5 Minutes With... Adam Cianciarulo

It was 104 degrees when I pulled into the back lot of Pro Circuit racing. Looking in the far back of the big, white buildings for a white, non-descript Haulmark motorhome, a little kid, wearing a Monster hat and T-shirt, came rolling by on his Razor scooter. That’s the young man I was looking for: Minicycle sensation Adam Cianciarulo. Well over a month removed from winning 2009 Loretta Lynn’s Amateur MX National Championships’ 85cc (12-13) Stock and Modified titles, the 12-year-old and his father decided to head west, put stakes in the ground in Corona, and put in some time on the supercross and motocross tracks of California to prepare for the approaching 85cc Mini Invitational set for the U.S. Open in the Las Vegas-based MGM Grand Garden Arena on October 9 and 10, 2009. Holding station in Mitch Payton’s parking lot, Adam – once we tracked him down – joined us in the Pro Circuit race shop for an on-the-fly interview. Hanging around the shop and watching the mechanics tear down and rebuild 250F motocross bikes, the Monster Energy/Kawasaki Team Green sensation – the one who began making a name for himself across the nation as a five-year-old – sat down and talked with us about his past, present and future of the sport – and just what it’s liked to be compared to another diminutive kid that came roaring out Florida to terrorize the mini ranks: Ricky Carmichael.

  • Adam Cianciarulo
Racer X: Adam, what do you have going today? When I pulled in here 10 minutes ago, I saw you tooling around on your Razor scooter...
Adam Cianciarulo: Yeah, we came up here before the U.S. Open to ride some supercross because I haven’t really done it before. So we came up here about two weeks ago. After the U.S. Open, we’ll head back home to Florida.

So, you’re just living here at Pro Circuit and riding and doing your schoolwork?
Yeah, actually I ride in the morning when all the tracks are good out here. And yeah, I just got done with schoolwork, actually. I usually do schoolwork in the evening or nighttime.

What kind of schoolwork did you work on today?
Let’s see... I did language, home economics, science and history.

How do you do your work? Do you do it over the internet or do you have a teacher you work with?
Well, a tutor comes for me every Monday here, but every other day, if I need help with anything, I’ll just call my mom.

What do you do here at Pro Circuit when you don’t have anything going on?
I usually just ride my Razor scooter around with my buddy Zach and we just goof off and stuff, or we’ll go play some Xbox or something like to just kill the time.

How do you like California?
It’s definitely different in Florida. The tracks here are sometimes better and sometimes worse. Like in the morning, I think that the tracks are a lot better here. It’s just that they go away a lot quicker. Usually in Florida we’ll wait for a while because the dirt is always good, it’s just that we don’t have that many tracks. Out here, you can’t even figure out. There’s so many different tracks here that you have no idea where to go.

Motocross central, huh?
Yeah, Florida it’s always raining someplace. There are four local tracks in whole state of Florida and you’re just trying to find someplace to ride.

Have you ever raced this U.S. Open Mini Invitational?
No, this is actually my first year in the 12-to-13 classes, so this is the first year that I can do it.  It should be fun. I really like supercross and I feel good on it, so hopefully it’ll be fun. And I’d like to win it, obviously.

Word has it that you just rode the Kawasaki supercross practice track with Josh Hansen...
Yeah, at the Kawi test track, I rode with Hansen. He hit some crazy quad jump and I was freaked out after that!

Will this 85cc race at the U.S. Open pretty much conclude your race program for the year?
Yeah, usually Loretta’s caps off the season, but the U.S. Open will definitely close it off this time. Then I’ll have probably have a month to get read for the Mini Os back home in Florida, and then they year starts over again from there.

What will you ride come the Mini Olympics? Will you change up any of your bikes or classes at all?
No, I’m in 12-to-13 now, and this is my first year in 12-to-13. Next year, I’ll be a 13-year-old and I’ll be the oldest in the class. I’ll be riding the same classes: 85 12-to-13 and Supermini.

  • Adam and EJ at the Pro Circuit shop.
How did you feel about your 2009 season, especially the bigger races like Ponca City and Loretta Lynn’s?
I missed Mino Os. I was hurt, so I didn’t know where my speed was. [Lake] Whitney was okay. I ended up getting a Supermini title there. Oak Hill wasn’t too good. I had some crashes. I felt like I got faster at every race and at every National. At Vegas, I got a few titles, and at Ponca I was able to get three (Note: Supermini 0-13, 85/150 Stock 12-15 and 85/150 Open 0-16). Loretta’s was a crazy week. I had bike problems. There were like three motos where I didn’t have any rear brake. The footpeg would get stuck up under the brake. I think I got a second and a third with no rear brake and I don’t think really anybody else knew that except me. I thought the race was good. My speed was really good and the last Mod moto I got to prove that pretty much. I didn’t think I had a shot at it at all [note: Cianciarulo had 3-6 moto scores entering the final 815 (13-13) Modified moto]. Two guys behind me ended up getting tangled up [Jesse Masterpool and Matt Bisceglia], and I won. God blessed me for sure on that one. So I ended up with two titles at Loretta’s and that’s seven overall there now.

Who was your main competition this year?
A lot of people think Thomas Covington is really close to me because the couple times that he was on me at Loretta’s I really didn’t have a rear brake or anything. But yeah, he’s a great rider. When I make a big mistake, he’s definitely there to capitalize on it, but I raced him the whole year and didn’t have any problems, so I don’t think I should have any problems from here on out.

So, in 2010, will you pretty much be up against the same guys?
I think Matt Bisceglia, who was one of the fastest guys in my class this year, is going up to big bikes. Jesse Masterpool will be moving up to 14-15. And all those older guys will be gone, so I guess it’ll be a little easier.

I heard that when you were really young your dad didn’t even know what motocross was. Then one day you saw Jeremy McGrath on TV one day and you knew you wanted to be a motocross racer. Is that true?
Yeah, my dad, he didn’t know about the sport at all. He was what you’d call a newbie. It was funny. I used to always watch supercross when I was three or four. I saw McGrath on TV and thought that was the coolest thing ever. So I was like, “Dad. Get me a bike! Get me a bike!” I think the next year he ended up getting me a bike and I’ve been on it ever since.

Your whole life is motocross, huh?
Yeah, definitely motocross, schoolwork, sleeping and eating, for sure. It’s definitely a really fun life and not too many kids get the opportunity that I do, so I just want to do the best that I can with it. I’m surrounded by great people and all these guys at Pro Circuit really help me out a lot and keep my bikes running great. All these guys over here in the shop, I definitely couldn’t do it without them. I’m just hoping to be as successful as that guy in that office right there: Mitch Payton.

The long-term plan I would assume is to get on a factory team as soon as you can, correct?
Oh yeah, for sure. Hopefully, if everything goes good and I have the speed and everything, hopefully I’m here. I’m just going to work hard and definitely try to get on this team.

Even when you were as young as five or six years old, you’ve had so much attention put towards you. Are you pretty comfortable with that?
It definitely takes a lot of hard work and I know that in order to get all the attention and be there the whole time you have to keep progressing forward. You can’t just settle with where you are at. My dad definitely keeps me in line. Working hard is one thing he has taught me really well.

Is he pretty cool to you or can things get intense once in a while?
He knows what I’m able to do on the track. If I don’t do it, sometimes he’ll get angry. He has the right to because he knows what I can do and when I don’t do it, it’s obviously disappointing. Without him and my whole family, I couldn’t do this. They help me with so much. I wouldn’t have won any races without my dad, for sure.

You’re still very young and there are a lot of emotional ups and downs in racing. If you have a bad race, does it hang with you for a while or can you let it go pretty quickly?
I hate losing way more than I love winning. When I don’t win, it’s a tough pill to swallow. When I win, it’s all the hard work paying off. I usually do a little bit more than most of the guys do. Either or. I’m either really mad and I’ll shut the motorhome door and the thing starts rocking, or I’m really happy.

  • Adam is considering GP racing until he is of age to turn pro in the U.S.
This age rule deal coming up in American professional racing, how do you see that?
I think it’s 17 this year and 18 the year after.

So you will not be able to turn professional here until you are 18 years old?
I think the plan is that if I’m still at the top level to go over to Europe and do some races in the summer or something like that. Of course, if I’m not fast on the big bike, that’s not going to happen. That would hopefully be the plan.

So, you’d race on the Grand Prix circuit?
Yeah, just do a couple races over there when I’m like 15 or 16 or around there.

Do you know of any of the riders on the GP circuit?
Ken Roczen is the only guy I know. I raced him like three years ago at the Mini Os. I was like nine years old in the 85 7-to-11 class. He came over as a 12-year-old racing as an 11-year-old and I got to race him.

Did you beat him?
No. I got walked. I was schooled. I think I got third. I think it was him, Zach Bell and me.

But he had three years on you...

As a 15-year-old, Roczen won the Grand Prix of Germany this summer...
Yeah, that’s crazy. Did he win both motos or did he win a moto?

He went 2-2 for the overall.
I just read an article on him in some magazine somewhere. It’s really cool. He’s definitely progressed a lot.

If it all works out and you make it to the big leagues, what would be your initial goals?
I’ve been keeping track of everybody when they come in to be a pro. Guys like Carmichael or Villopoto. I keep track of how many championships they win when they went in during there first year and stuff. It would be really cool to come in here in the first year and snag a title. Hopefully I could beat Carmichael’s numbers. What does he have, 15 championships?

Yeah, 15 championships and 150 wins...
Hopefully, I could get 16.