Between The Motos:  Ricky Carmichael

Between the Motos: Ricky Carmichael

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The 3rd Annual Ricky Carmichael Daytona Amateur Supercross returns this year to Daytona International Speedway with an expanded two-day racing format. Last year’s one-day event boasted over 800 entries and brought out amateur motocross stars like Cooper Webb and Jessy Nelson to compete on the coveted Daytona Supercross track. With the opening round of the 2012 Monster Energy Supercross Championship kicking off this weekend, it’s only fitting to hear from The Greatest of All-Time on his supercross predictions, the future of amateur racing and of course, details of the 3rd Annual RCSX at Daytona.

Racer X: You’re always a busy guy, what do you have on your plate this month?
Ricky Carmichael
:
Yeah, I’ve been real busy. Looking forward to supercross starting up, I head out to California on Wednesday. I can’t wait; it’s going to be an excellent series. And then obviously we’ve been working on the Ricky Carmichael Daytona Amateur Supercross as well, and then trying to figure out my four-wheeled adventures for next year, so I’ve got a couple irons in the fire on that side of things.

There’s no doubt supercross is going to be exciting this year, I have to hear your predictions.
I think the unique thing about this season is that there are five or six guys that can win any single race. Last year it was kind of that way after the fifth race or so because everyone had won at that point and they realized they all can win these races. This year, going into the first race, they all know they can win so there’s not going to be a pecking order like there was the last year. So I think it’s going to be really good racing right off the bat, even better than last year because like I said, it’s not a question if these guys can win, they all know they can.

So I take it you don’t have any championship favorites?
As far as the championship, I think it’s going to come down to who wants it more. I’m looking forward to it, I mean obviously James has a lot to prove this year—he hasn’t won a championship in a couple years, so you know he’s really under the gun and I’m sure he wants to show the JGR clan that they made the right choice by pulling out all the stops and hiring him, so it’s going to be pretty good, a lot of pressure on him. I think Villopoto just wants to beat Stewart straight up. It reminds me a lot of 2007, when James and myself were battling it out and we wanted to beat each other so bad, we were willing to do anything possible. I think Reed will be really, really good this year. I’m not sure if his injuries will set him back any, but I think he’ll have a quicker start this year than he did last year. You can never bet against that guy, he’s so good and so strong, one of the mentally toughest guys out there. As far as Dungey goes, I think he’ll be strong as well. It’ll be interesting to see how he’s going to do with the new team this year. He’s back with Roger DeCoster and we all know how much he loves Roger, so hopefully that will be the answer he’s looking for. He’s consistent and he’s always there, so it’s going to come down to a lot of heart and who’s going to go the extra mile and step their game up. I’m just glad that I can be a fan and sit back, watch and commentate some of the racing!

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The 3rd Annual Ricky Carmichael Daytona Amateur Supercross will take place on March 11 and 12.
Photo: Simon Cudby

Fast-forwarding to March, you’ve teamed up with MX Sports once again for the 3rd Annual Ricky Carmichael Daytona Amateur Supercross. What can we expect for 2012?
Oh yeah, I’m really excited about the Amateur Supercross this year and growing it to a two-day event is going to gain a lot more support from sponsors and factories. Not to mention, it gives riders more time on the track, and that in itself is huge. I think the track design is going to be real good this year and I’m just ecstatic with how much the event has been growing each year. I’m just glad to be a part of it and give back to the sport. This event gives us the opportunity to make something fun and prestigious for the kids and even the older guys and all the amateur racers coming up. Daytona is a special place to race, man. It’s a supercross track, a little tamed down, but still just to be there and be a part of the whole weekend is pretty cool. Amateur racers can watch the pro race Saturday night and get a behind-the-scenes look at everything and then race the same track Sunday and Monday. I’m really looking forward to it, last year was a big success and just moving it to a two-day event is going to open up a lot of avenues for some great things to come, the sky is the limit. As we get more support from the factories and some other sponsors, it’s going to be awesome and I’m glad to be a part of it.

Last year you turned some laps on Sunday, are you bringing your bike this year?
Yeah absolutely! I’ll get out there and cut it up with the guys and ride the track, for sure. I’ve always been a big fan of racing at Daytona and I’ll get out there and ride a little bit. Hopefully they’ll let me jump into a couple of the more advanced classes and not mess up any racing, but have fun. It’s going to be pretty good. I always look forward to that. I’ll have my bike down there for sure and actually I’ve been riding quite a bit this winter so I’ll be in good shape, so I can’t wait to have some fun out there!

Two days of racing means no Ricky Carmichael University. Is that the end of it? Or will there be another opportunity to enroll?
I think that’s the one bummer about making the actual race a two-day show. I think when you make it a two-day show it really helps out and makes it a little more feasible for people traveling to the event, and definitely makes the event a little more legit, if you will. And obviously you get even more track time, which is what I think everyone is searching for at this point in amateur racing. There just wasn’t time this year, Daytona couldn’t facilitate another day for us because they have to clear the track and get it ready for the road race guys, which is unfortunate but it’s too good of an event not to keep going. I think RCU is something that will be around a long time and I look forward to trying to do another one this year. It would obviously be at a different location, but I think it’s something that we can always do and put together. It’s a great program and I know the faculty and everyone that helps out, we all enjoy it and think it’s productive. So I’m definitely going to work hard to keep that going and we’ll just have to have it a different venue but unfortunately we won’t be able to have it at Daytona.

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RCSX will now run on a two-day format, instead of a one-day format like previous years.
Photo: Simon Cudby

We talked about how epic supercross is on the professional level, what does this mean for the sport to now have amateurs banging bars on a legit SX track?
I’m a huge fan of motocross, you know it’s the root of the sport and even though supercross is so huge now, motocross is where it started so it’s important to not lose sight of that. The cool thing about the RCSX is that amateurs are now able to have a national on a supercross track and it slowly prepares them for the future in supercross and I think sponsors like that, as well. It’s great to see the kids out there riding it and getting that experience and it’s something new for them—it’s not the same old amateur race that these guys have been going to for years and years, where half the tracks are the same as they’ve always been. So that’s the luxury of having it at Daytona and it being able to be a supercross track.

It seems like there’s a lot going on in the amateur-racing world in March. Do you think that will have an affect on RCSX?
We’re going to have more contingency and support from the factories and sponsors this year but it’s unfortunate that some other races are kind of conflicting with the date. Everything falls behind the NFL and they’re a pretty big sport, so when the NFL runs behind, the NASCAR race runs behind and that kind of puts us behind as well since we’re kind of like the third man on the totem pole. It’s unfortunate, but in general, we all need to be on the same page in order for the sport to grow like it has up to now. We definitely don’t want people on two separate pages, there’s no doubt about it. I’m just here to give back to the sport that gave me every opportunity that I could have possibly imagined and I’m looking forward to making this event the biggest and best one that I possibly can. The people that support us and join us, we’ll definitely make it right for them.

Are you heading up the track design again this year?
Yeah, I designed the track for the pro race on Saturday night again, and then obviously with it being the Ricky Carmichael Amateur Supercross afterwards, I designed that as well. So it will be very similar for the amateur race as it was for the pro race. The design is very different than it was last year so I think this year’s track is going to be great. I worked hard on it and got an early start this year so I’m excited for these guys to have the opportunity to ride on it and hopefully we’ll see some good racing!

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Be sure to check out mxsports.com for all information regarding RCSX.
Photo: Simon Cudby

Did you change anything in the design since amateurs are racing Sunday and Monday?
You know with the amateurs racing the day after the pros, it doesn’t affect the way I design the track, no. We will change a couple of the jumps just to make it a bit safer and so the amateurs can do some of the jumps, have fun with it and race hard. There’s not too much that has to be done with it design-wise, just a little tweaking with the jumps is all we have to do. Daytona is always good for racing because it forms a lot of different lines and as a racer, that’s what you want. Even as a spectator or a fan, you want to see a multi-groove racetrack and not just a one-line racetrack.

Where do you see this event in the future?
I envision this being an early springtime Loretta Lynn’s in a supercross-format. Because quite honestly, that’s what you’ve got. You’ve got the motocross portion at Loretta Lynn’s, which is the best amateur race, and you’ve got RCSX as the best supercross amateur race and I think it’s great for the up and coming riders that someday want to be pro, they have to get their feet wet somehow. Daytona is the perfect place for it. I mean, the weather is always ideal for racing, the parking and facility infrastructure is amazing, what a great facility to have a race! I remember as a kid, I always wanted to race at Daytona but I never could because I wasn’t sixteen [minimum pro racing age]. Now you don’t have to be sixteen to race there, you can be any age.

You always say Daytona is like home to you. For someone who has never been there, how can you briefly explain that experience?
If you’ve raced your whole life and you’ve never been to Daytona, you just can’t explain it. It’s like trying to explain Vegas to someone—you just can’t do it. You just have to see it to believe it. The place is enriched with racing history. It’s basically the headquarters of any type of racing that you could possibly think of, so there’s a lot of history there and that’s what racing is all about.

[For more info on the RC Amateur Supercross at Daytona, go to www.mxsports.com. To sign up to race, go HERE].

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