You’re not doing any of the Arenacrosses this year. Why is that?
Well, when Suzuki backed out of their program this year I had to make a decision and since I had to buy some bikes I figured I would come and race some 450s. Be a little cheaper probably.
We have seen a lot of guys who are successful in Arenacross, but who have been unable to transfer that success to the larger Supercross stadiums. What do you think the biggest adjustment is?
Obviously the competition. Supercross is the big-time and you has amazing people riding, where Arenacross is kind of like a stepping stone. Arenacross is tighter, but it’s a little easier. Stuff like that.
When you burst on the scene, you were one of those guys. You had blazing fast speed and your form is still something that I admire to this day. You always look awesome on the motorcycle.
Thanks, I appreciate it. Yeah, it was really awesome when I was growing up, you know? I do wish I would have had somebody, maybe look over me a little better, so that when I did have some of those injuries that kinda set me back, that maybe someone would have held me back and kept me from getting back on the bike too soon. I think that may have helped my career last a little longer. Just to have had a little more guidance back then––but you live and learn, and I try to help out the kids that I know now who are coming up.
It did seem that even when you were coming back and things started to roll your way a little bit, that something else would get thrown at you. How frustrating is that when you believe that you can be as fast as anyone out there...
Yeah, I never thought anyone else was faster than me. I was always that way––until, well, probably nowadays, where I am a little older and probably a little wiser, and you know, think about those things a little more and take my time a little more. Not that that is a good thing really because you have to just react to everything. But it definitely was hard to keep coming back and keep doing it, but when I was young, you know, I felt like I was invincible and just kept going. Now, I look back and think, man, I had that many injuries from 16 to 18? How did I do it? You know, but back then it didn’t even really dawn on me.
Can you talk about the mental side of it? Building confidence and what that is like coming back from injury after injury and trying to regain that same level...
Back then, like I said, I thought I was invincible and it didn’t really phase me. As soon as I got back on the bike I just pinned it, and didn’t really think about it. Now, it plays a big part and you have to have that confidence in yourself, your bike and everything else to perform, and if you are not confident and comfortable, you know, for me I really back it down a lot instead of just hanging it out. It does take a lot of confidence and a lot of mental stuff.
It is funny how that happens as we get older. I was just checking out the track from the floor level, and it looks totally different from the floor. Some of these obstacles are intimidating!
Yeah, it is and this track I think is better than what we had last week. I think Mike LaRocco did a good job designing it and there are different ways to do some of the obstacles and stuff like that, so I think it should be a little better for passing.
Speaking of old-school. I first got introduced to the sport in the mid-80s during the reign of RJ, Bailey and Wardy. When you were growing up, who did you look up to the most and why?
Guy Cooper, because he was a local guy [in Oklahoma]. He was pretty much who I looked up to and I always wanted to whip it like him. Cooper, you know, even when he wasn’t doing the best, he would just start throwing whips and having fun, and that’s what it’s all about; having fun.
You have always had a great deal of support from your entire family...
Yeah, I definitely couldn’t do it without my family, and obviously my father does a lot for me. He keeps the bike underneath me at all times and my sister Cherri – obviously she lives on the internet! If you are ever on there [Motonews.com] you would know that, because she is on there 24-7, but she does a good job and if anybody says anything she’ll straighten them out for me!
And what about your dad? That is quite a relationship you have had with him over the years.
Yeah it is, it’s really awesome. Sometimes it’s a little difficult because of the father/son thing, but you know, I have learned how to deal with it and we have learned how to deal with each other better. We are very close and family is very important to me... And he hurries home every weekend to be with mom!
Are you at that point where you start to ask yourself how long you are going to continue doing this?
Yeah, you know, I really don’t know, just until I’m not having fun at it. That’s the main thing, to enjoy it and have fun. I actually enjoy working with a lot of kids. I work with some kids back home and I definitely get that feeling when they do well, kind of like I used to when I was winning and everything. So I could be doing that more and more.
You do have a very loyal fan base. Is that rewarding in itself, the kind of following you have?
Yeah it’s awesome. The people that you see every weekend and that help me out, those sponsors I have that have been with me for so long who do whatever they can for me, that means a lot to me. I appreciate it.
As a final question. How much have you seen this sport change since you turned pro back in ‘93?
Ah, it’s pretty amazing. For one, it’s the amount that the riders get paid. The amount of talent, how different the training is – with the personal doctors and trainers you have now – it has changed drastically. And I definitely think that, like I said earlier, if I would have had maybe a little more guidance in those areas, that maybe things would have been a little better for me.
What about these scars on your forearms?
That’s actually arm-pump surgery, and my theory is, don’t do it, because it didn’t work for me!
Hey, I appreciate you taking the time to talk to me and good luck.