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5 Minutes With... Broc Tickle

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Broc Tickle had his best season ever in 2009, despite problems at the beginning of the season, when he broke his jaw at Press Day for Anaheim I. Ever since, though, he’s been steadily improving, and he scored his first supercross and outdoor-moto podiums this year. Now he’s looking for a ride for 2010. We talked to him yesterday to find out what’s been going on with him.

Racer X: You didn’t have a perfect outdoor season, but you did better than ever, and you were nearly always the top Yamaha on the track in the 250cc class. Talk a little about your season.
Broc Tickle: Yeah, that was my best one. The first race wasn’t so good, but the race actually went really well and I got good starts and ran up front and got my best finish to that point in a moto, which was a sixth. Then a few weeks later, we went to Colorado, and I got a third place in the first moto there after getting a good start, so I was excited about that. The only thing that held me back during the outdoors this year was my starts, pretty much, but I was pretty happy with my overall finish in the nationals [seventh in points].

There isn’t anything official yet, but it looks like your number is going to be in the low 20s for next year. Does that matter to you?
I don’t think so. I just think it’s cool that everybody else sees it, like the sponsors and the team. It doesn’t really change what’s going to happen with me or anything, but it’s cool to have a low number just because you know you’re one of the top guys.

That’s what it’s about. You also grabbed your first podium in supercross this year...
In the beginning of my pro career, when I first started out with Star in ’07, Supercross wasn’t fun for me at all, and I think that was why I didn’t show very good results. Then, in ’08, I got hurt and didn’t race supercross, but raced outdoors and did so-so. This year, though, I trained really hard between Steel City and the supercross season, and I came to Anahaim I press day and broke my jaw, which set me back three months or so. I came back questioning where I was going to be, and I was okay, but I wasn’t really ready, and a couple races in I started feeling good, finally got a good start, and just put everything together and got a podium at Toronto. After that, I was ready to race supercross more and more, but there were only two races left at that point.

I saw the whole thing when you broke your jaw. You cased that huge triple harder than maybe anyone I’ve ever seen, and you may be lucky you ONLY broke your jaw...
Yeah, for sure, I just thought it was like most triples that I practice on, and they aren’t that hard. I came around, and I hit it pretty much like I would any other triple at any practice track I rode, and when I got in the air, I was like, “Oh, crap, I’m not going to make this.” It happened so fast that I pulled off to the middle of the track right there, took my helmet off, rubbed my tongue down along the floor of my mouth, and I felt a crack all the way across. I was like, “I might be missing a tooth,” so I put my helmet back on, picked up my mechanic, went back to the truck, took my helmet off and started spitting blood everywhere. That’s when they took me in an ambulance over to UCI.

You were actually spitting a little bit of blood on the track if I remember correctly...
Yeah, when I pulled my helmet off, I saw blood all on the inside of my helmet, so I knew something wasn’t right.

They wired your jaw shut, right?
Yeah, it was wired shut for, I believe, eight weeks. It was definitely not fun at all, and all I could think about was eating a steak or something, and I couldn’t. I was drinking smoothies all day long. It definitely sucked. And then when I got my wires off, I thought I could just go eat a steak, but oh no, you can’t just do that because your mouth’s not strong enough and you can’t open it wide enough. So we stopped and we got like mashed potatoes and macaroni and cheese, and that was still a lot of work for me to eat that. It was just a long, painful process of sitting in bed trying to get better. That’s pretty much all it was. And then I got an infection, so they had to put a pick line in, and I had that in for five weeks and sat in bed, and Jessica [his fiancé] would give me an IV every day. Then, on top of that, my roommate, Kramer, had to pack my ear where it was oozing out...

Did you have an ear infection, too?
No, it wasn’t my ear, but it was right where my earlobe is, and that’s where they cut my face to put the hardware in, and it got infected there, so it was oozing at the top and I had to get a syringe and squirt water in there and change the packing.

That’s definitely not a typical motocross injury. You always think about knees and wrists and ankles and shoulders, but you don’t really hear about broken jaws, so I bet a lot of people don’t know how difficult that is to deal with, because you can’t run because your jaw would be jarring all over, so you can’t really train or anything...
Yeah, that’s what I was thinking I could do, too, like, “Oh, it’s just my jaw, so I can go train and keep up on all that stuff, so when I start riding I’ll be in shape and ready to go racing, but no. And then the infection was even worse because they told me I couldn’t go do anything but sit in bed.

Yeah, so that’s not easy.
No. I mean, it was an experience, but I don’t want to do it again, for sure.

You’re kind of a quiet guy by nature, but you’ve been quietly improving your results every year, and it still seems like not a lot of people are talking about Broc Tickle – at least not on the outside. On the inside, people have taken notice, but on the outside, people don’t seem to bring you up that much. Do you notice that? And do you know why?
I don’t know, I think I’m just too quiet, and all I do is work hard and stay away from the other stuff. I just do my own thing, pretty much, and I think that’s taking me away from some of the exposure, even though it’s a good thing that I’m sort of just doing my work and all that. It’s definitely hurting me, though. There are people who finish behind me who get more exposure, and their name comes up more than mine does, and that kind of stuff kind of bugs me. But there’s nothing I can really do about it except to do my best every weekend and hopefully somebody will see it and pick up on my hard work and all of that stuff.

  • Broc's fiance Jess is a fixture on the AMA circuit. As you can see, she takes the model thing very seriously.
It’s one of those things where you’re reserved by nature, but you’re actually a smart guy, and you’re funny, and in a way if you just opened up a bit, it would do you a lot of good, probably, don’t you think?
For sure.

The funny thing is that everybody knows your fiancé, Jess, and the people on the internet tend to be really nice, which is rare for girls. They really like Jess. And they always talk about how lucky you are.
She definitely helps my exposure thing a lot! If you type my name in on Google, the first thing that comes up is Broc Tickle’s girlfriend! I don’t have a problem with it, honestly, it’s just funny. She can get all the exposure she wants because she’s pulling me along with her.

The best thing about Jess is that there is no bigger Broc Tickle fan at the track. She freaks out while you’re racing. So while some people might think she’s with you because she wants the attention or something like that, the reality is that she’s all about you all the time!
Yeah, people might talk crap or something, but I know she’s not here for all that stuff that they think she’s here for. That’s what matters to me, and they can say whatever they want.

It looks like you and Austin Stroupe tied for the RC Hard Charger Award at Steel City because he started one spot in front of you and finished one spot in front of you in that moto. Talk about what it takes to come through the pack like that in a class like that.
I think I started 35th on the first lap. I think I started like 15th, then crashed, and then got up and started picking guys off. You have to make it fun for yourself to do that, because if you sit there and think about what’s going on, it’s just going to bring you down. You’ve just got to keep pushing forward for the next guy, and I almost actually got 10th in that first moto, so that was exciting. It’s all about the start, and it’s cool to have the RC Hard Charger Award, but I’d rather have that podium trophy in my room.

It’s funny that RC gets that award named after him, because while he did have a few races where he got a bad start and won or something, most of the time he was like second or third off the start and pulled away and won by a minute or something. The majority of his 150 wins were not like that.
No, not at all! They probably just do it because they know if he did get a bad start he’d still win!

They should almost name it after Mike LaRocco or someone like that...
Yeah, I hear he used to not get good starts, and that’s where I’m stuck right now, too. If I get a start in the top 10, I would be ecstatic.

So I understand you don’t yet have a ride for next year. Can you talk about what you’re looking for in a team for 2010?
There are a lot of people who really haven’t done anything yet [in regards to contracts], and I’m one of those people just waiting for it to come together. I’ve been doing my work calling people and trying to show them that I have what it takes to win and be on the podium every weekend, and my agent, Paul Lindsey, has been working on my behalf, too, so everything is going to come together. It’s just going to take a couple more weeks, and then I’ll be in a place where I’m happy and where I know I can win and be on the podium. That’s my goal for next year, and I’m going to wait until something comes my way, I guess. I’m not that big of a guy to talk on the phone with people and stuff, but I have to do it. That’s part of my job right now.

Good luck, Broc.
Thanks, Steve.
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