5 Minutes With... Timmy Ferry

Timmy Ferry has been there and done it all in the sport of motocross. He’s been on top, he’s been on the outs, and both more than once. What he offers is perspective, and agree or disagree, you have to appreciate it. We talked to him this week about his somewhat lackluster results, his fans, and why he thinks last week’s Racerhead was too negative.

Racer X: Take us through your year so far, because a lot of people were probably expecting a lot better results from you, to put it bluntly.
Timmy Ferry: I think you’re right, or everybody else is right: I expected to be doing a lot better up to this point. I thought that top five was going to be fairly easy for me, but things have obviously changed a little bit. There are some guys in our class that have moved up that are fast, and some of the guys who were in the class last year have gotten a little bit better. It’s not been quite as easy as I was thinking it was going to be. I didn’t slack off, obviously, because I don’t do that, so it’s not for a lack of effort. Lately, I’ve actually started to feel pretty good. I had the sixth-fastest laptime last week in practice, and that was a little better than what I’ve been getting, but to not see my name up on that board is kind of tough to take sometimes.

What about bike setup and whatnot? Obviously, the bike’s new this year, so how much has that played into your results varying from where they were last year and the year before?
You know, obviously we have a new bike. It’s basically a whole new bike, so last year was a no-brainer [for setup]. It was almost too easy. This year has definitely been a little bit harder. We’ve had more stuff to go through, and there are big changes, with it being fuel-injected and having a whole new chassis, so I’ve definitely been changing my setup more than I have in the past, just trying to get it perfect. That’s kind of my style. I don’t really stop testing. Maybe being a little bit wishy-washy changing things is affecting my confidence a little bit, as far as coming to the race. Last year, I rode one setup almost the whole year, it seemed like. So, we’re still changing things, but I think we’ve got a pretty good base down now, and Ryan’s had some pretty good results before his big crash last weekend, and my laptimes are starting to come around, too.

It seems like some of the veteran guys, a new bike can sort of mess with their flow a little more than other guys. Do you feel like maybe that’s true, because you guys sort of know what you like and how it feels and you’re constantly searching for that?
I think you’re kind of referring to Windham... I mean, we’re both guys who like to be really comfortable, period. So, yeah, when you have something that you rode the whole year before, it’s easy – it’s a no-brainer. But at the same time, it’s just challenging to me. A lot of riders hate the testing part, but I enjoy it and I get excited when I find something that works better. At the same time, if I can make the bike better for the team – for Kawasaki... I look at it a little bit different than some of the riders do. But our bike’s good, I think I’m just finding my comfort zone.

What about having James Stewart as your teammate last year? I wouldn’t imagine, given your riding styles, that you two shared a lot of settings, but am I wrong about that? Does having him on another team now play any part in your testing abilities?
You can tell by looking at his bike that James’ bike was set up a lot different, but me and Ryan are really, really similar. Our riding styles may not look quite the same, but when it comes down to bike setup, we’re really close, which actually is a really good thing. It keeps the whole team on the same page and makes it easier for me to talk to him. I’ve been able to talk to and relate with him much more than I was able to with James or really anyone else in the past. That part’s been good. I think I’ve been able to help him a little bit, and I’ve been able to ride a lot more with him than I did with James, so that’s been a big benefit to me, too.

Given your last couple years, being so strong, is it almost even harder to take some of the lackluster results so far this year? You were a podium threat nearly every weekend for the last couple of years...
It is, but at the same time, this is a new year. This isn’t last year or the year before. Racing has changed a lot this year. I remember talking to you about it, but there are new guys in the class, not to mention that everybody’s healthy. James is back, and he didn’t race last year, and Josh Grant’s riding really good right now, and Tedesco’s riding good... There are just way more guys, so a third place last year could be a sixth this year. It’s a different season. When I get 10th, I get pretty pissed about it, but at the same time, I’ve got some really good guys in front of me, and there are good guys behind me. The class is stacked, and I think it’s good for the sport. Look, you guys all wrote Millsaps off, and he busted out a third last weekend, so maybe I’m next...

That’s harsh: “you guys.”
(Laughs) It’s true. I’m just generalizing you guys, but he’s had some bad races, and you guys are saying he hasn’t been training, and last weekend he killed it.

Just speaking generally, “you guys” are lazy and stuff.
(Laughs) Yeah, if you don’t win, you just totally suck on a dirt bike. That’s kind of what I feel like the press is about right now, so...

Without me leading you too much, you said you had a bit of an issue with Racerhead last Friday. Let’s talk about it. What did you see that upset you?
I just keep hearing, every week, that something bad is happening in our sport – the economy’s bad, and this and that – but, dude, the fans are still there every week, so obviously they’re supporting us, and I just felt like that Racerhead put a negative spin on our sport in general. There was some controversy with Lawrence and Hansen, and everything just seemed negative. I think there’s a lot of good things going on right now, though. Look at everyone being healthy, and even Michael Byrne’s coming back. I think our sport’s in a good spot, but after I read it, I was afraid that motorcycles were going to be extinct. Kids weren’t going to be able to ride dirt bikes, and guys are fighting after the races, and Millsaps sucks because he got 10th... (Laughs) At the end, I was just like, “God, man, cut us some slack here!” The fans are there, so they’re the ones paying the money to come and watch us race, and they haven’t let us down this year, I don’t think.

Speaking of fans, you still have quite a few, and I hate to do this to you, because I know I make fun of you being old all the time, but for example, when Mike LaRocco was near the end of his career and he was in his mid-30s, he would say that he had fans who liked him because if he was still racing, it made it okay for them to still be racing, too. Do you get that at all?
I might be giving a lot of guys hall passes from their wives, which is great. I do get that. Last weekend, I had somebody come up and said they were 38 years old and that I was their favorite rider, and they felt like they were riding races through me. I get that a lot. But it’s kind of weird, too, because I have a lot of young kids that are fans, too, because their dad’s a big fan of me, and at home, their dad’s always drilling them, I’m sure. It’s kind of weird to have young kids, and a lot of plus-30 and plus-40 riders. I don’t think there’s an age limit for a pro-level rider, or just a weekend warrior.

Is your kid still a huge James Stewart fan? Or is he more about Villopoto now that James is in a different truck?
Pastrana trumps anybody, and Cowboy Kenny. He met Cowboy Kenny at Phoenix this year, and that pretty much made his year so far. He’s watching Nitro Circus and wants to be a freestyler. Yesterday, I was showing him old videos of Pastrana racing to explain, “Listen, Travis raced before he did freestyle!” I’m trying to educate a four-year-old that he has to race, so... But he really likes Ryan. Ryan talks to him quite a bit, and he wanted mom to bring Ryan home with him last weekend, I guess, from the race to play with him. He’s been on his 50 here lately – he’s got a little KDX50 – and he’s been riding in his grandparents’ back yard, so he’s getting into it.

So is this maybe a second-generation Ferry that may come up through the racing ranks here soon?
I don’t know. If he’s for it, obviously I’ll support him. It’s a little nerve-wracking watching your kid ride. He hit the fence the other day, so... (Laughs) That pretty much scared the crap out of me. I think I’ll get more used to it once I get to watch him some, but we’ll see what happens. He’s only four, right?

Now you know how your parents felt, though...
I don’t know how some of the parents take it. We ride on the edge all the time – we’re always trying to get better – but once it’s in your blood, the riding outweighs the injury part big-time.