Pennsylvania’s Mike McDade rose to prominence following his good samaritan act last year at Southwick, when he pulled a smoldering hot bike off GEICO Honda’s Wil Hahn following a first turn pileup. But not many know the other side of McDade. The defending East Region Lites Arenacross Champion carries a full-time job in the off-season, and is a proud father. Although those obligations prevented him from training much during the off-season, McDade showed up at the season opener in Worcester, MA and finished on the podium. The proceeding week he upset two-time defending champion Tyler Bowers for his first career Arenacross class overall. Just imagine what this kid could do if he could focus on racing full time!
We caught up with McDade earlier this week for this edition of Privateer Profile.
Racer X: A lot of fans probably see you as a Supercross and Motocross rider, but you’re actually the defending East Region Arenacross Champion and are currently third in the Arenacross class points this year. How has your season been going thus far?
Mike McDade: Yeah, I came in last year with no riding and did the Lites class to get warmed up for the big class. I ended up doing good so I just ran with it. I learned a lot as the season went along because I didn’t get to ride much before [the season]. This season I actually did the same thing. I rode a lot of outdoors this year but since Elsinore I haven’t really been able to ride much. I didn’t know what I was planning on doing so I took a break from the gym and a break from everything and went into Arenacross the first night and won the Lites class and went 5-1 in the Arenacross class. It went way better than I thought it would, there wasn’t a big set of whoops so I was able to do okay.
Then we went to Baltimore and I was able to do a little better by getting the overall [Arenacross class]. Then last weekend we had some problems with the bike—it was my mistake, I just wasn’t paying attention. We were focused on the brakes, rather than the clutch, and the clutch went out the first night. On the second night I was just nervous from losing so many points on Friday that I didn’t focus and have fun on Saturday and went 3-6 for fourth overall. It wasn’t too bad, I haven’t been off the podium all year and that was the first night I was, so I’m just trying to get it back together this weekend and hopefully get another win.
McDade celebrates his first career Arenacross overall in Baltimore.
The past two years, the Arenacross class has been the Tyler Bowers show. But in Baltimore you were able to pull off the upset.
It’s still kind of the Bowers show. I think he still has five or six wins and I only have one. But I think it will get better for me when the points matter [note: AMSOIL Arenacross is using a “chase” format this year, with the points reset after round six]. I still feel like I have a lot more in me. I just now am able to get back in the gym and ride a little bit, and I’ve taken off work for the rest of the season to concentrate on Arenacross, so I think it will get better as the season goes along. I’ve been dealing with a shoulder injury and haven’t been able to train or ride much, so for me to be able to finish on the podium is good, but I have a long way to go to be where I should be. But by the time Wilkes-Barre is over and they drop the points and restart I should be strong and not be making as many mistakes as I have. I think in three or four weeks I’ll be 100 percent and be ready for some more overalls.
You mentioned that you’re dealing with a little bit of a shoulder problem and the weather in Pennsylvania isn’t exactly ideal for riding at the time—what are you able to do during the week? Are you able to ride much, or is it just hitting the gym?
I just started back at the gym this week. The only reason I wasn’t doing the things I needed to be before is because I was working a full-time job and raising a kid and my girlfriend is in school, so I had a lot going on. I didn’t want to quit my job going into Arenacross and not be able to pay the bills, but luckily I’ve done good the first two weeks to where I can take off work to be able to live and focus on racing. I still won’t be able to ride much during the week. There are two or three indoor tracks around here, but the riding you need for this is a whole different thing. After Oklahoma this week I’m going to stay in Texas for a week and do some riding and get ready for Cedar Park.
Coming into the season you had a full-time job and were raising a kid while trying to train at the same time. How are you able to juggle all of that?
I think it’s good for me. I think when I get more spare time is when I don’t do the things I need to do. I think my son has been the biggest thing helping with my results. When I was working and coming home and watching him at night, by the weekend I was ready to be at the races, and I really appreciate it a lot more. Now that I’m doing good and don’t have to get up so early to go to work and get to spend more time with my son is great. He got to come to Baltimore for my first win and I plan on taking him to more races. The more I have going on the better it is.
McDade currently sits third in the Arenacross class points.
The new format changes this year have raised some eyebrows, but haven’t seemed to really affect you thus far. What are your thoughts on the changes and how do you think it is going so far?
For me and Bowers it has been good. In Massachusetts we were the last two gate picks and still finished first and second. In Baltimore I started on the back row and was still able to come up to third. I’m good at sneaking through in the first turn and finding an opening and putting my bike in there. It might get a little more interesting once the championship is on the line, but as far as right now ... I would say it’s good for me, and Bowers seems to like it, to.
Last year after Arenacross you transitioned to Supercross with Eleven10 Mods. Is Supercross in the plans this year?
It really depends on how this season goes. I have had some offers to go and do Supercross, but I have a lot of bills and stuff, so right now this is what I’m focusing on. I would like to get a ride with Babbitts next year and do Arenacross next year. As far as Supercross, I’ve done it and would love to do it, but it’s not paying the bills right now.
Thanks, Mike. Who would you like to thank for helping you out this season?
I would like to thanks Mosites, Rocket Valley, Competitive Edge, Bristol Core, AMSOIL, SCOTT, Novik Gloves, Ripped Vinly, Boyeson, Wiseco, JYT Training, Ed Moody, my family and everyone involved in my daily grind.