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Privateer Profile: Tyler Bowers

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After some decent AMA Supercross East Coast Lites rides last year, Tyler Bowers seemed to have disappeared off the map by mid-summer. Rumors had him going to Europe, or quitting racing altogether. Showing up for the 2009 Monster Energy/AMA Supercross Series as a Wonder Warthog privateer, the recently turned 18-year-old struggled at first. Then, as the series moved on, Bowers began making mains, and attracted the attention of the newly formed Moto Concepts Team (MCRMX), which is where we caught up with the rider ranked 21st in points. 

  • Tyler Bowers
Racer X: Tyler, before we start talking about this season, what happened last summer?
Tyler Bowers: Well, the Yamaha of Troy thing didn’t really work out. I got to a point where I was a little injured, and also they didn’t really want me at the races anymore. Me and [Zach] Osborne ended up sitting at home most of the weekends when we actually could’ve been racing. He ended up going go Europe, and riding for the Utag Yamaha Team - really setting the world on fire over there. Toward the end of the summer, I really wasn’t riding much – actually, I wasn’t doing much of anything. I didn’t have a bike to ride. I was sitting at home fishing, just hanging out, and having a good time - being a normal kid again. Then I started riding a little bit on a buddy’s bike.

There was some talk last fall that you may be going to Europe to race for the CAS Honda Team. 
I went over there and tested for eight days. It was an exciting eight days. Every night, I stayed at somebody else’s house, just with a complete stranger. I went over there by myself, and with being 17 years old at the time, I was pretty freaked out. Then I ended up getting to stay with who would have been my teammate, Billy Mackenzie - who is like if Jason Lawrence and Davi Millsaps had a kid. He’s very tall and kind of mean. He looks like he’s real cool, but then he acts like Jason. He’s just a real weird guy, like a party animal – staying with him was eventful. But the team liked me, and we started working out a deal. I went to the Leirop [Netherlands] GP and got to see one of the most intense tracks on that circuit - that was sweet. But in the end, I don’t think it was time for me to race the GPs. The deal was great; they were going to move me into my own house over there, which sounds nice, but it’s a foreign country and I wasn’t too into the atmosphere over there right yet. I felt like I had a lot of unfinished business to do over here in the States.  

And your “unfinished business” was racing the Supercross class?
Yes. I started out as a privateer at the beginning of the year with the Wonder Warthog program. I was just having a hard time; real stressed out getting over a wrist surgery. I didn’t make any of the West Coast mains, except for San Francisco where I and about 10 other guys got into a takeout match in the back of the pack - I ended up 16th there. Then Moto Concepts picked me up in San Diego. We used my bike for a few rounds, and just recently I switched over to [Ben] Coisy’s old motor; which is working great. In Atlanta, you could see the huge difference with just moving from Wonder Warthog, which is definitely a great program, to the MCRMX Team. Early in the series, I had a lot of stress on my shoulders; I wasn’t really getting paid, or any steady income. I didn’t know where I was going to eat the next day, and I didn’t know where I was going to sleep. I was staying in California in the middle of the desert at Honolulu Hills in a buddy’s motor home – just out there working on that track every day, and riding. Moto Concepts came on and gave me a little bit more structure to my program; where I could get back to my own deal again. Then I went back to Alabama when the series moved east. I stayed at Chad Ward’s place for a while - just riding every day, and working on his track, keeping everything up. I’ve been just living, breathing, and eating supercross; my program has really gone up.

  • Tyler Bowers
It is showing in your results, too.
You know, I didn’t forget how to ride a motorcycle by any means. I think the biggest problem I’m having right now is more mental than anything. Like I said, I was really stressed out during the whole West Coast rounds because I had a lot of things on my plate. I would end up going to the races with my dad working as my mechanic; he was stressed out moneywise, and we were really struggling. I would go to the line, and when I’m trying to think about the race, I could see him talking to himself over there - I know he wasn’t talking about the track. So that got in my head, and was thinking, “Oh, I’ve got to make this main; I have to do good.  I’ve got to get enough money for the rest of the rest of the week. Where am I going to stay this week?” and stuff like that. With Moto Concepts, I don’t have to worry about where I’m going to buy parts or anything like that. If I ride my bike hard on the weekend and it blows up, I know going to be able to race again the following weekend.

Moto Concepts really has a program; it’s more structured, and it relieves a lot of stress. I’ve also started working with Brian McDonald whom I met through the Warthog program. He is sort of a mental coach, or motivational speaker; I’m really impressed with him. He’s been coming down to Alabama about once a week. Instead of adjustingthings on the bike trying to make it better, he adjusts the clickers in my head, trying to dial me in a little bit more. It seems to be working great; I have a lot more confidence on the bike. I don’t think I’m where I used to be before I went Pro, or maybe even to where I was last year at this time, but I’m getting a lot closer. I’ve had a lot of setbacks with injuries, from a broken wrist to nerve damage in my hip that’s bothering me every time I go through a turn, but the bike’s great. My mechanic, Jason McCormick, is amazing - he himself is a winner. He’s a racer, and knows what he is doing - he keeps the bike in tip-top shape. We’re still working a few bugs out of the Hondas this year as it’s a new bike, but it’ll come together.

With Supercross winding down, what do you want to accomplish in these last couple races?
I feel that I can get a top-10. I just need to break through in the main. I know I’m not out of shape, but my head tells me that I am; I’m just working on getting the confidence back to know that I can do 20 solid laps. I can do it, and I know I can make it through, but in the race I sometimes hit that wall. I think that if I pushed through that wall, I can get a top 10. I just really want to be happy, and know that I gave 100 percent. I want my family to see all the hard work I’ve put forth and all the hard work they’ve put forth come together. 

Is Moto Concepts racing outdoors?
Yeah, for sure. This team’s supposed to be doing outdoors this year, and I’m supposed to be with them outdoors, supercross, and outdoors again - I signed an 18-month deal with them. They’re just stepping into it getting their feet wet, and there’s a lot more to come. The team owner, Mike Genova, is a serious guy; honestly he doesn’t even like what we’re doing right now – he wants more. I think a couple of the guys are doing a pretty good job, but he strives for the best, and he’s going to do everything that he can to get there. Plus, you have Steve Lamson as a Team Manager and he’s no joke either! I was kind of nervous to work with Steve at first because I didn’t know how he was going to be. A lot of the older pros can be a little weird, but man Steve’s amazing. He’s super-positive, and when you tell him something, he’ll listen to you and use it. He’s not like a cushion. He’s not like, “Oh, yeah, that’s cool, man”, and telling you everything that you want to hear. I like the guy a lot. Overall, this team has a good, positive atmosphere. I feel a lot better outdoors than I do supercross. I’m a smooth rider for supercross, but outdoors I’m smooth in a sense where just everything flows together and it all feels good - I’m really ready to get out of second gear [Laughs]!

{LINKS}With that said, Tyler, let’s wrap up with who you want to thank.
I’d like to thank my family, my mom, my dad, and my sister Chelsea, along with my mechanic, Jason McCormick. Of course, I want to thank Steve [Lamson] and Mike Genova for putting the team together – everything is running very well. Eddie Wood also does a lot for the team too, and he’s getting everything together. Also, I would like to thank the whole Moto Concepts crew, along with our sponsors like Fly, Decal Works, FMF, Pirelli, MDK, Alpinestars, RK, TCR, Guts, Motion Pro, Sunline, Utopia, Moto Hose, Smooth Industries, Vortex, and Motorex. A big thank you goes to the Warthog guys for really standing behind me for a while at the beginning of the year. They’re there to take riders that need that stepping stone to groom them into a ride, and that’s what they did - they groomed me. They actually moved up two guys this year, so they’re doing really good. They’ve got a couple guys over there right now like [Dennis] Jonon, and they’re all riding really good. I’d like to thank them a lot, and everybody out there who’s helping me out.  

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