Despite the abysmal sixth place finish in the opening moto of the 2014 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship at Glen Helen Raceway, Dean Wilson, as he walked to the gate for moto number two, was upbeat. The former AMA 250MX National Champion had come off a win at the season-concluding Las Vegas supercross finale and came into the ’14 outdoor summer tour confident and optimistic. “I won this championship in 2011,” he said that cloudy morning in San Bernardino. “I want to stay healthy and it’ll be awesome.” Preparing for the start of the second moto, he still felt the same way. But in the twilight stage of the Glen Helen curtain closer, things went awry. Taking a nasty header down a steep hill, the Scotsman was forced to, literally, crawl to the sidelines.
It’s been over a month, but he’s now healed up from the nasty, well-documented (thanks Instagram) knee gash he suffered and ready to return to the fray. On Saturday morning and at Glen Helen once again, Wilson raced one of the weekly REM races. There to blow the cobwebs out and shake things down for a possible return at next Saturday’s Muddy Creek National in Tennessee, Wilson looked ready, willing and able, but says he will only race the Nationals “When I feel it’s the right time.” Here’s what the man had to say.
Racer X: Dean, you raced at REM yesterday. Was that pretty much your first race back?
Dean Wilson: Yeah, I guess it was my first race back. It was just a fun little event. I used to always do it when I was an amateur. Right now I’m just trying to work myself back into riding shape. I’ve kept up my fitness in the gym and all that, but I needed to race. Frank Thomason and the guys at REM put on a great event. It was a lot of fun and I was just there to get in some training and to get that feeling of watching the gate drop. It was really fun.
How did you feel on the bike?
I don’t know. It’s kind of hard to say. I’m just starting to do my motos now. My speed feels pretty good but I’m still working on my fitness. I tested all day on Thursday and all the boys were pretty happy with my speed and I felt pretty good. We tested a lot of stuff and I felt good.
So will you race Saturday at Muddy Creek?
Yeah … Maybe. I don’t know yet. I’ll be there when I feel ready.
Got it. Jumping back to Glen Helen, you were ready to go for a championship and then everything came crashing down, literally, in the second moto. I’m not sure if anyone has asked you about it yet, but what happened?
Well, in the first moto I got sixth after a horrible, horrible start. I had to come from really far back so I was okay with a sixth. In the second moto I was running in fifth and I had two laps to go and I was kind of suffering, um, mechanical issues and unfortunately it didn’t end well. My plan was to milk it to the finish line and hit the corners as hard as I could and then be careful on the jumps and stuff like that. I crashed going down a hill and that was pretty much it.
The word was that there were problems with the engine cutting out.
That’s something I can’t really talk about.
You can’t elaborate at all?
Going back to the crash, did you know you were hurt right away?
I mean I hit the ground pretty hard and I was just trying to gather myself. At first I thought I blew my ACL out because when I went to straighten my leg it was just a weird pain like the muscle was just freaking out. When I got into the Asterisk unit I pulled my pants down and took my knee braces off and there was just meat hanging everywhere. The most gnarly part was when I first looked at it. The meat was hanging and the blood was dripping! It was pretty gnarly! That sucked.
Did you know your championship chances were pretty much shot right then and there?
Yeah, I mean I felt like my championship was over right when I crashed because if you don’t get back up and get back in the race you’re already 25 points down. That’s no way to start a season. I usually get up from most of my crashes, but this time I just couldn’t do it. It was devastating. It had pretty much been a building year for me and I was feeling pretty solid toward the end and I won the Vegas supercross. I was beginning to carry a little bit of momentum and then unfortunately I had then I had the crash at Glen Helen.
How long did it take you to heal up?
First I got surgery and we had to be careful not to get an infection. For a week I was pretty much laid up and I watched “Breaking Bad”. I finished all five seasons within, like, four days. I then went in to see Dr. Alexander after a week and he was pretty impressed with how well I was doing already. I started working lightly with it during the second week. During the second week I also started physical therapy and started doing some riding on my Specialized bicycle. By the third week, with the exception of some swelling, the wound was pretty good. Once the swelling went down there was a big improvement. It’s feeling pretty good now. I’ve been working hard and my fitness is good.
Did you watch the Nationals on television?
Yeah, I’ve watched them and it was pretty painful. The 450 class was easy for me to watch, but watching the 250 class just bugged the crap out of me because I wanted to be out there battling with those guys and battling for a championship. Yeah, it was kind of crappy to watch. I’m just happy that I’m back on the bike and healthy and able to go racing this year.
Jeremy Martin got off to an incredible start and Blake Baggett has been coming on as of late. If you were out there, I’d have to believe you’d be in the mix.
It’s pretty crazy to look at a lot of the top guys like [Jason] Anderson and [Justin] Bogle and Baggett, they’ve already had a DNF. That’s pretty crazy. How many races have there been?
There have been four Nationals run thus far.
So yeah, that’s pretty crazy, they have DNFs already. Consistency is key. You know if I could have got out of Glen Helen healthy and built a little bit of momentum it would have been good. I think we were a little bit behind the eight ball with our bikes there. None of us got good starts. After that I think the boys worked really hard and got the bikes a lot better. I think everything has come together for them now. But yeah, like I said, consistency is the key. If I could have got through at Glen Helen and started building momentum and winning races it would have been awesome. I guess things aren’t always going the way you want them to.
What’s your take on Martin? Impressed?
Yeah, he’s going real good. He’s looks like a hard worker and he rides hard. I’m pretty impressed. In his interviews he kind of reminds me of a mini Dungey. It’s pretty funny.
Whatever National you decide to show up at, what will be you plan of attack for the remainder of the series?
I guess by the end of the series, I’d love to get some wins. That would be good for me. Just for me getting back into it, I pretty much just have to build myself back up and sort of race myself into shape. It feels a little odd with no pressure, I just want to have fun and do my sponsors proud. Right now I kind of have a lot of anger built up in me. I’m pretty pissed after Glen Helen. I don’t know, I think it just got taken away from me. It’s pretty upsetting. I just want to get back and be healthy and prove that I could have been a championship guy this year. I also want to do well enough so I can get on the Team Great Britain Motocross des Nations because it’s one of my favorite events. It’s really fun, so that’s kind of my plan.
Do you know who you’ll be racing for in 2015?
No. I mean everyone knows, but I can’t really talk about it.
Okay, Dean. As always, thanks for the interview and have a good Sunday.
Brilliant. Sounds good, E.J. Talk to you later.