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Monday Conversation: Tim Ferry

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Last night at the magnificent Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum outside of Birmingham, Alabama, Monster Energy Kawasaki rider Timmy Ferry was once again honored as member of a winning Team USA at the AMA Awards Banquet. Ferry, the 33-year-old veteran, was checking out some of the amazing motorcycles in George Barber’s collection, which includes everything from a Brough Superior – a replica of the bike that World War One hero T.E. Lawrence, better known as “Lawrence of Arabia,” lost his life on – to Ferry’s own ‘02 YZ426F, which is the bike on which he finished second to Ricky Carmichael in the 2002 AMA Motocross Championships. So while checking out the bikes together before the banquet started, Ferry and I enjoyed this conversation….

  • Tim Ferry at the AMA Awards Banquet
Racer X: Tim, you’re here at the AMA Awards Banquet because you are part of the championship team at the Motocross of Nations. Congratulations on that – again!
Tim Ferry: Yes, thanks a lot. That race has been something that I have always wanted to win. I was able to win last year at Budds Creek too and then again this year, so that means a lot to me. That race is just huge, and I see that it’s last on the program tonight, so that means it’s a pretty big deal to everyone here too. I hope to be part of it again in 2009.

And congratulations on your new Racer X cover—that was well-earned.
Yeah, thanks for that.

Man, you’ve been around so long, you’ve had newspaper covers with us—back when we were The Racing Paper even!
That’s right. I’m excited about the cover, and that’s been coming up quite a bit lately. John Basher over at MXA said, “Man, what do you think about all of these covers you’re getting?” I was like, it’s just cool to be on a cover—and it was really cool to see that #3 on the cover of Racer X because of the MXoN, which is awesome for me.

How is the off-season going?
Tim Ferry: You know what? It’s going really good. It’s almost not long enough right now with the Motocross of Nations and testing and all. I didn’t even do the U.S. Open, but I’ve been out to California [from his home in Florida] twice to test, but I am getting to spend a lot of time at home. My kids started school this year so I’ve been able to take them to school and pick them up, so that’s been really cool.

You have a new teammate now in Ryan Villopoto. What’s that kid like to work with?
He’s really cool. I’ve been out to California twice to test, and I’ve actually stayed with him because I don’t have a place in California, so he’s been very kind to me. He’s excited about the season, he’s very energetic, and that’s good for me, being 33 and all. With a 20-year-old kid as a teammate that’s always amped up, we compliment each other really well. I think our temperments are pretty similar, so we get along well.

  • Ferry got his lean on for our January 2009 cover
And then there’s your old teammate, James Stewart—you guys must still run into each other every now and then down in Florida…
Yeah, we do. James and I always had a really great relationship too. We always got along and I’ve been watching him ride since he was on a 50! Being from Florida, it’s just like it is with the Michigan Mafia guys—we all kind of stick together a little bit. James was great for me to have around the last couple years. I mean, obviously he’s doing stuff on the bike that no one else is doing, and I got to see that before everybody else, and I think he really helped my speed out.

You know, as someone who watches a lot of races, I can honestly see the changes in your riding style over the years, from what Jeremy was doing, to some of what Ricky was doing, and now you’ve picked up some things off  James. I think your style has changed five different times!
[Laughs]  You’re right there!

I mean, you can even kind of almost do a whip now.
[Laughs] Man, I can whip it a little bit, though that cover photo was more of a butt whip, I think. But yeah, I’ve had to change a lot to keep up with the times. It’s something that I’ve really put a lot of focus on doing, because I feel like sometimes it’s what made other guys retire too soon—they didn’t develop into the next style or generation—so I spend a lot of time watching and basically trying to mimic the riders who are doing the innovative stuff. Just last week in California, Ryan had me riding with my elbows just strapped around my waist, just trying something different to see how it would work.

Were you at the Kawi track for either the Austin Stroupe crash or the Chris Pourcel crash?
I was actually right there when Austin crashed, doing some photos. It was really dry, right at the end of the day, and it was unfortunate because he was riding really good. But the jump was so simple, I couldn’t believe they crashed there. I hear all the time that it’s when you’re relaxed and something’s easy, that’s when you crash and get hurt. I mean, Hunter Hewitt crashed there on the same jump! It was not gnarly at all, and I could have taught a novice rider to get over it with a wheel-tap, no problem.

  • Ferry's 2002 YZ426F
  • Ferry chats with Erin Bates and her microphone at the banquet
Well, you could teach me, but the jump is gone now, right?
Yep, it’s gone. That section, for almost the whole year we were going outside to triple, but all of the sudden we find a new line out of the inside, so we start going there on to wheel-tap it, but for Stroupe it was just bone dry, he spun, and that was it. It was tough to see because I’ve gotten to know Austin a little, and he was really hurting.

As far what comes next, you’ve got, what, six weeks to Anaheim 1?
Yeah, six weeks! The off-season has gone by quick. But I’m amped up. I say I want the long off-season, but I am really ready to get back on the starting gate. You can only go around the practice track so many times!

Well, we look forward to it too. Hey, what do you think of this bike collection Mr. Barber has here?
It’s amazing. I can’t believe all of the stuff here. We just need to get some more dirt bikes in here, I am about to send a couple of the ones that I’ve got! I saw the Cannondale over there, which is kind if neat because they are already gone, and then they have my 2002 Yamaha 426.

What’s in your collection?
Well, I have a yellow 1982 YZ60 which is my first bike ever, and my dad rebuilt it to almost 100% the way it was when I was riding it, and then I just got my MXoN bike from this year, which is in my game room right now, so I am pumped about that. So that’s it—I have two bikes! Now that I am getting a little older, I really wish I would have kept some of my old bikes.

And how do you like Birmingham in general?
Well, we came up early because my wife’s cousin goes to Samford University, and we went and stayed there. It was really new for me because I never went to college, so it was fun.

Wait a minute. All of the times you were at Gatorback, in Gainsesville, you never went over and checked out the University of Florida and all of those bars and stuff?
[Laughs] Never! I don’t even know where the school is, only the racetrack! I did my time in high school, and I haven’t seen a college campus in forever.  

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