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5 Minutes with...Damon Bradshaw

Last week Jeff Matiasevich sounded off about the legends rematch race at the Rockstar Energy Drink U.S. Open at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. This week Damon Bradshaw weighed in on the rivalry with Matiasevich, and one thing is confirmed, they clearly don’t like one another. Although it has been years since they last banged bars, Bradshaw has jumped into a boot-camp training regime. “If I get my ass kicked, I know that I have done everything to get ready for this race,” he said.

  • Damon Bradshaw
On getting involved with the legends rematch race at this year’s Rockstar Energy Drink U.S. Open.
Bradshaw: We talked about this race in the past, and it struck an interest to me. In the beginning it was going to be me, Stanton and Bayle. I was really excited. I told Todd Jendro I was in, but the other guys decided not to ride. Todd asked a few other guys, and they said no. At that point, I said to him that from an advertising standpoint, call Chicken. I have wanted to ride, but I have been busy with my family. This came at a perfect time. It wasn’t like I was out of shape, but I needed to get in gear. It took some time to get a bike, and I was anxious to get one so I could see where I stood. Yamaha sent me a 450F, and I put together a deal with Monster Energy and Fly Racing.

On the start of the rivalry.
Bradshaw: We both have our ideas of when it started. It started in 1989, and there were only a few times that we raced against one another that year. There was always talk about who was faster, the east coast or the west coast, which added to the hype. We never raced until the tail end of our amateur days. I do not know why I don’t like him. I just don’t. Maybe it’s because he is from California and I am from North Carolina. For some reason, we found one another on the track. It ballooned from there. It motivated me, and I loved the animosity we had. When the fans liked it, it made me push harder.

On the only time the two held a conversation.
Bradshaw: I was in Monterey, Calif., for Yamaha’s race of champions and I stopped at a bar. I was talking to a few road race guys, and I saw Chicken at the end of the bar. I grabbed Chicken and shook him around. We started talking, and it was good that we had a few beers in us, so it was pretty mellow. We talked about the race and the rivalry then went our separate ways.

On the rivalry heating up.
Bradshaw: The closer it gets to race time, the more the rivalry heats up. I have said several times that I want it to be fun. I want it to be a good race. I want it to be tight, and when we leave, we are healthy. I don’t want either of us to get hurt even though I don’t like him. It’s going to be exciting and interesting to see where we stand with one another. You can ride and practice all you want, but until you are on the race track with the fans, you never know.

On the pressure to hit one another on the track.
Bradshaw: I do not think about that. No, I am not anticipating hitting him. I want a close race for five laps. We want to win, and I want the fans to talk about the race for years.

On growing a mullet for the race and his bike.
Bradshaw: I have decided that I will have a mullet. If you ride a two-stroke bike, you have to do so much to get the bike ready. With the 450F, I built it and rode it out of the box. It’s easy to maintain it. The last year I rode arenacross, I had a 250 two stroke, and I wanted to call Mitch Payton and ask if he would send that exact motor.

On one incident that stands out.
Bradshaw: There were so many. Everyone remembers the race at Sam Boyd in Las Vegas. That was not the worst. Some of the battles we had, anger got in front of us. I didn’t care about the championship; I had tunnel vision and chicken was at the end of that tunnel.
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On being nervous.
Bradshaw: Chicken was always a better supercross racer than outdoors. I really don’t know where we stand as far as speed. I look back at when I started racing arenacross and think about that time when I am training. Every day that I ride, I get better. I try and push myself. My timing is good. I started riding outdoors, then went to a safe night track and then I began riding at this local track that is arenacross-style. It was good to ride that track. When you are coming out of those corners on a 450f, you have to stand up and hit the first obstacle. That is tough.

On his gear.
Bradshaw: I will be riding with Fly Racing. I talked about using the AXO or Fox stuff, but I worked a deal with Fly, and they are local to me here in Idaho. I have built a relationship with them. Doug Dubach is helping me as well.

On respecting Matiasevich.
Bradshaw: I do not have a problem giving credit where credit was due. If I lost, I lost. Chicken was better on the 125cc bike and I was better on the 250cc bike. As bad as I didn’t like him, if he beat me, he beat me.

On reading the comments that Matiasevich made last week.
Bradshaw: I have not. I do not get on the Internet, but I have friends that follow it. I like hearing the comments, though.

On Matiasevich’s comments regarding the rivalry impacting their championship hopes.
Bradshaw: I think that is accurate. There were times where everything went out the window when we had issues. Didn’t think about championship. I did what I had to win the and the championship didn’t matter. I do not regret it at all. I think about them from time to time. I used that rivalry for motivation. I remember when I would battle with Jeff Stanton. The guys at Honda would see it coming and they would pull him off the track. I loved that stuff. I always like to race with someone that raced me the way I raced them.

On racing again.
Bradshaw: It is good to be needed. The nerves will be there in Vegas. It’s been a while since I have been in a small venue racing a motorcycle. I have learned through Monster Jam® that the smaller the arena, the more intimate it is. I have a lot of pressure in Monster Jam®, and I think it will be the same on my motorcycle.

On taking Matiasevich out at Bercy.
Bradshaw: It is true. I do not remember trying to stop when I took him out. We were over there and racing for the purse. It was a right hand turn, and we were both in the corner; he got the bad end of the deal. I do not think it was a t-bone, but it was a hard hit. There were some times that the banging was deliberate.

On what’s missing in today’s racing.
Bradshaw: I don’t think the anticipation of a rivalry is there in today’s racing. There isn’t that ‘whatever-it-takes’ attitude. The AMA needs to keep an eye on it, but it helps the sport to have rivalries. There used to be three of four guys in arenacross that would bump and grind, and it was awesome. There needs to be safe racing. Jeff Stanton and I hit one another so many times, and it was different than the way Chicken and I did it. I couldn’t race Chicken the way I did Stanton.

Knowing there will not be fines at the race.
Bradshaw: It’s neat that you don’t have to meet Roy Janson, who worked for the AMA at the time, after the race and get a fine. After the talk I had on the Racer X Pod cast, I was at Glen Helen and was talking to Roy Janson. Chicken walked by and Roy called him over. He looked at me and just walked by. I didn’t hold much back on the podcast interview, so I am sure I pissed Chicken off.

On preparation.
Bradshaw: If I get my ass kicked, I know that I have done everything to get ready for this race. It is motivating to get back to riding. You go out and ride, and some days you realize how fun it is. I would never go race supercross again, but it’s fun and I feel good. It’s nice to feel so motivated. I am excited about going racing.

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