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5 Minutes With... Max Anstie

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DNA Shred Stix/Star Racing Yamaha’s Max Anstie had a breakout weekend in San Diego. He almost won the main event, passing leader Jake Weimer briefly during the race, but was balked when Jeff Alessi blocked him after letting Weimer by. But here’s a big thing about Anstie: When we emailed him to do this interview, he called back quickly, and we told him that we wanted to conduct the interview at 5:30 or 6 p.m. and we’d call him back. At 6 p.m., on the nose, he called us back. This is a kid who really loves his job and is enthusiastic about representing the sponsors who keep him on the track. And he’s really funny. Check it out.

  • Max Anstie had a great night last Saturday in San Diego.
Racer X: Max, you almost won that race last weekend...
Max Anstie: Yeah, a lot of things fell into place. It took me the first four rounds to get everything sorted out, to have all of the experiences of supercross racing, and being with a really, really good team, in a semi... It’s just really cool. Everything finally fell into place in San Diego and I was riding well, and obviously I went down on the last lap, but that’s the way it goes. I’m learning from every experience like that. We’re doing our homework during the week, and obviously everything that we’ve been doing has helped us to get to where we’re at, and I’m still at a really young age, so it’s a lot to learn, but it’s all going well, and I’m looking forward to this weekend.

How old are you again? 17?
I’m 16.

You’re still 16?!
Yeah, and I just passed my driving test this week! It’s pretty sweet! I passed on the first try and it was really, really cool! And, actually, today I’ve been at an American high school all day picking up my American diploma. I have my English diploma. But now I have my Green Card, so I’m basically an American citizen! I wanted to get my diploma just in case I wanted to go to college or anything like that, and I’ve been thinking about it for a little while. I was going through my classes right before you called, and it’s funny reading American History and stuff like that, where in 1620 the Pilgrims came over on the Mayflower from Plymouth Rock... I’ve got a little history lesson for you: Isn’t it funny how you Americans forgot how to say so many things [despite the fact that we’re English like him], like “faucet”. How do you get “faucet” out of “tap”? We say “tap”. And we say “lorry” and you say “a big truck”. And “diapers”; we say “nappy”. It’s really funny, some of that stuff.

Well, to be fair, Max, “faucet” is probably rooted in French, and they did help us kick you damned English out of our country, so we owed them, and we used their word for the thing that spits water out...
(Laughs) Yeah, and now I have to speak like an American, because now I’ve got my Green Card and everything, so it’s like part of the deal, I think.

Did you feel added pressure this year knowing it’s your first supercross season, and you’re on a big-time, factory-supported team?
No, not really, because I’m still only 16, and I turned 16 right before the outdoors started last year. This is what we live for. We’ve worked all of our life for this. We’ve come from England and obviously now we’re here in America and I’m racing Supercross against the best in the world! To have an amazing bike on the DNA Shred Stix/Star Racing Yamaha team, it builds confidence to know that all the work you’ve put in is going to pay off. You have the equipment to do really well, so there’s no added pressure, but you can go to work knowing that the equipment you have is good enough to go out and win races. That’s the goal, and with a little luck here and there, it could’ve happened last week.

At that one point in the race, you caught Jake Weimer, and you actually passed him momentarily...
Yeah, we were going through the whoops, and I got alongside him, and then I came through the next rhythm section right on him, but then got a little held up with some lappers. But that’s just the way it goes sometimes. There’s always next weekend. I’ll be ready for this weekend.

  • Anstie chased Jake Weimer (12) for the entire main event, but fell on the last lap and finished fourth.
But this lapper was on the same color bike as you, so I thought that was kind of odd...
I know, but we were coming up fast on him, and obviously when you look behind and you see the green bike of Jake’s, obviously everyone knows he’s probably leading and to get out of the way, but I think he thought maybe I was behind him and he was battling for position. I’m not entirely sure. But that’s the way it goes, and now hopefully people realize that I’m at the front, so they’re going to start having a little bit of respect when I’m coming through and the blue flags come out.

You seem okay with it right now, but...
Well, we are racing for money, so it cost me a lot of money, that thing, but I’m 16, so I’m still out there racing because I have a lot of fun, and anything I get is 10 times more than when I had before, because I’ve just come out of the amateurs, so I think it’s really cool anyway. I’m going out there to have fun and put on a good show for the crowd and put in a good result for my team. Obviously, I did a pretty good job of that last week, so I’m really looking forward to this week, because we have Press Day, and that gives us a little bit more of an advantage. That’ll be fun.

Well, it seems like the advantage really comes from knowing you can run the pace, not from jumping one of the triples 15 times, 10 days before the race...
Yeah, I know, but I just think it’s cool that we get to do Press Day because I’ve never done one before, so we get to go and do photos and be on the news and stuff like that. I think that’s really cool!

Have you brushed up on your American accent for the news, so they understand what you’re saying?
I’m not very good at it! I can say, like, “What’s up, duuude?!” Stuff like that. But I’m still not that good at it. I have to say that I have to change words when I’m around Americans because my step-mom’s American, and my step-sister, so I have to say, like, “diaper” and stuff...

You’re like, “Hey, let’s go get in the elevator.”
Yeah, the lift [in England].

“Hey, let’s go back to your apartment.”
Yeah, a flat [in England]. It’s just so, you know, American...

You write a column in British mag Dirt Bike Rider every month, and I do the “Stateside” section in there, and I’m always giving the editor, Sean Lawless, crap about emails he sends with all of these misspelled words in them, like “favour”.
It’s funny, because when I had to do my exams for school here, I had to pay attention to spelling because I spell it right, but it’s still wrong.

Yeah, they’ll dock you for spelling it correctly in your country...
Yeah, but that’s okay. I passed. What is this interview for, anyway? Is it for Racer X?

Yeah, it’s for Racer X on the internet.
So, it’s going to be a 5 Minutes thing or whatever?

Yeah, exactly. I’m going to put it up and make you a superstar overnight...
Oh, a superstar. That’s cool! That’s really cool, actually, because at Anaheim I, the first time that I really got to do autographs and stuff, and it was really sweet to be doing that stuff. I never thought I would get here this fast, but it was only a couple of years ago that I was watching the races, and walking through the pits, and getting autographs from people... Now, I’m sat alongside the other riders and I’m actually signing the autographs. It’s just cool to see it from this point of view. I was just a fan a year or so ago, but it’s always been my dream, and if you ask any kid who races in England or Europe or anywhere, from the earliest time, all they want to do is race Supercross in America because it’s against the best in the world under the lights, and you’re there signing autographs... I was there only a few years ago as a fan, and now I’ve worked to get to where I am, so for any kids out there reading this, you can do it, just believe and you can get to live your dreams. That’s what I’m doing.

You have a few added advantages, though, to be honest. You’re a talented kid, and you have a good bloodline for this sort of thing, too...
Yeah, I know, my dad’s helped me out a lot with training and all that, and ever since I was three years old and I got on a motorbike for the first time, I’ve worked to be the best at what I could be from Europe to KTM giving the opportunity to come to America at the end of 2007 as an amateur, and I raced that circuit before going to the big-bike races. This time last year, I remember I was getting ready for Lake Whitney, and that was when I first started to do well on the big bikes. That’s how it all started, and then after that, we saw they were changing the rules [for pro eligibility], so it was like, “Let’s go pro!” My 16th birthday was right before Glen Helen, and two weeks before that race, we were still undecided as to whether I was going to go pro or not. I didn’t want to stay in the amateurs for another two years.

You got lucky your birthday happened when it did because you could’ve been stuck...
Yeah, because I would’ve turned 17, but by then the limit would’ve been 18... Something like that. So, honestly, it’s all paying off, because I’m at a stage now where I’d much rather be where I’m at now than racing amateur stuff!

I think we’d rather have you around, too. You’re a funny kid. I think fans give a bigger crap about guys who have some sort of a personality. You’ll get fans if you just win all the time, but as soon as you start losing, they’re going to go away if they don’t have any sort of emotional connection to your personality. Kevin Windham doesn’t have to win to have legions of fans, but when he does, his fans are pumped, and that’s because he has personality. Jake Weimer is one of those guys, too, who has personality, and now he’s winning. You seem like that kind of guy, too, so it’s good for you, good for the fans, good for the sport, and it’s good for the media.
Yeah, it’s funny you say that, because I’ve never actually met Jake Weimer before, but a couple of years ago, I had his little toy, metal bike playing in the sand in the pits, and here I am now lined up next to him and having a good race with him on the weekend. It’s really cool to be racing guys like that. It’s hard to see what people are actually like sometimes at the races, because at the race meeting, you’re so into what you have to do that it’s hard sometimes to remember why you’re there, which is for the fans. It’s very important to be really cool with your fans, because your fans are the people who keep everything going. I have a lot of fans in Europe and England that I want to give a shout out to, because they’ve supported me all along, and if my fans can come out and support me at Anaheim III this weekend, it would be really nice. I even saw some guys I used to race against on 50s at San Diego, and it’s like, “Wow, I used to race him on 50s, and now he’s out here watching!”

How do you handle the whole thing when you look up to a guy as a racer, and then now you’re actually trying to race against him?
It’s definitely weird, because when I was racing outdoors, I knew I wasn’t ready because I wasn’t strong enough, physically, and I couldn’t get strong enough because I only decided two weeks before the series started, plus I was a lot younger than everyone else. I knew I had the speed because I raced the Four-Stroke World Championship thing and got second behind Austin Stroupe, and I beat a lot of good guys there, but when you’re actually lined up against guys like Ryan Dungey and obviously Jake Weimer and people like that, it’s definitely a big thing, especially when I’m still a kid. I don’t have a beard or anything (laughs), and I only just passed my driving test this week, so it was kind of weird. But eventually you figure out that they’re all the same as you are, and they work like you do during the week, and now that I passed my driving test, I can drive to the track like they do, too, so that’s really cool! (Laughs)

Well, because I have to type all of this myself, I have to stop interviewing you now. This is too long and it’s going to kill my day trying to get it typed.
No problem!

Thanks for calling me back, though, Max.
It’s no problem. Any time. Thanks for everything!

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