Insight: Ryan Sipes

Insight: Ryan Sipes

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We talked to Ryan Sipes last week about his ISDE experience and his plans for 2014, and he hinted that big changes were coming. Yesterday the Kentucky rider announced on his Instagram feed that he was retiring from full time motocross and supercross racing. What’s that all about? We called him up again and asked him.

Racer X: Last week you hinted that big changes were coming for you and your career in racing, and you weren’t kidding. You’re retiring from racing the full supercross and motocross season.
Ryan Sipes: Yeah, you know, priorities change, you know? It’s time for me to do this. I had a good run, and I went farther than I thought I ever would and I went farther than most people thought I would. I didn’t reach my goal of winning a title, but I had a good career, I think.

So, do you mean even when you turned pro you didn’t think you would go this far? Explain that.
It’s weird. Growing up, not my family, but a lot of different people just tell you it’s too hard, it’s too hard to make money in this sport. And you’ll hear people kind of say you’re not good enough. Growing up watching it on TV, I was like, “Man those guys are so good, how could you ever be that good?” And being from back here, not a lot of good guys had come from here. It would be different if I was from California, because a lot of good riders come from there. I guess I just didn’t know what to expect, and that’s what I meant.

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"Going into Hangtown I knew it was going to be the last run. And it was good; I had a lot more fun that way." - Ryan Sipes
Simon Cudby photo

Do you go back and look at those supercross wins as your peak?
Well, those three supercross wins are the highlight, but looking back on it I think the coolest thing is knowing I could be one of the guys on any given weekend. I knew on the right weekend I could run with the best their was, and that gives me some peace when I look back on it, because I know I still can run with the best in the world. It’s not like I’m being pushed out of the sport.

Usually when we hear a rider in your situation, retiring, it’s because injuries were too much, or the money and support weren’t there anymore. Is that the case here, or is this just something you wanted to do?
There were some offers. And injuries have been a part of my career since my first year, so that’s nothing new. Basically, I’m married and we have a little girl now, and they can’t travel to California like I need to. And they’re way more important to me than racing. Like I said, priorities change. I feel like I need to be a dad, I need to be here, and I don’t need to be off by myself in California chasing the dream again. Like I said, I had a great time doing it, but my priorities have changed.

And that’s pretty big on your part, because you’re saying you could have gotten a ride for 2014. You could have kept on going if you were in this only for yourself.
Yeah for sure, there were a few offers, and I could have done it. But there wasn’t that offer that I would change the world for. There was one offer that would have been, and it was really, really close to happening. I’m talking a full time factory 450 ride. It was close, but it didn’t work out. This was back in May. I knew what was going on with my family; I knew I wasn’t going to come back if I didn’t get that ride. I don’t want to ride a 250 again; I don’t want to ride for a team that only does it halfway. My girls need me. It ended up where, around July, we found out that ride wasn’t going to happen. The support wasn’t there for me to be a second 450 rider. So I kind of made my mind up right there.

I knew on the right weekend I could run with the best their was, and that gives me some peace when I look back on it, because I know I still can run with the best in the world. It’s not like I’m being pushed out of the sport.

So you actually knew the last few nationals were going to be your last?
Oh yeah. I pretty much knew the whole summer. Going into Hangtown I knew it was going to be the last run. And it was good; I had a lot more fun that way. I had so much more fun instead of putting all this pressure on myself.

So what’s next? I know you did the ISDE, maybe some off-road?
Yeah, my goal is the race the GNCC Series next year if I can make some money at it. That’s what I’m trying to put together next year. But I wouldn’t mind doing some EnduroCross—that looks like fun. And the close Nationals to me here on the East, Muddy Creek, High Point, I think I could do those if they don’t clash with the GNCC schedule.

Didn’t you and your brother show up at a GNCC back in the day?
Yeah, we raced one in ’07, and we smoked the Open A class and they protested us!

[Laughs] Yeah, that’s right! Double DQs for the Sipes brothers! You were supposed to race the pro class, but you didn’t even know.
I had no clue what to race! I showed up with my CR450, and he had a KX250, we had moto suspension, didn’t even had handguards on. I guess we beat them pretty bad and people in the class didn’t like it! [Laughs]

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Sipes hopes to race the GNCC Series next year.
Simon Cudby photo

[Laughs] Well, from what you remember, you liked it?
Well, trails are a lot of fun to ride, but racing it might be totally different. But I think with the work ethic I have right now, once you learn moto, you can apply the right techniques and practice ideas so you can learn it pretty quick. I think with six months of focusing on it, I could run up there with those guys. Now, don’t get me wrong, those guys are on it, they’re good. But I think if I put in some hard work, I can run with them.

Did you see the ISDE as a bit of an off-road test run?
Yeah. I think a lot of people did. Antti [Kallonen] at KTM, he’s the ISDE Team Manager, and I had let him know I was looking at some off-road stuff. And he said, “Well, let’s see how you do.” I think a few people were watching. I’ve had some interest from some people.

You have some feelers out there?
Yeah I’m on the phone every day trying to get something lined up. I know off-road stuff happens a little later, if I was still racing moto and didn’t have anything right now I’d be wigging out. This is all new to me and I’m feeling it out and trying to make a good decision so I can race a few more years. From what I’ve seen at those races, it’s a good family atmosphere, and I could bring my girls and everyone will have fun. Not that I couldn’t bring them to a supercross, but I need to stay here. I think I still have the talent and desire to race, but I need to be able to stay home. If I could stay home in Kentucky and race supercross, I’d do it!

Sipes sent out a letter yesterday thanking the following people:

Mom and Dad, Pooh, Holly and Ava, my grandparents and all my family, the fans and the industry for welcoming a kid from Kentucky with open arms and supporting me over the years, Rockstar Energy, James Hanson, Mike Kelso, Randy Lawrence, Steve and Denise Hatch, Ray and Lorraine Currie, Cody Currie, Casey Currie, Bobby and Karen Hewitt, Dave Gowland, Dragon goggles, Airoh helmets, FMF, One Industries, Leatt, Jason McCune, Paul Lindsay, Bob Moore, Brian Fleck, Broc Glover, all the Dunlop guys, Asterisk, Doc Bodnar, Dr. Reiman, Dr. Alexander, Dr. Corey King, Dr. Augustine, Dr. Medsker, Dr. Navarro, Dr. G, Eddie Casillas, Dr. Stephen Legate, Robb Beams, John and Scott Parkinson, Racer X, Transworld Moto, Vital MX, Pit Pass Radio, Moto X Addicts, the wild dudes at DMXS Radio, Hammer Nutrition, Brian Frank, Gearne boots, O'neal, Shift, No Fear, Spy, Scott goggles, Shoei, Bell, RG3, Troy Lee Designs,  Alpinstars, Cti2, MB1, KYB, Showa, Renthal, Team Green, Tag, Pro Taper, Moto Tassinari, RK Excel, Pro Circuit, Guts seats, Odi, Roger Decoster, Rockford Fosgate, Jason Brewington, Brad Williams, WBR Racing, Tony Sulek, Scott Budzynski, Ryan Morais, David and Shaun Bailey, Mike Kranyak, Todd Jacobs, Michael and Big Mike Lapaglia, Schnikey, Ziggy, Jeff Majkrzak, Charles Petrone, Billy and Susan Willian, Gary Bailey, Kelly Smith, Mitch Barnes, Steve Hudson, Shawn Clark, Mitch Norwood, Justin Fiero, GoPro, Steve Lamson, Kurt Nicoll, Danny Paladino, Toad, Ryan Ragland, Mike Genova, Jeff Pinehart, Chris Durham, Dave Viers, Steve and Ryan McGehee, Craig Martin, Ron Heben, Reid Nordin, Don and Lil Donny Emler, Bill Tinsley, Carl Rosania, Terri and Ray Woods, Ricky Carmichael, Bo Lemastus, Jay Baumert, Buzzard Roost MX, Joey Still, Kevin Walker, Mike Purvis, Ryan Fedorow, Scott Adkins, Rich Simmons, Justin Brayton, Wil and Tommy Hahn, Derek Brush, Gibby, Scott Simon, Burke, JT, Jamie Ellis, Scuba Steve Westfall, Cheese, Brent Myron, Jerry Heben, Bradley Rideout and family, Bobby Regan, Todd Brown, Bradley Sipes, Rob Abel, Keith McCarty, Jimmy Perry, Dyno Dan, Bob Oliver, Gerald, Taylor Robert, Dylan Cox and family, Ballance MX, Dave Shelmerdine, Chad Lanza, Allan Brown, Andy Vuleta, Ronnie Caswell, FCA MX, Davey Coombs, Aaron Teague and family, Ryan and Debbie Ritchie and family, Ed Torrance, Chad Ward and family, Tim and Jackie Morais, Troy Wolgemuth. If I forgot you I'm sorry! I am forever grateful for your help.

Love you guys. I will miss you all. See ya round!

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