way to look at it. To be able to ride a motorcycle for a living, though, and to do what I do, and have what I have, makes it all worthwhile.

You have to be happy, though, with the championships that you did win, and the records you set?

Those things are definitely highlights. There are also good races here and there. Most of all, I think to be where I am in the sport right now is a great position, and a great feeling—that part I am very proud of. All in all, it was a good run. As far of goal for goal, I might have fallen a little bit short, but that happens. I think, honestly, though, that’s what has kept me going for so long. You have to look at it two ways.

You’ve been with the Sobe/Samsung Mobile/Honda team for a long time now. What was it like seeing the team grow to where it is today, and are you going to have any part with them throughout your retirement?

Yeah, it has definitely been a great run for us. We have grown almost every year, and we keep working at it. I will definitely stay involved with the team. It’s something that I enjoy doing. Racing has always been a part of me for my life; I’m not readyy to just pack everything up and head away from it. I’m definitely going to stay involved.

How cool was it seeing Ryder race in the KTM Jr. Supercross Challenge at Indy?

It was cool. He’s been watching those kids since he was three, and he has just always really wanted to do it. I was glad for him to be able to experience it. It’s an awesome experience for those kids, and it was cool to be on the other side of it, as a dad, and watch. For the kids it’s a really cool day.

Does Ryder want to have a racing career of his own now?

It’s hard to say. When we’re back in Michigan and riding is pretty easy, he’s into it. But when we are out in California, and we have to pack up and find a place to ride all the time, he’s not as into it. At this point, I would say that it’s not his biggest interest, but who knows?

Wrapping it up, what are you going to do during your retirement?

I was kind of getting it into my head—before I got hurt—that I would put my head down and get to Las Vegas, and then take a breather and step back. It’s hard, though, because when I have done this for so long, I honestly don’t know what else I like to do. I was just going to finish the season, take a step back, and just take a breather to figure out what’s next. At this point, I really don’t have any major plans—other than working with the team a little.