Come race time later that evening, the track ended up so rough and gnarly - replete with huge ruts, braking bumps, whoops and pot holes - that it took on the appearance of a full-on AMA Motocross circuit. And that was fine by 25-year-old Casey Currie. A former professional motocross and Supermoto racer-turned-Pro Lites truck driver, Currie (whose brother Brandon currently competes as a national caliber AMA Supermoto rider) made the best of his motocross experience, applying the many things he learned on two wheels to lead all 14 laps of the Pro Light main event.
A few minutes after the races, we slogged our way through the mud and tripped through the ruts to get a word with him.
Racer X: Casey, before I jump into this, you came from motocross. How did you end up in closed-course off-road truck racing?
Casey Currie: I grew up watching and wanting to race motorcycles. And then my dad’s business was in the high-performance rear-end business, so with being around NASCAR and other forms of racing, it all kind of worked out to get me here. Also, my mom didn’t really want me racing motorcycles. With the off-road, when they used to come to Glenn Helen [Raceway] it was the coolest thing to watch because you’d get the motocross version with the trucks and they also brought in the cage, so it was a little safer. It definitely fit my description of what I wanted to do in life.
You held first-place throughout the entire race tonight. Why did things go so well?
We did some crazy stuff today.
Really? I heard something about the gearing you used in the truck…
We decided we were going to do some crazy gearing. My dad went and found an older gear down at a nearby shop. We knew the gear was in a NASCAR facility down the street. So we made some NASCAR connections, got a gear, drove it over here and my dad mounted it. He did it himself. We went out there for the race with not testing and the gear was absolutely perfect. We also did a crazy, crazy cut on the tires. We had something no one does and I actually won on it in Texas. The thing I did today was exactly what I did in Texas when I won it.
So did your dad sense the track was going to be in this sort of condition tonight?
It was a full-on guess. It was one of those things where I wasn’t faster than the other guys yesterday [Note: Currie was third in Friday night’s main], so how I look at it is that if I’m not faster than the other guys, I’m going to change everything to be faster or way slower. It worked today.
You guys didn’t practice today. During the warm-up laps, how did the track seem to you? Were the conditions what you were hoping for?
The track was brutal from lap one. It was like Glen Helen, last moto of the day. It was just brutal. I did my line choosing before the race started and I stuck with it from the green flag.
The track did look extremely torn up and it looked like you were taking motocross lines out there…
I mean, with this track, I don’t care who you are, if you ride motocross, you’d be up front. It was one of those deals where you knew it was coming. Growing up around tracks like Glen Helen, this proves that moto definitely makes us better truck drivers!
From the first lap on it looked you certainly had everyone covered. Inside the truck, did you feel the same way?
You know, I was nervous. Marty [Hart] has been fast all weekend. Jeff Kincaid has been flying. Marty told me earlier today that when he was riding factory motorcycles, Ricky Johnson was his mentor for a long time. He said, “When you get on the track, no matter if your equipment is bad or good, you’re the only person that can make it win.” In the race, I figured, Hey, right now is the time. I have to do it now. So that’s what I did. And I felt at home. I had a couple of close calls, but was just because the track was brutal. I just did what was totally natural. I didn’t push it, ever.
About halfway through the race, Hart started applying pretty serious pressure on you. Did you feel that?
You know it was one of those things where if you start focusing who’s behind you, you’re going to race who’s behind you. So I just kept my eyes ahead of me and raced to the front.
You certainly seem elated to have won here tonight!
Yeah, it would be totally different if we had a better year, but we had our ups and downs this year, for sure. To come out of here with this, man, it just brings so much momentum into 2010.