Grant Langston is the new AMA Toyota Motocross Champion. Langston won the final three rounds and finished ahead of his closest rivals, who have been in an all-new points chase since Washougal. Team Yamaha celebrates on the Glen Helen podium
After Red Bud, it would have been hard to imagine that Langston, fifth in points, would eventually be the new champion. But since that race on, RC pulled out, Stewart hurt his knee, and Langston got a new bike and his old confidence back. When Stewart dropped out, it was a whole new ball game; the pressure was on, which is just where Langston does best. You could see it at Millville with RC there one last time, and you could see it ever since.
We stopped Grant last night for a quick chat as the celebration was just starting up.
Racer X: Grant, you won the big one. How does it feel right now?
Grant Langston: It's awesome. I really think it is going to sink in tomorrow. Right now it is a little overwhelming. It's just been a crazy, crazy day. It seemed like the longest day ever.
I was trying not to think too much into it. We were just trying to laugh and joke and do regular stuff and not get too caught up in it. It’s easy to ride tight like that. When then moto started, I think I was just being cautious. I was just kind of going around in 6th place. About halfway through it I thought I needed to get going and make some passes and not give up that many points, because that would just put more stress on the second moto.
I started hitting my lines good, and the track was getting rough. Once I started hitting my lines and started catching those guys, I was like the back of the lead pack and I was pushing everyone up. Everyone was catching everyone. Then there were only a couple of seconds between the top six, and I started picking the guys off. I think once I was doing that it got my confidence and my adrenaline going and I kept going.
As far as making the week normal, is that why you still went to things like the Motobowl during the week?
I don't like to try and change things too much. If I eat a chocolate bar at night, I am not going to not do it because of a championship. I am not going to change my routine. The routine that you do, if it is obviously working, there is no need to change it. I don't think I did anything different this week except I didn't ride Thursday. Typically, we ride here on a Thursday but the track was closed. So I figured, there is nowhere good to ride, I will just hang out at the house and lay low. I felt like I needed a break anyway, a little rest.
It seems you got a lot of your support sorted out just in time for this, your helmet is different, your gear is MSR, and you added Monster Energy. Did you want to win this championship with your new sponsors?
I did. A lot of my sponsors are going to be for a fairly long time. These are a few things that have been going on for a while. Even dating back to last year, when I signed with M2R, I had been talking to some of the same people. Unfortunately, things just didn't work out there. When the opportunity came I wanted to be in what I am running now. All these people stepped up and will make me sort of a main guy in there program, like MSR, Spy - I have been talking those guys like Scott Sepkovic since I moved here.
Bell Helmets just kind of happened coincidentally. I wanted to wear a good helmet. I heard of all these heads injuries, and Brett Klein, who just passed away—it really made me think. He was actually a friend of my sisters. She called me crying when it happened. She just said "Promise me that whatever you wear, you will wear the safest helmet." I said, "I will do that." I got the test records of how good each helmet is. There are a couple that are right up there and Bell was one of them. I put the helmet on and it just fit so good. I was really glad that they came with an offer because I wanted to wear the helmet regardless. Then with the helmet (space) available, Monster came back on board.
I have some new sponsors and some old sponsors, but at the end of the day, good people.
I actually wore MSR when I was an amateur. I have always been a big fan of Malcolm Smith. My dad used to make me throw away my Crusty DVDs when I was a kid and watch On Any Sunday with Malcolm Smith. I have watched that movie a million times. All that just made me want to be a part of it as well.
When I was testing the new bike I did think it would be better. But sometimes when you do that and you say it's better and go to a race, you get the same results. So I didn't know if it would be a big deal. I think I knew it was going to work out when I was in Colorado. We struggled with the engine and I got taken out in the first lap of both motos. I felt like I was riding better and the bike was turning and handling. The next weekend was Washougal. That second moto was it. I won the moto and James ended up going down. I thought I had the overall. All of a sudden people were like “Stewart's condition is iffy.” Short, Ferry and those guys pulled out of the X Games because they realized the championship was on the line. I wasn't going to change anything. I signed up to race and wanted to do it. I went to the X Games got second to Ricky, then went to Millville and finished second, and then three wins in a row. In the last six races, the worst result was a second.
We never changed a whole lot. I didn't change my program, or my training. I didn't try any harder or try any less. I just think that the desire to win is a powerful thing, that motivation. I knew I was going to give it everything I had and it it worked out, great. If not, I wasn't going to look back and say "If we had this new bike earlier, or if I didn't get taken out after the start of this race or whatever. I am where I am at now. After Washougal, I thought if I win every race from here on out, I will win this championship. I almost did that except for finishing second to Ricky.
Why are you the guy that seems to like pressure?
I don't know what it is… I like a challenge. I handle pressure well. There are not too many opportunities like this that come around. I may never win a championship again. I don't know… I just left everything out there. I rode really aggressive and charged hard every moto. It paid off. I think maybe the other guys didn't handle the pressure as well. When they seemed to be struggling a little bit, I felt like I was getting stronger. Maybe I got in their heads because after that, it was kind of game over almost.
We better let you get back to celebrating, thanks.
Team Yamaha celebrates on the Glen Helen podium