In his rookie season racing AMA Supercross Lites, “Scuba” Steven Clarke made every main event, scored a top-five finish, and ended the series tied for tenth. That’s not too bad considering Clarke was born and raised in England, a country not really known for producing supercross stars. We haven’t heard much from the bloke this year, so we decided to ring him up for this “5 Minutes with” interview.
Racer X: First of all, where did you get the nickname “Scuba?”
“Scuba” Steven Clarke: [Laughs] Umm, the first time I ever came over to America to train with Davi Millsaps, I guess those guys went out that night that I got there, and the movie Big Daddy just came out. In that movie there was a guy called Scuba Steve, and I guess it was fresh in their minds and this guy from England came over named Steven, so they just started calling me “Scuba.”
Well, I’m now recovering from knee surgery that I had yesterday. I’m thinking I’m going to take two weeks off, because it wasn’t a major surgery; it was just keyhole surgery where they just tidied up in there. So, the doctor said like two to three weeks, but I’d like to take it down to two weeks so I could start preparing for outdoors sooner.
I know you rode most of the season with a bum knee. What was the extent of the damage in there?
I tore my LCL and my MCL, and it was too messed up to where they couldn’t sew it back together, so they just cut all of the excess stuff off and the goal if for it to heal itself back together.
It’s good news that you won’t be sitting out the outdoor nationals.
Yeah, I knew going into the surgery that it was only going to take a few weeks to heal, so that’s why I waited till after supercross.
Speaking of supercross, it was your first full season racing inside the stadiums, and being from England, that’s something you’re not too accustomed to. We know you finished up tied for 10th, but in your mind how did it go?
It went, um, good. I’m going to leave it at good. It didn’t go spectacular; spectacular would’ve been top five, and it didn’t go great, because I was up into sixth in the championship, but then I tore my knee up and I fractured my ankle in Toronto, which nobody knows about. So I just wanted to finish out the season and see what I could come away with.
I was happy I still finished tied for tenth place and I feel like I had the speed to run up front with those guys. Things just didn’t go my way. After I tore my knee up, I didn’t practice at all during the week, so I just been pretty much showing up to the race on the weekends and trying to let it rip.
With an injured knee and broken ankle, it must be a huge relief to have the season end.
Yeah, pain is just a feeling, you know? I tried not to let it affect my riding; it just affected my fitness and my ability to continue that speed for the rest of the race.
Your best finish was a fifth in Indy. A top five in that class is impressive.
I was happy with that, but I wasn’t satisfied, because I was in third place and I was running with Stroupe and Pourcel. It wasn’t easy, but I felt comfortable running that speed. And I just know in my heart that if I didn’t have an injured knee, I woud’ve been able to continue running that pace for the whole race. There was a big single right after the whoops, and you had to launch it—that was the fastest way. And after like four or five laps of launching it, I couldn’t really stand up too well, so I kind of blew myself out, to say the least.
But I’m not saying I would’ve finished third, but I feel I would’ve given more of a chase for it, instead of just settling for fifth place. But in my first year, fifth place isn’t bad; that’s where I was expecting to be finishing. So I proved myself, and that’s the main thing I guess.
If you could turn back time and do the entire series over, what would you change?
I definitely wouldn’t ride on Friday the 13th! [Laughs] That’s when I got hurt! I think that’s the only thing I would’ve changed. I was prepared coming into it; I had the speed and endurance, I just needed to get the racing experience out of it, because going into Houston I hadn’t raced since Steel City. I had to get those first crashed out of the way, and I did that without getting hurt.
I had a solid championship. I was a little up and down, but I made every main event, which was a goal in itself for me in my first year. I know Blake Wharton won a supercross and a couple qualifiers, but he didn’t make every main. Nico Izzi, he’s in his second year now and he didn’t make every main. So that just shows everyone that I’m going to make every main, regardless. I was in the LCQ with Izzi, Lemoine and Hahn, and I beat all of those guys straight up. I showed that I had the speed. So honestly, I really don’t think I would’ve changed that much.
What was your favorite obstacle in supercross?
The whoops. I know I was injured, but normally that’s where I make up most of my time.
The first turns! [Laughs] Just knowing everybody on that line is capable of pulling the holeshot and not scared to bang bars going into it is pretty scary.
My bikes were really good. It was running great all year, and I’m happy about that. Obviously, it’s not going to be quite as fast as Mitch Payton’s, but my bike was fast enough for me to where I know I could’ve finished near the front. I’m just really grateful to Michael [Nasakaitis] for helping me out, because other than that, I had nothing. And with the economy being so bad, it would’ve been really difficult for me to afford getting to the races and everything. I owe everything to him at the moment for this opportunity. I just hope my results kind of paid him back a little bit. I got a lot of TV coverage, which was good for him, I know that. I just hope to be all healed up for the outdoors.
You’ll be in the 250 class outdoors, right? I know your teammate, Matt Goerke, is jumping up to a 450.
Yeah, for him, I think it’s a good choice to go to the 450. He’s a bit bigger, and he rides it really well, but I’m staying on the 250.
How were you mentally this year? Were you intimidated?
Not at all. I don’t really think about anyone else when I’m out there. I just try to ride my own race. I’m not trying to blow my own trumpet or anything, but I know I’m a more technical rider than 95 percent of the guys out there. I just need to keep working at it.
Who do you want to thank, Steven?
Especially my mom and dad; I couldn’t be here with out them. They’ve sacrificed so much for me in England, so I definitely owe it all to them. Colleen Millsaps and all the guys at MTF for helping me with riding and training; Michael my team manager for giving me the opportunity on the team; and all of the sponsors that put the bike together, like Suzuki City, RG3, Utopia, Thermo Probe, Parts Unlimited, Two Brothers, CV4, Pirelli tires, Crew Wear, TCX boots, Cometic, VP Fuels, Wiseco pistons, Moose, RK, K&N, Works Connection, Motion Pro, Boyesen, Pro Taper, SBS, MGX Unlimited, Hansen & Associates, Moto Master and Beau Rivage Casino & Resort.