5 Minutes with ... Kevin Windham

July 19, 2006 8:19am

His injury-ravaged 2002 season notwithstanding, American motocross veteran Kevin Windham has been a top-three guy in motocross and supercross from 1999 through ‘05. But after a serious arm injury took him out of the opening phase of the 2006 Amp’d Mobile AMA Supercross Series, Windham returned to action at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando and began racing himself into shape. Although the results were slow in coming, the 27-year-old rider from Centerville, Mississippi, has been picking things up since the ’06 AMA Toyota National Motocross Series began. He was a solid second overall on Sunday at the Unadilla Valley Sports Center—the halfway point of the tour—and now sits in third in points.

Kevin Windham
Racer X: Kevin, what are you up to today?
Kevin Windham: Well, Monday is usually lounge-around day when I get to relax. Today [Tuesday], I rode this morning and I went to the gym as well. Tonight I’ll try and tie up some lose ends. Wednesday is my light day that I’ll usually take off. Thursday is another workout day. I’ll then travel on Friday.

You guys travel to Denver this weekend. Do you like the Thunder Valley Motocross Park facility there?
I had a good time there last year. It was a breath of fresh air. You have the altitude to deal with and all the jetting changes, but the track and its layout is new. I’ve been a pro since 1994, so it’s nice to go somewhere new and race.

You were second at Unadilla. All things considered, was it a good weekend for you?
Saturday was tough. We made a lot of changes to the bike and ran out of time. It seems like the tracks get tougher every year and the sport is progressing so much that you find yourself fine-tuning your bike to each track. And Unadilla is a very tough track. There are so many rocks; we ride on a lot of grass, the dirt is different. After the storm came on Saturday, the track became crazy wet and there wasn’t anything I could really learn on it. So that made for a busy day on Sunday. Fortunately the Honda team came together and the bike was great in both motos.

Do you feel good about the season so far?
I’m getting closer. I guess it’s just like the previous question you asked me: It seems like at every race we’re learning something new. The way the bikes have progressed and the way the riding techniques have progressed, things have really changed. It’s not like it was in the air-cooled days! It seems like the bikes are being tweaked on at every race and at every track. Every race we’re learning something new. If you miss something, if you miss a race, you fall behind. This year the riding techniques and the lines have changed so much. Maybe it's due to Bubba riding in this class—there’s been progression and an elevation in the competition. It’s like the bar has been raised. Chad feels like he should be up there. Me, I feel like I should be up there. Millsaps, he’s okay and feels like he should be up there. The thing is that there are only three spots on the podium. It’s tough to get there. I’m now finally getting to the point where I feel like I can achieve my goal of being on the podium at each race. And RC is not making a complete yard sale of the class. At the end of the second moto at Unadilla I was only 15 seconds behind him, and I was happy with that. It was nice to be on the track and have a shot.

What’s your master plan for the last six races of the summer?
For me, I’m third in points but only one point in front of Davi Millsaps [195 to 194]. I’d like to maintain my position and separate myself from Davi. I’d also like to make up ground on Chad [second in points with 248]. RC is gone. In the Nationals you can make up or you can lose a lot of points quickly. Look at James Stewart: He’s crashed out and lost a lot of points. I feel like I’m getting stronger, and halfway through the series I’m not struggling like I was. I’m happy now. I want to maintain a top-thee position in the points.

There has been talk of making you a member of Team USA for the 2006 Motocross des Nations. What’s your take on that?
First off, I’m definitely interested in going. I’d love to go. It’s a tough deal for the fans, the AMA, and myself. Everyone wants to send the best team. James may say he should go, but he hasn’t been real consistent. Right now I feel like I may be a little more consistent, but not as fast. If I want to be on the team and be fast enough to be on the team, I have some work ahead of me. Right now there are four guys that make good sense to put on the team. Like I said, I’m not fast enough at the moment, but I think I can be. There’s no crystal ball. James has the speed, but does he have the consistency? [Ryan] Villopoto is young, but he’s riding real well. The Motocross des Nations can be brutal, and there are different pressures at that race. Whatever the decision will be, I’ll be cool with it. I’m a fan of the sport, and the last trip was a great time, and I’d love to go again and win. It’s not as fun when you don’t! I guess that’s part of the American thought process. There is so much emphasis put on winning that second just isn’t good enough for U.S. fans. There’s a lot of pressure and only one result is expected.

You hung around with the SoBe Gold/No Fear car at the NASCAR Nextel Cup race at Infineon in June. What did you think of the experience?
It was tough to get there. My wife and I were very busy, but No Fear invited us to see the debut of their Nextel Cup team and to watch Boris Said drive. We almost missed it, but we decided to go and it was the best decision we ever made. I don’t even know where to start talking about it—I was in awe the whole time. It was the time of our lives. I got into it big-time. It was an honor to meet drivers like Brian Vickers and Carl Edwards and Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Clint Bowyer. And believe it or not, a lot of them have the same interests as we do. I went to the drivers' meeting with you and Boris, and that blew my mind.

On August 1-2 you’ll meet up with Boris at Virginia International Raceway to drive in a two-seat Nextel Cup car with him. Are you excited?
Absolutely. I’ll test in the two-seater that Ray Evernham owns. It’s a full advantage for me to be able to get experience like that. It’s amazing. I would love to race NASCAR. Now I have these opportunities where I can visit racing with a different view. Racing is in my blood. Obviously, I’ve been in motocross for so long. To be a part of another form of racing where I can keep racing in my blood is very exciting. To have the opportunity to go out in a two-seater Cup car with such a good driver who will show me the dos and don’ts is amazing. It’s not like getting in a car and going through the motions.

So you would be interested in giving NASCAR a shot?
To have this opportunity placed in front of me to pull up and learn from the best and to be able to make something of it.… To be honest with you, the whole thing sounds like a fairy tale, but why not give it a shot? My wife and I talk about it, and as far as motorsports go—or any sport, for that matter—NASCAR is top-notch. The sport is awesome. Who would not be interested in giving it a shot?

Where do you see yourself in motocross in 2007?
I think the face of motocross is changing a lot. These new contract negotiations are really changing things. [Chad] Reed will have a supercross-only deal in 2007 and RC will run a limited schedule. I don’t know where these things will take racing as far as trying to earn championship points. As long as I can be competitive, I’d love to keep doing it. I love being a motocross racer. On the flip side, I’m turning 30 and I have one year left on my current deal. In February I’ll be 29, and that puts me close to 30. It’s hard to tell what I’m going to do. I like what I do, and I want to do it if I’m competitive. But if I can’t achieve what I want, I’ll need to look at something else. Man alive, NASCAR would be a perfect transition. It would just be incredible. But right now I have one year to focus on what I want to accomplish and to and to take care of my sponsors like No Fear and the SoBe/Samsung Honda team. I need to keep my eye on the ball for them. I need to focus on the job at hand. But I can see the future can take me to new challenges, and I’m excited to see where the future will take me. It’s time to open my eyes and look at the other things the world has to offer me. I’m excited.