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Monday Conversation: Kevin Windham

Torco Racing Fuels Honda’s Kevin Windham came out the victor in one of the most memorable races in supercross history. Not only did the race have some of the worst conditions ever, but the end of the race will soon be an instant classic, as much for K-Dub’s win as his rival Chad Reed’s failure to finish after his bike quit with three turns to go while leading by over a minute. Windham is so good at doing interviews that I’ve joked he can almost interview himself. Well, apparently he can’t quite do that.

Racer X: [Stares at Kevin Windham as if to urge him to start talking.]
Kevin Windham: This is an interview, you know. You have to ask me a question. That’s how this works.

Yeah, I know how this works. I just thought maybe you had something interesting to say right away. I noticed your bike snapping and popping from pretty early in the main event. Was that an electrical problem?
Yeah, you know, we had a little bit of an issue, but we just rode through it, and I don’t exactly know what it was. But you’ve got to speculate, and any time that you’re popping and snapping it’s probably something electrical, but there’s so much water, how could it not? It was just a monsoon, and I really got soaked in a couple of spots, and it was a crazy race. It was the craziest race that I think I’ve ever ridden in. And it was a really aggressive race, too. When Chad and I got close to each other, we were really, really aggressive, and when Davi and I got close to each other, we were really aggressive. It was a roller-coaster ride, for sure.

You’ve told me before that sometimes, when something goes wrong, you tend to focus on what’s going wrong rather than on what you’re doing. So in the case of this bike snapping and popping out there, how did you manage to keep your head in the game with all of the other stuff going on?
At that point, I had really just accepted second, you know? I got something handed to me, but at the same time, I had to pull into the pits for goggles, and I got stuck myself, and I fell, and I had the blubbers and stuff going on, so I was really pretty pumped with my ride, still being in second, because that was a lot of stuff to have go on in a race. And when I got stuck, I was almost ready to take it to the truck. I just thought there was no way I was getting out of that hole, and then when I did, it was just like, “How did I get out of that hole?!” I did. I just revved it wide-open, dumped the clutch, and it was gnarly. I just kept my head down, kept plugging away, and when I saw the big two-two drowned out in a puddle, or whatever he was, I could see his side numberplate as clear as day because I guess the water had splashed most of the mud off. I couldn’t believe it. To win Daytona is a dream, and there’s a lot of emphasis put on this race by a lot of people. It wasn’t a typical Daytona, but at the same time, Daytona’s known for being brutal, and I don’t think it can get much more brutal than that, so...

Plus, it’s “by Honda” right? The Daytona Supercross by Honda, and you won it for Honda. You’re on the Factory Connection team bike, not the Team Honda bike, and yet you’ve still been the biggest bright spot on the year for the Honda brand, with two wins now and no finishes outside the top five. Does it give you added motivation to beat the Honda Red Bull team guys? After all, five months ago, you didn’t even know if you’d have a ride this year...

Yeah, you know, it was a tough off-season, but I can appreciate what they’re doing, and to be honest with you, I can really appreciate all of my sponsors and how things are right now. I think that it’s a great environment and I think I’m riding a great machine, and I have really good people around me right now. But at the same time, I don’t feel the line in the sand between the two teams quite as much as I think a lot of people see it, and maybe feel it. But me personally, I don’t see it. I really like all of those guys over there [at Honda Red Bull], and I really like all our guys over here. I think a lot of that just comes from the fact that I’m happy right now. I’m really riding strong, and I’m really having a good time with my life and my career. A lot of things are good right now, and I think when that’s the case, good things kind of happen. Accidents happen, but when things are good around me, everything’s good around me, and this year has been a real testament to that.

It’s pretty well known that when you show up at the races with a certain smile on your face, that a lot of people just go, “Uh oh. K-Dub’s going to do some damage today.”
[Laughs] Yeah, maybe. But Jeff Spencer is a great guy and a great trainer, and really much more than a trainer – obviously a friend, and everything, to me. I’ll be honest with you, he leaves no stone unturned, so he sees everything that you just said coming on, and it’s a balancing act. We live crazy lives and put a lot of wear and tear on our bodies, and then there’s the emotional roller-coasters of making a lot of money at the age of 16 or 17, and it just kind of triggers this see-saw effect that goes through your career. I’ve had the best times in my life doing what I do, but I’ve had the worst times in my life doing what I do. At 30, where I’m at in my life, I’m really trying to level that out. That’s my goal, to plane out, and there’s no reason why I shouldn’t be able to do that. Obviously, life’s never going to quit giving you challenges, but right now I feel like I’ve got a grasp on it, and I love what I do, and I’m loving life. Was that too emotional?

Yeah, I’m uncomfortable now.
Sorry.

Take us through last weekend in Indy, because a lot of people were wondering what happened there when you were battling for second and then just all of a sudden faded to fifth.

You know, last weekend, the K-Dub of old came out, and I’m going to let it go and quit thinking about it. There were a couple sections on the track that I was doing a little different than what most people were doing, and I almost killed myself like five times in one lap. JC [Waterhouse, team manager] came off after the race just like, “Dude, you scared me,” and typically, I’m not that kind of rider that scares people. [Waterhouse walks in, and says, “Except for last weekend.”] JC walks into the office and says, “Except for last weekend.” Yeah, exactly, that’s what we’re talking about. So, last weekend, I almost killed myself like four or five times, and that really took me to a not-so-happy place, and I didn’t have a very warm and fuzzy feeling inside. I was not happy, and it really caused me to let the guys behind me catch up to me, and they came in and boxed me out a couple times, and then I rode behind me a bit. It was just not a race I’m very proud of, but one where I salvaged a fifth, and at the end of the season, if I can manage to do that this whole season, that’s definitely a good consistency point for me. I just really want to move on from that and not focus on that. To answer your question, though, that’s what happened.

How were you able to move on past it in the last week as you seemed to have done?
You’ve got to know how many hours you can spend on the phone in a week, and dude, I talked to Jeff [Spencer] two or three times a day. I mean, I’ve got the Bat Line, he always tells me. If I ring, he picks it up, so we have a good relationship. It doesn’t take a lot to make a bad situation horrible, but it doesn’t really take that much to make a bad situation a whole hell of a lot better, either. It all depends on what side of the fence you’re on, and how you’re looking at your problems.


 

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