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5 Minutes with ... Kevin Windham

“Let’s go ahead and do it now,” said Kevin Windham on Saturday morning at Angel Stadium. Windham was standing in the Team SoBe/Samsung Wireless Honda pits, giving everything a good look over. A month or so away from a return to action from his broken arm, Windham was back in California to prepare for his first race of 2006. Windham’s 2005 season ended on a high note when he, Ricky Carmichael, and Ivan Tedesco took on the world’s best motocrossers and beat them, heads-up, at the Motocross des Nations in Ernee, France. Tremendously talented and experienced and the consummate professional, Windham can not only win races this winter, but play a spoiler role in what will likely be a race to the finish between Ricky Carmichael, James Stewart, and Chad Reed come Las Vegas in May.

Racer X
: Kevin, we spoke at the first supercross of the season here at Anaheim, but I haven't seen you since. Have you been back in Mississippi?
Kevin Windham: Yeah, I have been. I was supposed to do all the races but some things came up where I wasn’t able to do that. I was at the first Anaheim, now here I am at Anaheim 3. I’ll be doing San Diego for sure. But between Anaheim and San Francisco, I had some health issues come up and kind of had to stay home. I’m back and getting healthy and my arm is feeling good.

Kevin Windham at the A1 press conference
photo: Simon Cudby
Everything good with the arm?
Yeah, it is. I went to the doctor on Friday and he told me we’re probably looking at about three weeks until I get on the bike. I haven't spoken to Honda or the guys here on the team yet, but we’re thinking that after I get on the bike, there will be an additional three weeks of preparation, and that should line me up to race sometime around the Orlando Supercross. That will allow me to compete in the last six rounds. And as far as the arm, everything is really good. I have full range of motion; the range of motion is way better than the doctor expected. The radius of the arm had three fracture lines it and a bone graft and some of those areas haven’t completely filled in, so that’s kind of what we’re waiting for.

What do you have going here in Anaheim?
I enjoy coming to the races. I enjoy racing, but I can’t do it, so I try to make the best of what I can do. I’ve also been doing some commentating and work with the Make-A-Wish Foundation. It’s also kind of cool to do autographs until people don’t want any more autographs. You know, when you’re racing, everything is so regimented that you can be like, “Hey, I have to cut it off now because I have things I need to do.” That’s not really the case with me right now. So I’ve been able to connect with the fans a little bit more, and it’s been good.

Have you been watching all the racing on television?
Yeah, I have.

What do you think?
I think that the racing has been good. It’s kind of become a two-man show, which is one step better than where we have been in the past. We still have a lot of racing to go. I hope to see if Bubba can maintain his consistency. I don’t even question that from Ricky. I’d like to see Chad get up there, too. And I hope I can get better and kind of be up there for the rest of the season. That’s what I hope to see: good racing throughout. The racing behind the lead pack—like for fourth, fifth, and sixth—has been really good as well. I like the idea of coming here and people asking me who is going to win and not really knowing. That’s pretty cool.

As far as the racing goes, do you think James or Ricky has an advantage over one another in any certain area?

You know, I don’t really know Bubba that well, as far as his riding style and things. I think the reason why he won the mud race in San Francisco was simply doing the on-and-off section after the mechanics’ area. His creativity to be able to do that was impressive. I wasn’t there, but I heard that that jump was almost impossible and James did it lap after lap. That’s why he won that race. Even with Ricky’s mistake, James wouldn’t have won without doing the on/off jump.
    At Anaheim 2, I was really impressed with Ricky’s ability to come out of flat corners, specifically the turn after the finish-line area. He would make up some good time on Bubba there. As far as the series goes, if there are flat corners, I think Ricky has the upper hand. I think Bubba can certainly adapt, though. Between the two, it’s a toss-up. I have no idea—it’s way too crazy to call right now.

Do you think it can all go down to the very end?
Oh, absolutely. Even to be at this point of the season, we’re about a third of the way through, and to have the two main guys just a few points apart is incredible. That’s crazy. The only question is consistency. Last year we saw James crash out. You almost had people calling that before it was going to happen. And then coming into this year, you had people saying, “James is definitely going to settle down now. He’s got a year under his belt and he’s going to settle down.” Now he’s doing that, and it’s impressive. You develop that with time and experience. He’s showing maturity at an early age, and we’ll have to see if he can maintain that. That’s the question mark. But I’m not taking anything away from him—he’s a great rider. Both Ricky and myself both busted our asses when we came into the 250 class. I left some races where I didn’t even know where I was at; I took some major licks to the head. I guess we all go through that. James has, too. He has really shown a lot maturity for how young he is.

What have you thought about Chad Reed’s season thus far?
To be honest with you, from watching him on TV, which is what I have been doing, he hasn’t really been on much. Everyone has been focusing on the lead race, and the race has either been in front of Chad or behind him. He’s been out there in a little bit of a no-man’s-land. He’s been in third, and that’s good, but when I think of him and what stage he’s at in his career, it’s tough to be the guy who is in a little slump or that mid-life crisis. You have a young kid who is a rookie and everyone’s eyes are on him, and you have a veteran in Ricky Carmichael who is coming of a spectacular year, winning everything there is to win. Chad is in the middle. You have the middle-child syndrome or a slump, and it’s hard. You know, I kind of felt like I went through that at a time in my career. I felt the same way when Chad came in. You had Ricky, who was winning everything, and you had Chad, who was that up-and-coming guy, and I was in the middle. That’s not a good place to be. Chad will get through it—he’s still a young kid. I’m about 28 and getting kind of close to pushing it. Bubba and Chad are young guys. That’s crazy. That’s young. Really young.

When you come back, can you see yourself being in the mix and fighting with Ricky, James, and Chad?
I think I can do it; the question is how long it will take me to get to where I can do it. If I can do it, I expect to hear a lot of complaining. I expect to hear a lot of “This is my series, and get out of the way.” If you can look into the future and see whoever has the points lead only having a handful of points, you’re going to hear about guys like Chad and Ricky’s teammate [Ivan Tedesco] playing into it. Then, all of a sudden, if you just throw me in there, and if I can run with the guys, you’ll hear some complaining. That’s all I can say.

How much longer are you going to do this for? And would you ever consider racing a car?
I love to race. I don’t have any experience in cars or anything like that. I would love to give several things an opportunity. But I’m kind of a realist. I mean, it’s hard enough to be a professional motocrossers or supercrosser, and just because I am that, I can’t expect to just get in a car and be fast. This is my life. I don’t really expect to go anywhere. I have a family and kids and all that stuff, and I've definitely got to be there for them. I don’t see any point in trying to start something new. This is me, and this my life. When I have gotten into situations in life where I wanted to step back, it was only a matter of time until I wanted to start easing back into the picture. This is what I love, and I’ll find some way to be a part of it. Yeah, I’m 28 and creeping up on 30, but I don’t see any limitations in that. I have another year on my contract. I certainly intend on going longer than that. We’ll just have to see what direction it goes and we’ll see what direction I go. But I’m loving it, and I still feel like I can be competitive, so I’m going to keep doing it.

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