Monday Conversation II: Kyle Lewis

Thirty-eight-year-old Kyle Lewis has been a journeyman pro for a long time. He came onto the scene in 1987, winning San Diego SX in the 125cc West class. He went on in his career and has certainly seen enough in his life to write a book educating any youngsters on the ups and downs of being a professional motocrosser. This past weekend at Glen Helen, Kyle raced the World Vet Championships and came home with the victory. His 2-2 moto scores narrowly edged out Craig Decker’s 1-3 (they used the Olympic style of scoring.) Amazingly enough, despite being eligible for eight years, this was the first time he showed up and raced with the geezers.  We tracked him down after the race when he was relaxing with his family and wiener dog.

  • Kyle Lewis
Racer X: Well congrats, Kyle, you are now a World Champion in the Vet class. Tell me about your day.
Kyle Lewis: I got lucky!

Well, your nickname is lucky, you know?
There it is. Ryan Hughes was the fastest guy today and handled everybody. He had a bit of a problem in the first one and you have to put two motos together. I kind of got caught with my pants down in the first moto and Decker caught me and passed me on the last lap. I didn’t even know he was there. I was like, “Whoa, what happened?” The second moto, I knew I had to get second to win it and stayed there the whole time and brought it home. Everything went good.

So you were doing the math in your head while riding?
Yeah, for sure. I knew that I needed second and didn’t want to screw anything up. I just rode the race. My guys were telling me ‘plus this’ and ‘plus that’ so I knew, plus I could see him in spots. He actually closed in on me again, but I was like, “not this time.”

What have you been doing for this race?
To be honest, I’ve been sick for about three weeks, and two weeks ago I just got back on the bike. I’ve been working with Kal-Gard a whole bunch; we’ve got some new line coming out and I’ve been concentrating on that. Our 10-40 is good but we’ve been working on our other weights to bring them up. Our 5w30 is not where it should be, so I’ve been testing that for them. I’ve also been training some kids and working with them, Daniel Hendrix and some other kids, and also I’ve been riding with my buddies and hanging out.

You’ve got the trusty 2008 Honda and Ryno was on the 2009 model... Was there any difference for you?
Nope, I like my ’08. Crower did the motor for me and it was a bit too much. I had to gear it differently to be able to handle it out there.

What are your plans for 2009?
I’m going to do a select number of races. Kal-Gard is going to push into the amateur ranks, so I’ll probably do some of those vet races at the amateur nationals and things like that. I’ll have fun with that, maybe a WORCS race, maybe a couple of nationals. Maybe I’ll have you come and be my man-friend for the weekend.

I don’t know if you want that. My guy went 6-6 on the day and you won!
I want to keep my number. My goal is to keep it until I’m forty. I’d like to do a National tour again when I’m forty and just hang out and have fun with it – kind of like Guy Cooper did a few years ago. I have a ton of friends on the east coast, and my whole career people would come up to me and thank me for doing it for the old guys, so maybe I’ll give back to them.

What is it about Glen Helen for you? You’ve had some great rides here and always seem to have something special happening for you here.
Yeah, I like it. It’s similar to the Indian Dunes dirt that I grew up riding on. I used to ride here when it was Arroyo Park, actually, that’s how long I’ve been coming here for! Way, way back...

Was that when you were racing against Short Stack, The Jammer, Sugar Bear and Hurricane?
Ha, no not quite that old. That was like Willy Surratt, Paul Denis, Larry Brooks, Scott Brown and Kyle Fleming. We’d battle out here on 60s and 80s. I guess it’s just southern California and the way it is here. I’m familiar with the dirt and soil. Also the fans here are crazy – they hang over the fences, and at the nationals I get hit on the helmet sometimes from fans. They’ve seen me since I’ve been a kid. I guess I’ve also gotten lucky a few times here and there with a good start.

Who do you want to thank?
First off, Kal-Gard – they’ve been awesome – Mid-Cities Honda, Psycho City, Sawyer Construction, the guys at ReMax are helping me out, Vince at BTO – he’s awesome – Tag Metals, Yoshimura, 661, Sidi – Bill Berroth is great – Jim, Frank and Chris at O’Neal, and Dunlop tires.