Lexington, North Carolina’s Tyler Bright has been on the circuit for a few years now, and it’s hard to think of a nicer, more unassuming guy in the pro pits. At 19 years of age now, he’s racing 450s full-time for the second year, having achieved a national number with his 2008 results. He’s had a bit of a rollercoaster year, but he’s hoping it’ll turn around by Millville.
Tyler Bright: I used to race Loretta Lynn’s, Ponca City, the Mini Os, and I never really was like a top amateur or anything. But I just kept plugging away, and my parents kept supporting me, and I ended up getting hooked with Cal Northrop and Rick Ware with Bad Boy Yamaha, and we just kept trucking. In 2008, in supercross, we went to the 450, and I made four supercross main events, and I carried that momentum into the outdoors, where I got four top-20s, and that got me my national number. That’s probably the biggest accomplishment I’ve had so far. It meant a lot to me and all my sponsors, and my family.
You’re still out there plugging away, though. What are the struggles like on a week-to-week basis?
Well, for me, I have to make all the phone calls to all the sponsors to line up product and things like that. I’m actually kind of fortunate, because I have a friend named David Eller who owns Makson Construction, and he takes care of a lot of that stuff for me. But still, it’s really hard, but it’s something that I love to do, so I put up with it. Hopefully at some point I’ll be on a good team and I won’t have to worry about that kind of stuff...
That’s always the goal, to get on a team where things are handled for you, but it’s also funny how that changes over time. You might think all you want is a team with a solid bike and consistent performance, but then once you have that and you’re doing well, you’ll want more performance, or more money, or both, and onward and upward you go...
Yeah, exactly. I really want to get on a team that takes care of all of this stuff for me, and then I hope I’ll start performing a lot better, which might lead to getting a salary or something like that. But just to go to the races and have a bike waiting for me that’s ready to go racing, that would be like a factory ride to me, if that’s all I had to worry about.
Talk about the last few races.
Well, it’s been an up-and-down season, and it’s been a lot more down than up, but I had a real good second moto at Mt. Morris, and I ran inside the top 15 for about 25 minutes, and I ended up finishing 19th. I got to run with a lot of guys that I’ve looked up to in my life, and it was cool because the weekend before at Freestone, I didn’t qualify, so that meant a lot to me to get points at Mt. Morris. Then the last two races have been really tough for me, and unfortunately I didn’t qualify for Lakewood or RedBud, but I came back home after RedBud and we’ve done a lot of testing this week. I’m going to keep plugging away, and hopefully go into Millville and Washougal and get back up into the top 20 again.
It’s amazing how close 20th place is to not qualifying at all, isn’t it?
Yeah, it’s kind of like, there is one set of guys from first to about 15th, and then from 15th back, everyone’s basically on the same equipment, and it’s all about who can put in the fastest single lap [in qualifying] and make all of the turns right and all of the jumps right... There have been times when I didn’t qualify where I was only two tenths off. That’s the difference in not breathing right for a couple seconds or something. It’s the close. I’ve just got to look at the track, the dirt, and see where I can make up time. I’ve been working on that a little bit more.
I was talking to Jake Weimer about that this weekend, and obviously having won the last two 250cc nationals, he’s doing pretty well, but he said he qualified 11th in Colorado and 10th at RedBud, and he won both of those races. He just thinks he’s not really that good at doing just one really fast lap.
That’s always been my biggest downfall throughout my whole professional career, my laptimes. I’m not going to lie, but the best I’ve ever done in qualifying is 24th, and that weekend I got points. Some guys are gifted. Some guys can go out there and lay down one, sick, fast lap and get a good gate pick and get in the show, but for guys like me and maybe Weimer, it’s really tough for us to go balls-out for one lap. It’s just something you’ve got to keep working on and hope that eventually it will come to you.
Right on, Tyler. Why don’t you tell us who you want to thank?
David Eller at Makson Construction, Dave and Rick at Mahindra Tractors, Cal and Doreen at Full Travel Innovations, Jeff and Ronnie Dement, Wonder Warthog Racing, DeCal Works, Axo America, Jardine Exhaust, Liquid Performance, Pirelli, Scott, Rekluse Clutches, Vortex, Wiseco, ICW, CV4, Mitchell Key, The Tharp Family, and of course my family for all of their help.