Seems like months since we heard anything from Chapparal Honda's Andrew Short, so when we realized it was his birthday yesterday, we rang him up to get a status report.
Racer X: We haven't talked to you since Elsinore. Did I hear you took a break?
Andrew Short: I actually took a massive break! It's the longest I've even been off the bike without a real injury. But I was in a pretty big hole, my body was just down in the gutter, so I had to pull back and take the off-season to get my body back to baseline, if that makes sense.
Well, it does. I know you've burned your bridge down before, but it seems like even if you know it could happen, racing and the grind sometimes gets you anyway.
Yeah, but I had a lot of issues going on. I had a staph infection, and then I had a problem with my testicle, believe it or not, and that was really awkward and weird, as you can imagine.
[Laughs] A testical problem, for real?
Oh yeah! Number one, it's scary, and number two, it's awkward. So I was dealing with that and was just going to the races in survival mode. And I almost finished third in the series, I finished one point behind [Jake] Weimer, which was amazing considering how bad my body was. But it was important for me to keep racing, for the sponsors and for the team, and for Honda, as well.
Short finished third in points in the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championships in 2012.
Simon Cudby photo
So is this something you can learn from, and try to do things differently, or is it just the reality of being a professional racer?
No, this is the case of being a professional racer and then having something happen in regular life just complicate things. I don't think there was a way of preventing it. The hard part was adapting to that situation, and leaning on doctors to figure out the right way to proceed. It's frustrating because you're going to the track knowing you're not going to do as well as you could, and you're not at your best. But that's part of it, and it could have been a lot worse. I've been through situations in the past like this from over training, but this was different.
I see. So when did you get back going?
Not that long ago, actually. It's going to be a short off-season for me. We had our first test a few weeks ago with the guys out here in California. And I haven't been too serious with the training on the dirt bike, until recently. I'm kind of behind the eight ball now, but I can rely on my experience riding a dirt bike to get through that.
How busy has it been out there? There are a ton of guys racing Honda 450s now and the bike is all-new, so has it been hectic?
Honestly, the bike is really similar to previous years in terms of geometry, so the suspension is about the same, and honestly it's just a little bit better because of some of the changes they did make. A few things were difficult, like the linkage, because the swingarm is totally different so it has totally different ratios. But the basic setup is pretty close to the year before, so we had a good base to work with. And the motor is pretty similar for us. The cases are different, but the internals are the same. So that was similar, too. I feel like there are a lot of guys on the Honda, but I think Eli [Tomac] is dropping back down, and I'm just getting going, and Trey [Canard] is just getting going, so everyone has different agendas and schedules.
So this is not as big a change as going from the '08 to the '09 Honda?
Yeah, not even close. They've just improved on the previous bike, where as from '08 to '09, you might as well have been switching brands, the bikes were that different. The '09 introduced fuel injection, so it really mellowed out the power, the weight bias was completely different. Now the weight bias is the same, and obviously it's still fuel-injected so the power delivery is the same.
How's the team? Compare it to where it was last year at this time, when it was just getting started.
I think there is a difference in terms of the personnel, and that basically means, now I know them all! Last year the team was new to me, so I leaned on my relationship with the guys from Honda. And I'm still close with those guys, and we'd be in a world of hurt without them. But we have our own motor and suspension guy who I learned to work with in 2012, and I also understand how Larry [Brooks] and Jeremy [McGrath] like to run a team. It's a comfort thing, and being a racer, that's an element you can use to your advantage.
Plus, you're saying this year you probably won't be going to the races in a Sprinter van?
[Laughs] Yeah I hope not!
But you won the Seattle race when you were pitting out of a van. So how do you look back at this season?
The big picture is, I've never had a year with so many ups and downs. I'm usually pretty solid and consistent. This year we had peaks and valleys on and off the track. I'll look back and see that some of the biggest accomplishments I've ever had on a motorcycle happening in 2012, but I'll also look back at the lows at the end of the outdoor season. But that's all part of racing. You have to have a passion for it and understand this is the way it's going to go sometimes.
The #29 celebrated his 30th birthday on Wednesday.
Simon Cudby photo
So you just turned 30.
Yeah, the dirty thirty.
Where do you fit in now? New guys keep coming in and guys like you don't leave!
I think it's foolish to think you know where you fit in before the year begins. Yeah, a lot of new talent keeps coming in, so I have to look at a guy like Tim Ferry, he used that experience of what he had learned throughout a long career to put in the best results of his career after age 30. I look at Kevin Windham, and Chad Reed who is 30 now, some of the best riders out there are older and wiser and stronger. I think if I apply myself in the same way they did, I should be able to keep improving.
And you're not worried about the late start?
No, I won't forget how to ride a motorcycle.
Actually, you're one of those guys who maybe overdid it.
Yeah, in the past I felt like I had to ride every day, or I was losing something. Through the years, I've realized you don't have to ride everyday, and sometimes I end up being a little faster. And health is a huge concern. So I'm definitely not worried about not riding over the last few months. It's a long, long season.