England’s Max Anstie may very well be the youngest rider to line up at Glen Helen in a few weeks for the 2009 Lucas Oil AMA Motocross Championships. Just turning 16 a few weeks ago, the Multi-Time 85cc Champ looks to take a different AMA Pro career path than many of his peers. But with dad Mervyn, a former British Motocross Champion and World Motocross GP winner, as well as KTM behind him, he’s ready! We caught up with Max a few days ago as he was travelling to Colorado to check out the Lakewood National track.
Max Anstie: Well, my dad used to race the World Motocross GPs, so I was brought up always around dirt bikes. I cannot ever remember a time when I didn’t have one! Although the weather back home didn’t help with progressing quickly, my dad set up a training school, and built a track so that I could ride with other kids. From there I started racing the British Championships on 50s and 65s. Later we started traveling to Europe for the Dutch and European Championships. Eventually this gave me the opportunity to come to America and race the amateur circuit in 2008, and here I am now getting ready for Glen Helen.
What have been some of your biggest wins so far?
I can always remember racing back on the 50s when I won the British Championships – ha-ha the good old days! We later spent four years in Holland, and in the end to finally get a championship there was amazing! But you would not understand unless you have been to Holland – most do not understand. I was the 85cc Big Wheels Dutch Champ in 2007, the 85cc Bercy Supercross Champ in 2006 and 2007, and then the 125cc (Prince of Bercy) Champ in 2008.
You chose an interesting career path by coming to America as an amateur, rather than first racing the World Motocross GP’s.
Well, I had an opportunity to come to America with KTM, so I took this chance to learn the American environment early. Things are a lot different than Europe is over here, and it took me a year to really start to feel at home. Obviously it was a big change of life for me here. I had to leave school behind, but started a home schooling program from Oxford, England, and do it over here. But overall, everything has gone very well, and I could not ask for anything more.
How has racing in America differed from Europe?
Ha-ha, the championships over here in the amateur series’ are a lot different than those back in Europe. Over here it’s only two moto’s that make a championship in the amateur’s, where as back home, like the European Championship’s, there was eight rounds throughout Europe running along with the MX1 and MX2 classes. Earlier this year I won three championships at Lake Whitney on a 250F. I was actually lined up for five Championships at Oak Hill, but that’s another story. [There was a big controversy at Oak Hill this spring where several riders, mechanics, and parents were all involved.]
I have to say that you caught many of us a bit off guard by turning pro so quickly. What prompted this?
Well, it has been my dream to race professionally for a long time, and everyone at KTM has looked after me really well – which has enabled me to ride with a lot of pro riders in both motocross and supercross. The AMA Motocross championship is similar to what the European Motocross Championships ran like, so I am looking forward to the longer motos and different tracks.
Glen Helen Four-stroke National.
Yeah, I was pretty nervous before the race because I had lined up next to Austin Stroupe, who won the Glen Helen National last summer, Blake Wharton, who won a Supercross earlier this year, and Tommy Searle who finished second in the World MX2 Championship, and who in England is the next best thing since sliced bread! Plus, there were a lot of top amateur A riders there racing. But I kept it together, and put in a strong ride battling with Stroupe in the second moto. It was cool because you see all these guys on TV – I want to be on TV!
If I understand it correct, you are not a member of the Factory Muscle Milk KTM Team, but you are a Factory KTM ride, right?
Jim, you’ll have to ask my agent Jimmy Button.
Okay I will. Moving toward the Glen Helen National, what type of finish are you looking for at round 1?
I’m just hoping to go out and put on a good show for the fans, and we’ll see what happens.
Well then, how about your goal for finishing in the Championship?
I would like to be bloody first you pill! Okay, seriously there is a lot of learning to be done, and I’m just looking to enjoy every minute of it!
What’s next after the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship ends?
I’m working on my Supercross plan, as well as have some fun riding with my mate Neil Hodson.
How do you want to wrap things up Max?
May 23rd it all begins. I have been waiting 16 years for this and now it’s finally here! It has all happened so fast, and was only a few months ago that I was racing 85s. I cannot really believe that I am where I am at right now. I am ready to take on the world! KTM has been amazing to me! Also I want to thank Monster Energy, Airoh, Von Zipper, and everyone at WMG.