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Monday Conversation: Ricky Carmichael

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Ricky Carmichael, known succinctly as the GOAT, showed up for the FMF 2-Stroke Invitational last Saturday at RedBud, and he wowed the crowd with big whips over LaRocco’s Leap and absolutely killed the two-stroke class. We caught up with him today to find out how it was for him.

Racer X: What were you thinking when you first heard about this two-stroke race?
Ricky Carmichael: I was excited! When I first heard about it, I was like, “Damn, how can I get a good bike up there so I can ride and have fun?”

Yeah, I heard that you brought your personal RM250 up there. Is that right?
Yeah, I trucked mine up. The thing with two-strokes is that the 450s have so much power that you can borrow one and pretty much guarantee it’s pretty fast. I just wanted my own stuff there on the two-stroke. I’m not big on borrowing people’s stuff, you know?

I know you’ve done that a few times for parade laps and stuff and you don’t really do the big jumps or anything...
Yeah, I just like my own stuff.

What did you think about that FMF 2-Stroke Invitational where you could come out and almost be a racer again for a day?
I was pumped, man. I had a great time. It was so good to be in front of those fans at RedBud. Obviously, we all know I love that place and I love the fans there. I had a good time, really. It definitely gives you the itch, there’s no doubt about it.

So are you thinking about racing again like in the 2010 Nationals or something?
No, I don’t think so. It sounds like a good idea, there’s no doubt about it, but it was just for fun. I just wish we could’ve raced a whole moto.

Like 35 minutes?
Yeah! I mean, at least it would give the fans something more to watch, and us racers more time. I know I would’ve loved to do more laps, and I’m sure Stanton did, too, and if Fro’s bike wasn’t burned up, he probably would’ve wanted to as well.

I’ll let you smack-talk a little bit, because I think Fro’s clutch probably didn’t burn out. He just wanted to keep that thing over your head where he could always claim that the last time you guys raced he won [at the U.S. Open in 1998].
Yeah, there’s no doubt about it that that was his deal. For sure. He told me the guy put a new clutch in it and the old one wasn’t burned, so I’m thinking Fro was scared to race me.

What about LaRocco’s Leap, or whatever they’re calling it now? You were throwing some fat whips over that thing...
You know, it was so hard to get over it that I wish I had just a little bit more power, and it probably would’ve been better. It was fun. The landing’s a lot better now. It seems like they built the landing up a bit.

Yeah, there’s a bit more of a down slope to the backside.
Yeah, but it was fun. The track was in awesome condition.

What about the start? You swung wide to block those guys and they didn’t stand a chance. Was that just instinct or what?
Yeah, I could hear a dude on my outside, and I really didn’t feel like getting dirty, so I was like, “I’ll just block this dude a little bit and try to stay clean.”

What about hanging out with the fans and that stuff the rest of the day?
It was really cool. I got to sign autographs at the merchandise tents, and it was so cool to see how stoked the fans were. It really meant a lot to me. People were pumped to see me ride, and it made me feel really good, man. It makes me remember to keep my roots and remember where they are, for sure.

Another thing is that most riders, after they’ve been retired for two years like you, people don’t still talk about them being a top racer in the present tense. But people do that with you. Even Chad Reed does sometimes. What’s that about?
I just wanted to do it right. That’s what I wanted to do, no doubt. I wanted to go out on top and leave with a proper exit.

What stood out to you with the racing in the actual pro classes this weekend?
I thought it was good. I think those championships are really good right now. The Lites [250], I think Dungey just needs to be consistent. He’s so talented. Hell, he was giving Villopoto a run for his money last year, so he should be beating those guys by more of a margin. And I think he can, it’s just taking some times. And Pourcel’s good. But it’s kind of gnarly how inconsistent they are. It kind of amazes me. And with Reed’s sickness or whatever he’s got going on, I think that really messes him up. That’s kept the 450 class interesting.

Do you think without the sickness that he’d be doing better?
Yeah, I think if he wasn’t sick, he’d be going a lot better.

You going to show up at any more of these things this year?
I think I’m going to do Budds Creek, that’s it.

You going to ride there?
I don’t think there are any plans for me to.

I heard a rumor that you actually wanted to ride the 450 practice in the morning. Is that true?
Yeah, I did. I just wanted to get some extra practice time. It’s a lot of work to get your bike there, get gear and put people out like that, and then only get a couple laps of practice, so I wanted to make it worthwhile. That was why I wanted to do that.

I thought maybe you wanted to see where your times stacked up...
No, no. I feel like my times would be good. I still ride once ever couple weeks to keep things in check or to gauge myself against Dungey, or Ivan when he’s in town.

Were you pushing yourself at all in the race?
Well, I mean, I wasn’t doing anything out of control...

Thanks for showing up, Ricky.
I loved it.
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