Although he may have been slightly overshadowed by fellow AMA Pro rookie Justin Barcia’s debut, Max Anstie is another young rider who has made some significant strides in the 2009 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship. Born in England, the son of former British Motocross Champion, and World Motocross GP rider Mervyn Anstie, Max was one of the top amateur racers in the world before joining the Boost Mobile/ampm/Monster Energy/Troy-JLAW Racing team. With the recent break in the motocross series, Max took on the X Games, where unfortunately a crash with Blake Wharton derailed his season with a broken ankle. I caught up with 16 year old Max just a few days after the race.
Max Anstie:Well Jim, the track was tough, especially for me being on my 250 SXF when all the others were on 450s! It was actually my first ever supercross at a professional level – and it was a lot to take in! Basically, I made a few mistakes in my first heat race, and was a little overwhelmed that I was actually racing in the X Games! When I transferred into the LCQ I got off to a good start, and went over the triple section by doubling, and then singling to the inside, for one, hoping to take the lead, and two because I didn’t have enough power on my 250F to jump the whole thing. The next thing that I knew I was mangled onto the floor with a broken ankle – but luckily that was all that I had, and I will be back soon. Stuff like that does happen, there was nothing that I could do – we were all racing for the win, and that’s the way things go sometimes. But personally I don’t know why [Wharton] was tripling to the inside anyways, when there was no way that he was going to stop in time for the corner. So now I am going to be out for a little bit, but you know with this being my first pro season, a little rest won’t hurt.
In spite of, or besides the crash, how did you find the whole X Games experience?
Bloody hell Jim, it was amazing! With all the freestyle ramps in the middle of the X Games, and the super moto, rally, skateboarding, and all that stuff going on around there it was just very cool! I looked at the half pipe that the riders go in, and it was massive. My first practice was a bit scary for me, not only did I have to get the track down, I also had James Stewart, Jeremy McGrath, Kevin Windham, and Josh Grant all riding with me! I swear to you that it was only one year ago that I was playing in my sand pit with all those guys toy bikes wishing that I could actually ride with them – and now I am finally here! I feel like I am definitely starting to become a part of this pro stuff – and I am feeling more at home with it with every day that passes.
Let’s go back to the end of May with your AMA Pro debut, was it what you expected?
Well Jim, initially I thought that I was going to turn pro in 2010 Supercross – with the rule change being that you must be 18 to turn pro [Editor’s note: Anstie would not have been affected by the rule change]. So the decision for me to turn pro at Glen Helen had to be made only two weeks after my 16th birthday, and then I was lining up for Glen Helen! To be honest with you, I probably wasn’t completely ready for the jump to the pros. It was a very big transition from racing at the amateur level to racing the best riders in the world. Plus, I had only made the jump from racing superminis and 125s to 250Fs a couple months earlier. All in all, this outdoor series has been a great experience for me. I believe that racing pro this season has given me some true insight as far as the tracks, and as far as whom I am racing, so I feel very prepared for truly getting in there and racing for a championship next year. I would definitely like to mix it up in the pro ranks rather than race in the amateur series again where I feel like I wasn’t gaining any more speed. Though it has taken me a while to find out where I am at this summer, I have been learning and improving with each race to better my riding.
Good! I have been working very hard to perfect my abilities, and each and every race I succeed, so I am pleased. It really is a lot of hard work, but I know that I WILL be ready for Anaheim 1 next year and the 2010 MX Sports Motocross series [sic]. My dad’s motto really rings true in this sport “what you put in, you get out.” So to say the least I am putting in a lot!
The competition seems so close this year!
Definitely everyone will tell you that the start makes a big difference, but from watching videos of the previous year’s races, it is especially true this year. There is no one that can really move through the pack fast right now. Take Pourcel for example. He came up from last to eighth – last year we saw the likes of Villopoto coming back from last place to still win by a mile! There is a good ten to fifteen of us that all have the same speed, another five which have a little bit more than us on their good days, and then the two riders that are winning that have a bit on all of us.
Although you are still riding KTM’s, you joined the Monster Energy Boost Mobile team just a week before the AMA Motocross series started – how were things going there?
The team has been awesome, and has really showed support for me each and every week. Jason [Lawrence] and Nick [Wey] have both been really great at helping me, and showing me the best lines on the tracks. It’s been a great season with them, and I have really appreciated the entire team’s and sponsor’s support at each national.
Have there been many distractions with being on the same team as Jason Lawrence?
People say a lot in this industry, and form opinions about every rider, but until you are on the track with them you cannot really say that you know them! There have absolutely been no distractions whatsoever on the team. We all come to race and that is what we do. I never really knew Jason or had even met him until the first national at Glen Helen, but he has always been very polite to my family, and he helps me a lot. As a racer, Jason has lots of talent, and I have found that most fans love him.
Well, as you said, there is a lot of talk. But I leave all that business to the adults at the moment. My dad, step-mom Devin, and my manager Jimmy Button take care of me in that way, so I can just do my part, which is to train and race.
Your dad is an also a former World Motocross GP racer right?
Yes, I couldn’t do any of this without my dad, he’s been my best friend, and coach since I first started riding. He is great at coaching me, and we work very well together as a team. My dad has a completely different way of training, and I feel that we are on the right track. He has helped me each step of the way, and whether it’s been a good or bad day at the track, I know that I have his support.
What else have you been doing?
I just got my Driver’s Permit! It’s pretty cool, I get to drive us to the tracks and into town now. I also finished up my schooling program in England, and I have a little step-sister on the way in a few weeks, which is really exciting. My dad has put together the next KTM amateur team with the support of KTM for 2010. Each day the riders on the team and I all train together from the physical, riding, to the cognitive therapy part of it. It’s exactly the same team as what I was on when I was a KTM amateur racer, but I think that now it’s even better because my dad is the Team Manager/Trainer and all the riders are living at our facility in Hemet, California. It’s a great opportunity, so if anyone is interested in coming out and trying a KTM at our training program they can e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Let’s finish up with the people that you want to give a shout out too.
Firstly I would like to thank Kurt Nicoll and Leighton Rice at KTM North America for all the support these last few years. They have really put in a lot of effort in helping me reach my goals. I would also like to thank Jason Lawrence and the whole J-Law Monster Energy am/pm team for giving the opportunity to race under their truck every week. Finally I want to thank some of the sponsors that have been through it all with me like Brian Fleck from Dunlop, Little D at FMF, Alpinestars, Airoh Helmets, Monster, Von Zipper, Leatt, and Jimmy Button.