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5 Minutes With... Ezra Lusk

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Ezra Lusk is almost legendary at this point for his ability, on any given weekend, to show up and wax the world’s best racers. After retiring five years ago, many thought it would be a year or two before he’d be back. Well, it wasn’t that short of a time, but he made his racing return last weekend at the U.S. Open. Wearing his familiar number 11, Lusk went out and grabbed eighth in the main event on the second night. We talked to him after the race.

  • Ezra Lusk returned to racing at the U.S. Open.
Racer X: It was your first race in how long?
Ezra Lusk: Five years...

So what did you think?
Today went pretty good. I can’t really argue with the results. I mean, the main event, eighth place maybe in a 20-man main event at a supercross would’ve been good, but... You know, nerves got to me all weekend, and yesterday, the moment was really just bigger than what I could handle. But I went out today and got better and better and better, and I really enjoyed it. I enjoyed today. Yesterday was just a struggle.

Overwhelming?
Yeah, really overwhelming yesterday. But when I showed up today, I was a little bit more upset with myself because I knew I didn’t want to go back home with a poor effort. I really can’t accept nerves and all that. I hear that all the time from people, and you just have to be ready for any situation. I was in many, many, many situations when I raced and I was supposed to be the guy to do this or that, and I handled it the best I could, but I knew when I went home this week, I didn’t want to regret anything. Today was enough for me to go home and not have any regrets.

That’s good! Did you think about maybe just hitting up a local track or something before you came out here?
[Laughs] No, because this was so last-minute with the Suzuki thing, and only having three weeks to ride the bike and get shipped the suspension back and forth through the mail three times, and get the settings... It was just so last-minute that I didn’t really know what to expect. I didn’t really even have time to go race anywhere, I was just putting in time on the track.

  • After five years off, this was actually Lusk's first supercross race on a four-stroke.
  • Lusk felt fit, but had some trouble with the nerves that come along with racing after time off.
There was a lot of contact out there today, with a lot of guys not waiting at all to try and make a pass, so talk about having to deal with that in your first race back as a pro motocrosser.
Well, I’ve done it before, obviously, but I don’t really like doing it because there’s a chance of hurting somebody else and possibly ruining somebody’s career or something. I hit Tiger Lacey earlier tonight and I felt bad about it because I committed to tripling to the inside, but the track was really slick at that point and I really couldn’t stop. I made the same, exact pass on Tyler Bowers and I was able to stop and not hit him because the track wasn’t so slick. I mean, I’ll do it if I have to, but I really don’t like doing it. The guys who race every weekend, they do this for a living, and I’d hate to knock them out of something, but I wanted to be in the main event, and that was the number-one goal, and I didn’t want to go to a Semi or a Last-Chance Qualifier.

What is your goal now that you’ve done this?
Well, we really have to re-evaluate everything and see if this is it. I’m not going to make a decision, or even really think about it tonight. I want to go home, hang out for a few days, and think about it then. I have a few options to go race supercross if I want, with the same team that I’m here with, but I have to see. I enjoyed it, but I want to make sure that the effort is going to be there for everyone other than me.

You can guarantee your own effort, but not everyone else’s, right?
Yeah, exactly. I want everybody else to show up, too! That’s pretty much it. I’m just going to wait and see in the next couple weeks.

What about your race conditioning? How did you feel?
Well, I can do 20 laps really easily, but when I got really close to Davi [Millsaps] and Michael [Byrne], I really wanted to try to go somewhere with them, but then I just kind of got tight. I really couldn’t do anything with it, so I really just felt my way through the rest of the main event. The last 12 or 13 laps were just kind of cruising around.

Well, you’ve been playing tennis and this stuff, so you have to have cardio, but this isn’t the same as that with the muscles you use...
Yeah, exactly. I never stopped riding, though. I’ve still got the riding base. In the last six months, I’ve hammered out a lot of motos, and I’ve never stopped training. I’ve done a lot of marathons, half-marathons, half-ironmans... I’ve done lots of stuff just to say that I’ve done it, so I’m fine. I’m good with that. I’ve always felt like I’m good with that as long as I’m healthy, so I’m not hurt and I can actually train. That’s what hurt me throughout my career, having injuries and not being able to train.

  • After missing the main on night one, Lusk took an 8th overall on Saturday.
  • Ezra's not sure what his next step will be, but he it's possible we'll see a lot more of him this winter.
I think this was your second ever race on a four-stroke, with the other being Washougal in like 2004, and it was your first indoors, right?
Yeah, and that in and of itself is tough, to race that thing. I have a lot of work to do to get the suspension more dialed in, and I’ve got a lot of testing to do with that if I’m going to race competitively.

Where did you notice the big differences between a four-stroke and a two-stroke?
The four-strokes are a good bit stiffer. It seems like the bikes really like to be up a lot more in the stroke and not have a whole lot of action – just kind of ride way up and keep the bike way more balanced. On the two-strokes, I think I had my bike set up a lot more to where I could get over the front and hang over the front more on the bike and be more aggressive, but the way the power delivery is on the four-stroke, it’s just really different. It was a learning experience, for sure.

Also getting into turns and out of turns, that makes passing a lot different, too, right?
Exactly, yup. It changes everything. I finally figured it out, though. I needed to make one good pass this weekend, and I did that in the heat tonight, so I was pumped.
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