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Privateer Profile: Taylor Futrell

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In only his second race as an AMA professional, Clinton, North Carolina’s Taylor Futrell finished an impressive fifth overall in the 250 class at Southwick via 7-7 moto finishes (unfortunately, it was a bit overshadowed). Futrell is a recent graduate of Loretta Lynn’s, and he entered the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship as a full-on privateer, but after a ride like this past weekend’s, he may be working out of a semi in 2010.

  • Taylor Futrell finished fifth overall at Southwick.
Racer X: Taylor, what’s up?
Taylor Futrell: Hey, I’m just trying to fix some bikes, man. I went practicing one time without my mechanic, and I brought two bikes and I broke them both. So I’m just up here at a local shop trying to get straightened out.

Where are you riding?
I’m in Danville, Virginia, at a track called Birch Creek. I came up here to practice because it’s hard pack, and where I live at near the coast is all sand. I’m just trying to get ready for Steel City.

Oh, so that’s the secret of why you did so well this past weekend at Southwick. I bet a lot of people thought you were a Southwick local after that performance.

[Laughs] No, I’m from North Carolina, but I was definitely excited about Southwick, because I ride sand almost every day.

You went 7-7 for fifth overall this past weekend in the 250 class. You have to be stoked about that.
Man, I’m really happy. Coming in to the outdoors, being on my own equipment, I set a small goal of top-fifteen both motos, and I would’ve been pleased with that, but the ultimate goal would be top-ten. Now that I have two races under my belt, I can definitely better that. If everything goes my way, I could definitely get a top-five in a moto, and that’s my main goal now.

You got great starts in both motos. Is that the key, you think, just getting good starts and running up front?
That is the key of my success at these last two races. I’ve always been good at starts, and my bike is unbelievable. Fred Vertucci from VPE did an awesome job on my motors. It’s the same bike I rode at Loretta’s, but it’s really good. I practice starts a lot, and I’ve always been a pretty good starter, so that’s helped me out a ton, just getting a good start. Just getting up there and running those guys’ pace the first few laps, that helps you just latch on to them.

How’s your fitness? On what was probably one of the roughest tracks on the tour, it seemed like you held on strong for 30+2.
Man, my fitness is great, to be honest. I don’t get tired whatsoever. A lot of people probably think that I faded the second moto, which I’m sure, from the outside looking in, that’s what it looked like, but I had a few other issues on my own. But I’ve trained my butt off all year, and I feel I’m 100 percent prepared. It’s kind of weird - at local races and Loretta’s I got arm pump, which held me back. But now in the nationals, I haven’t got arm pump whatsoever, so that’s a good thing.

You were running as high as third in that second moto at Southwick, right?
Yeah, I passed into third on the second lap, and I stayed there for a little over twenty minutes. I was pleased with that. I feel if everything goes my way, I feel I can finish in the top five, no problem.

  • Futrell went 7-7 at the 'wick.
  • Futrell finished second overall in the 250 A class at Loretta Lynn's.
It was your second pro national and you’re running third for the first twenty minutes—what’s going through your mind at that point?
Nothing, really. Nothing different than any other day. Coming into them, I figured being up there with those guys, I’d be real nervous, but after I was up there and I was riding with them, I realized that these guys are human and they’re not that much better. I actually felt right at home and felt that I belonged there.

You made your pro debut at Budds Creek and went 23-8. Tell us about that.
It wasn’t bad. I had a decent qualifying time—fifteenth, I believe. In the first moto I got an awesome start—I came out seventh and was running there for the first half of lap, but then I ended up going over the bars going up a hill. And of course when you fall on the first lap, everyone passes you. So I got back up and I felt like I rode pretty good, but I finished twenty-third. It wasn’t the result I was hoping for, but I felt like it was a decent ride. The second moto was the flood, and I got a good start and came around fourteenth on the first lap and just tried to survive. I was happy to finish eighth, but of course it was a mud moto, so nobody really looks at that. I was glad I went to Southwick and backed it up, because that kind of proves to people that the mud wasn’t a fluke.

What has surprised you the most since turning pro?
To be honest, nothing too much. The only thing that’s hard to get used to is the timed qualifying. That was the biggest adjustment, because there’s so many people out there. In the two nationals I’ve done, we only got one practice, and you have to go out there and get it done. That’s pretty much the only thing.

For the readers who don’t really know much about you, give us some background about yourself and your racing career.
I’m 18 years old, and I grew up in Clinton, North Carolina, an extremely small town. I started riding when I was 5 and I’ve been racing for thirteen years now. I started racing some amateur nationals when I was 10 and didn’t get too serious about it ’til I was 14. At Loretta’s I’ve raced the A class there for the past three years, and I won the 450 A championship there last year. This year was my best season yet, as I won three championships. That’s pretty much it. I’m just trying to make it, man. Times are tough.

  • Here's Taylor before the rain came at Budds Creek. It was his first pro national, and he went 23-8.
  • Keep your eye on Taylor this weekend at Steel City.
Every year it seems like the top amateur riders from Loretta’s get a good ride in the pro ranks, but this year no one has really gotten anything. Do you care to comment about that?
I understand, but the timing definitely sucks. It seems like four years ago, people with [worse results] than I have got a good ride with a good salary. Now I’m fighting to get a ride with no salary—I’m fighting to get a ride at all. It’s a tough thing, but I just have to keep riding well and move on.

The series concludes this weekend at Steel City, a track that I’ve seen you do well at before at Loretta Lynn’s qualifiers. What’s your goal for this weekend?
My main goal is to stay healthy. I think I’m very capable of two top-ten finishes. I would definitely like to stay consistent. In the last three motos I went 8-7-7, so I’d like to continue that. My ultimate goal is to finish in the top five in at least one moto—that’s my goal right there.

How about looking ahead to 2010? What’s the plan?

Man, I have no idea. I wish I knew, to be honest. Right now I’m just focused on going to Steel City and doing the best I can. After that, hopefully I can get some test rides lined up. The ultimate goal is to get a ride and race supercross next year.

Who would you like to thank for helping you get this far, Taylor?
Yeah, first of all I’d like to thank my mom and dad for sticking with me so long. My mechanic, Shane, American Honda, Triangle Cycles, VPE, Serious Racewear, Liquid Performance, Gary Bailey, Sunline, Filtron, Fox, VPE, Tag Metals, EVS, FMF, Moto Graphx, Boyesen, Pirelli, ICW, and anybody else I forgot, thanks!
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