250 Words: Jacob Hayes

250 Words Jacob Hayes

May 4, 2015 1:10pm

The final round of the AMSOIL Arenacross Series on Friday night in Las Vegas was nuts. Team Babbitt’s Monster Energy Amsoil Kawasaki’s Jacob Hayes won the first of two main events to get a 1-point lead over Kyle Regal heading into the final main. Then, on the first lap of the final main, Hayes T-boned/center-punched/rammed Regal in one of the most ill advised pass attempts in recent memory. Regal went down, but Hayes smashed his own bike in the process, with coolant spewing out of the engine. Within a few laps, the bike died and his championship bid was over. An emotional Hayes then started ranting and raving on the track.

We found Hayes the next day in the pits at the Las Vegas Supercross. Here’s his side of the story. 

Racer X: I thought you were going to be racing supercross. Did something happen last night?
Jacob Hayes: I injured a previous injury from the middle of the season last night, so it kind of screwed my ankle up. If you’re not 100 percent, then I don’t feel like going out there and giving it a half-assed shot. 

I thought you were just mad. You actually are hurt?
Yeah, actually [my] ankle’s pretty screwed up. But, yeah, definitely disappointed in how the night went for sure.

Now I have to ask the obvious: Take us through the first lap of the final main event. What went down?
A lot went down, actually. A lot went down before we actually got out onto the track. There was a lot of hitting and banging and kicking…

Down the start straight?
Yeah, we were almost into the wall. I don’t know how we ended up saving it.

"I’d rather go for it and take that chance than not go for it and lose by a point." – Hayes Photo: Josh Rud

Regal said the same thing. He didn’t know how he saved it.
My hand was off the handlebar wide open at one point. I don’t know how I saved any of it. 

Is this just going for it? Is that all it is?
I really wanted the championship. It was obviously going to be my first one, so I was really hungry for it. Man, if I had to do it over again, I’d like to say I wouldn't do it again…but I went for it. I’d rather go for it and take that chance than not go for it and lose by a point. I regret some of the things I did after, but there was a lot of emotion into it.

I’m cool with you being mad about it, man. You should be upset. You wanted to win. I understand.
It was all-out going for it. I went in to make an aggressive move, and I guess I needed a better brush guard on the motor! 

As far as the pass, did you basically see an opening and just say, “There’s Regal. I’m going to try to go for it?”
There was some behind the scenes stuff last weekend between me and Faith [Gavin Faith, Regal’s teammate], so I saw Faith in front of Regal and if you have team tactics, man, Faith would have let him by and I would have been held up in the back. I saw an opening and went for it. Full on went for it. It didn’t happen in my favor, and if it would have, I’d be holding the number-one plate right now. So darned if you do, darned if you don’t.

But we were all saying that you had a 1-point lead, and a tiebreaker. You could have just stayed behind Regal the whole race. But because of the Faith factor, you weren’t sure?
Right. That’s what threw the wrench in the whole plan. So, if Faith would have been behind me somewhere, then yeah, cruise around. I felt really good in both main events. In the first one my speed was really good. We were all battling. Chris [Blose] and Kyle and myself were all riding really well. They actually went down and I thought I was going down with them. I thought we were going to have a three-man pileup.

You ran into them.
I full-on trials-biked over the top of them. That was a little sketchy, but arenacross is always a little sketchy. Something’s always going on. A lot went on the second main event.

"I didn’t go there to lose, and I didn’t go there to get second place. I think I proved that." – Hayes Photo: Josh Rud

Well, I feel like if a title’s going to be decided in arenacross, it should be decided on a T-bone block pass. It couldn’t be more fitting for this series.
I don’t know if a lot of people liked it out in the universe, but they’re not me. They haven’t been through the ups and downs of the season. I train to win races and win championships. I didn’t go there to lose, and I didn’t go there to get second place. I think I proved that. I think I did whatever it took to get the championship, and it just didn’t happen in my favor. 

Seeing how mad you were when it was over and how you seem right now, it seems like you’ve at least come to peace with it a little bit. Feeling better today than you were? I’m sure you’re bummed.
Like I said, the things after the main event I was bummed about my actions, but the emotion was just… I can’t even explain what was going through my head and how I felt. It was five months of battling week in and week out, and for it to get taken away like that was a bummer for sure.

Did you know that the bike problems were from running into Regal, or did you think you were just having the bike problems?
The same bike problem actually happened mid-season. A head gasket blew in the second main event so the bike messed up, so I thought that was happening again. 

So you didn’t know at first it was because of the pass?
No, not at all. When I hit him, I was like, “Oh, I got away. I’m good!” And the bike was fine for a lap and then it went away. 

So that was probably making you even more upset because you were like, I have it, why is my bike breaking?
Yeah, after I went in and made my aggressive pass I was like, “Man, you’ve got this.” You did what it took to do it. I was just riding around, and then the bike kept messing up more and more and more. I still didn’t know until I got back to the truck that the bike had messed up from the wreck.

"Going into next year I won’t go into the last round of arenacross tied! That taught me a lesson." – Hayes Photo: Josh Rud

That honestly explains so much more about why you’re upset. We were all watching saying, “Hey man, he did it to himself. He broke his own bike. It’s his own fault.” But you had no idea?
I had none. I thought the bike had messed up on its own. I had no idea it was from the crash at all. 

If you race it next year and you’re in the hunt, what you went through, is that going to help experience-wise?
Yeah. Just the experience I went through is going to make me stronger as a person and mentally and everything. Going into next year I won’t go into the last round of arenacross tied! That taught me a lesson. I had an up and down series, but I rallied at the end when it counted and pulled it together. Then we put on one heck of a show.