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Privateer Profile: Bobby Bonds

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We do our best here at Racer X Online to shine a light on the riders that are doing it on their own. They generally don’t get as much recognition as they deserve, and we like to do as much as we can to correct that. But in the case of Bobby Bonds, he doesn’t really need our assistance. Bonds was once the next big thing in motocross racing. He had a ride with the potent Pro Circuit Kawasaki team and was blowing people’s minds at the opening round in Sacramento during an epic battle with KTM’s Grant Langston. And then, at the bottom of the big downhill, Bobby’s career took a turn for the worse. The two riders came together and Bonds went down hard. It began a string of injuries that he could never really recover from. By the time the next season rolled around, poof, Bobby Bonds was gone. He eventually healed up and began entering off-road events as a privateer. He had some success, and his potential was finally realized this year when he won the 2008 WORCS Championship – as a privateer. Against every factory team, Bobby carried the number-one plate home this year, and that is certainly worth taking a look at.

Racer X: You went into the final round nearly tied with Ricky Dietrich in the points chase. Tell us about the final round.
Bobby Bonds: It went pretty well. The track was really dry and dusty, so they laid a bunch of water down on the first lap. It was chaos off the start; people were crashing everywhere and mud was flying. Besides that, it wasn’t too bad. I had some issues with crashing during the race. I pretty much rode like myself... Completely out of control. But once I got into the lead, I calmed down and brought that thing home.

Were you and Ricky ever close during the race?
I caught him pretty easily during the race. And I’ve actually passed him quite a few times during the year, but then I usually ended up on my head a lap later. So, he might have been counting on that happening again, but I wasn’t going to do that.

How great does it feel to win a national title?
Yeah, I was definitely pumped about it. I came over to off-road about five years ago and did well. Then I started sucking really bad. So, to finally turn it around and get a championship makes me really happy.

What are the differences between motocross and off-road to you?
I’m a chronic bad starter during my twenty years of racing dirt bikes. I can’t get a good start. So, WORCS racing gives me two hours to handle my business before it ends. That also bites me in the ass a lot because I like to crash a lot. Obviously, all the fastest dudes race motocross, but it takes some patience and fitness to win a two-hour race.

Hey, I’ve done some of those races and it’s no walk in the park. You guys are hauling the mail and there are more and more guys moving into that type of racing.
Absolutely. When I started people were showing up in pickup trucks and now we have legit teams and semis and it’s growing. Ryan Hughes, Damon Huffman, Mike Brown, Mike Keidrowski and a bunch of other top motocross riders have all made runs in this sport, so it is gaining popularity.

What happened in your motocross career? You were looking like the next big thing and then you just disappeared.
I just sucked (laughs). I had good bikes and all that but I just couldn’t make it happen. I got hurt and things just didn’t come together. You get forgotten about in this sport pretty quick. I got hurt in 2003 and going into 2004 I had no offers. Nobody called me and I couldn’t find a thing. I still wanted to ride a dirt bike so I called Jason from Kawasaki and bugged him to get me a bike to ride off-road on. I got nothing that year. I won some races and then just hung around until things got better.

The first thing that comes to mind for a lot of people when they hear your name is the controversial contact between you and Grant Langston at Hangtown. Have you ever had words with him about that? What are your thoughts on that?
It’s really funny because people still remember me from that day and that is one of the first things they say to me. We never talked. I guess that’s racing. I should have protected my line. It sucked for me but what can you do about it? That was seven years ago already; I was just a little kid.

Seven years ago… Man, time flies.
I’m tellin’ ya. It seems like just yesterday.

What are your plans for next year and beyond?
I signed a deal with a new team for WORCS. It’s a team called Valley Motorsports and they are giving us a lot of freedom. The owner is a guy named Chad Lanza from the San Jose area and he just loves the sport. Kyle Summers, Bobby Garrison and myself will be riding for him and we have the freedom to ride [MX] Nationals if we want. I did a couple this year and I did all right. It just helps our speed in WORCS, you know? I am planning on doing a bunch of them next year and I think Garrison and Summers are going to do the same.{QUOTE}What kind of bikes?
Hondas. I’m pumped on that.

Have you done any of the Endurocross series?
I did the very first one in 2004. I may be 5’9” but I have the legs of a five-footer. So, that Endurocross thing isn’t my forte. I’ll try one next year and if I get smoked I’ll be cool with that.

Who has been helping you out, Bobby?
A local guy named Derek Gercke has been helping me out the last few years and that has been huge. I can’t thank him enough. Also, the Honolulu Hills guys have been awesome and I want to thank them a lot. For the most part I was a privateer this year with nothing more than your average amateur discounts on stuff.

I’ll tell you what: It’s not often a rider with little or no help can beat a field full of factory teams straight up. That is a big accomplishment.
Thank you. That is another thing that is great about this series. We ran a stock motor and just bolted on the bigger tank and a few parts and went for it. The bike has to be good but it leaves a lot of it up to the rider.

Congratulations again, Bobby. I’m sure you’ve given hope to a lot of guys out there that don’t have rides.
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