Racer X Online: Cole, congrats, you are back on the factory 450. Did you know this would happen for awhile or was it last minute?
Cole Seely: Yeah it actually only happened in the last week. I didn’t even know after San Diego, and then I got sick after the race, so I wasn’t able to ride. Then I got the call on Wednesday or Thursday. I actually told [Honda Team Manager Erik] Kehoe that I needed to just think about it for a day. I didn’t want to give a yes answer and regret it or a no answer and regret it—I needed to think about it. And that’s just because of what happened in San Diego, with Eli [Tomac] going down. It kind of tightened everything back up in the points chase. I’m only 15 points out, so I almost didn’t want to risk riding the 450 for the championship. So the whole time I was thinking about that, but I also thought about how strong I came back to the Lites class last year after I rode the 450 at a few races. So I realized yes was the right answer.
Brian Siegrist [Seely's agent]: And Jason to add some color to that, I started talking to Kehoe several weeks before this happened. When I saw what happened in L.A. with Trey, I knew he was going to be out for a bit, and I wanted to pick Kehoe’s brain a bit on what they were going to do. My goal was to keep Cole racing because I know how strong he came back last year. I think he still has a chance at the title.
So then, Cole, are you doing this to benefit yourself in the Lites class when you get back to that, or is it just because it’s a great opportunity to get on the factory 450?
Seely: It’s both, really. Those are two factors I had to weigh in. It was so two-sided for me. I didn’t want to get hurt. I’m not right there in the points, but it’s just 15 points out, and anything can happen in three rounds. But riding the 450 is a great opportunity and I’m excited, when Team Honda calls it’s not something you ever want to turn down. I weighed it all, and the main thing that swayed me was talking to Justin Brayton. We’ve become really good friends, and he told me this is going to be fun. And that’s the main reason I race motorcycles, is to have fun. So that was pretty much the deciding factor for me.
Seely will be back on the 450 this weekend in Atlanta.
Photo: Andrew Fredrickson
You did this last year, and I’m sure you learned from that. Are you excited about possibly doing even better on the 450 this time?
Seely: Yeah absolutely, and another thing is, I’m just so much stronger this year. I’m in much better shape. Just riding the 450 the last few days, I feel much more fit.
Siegrist: Yeah I talked to Kehoe and he said, “Wow what a difference a year makes.”
You have to be much more confident coming in.
Seely: Yeah for sure. Last year I felt like I was just riding the bike, getting over the obstacles, doing my turns, not doing anything special. This year, I feel like it’s more me. I can be aggressive, I have more of my own style from the Lites bike on it.
Do you have a goal, results wise?
Seely: It’s so stacked this year. I just want to be in the top ten, and if something happens like I get a good start, and I have an opportunity to be in the top five, I think I could do that. That’s another thing this year, I feel much better about my starts. Even at the test track, doing practice starts, I feel much more comfortable and in control.
Last year you won the first West race as soon as we came back in Seattle. Where do you think this will help on the Lites bike?
Seely: It helps with the ruts, and just being able to manhandle that Lites bike a bit. But also, mentally, when you’re racing against the best riders in the world on a 450, you know, James Stewart, Ryan Villopoto, Ryan Dungey, or Chad Reed even though he’s now out hurt, when you line up with those guys on the gate, and then you get back to the Lites class, it’s just not as a big a deal for you. You think, “I’ve done much bigger things in the last month.”
What’s the schedule? Three races?
Seely: It will be four, this weekend, then St. Louis, Daytona and Indianapolis.
And then that’s it?
Seely: I don’t want to miss out on too much outdoor testing for the Lites class. And I want to get some time back on the Lites bike in supercross.
Siegrist: Kehoe did say Cole would have the option of racing Toronto if he wants to.
After Indy, Seely will return to the 250 to make a push for the West Region Lites title.
Photo: Simon Cudby
Do either of you guys know of any other riders who were offered this ride? We heard a lot of names being thrown around.
Seely: Not really. I didn’t know anything until they called me after San Diego.
Okay anything else to add here? What have you got going, Brian?
Siegrist: What’s interesting is that since Honda put out the press release, my phone has been blowing up with people who are interested in this. Cole grew up in Newbury Park, California, and that is home of the 800 pound gorilla of mail order that is BTO Sports. They’ve supported Cole before and they will be supporting him through this effort with Honda.
In addition, everyone knows the video game Call of Duty. It’s the biggest video game in the world, and Cole is a huge Call of Duty fan. Well, the guy who created Call of Duty, who did it for Activision, has left Activision to start his own company called U4ia Games. They’re building a first-person shooter game for the people who play Call of Duty, it’s launching in June, and they wanted to reach the action sports demographic, the hard-core gamers like Cole. So Cole will be running the U4ia logo, and a lot of people will probably be wondering what that is, it’s a very interesting thing. This company has been coined as the Call of Duty killer, because this game will be played on your phone, and you won’t have to be tied to your XBox. These guys are based in Seattle, so when Cole is back on the Lites bike there, they will be there to cheer him on.
Anything else we need to add?
Seely: I really need to thank everyone who is helping make this possible. Tyler Keefe, my team manager at Troy Lee, really helped out here, and I have to thank him and everyone on the team, and also our sponsors like Lucas Oil and Red Bull, for letting me do this.
Siegrist: Yeah you have to realize that this weekend he won’t be running Red Bull or Lucas, it will be Muscle Milk and Honda Oils, so that was really big of the Troy Lee guys to let him have this opportunity. Tyler really helped get this done so we want to give him a huge shout out for that.