Open Mic: Davi Millsaps

Open Mic Davi Millsaps

May 19, 2014 10:00am

Remember Davi Millsaps? The Rockstar KTM rider missed the entire Monster Energy Supercross season recovering from knee surgery but the #18 is now ready and pumped to get going on the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship starting this Saturday. Millsaps has had a couple of great years indoors but hasn’t made it all the way through a full outdoor season in a long time (he missed all of the Nationals last year with a different knee injury). He’s hoping that the missed supercross season allows him to make it through the full grind of 24 long outdoor motos.

Racer X: You missed supercross this season and you’re coming into outdoors. How’s everything going?
Davi Millsaps: It was going pretty good and then I had a little slight setback with an old injury from when I bent my foot back in September of last year. I had some bone bruising and some other stuff along with it a couple weeks ago. Nothing crazy, just haven’t really been able to ride. So coming into Glen Helen I’m maybe not really where I want to be or need to be, but I’m going to definitely use the first couple rounds as almost racing back into shape and stuff like that. It’s a bummer for sure but I don’t want to miss any more races. I need to be out there.

Turning it into a positive, you haven’t made it through an entire outdoor season for a while, but you’ve always raced supercross. So maybe the half a year off could help you out, right?
This year was the first year watching supercross in seven years. It was definitely different. I’m only used to watching outdoors. I’m actually looking forward to racing all 12 of them this year and having a great… maybe not the outdoor season that I want to start with but maybe I can improve as the series goes on.

Yeah, just make it through all the motos and be strong by the end. You’re good at Hangtown, though.
Yeah, I’ve been good at Hangtown in the past. I’m hoping that I can come back for at least Hangtown and be obviously in better shape than I will be at Glen Helen and be able to run good there again, but I’m not going in with any expectations or whatnot. I just want to make it through and get stronger.

After missing all of supercross, Davi Millsaps is returning for Lucas Oil Pro Motocross. 
After missing all of supercross, Davi Millsaps is returning for Lucas Oil Pro Motocross.  Photo: Simon Cudby

You had a little bit of a controversial surgery on your knee. How’d it work out?
What do you mean by controversial?

You got that synthetic ligament put in or whatever, right?
It’s strange how stuff gets around.

I thought someone on your team told me that. It was a synthetic ligament or something.
It’s actually working out really well. It’s just they don’t allow it [the surgery] over here [in the U.S.].

Maybe that’s why it’s controversial, but it’s really not. It’s actually fine?
They allow it everywhere else, just not here.

So the knee, that part’s fine. That healed up okay?
That healed up great. I’m all good there.

Why did I keep hearing “He’s coming back at Houston, he’s coming back at Atlanta,” and then eventually “he’s not coming back to supercross?”
What happened was my knee was fine. My knee wasn’t holding me back, it has been my foot this whole time. When I came back from hurting my foot, I hurt my knee. But then when I got back from my knee, the knee was fine, but I kept having issues with my foot. So I ended up with three different surgeries on my foot to try to fix it. It’s good now. We’re on the right track now. We finally have it narrowed down to what it was and we’re on the right track. Looking forward to it being done.

It seems like it’s been one thing after another for you. How do you like the, still new for you, KTM?
I really haven’t had that much time to really say anything about it. I’ve only been on it for a couple weeks here and there and then I have to get off of it again and I get back on it. There’s not much that I can say. We were doing a lot of testing with it when I was riding, so trying to make it better. We’re going in the right direction to make it better. We can leave it at that.

Your contract is up. I keep hearing that you’re shopping around for a new ride next year.
I figured this question was coming.

I’ve got to ask it.
Yeah, my contract’s up.

How are those talks going? When do you expect to have something done?
My contract’s up and we’re just negotiating with everyone, as many people as we can. I’d like to have it done as soon as we can, obviously, but I don’t know where I’ll end up.

Might you go back to Rockstar?
There are options everywhere.

Millsaps' contract is up after this season. 
Millsaps' contract is up after this season.  Photo: Simon Cudby

What did you think of supercross this year sitting on the couch and watching it? James was better. RV was so dominant at the end. What’d you think of the series?
It was a little bit of almost mixed feelings. You can always sit on the couch and say, “I would have done this, I would have done that” so it’s just so hard to sit here and watch it. Obviously RV getting his fourth championship and being as dominant as he was from halfway all the way to the end, that was the RV that we’ve seen the previous years. And James, that was really cool to see him finally coming back and doing what James does.

Were you surprised?
No, I don’t think anyone was surprised. I think more people were just like, “There he is,” and, “Hey, welcome back.” There were people that I figured would be up in the front more that were there last year, but everyone has their bad seasons for sure. I think it was a pretty good season for sure. The 250 class was definitely interesting to watch. Obviously bummer for Martin [Davalos] of course, but you can’t take anything away from Justin [Bogle] either. He rode an awesome season all year. Congratulations to him. That was a whole weird deal over that whole East Coast thing.

I know you and Davalos are good buddies. It really looked like he could have had the first title of his career. I think had he not crashed, holding the eight-point lead wouldn’t have been a problem. He would have won it. What did you say to him?
It definitely would have been cool to see it go all the way down to Vegas. Regardless of who won, it would have been cool to see the battle go all the way there. He called me literally within five minutes of him doing that. It broke my heart. He was so amped up about finally getting the chance to do what everyone dreams of doing and it’s pretty much ripped from him. That was hard. There’s not much that I could say that would make it feel any better. I just had to tell him... I said, “Brother, I know it sucks and whatever but I can relate to it in one way because in 2005 I got taken out and that cost me the championship as well.” It’s a little bit different scenario where now he’s hurt but I cried back then, too. I was young, but come on, it’s a title. He’s really good now. He’s in high spirits and whatnot. He’s looking forward to next year for sure.

What about your teammate Jason Anderson? Kid really came on. We knew he’d be good this year but he really stepped it up.
What do you mean you thought he’d be good?

We thought he would be good. He won a race last year. You knew he’d be good.
He won towards the end of the season when…

You didn’t think he’d be this good, did you?
I mean, you don’t watch him practice every day.

No I do not.
When you watch him practice and you see that he has the determination to go out and win, especially in a class that he knows he can win in, it only makes him that much more powerful. Obviously I don’t think he wanted to win the first couple rounds like he did but a win’s a win. You can’t take that away from him. He had an awesome season and it was definitely cool to watch, especially for the team and everyone else.

Has it been sort of depressing that you haven’t been out there? Did you go through a stage where you were kind of like “woe is me” or whatever? Also, talk about the switch to KTM again and how you feel about that?
I wouldn’t say depressed, just more determined to get back at it as soon as I could. But every time I did something else would happen. We chose the KTM as a team. They’ve been given us a lot of support. Obviously Carlos [Rivera, Davi’s old mechanic] is over there so that helped make up my mind pretty good. Being with Roger [Decoster] and Ian [Harrison] and a bike that is proven, that kind of helps our mind to be made up on where we needed to go. Obviously where we were wasn’t a choice. Everyone keeps asking why did we switch, and why did I switch, but I didn’t have a choice.

For the record, I didn’t ask that.
I know you didn’t, I just wanted to clarify with everyone, we had to go there. That’s kind of where we made our minds up, just the fact that the bike’s proven and we were going to get great support over there. It was a long-term thing for the team. It’s always nice to have a manufacturer backing you in this industry.

Glen Helen will mark the first race for Millsaps on the KTM. 
Glen Helen will mark the first race for Millsaps on the KTM.  Photo: Simon Cudby

Is Yogi [Ezra Lusk] still on Team Millsaps?
Yeah, four years now working with him and it’s going well.

Bummer that you’re hurt but it does give him more time to play tennis with your injury.
He doesn’t play tennis that much anymore. Not since he had surgery on his wrist.

Does he ever tell you about the epic Tim Ferry/Ezra Lusk battles back in the day?
We talk about some. But he talks about Red Dog quite a bit. Don’t worry, he talks about you blowing him up, too…

Here we go. All right, thanks for the interview. I appreciate it. I think people are kind of forgetting about you a little bit. It sucks that you’re coming in not 100 percent but…
I needed to let you know because I didn’t want to be criticized for something. My first day on a bike will be two days before Glen Helen, so give me a break, okay?

Yeah there’s a rider out there that hurt his knee and wasn’t telling very many people. I told him he should tell everyone why he’s not going to be that strong at the opening rounds so people like me don’t just wonder and write “Rider X sure is terrible.” It’s to the rider’s benefit to let people know if they’re being held back by something that will heal, you know?
Yeah exactly, so I’m just letting you know now.