THE MXA INTERVIEW
HOW DOES A KID FROM NEW MEXICO END UP AS A PROFESSIONAL MOTOCROSS RACER? The motocross scene in New Mexico is not that big, but when I was 6 years old, my grandpa got me a dirt bike to ride around in the dirt fields. Later we saw some of the big-name New Mexico guys, like Ivan Tedesco and the Johnson brothers, riding at a local track. That’s when I started to take it more seriously. I was riding and racing a lot, having fun, and starting to get better. Once I turned 14, I decided that I needed to leave New Mexico for California and Texas to get some training and better riding in. That was when my speed picked up. I haven’t really spent a lot of time in New Mexico ever since, but I do try to get back whenever I can. There is only one track back where I grew up that is good, but I go home so that I can spend time with my family.
WITH SO MUCH SUCCESS AS AN AMATEUR, HOW DID THAT TRANSLATE INTO SUCCESS AS A PRO? Most of my Amateur career I was winning races and championships. It was really a good time, as I was getting support from the manufacturers, whether it was Suzuki, KTM or Kawasaki. I was winning a lot, and things were great. Then, I struggled once I turned Pro. My first year as a Pro, in 2011, I rode horribly. I am very lucky that the Rockstar Energy team gave me a second chance. They gave me the opportunity to develop and become the rider that I should have been in my first year as a Pro. I feel that I have been doing a lot better. I am now at a point where I am ready to win races and have that success that I did in the Amateur ranks.
WHAT CHALLENGES DID YOU FACE AS A ROOKIE THAT HELD YOU BACK? I think it was preparation, or lack of preparation, more than anything. When I was an amateur, I thought I was preparing myself because I was riding a lot and doing motos. However, I really didn’t take it all that seriously. I wasn’t training like I should have, and I didn’t care for that aspect of my program. Heck, I was winning races, so I just thought that I could do the same as a Pro. That definitely was not the case. Now I have a very good training schedule. I am continuing to get more fit and prepare better. WHY DID ROCKSTAR ENERGY RACING KEEP YOU AFTER A DISMAL ROOKIE YEAR? It is very easy for a team to fire you, especially after some bad
“ IT IS VERY EASY FOR A TEAM TO FIRE YOU, ESPECIALLY AFTER SOME BAD RESULTS.”
results. It is tough making the transition to the Pro ranks, and I found that it was a very steep learning curve. It was nothing like when I was an Amateur. To answer your question, I think they saw that I was willing to put in the work and that I was eager to do whatever it took to succeed. I just wasn’t doing it my first year, and I didn’t know that I would have to do more than what I already was doing. Fortunately, the team saw the potential in me. They are probably one of the only teams that wouldn’t have let me go after that terrible first year that I had.
WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING THAT YOU HAVE LEARNED AS A PROFESSIONAL? When I first came up, I was running and pounding out laps every day. That wasn’t enough. My training needed to be much more organized and specific to racing motocross. It was difficult at first, because I didn’t have any advice on what exactly to do. Then Randy Lawrence helped me out through the second year, as well as Coach Seiji later. Those two guys are what improved my results and made my routine what it is today. They truly revamped my whole career, and without their help, I would still be struggling.
ARE YOU PLEASED WITH YOUR TURNAROUND IN RESULTS? Yes and no. I have done fairly well, but I do feel that I had better Supercross races in me than what I showed. Still, I ended up fifth in 2012 Supercross points. That wasn’t bad, as I consider 2012 to be my rookie year and not 2011. I also ended up seventh in the 250 Nationals. All in all, 2012 was a decent season. Of course, I wanted to be a podium guy and win races, but it was definitely a step in the right direction. This year has been better. I won the 2013 Salt Lake City Supercross, and I also had some podiums in the series. I’m doing okay outdoors, and I landed my first National podium at Millville. Hopefully, I will be one of the top guys battling for championships in 2014.
HOW DOES IT FEEL BEING ONE OF THE RIDERS WHO CAN WIN RACES? I feel like I have always been as fast as the guys that have been winning. It’s just been my execution at the races that I have struggled with. I believe that if I get a good start now that I am a podium guy—indoors or outdoors—it’s just riding like I know how to. If I can be consistent, then I’ll be a title contender. I should be on the podium every weekend and winning races.
WILL 2014 BE YOUR YEAR TO SHINE? Next year I will be riding better. I will be more fit and more experienced. I want to be battling for a championship in 2014. I’m with Rockstar Energy Racing again for next year, and I don’t really plan on going anywhere. I’d like to stay with this team for as long as I can. I love it here, and it has really become like my family. We have a lot of fun, and that’s what racing dirt bikes is all about. ;
By Jim Kimball