While browsing the VitalMX.com message board today (hey, it’s research!), I stumbled across a post from national number 95 Ben Lamay titled, “Ben Lamay needs a ride!!!” He left his phone number, so we decided to give him a call to see what’s up.
Ben Lamay: Well, right now I don’t have a bike to ride. We’re just trying to round something up. We’re driving to the east coast right now, to South Carolina. I won’t race this weekend in Freestone, but I’m trying to get something together so I can at least make High Point.
So why are you going to South Carolina?
My dad works there, and we’re actually going to move there. We usually stay at Ryan Villopoto’s house in Southern California, but our plans have kind of changed a lot and so we’re going to move to the east coast.
Does your family still have a house in Alaska?
Yeah, technically we still do, but we pretty much live in our motorhome.
You got picked up by the Butler Brothers team during the supercross season, right?
Yeah, at the Seattle supercross Shaun Skinner got hurt and they asked me if I wanted to fill in for the last three rounds. I said yes, and so I did that. After that they told me that they wanted to do a full outdoor series ride with me and I was really excited. It sounded like a good deal. We’ve just kind of been having some problems and a lot of stuff went on and they decided to let me go after Hangtown.
How did you do at Glen Helen and Hangtown?
Glen Helen was really bad. I didn’t even make the motos because every time I rode the bike it broke—in both practices. It just wasn’t good and I didn’t even get a lap time in. At Hangtown, I got 23rd the first moto and in the second moto I was in 21st and I was catching Hill and a couple other guys, but then the bike hit neutral off of the step down and I endoed and crashed big-time and didn’t finish.
Do you feel like 23rd is where you should be, or can you be up around the top ten?
Oh, for sure. I got a bad start; I had the very outside gate and I was pushed way out and I came back from like the mid-30s. I know when I ride to my best I can be anywhere from tenth to fifteenth. After I do that I think I could probably do better than that. Right now, I just need some equipment that could help take me up front. I feel when I rode for the Butler Brothers I was held back a little bit with the equipment.
What were you riding prior to Seattle?
I was on a Yamaha 450, just privateering it out of our motorhome. We drove to every supercross. That really held me back a lot—driving—because I wasn’t getting enough riding in. I really kind of went backward throughout the supercross season. That’s another thing for the outdoors, we’ve got to try and figure out our traveling plan. It’s tough.
Did you make any mains?
I made the main in Salt Lake.
For those out there who really don’t know much about you, give us some background about yourself.
I rode Suzukis pretty much throughout my entire amateur career, and then the last two or three years I got picked up by Yamaha and was their top A rider. After Loretta’s last year, I went to the outdoor nationals and raced Millville, Southwick and Steel City. I got 15th at Steel City and that was a pretty good finish for me for being my first race in the 450 class.
Aside from that, I’m from Alaska, I just turned 18 a couple days ago, and we’ve just been privateering it pretty much my whole life. We’ve been living out of a motorhome for about nine years now and I haven’t had the average life of any kid. I just go from state to state, traveling and riding and racing. This is what I do. I just haven’t caught a break right now. There really isn’t anybody out there that recognizes me. I’m usually kind of the kid that everybody always looks over. I’m kind of a bigger kid—I’m about 185 pounds—so I’ve always been underpowered in the amateur ranks, and even now. I just need somebody to recognize what kind of rider I am and to give me a shot.
Is that why you’re on the 450, because of your size?
Yeah, pretty much. The 450 just suits my style the best. I’m 6’1”, about 185, and I could throw the 450 around no problem. Even when I was an amateur I always practiced on the 450. I haven’t ridden a 250F for awhile.
Yeah. Both of their riders were hurt, and before those races I was at their facility riding with the guys, and that was a really good opportunity for me. It’s an amazing facility. So yeah, I rode with them at Steel City and that was an unbelievable experience for me. The bike was amazing and everything was just top-notch.
Have you talked to them since Hangtown?
Maybe those guys will throw you a bone.
Yeah, maybe! I’ll maybe give them a call.
Was it difficult switching from a Yamaha to a Honda this year?
Um, yeah, it was pretty difficult. At Seattle I had to go from a Yamaha 450 to a Honda 250 in the first practice. That was my first lap on that bike, but I’m the type of rider who could jump on any bike and adapt. I did decent at Seattle. I qualified like 13th in the Lites class out of everybody, but it was definitely a big change.
So, have you had any response from your message-board post yet?
I have not. There’s been a lot of people on there commenting about it and stuff, but I haven’t gotten any calls; you’re the first guy that called.
Worst-case scenario and you don’t find a way to the races, what do you do? Do you just go and become an ice road trucker?
[Laughs] No, I don’t think so! Worst case scenario we’ll just buy a bike. We still have a lot of parts from when I was on Yamahas before, so we can throw a bike together pretty quickly and get it good enough to race. So that’s the worst case, and I’ll just drive to all the races. Hopefully, though, I can find some support to get me to these races so I can keep getting better and get my name out there.
There are a couple factory Kawasakis available, so maybe Mike Fisher will read this and give you a call.
Oh, for sure! I think I’ll definitely be available for those guys. But if anybody has any type of offer, please give me a call—I’ll ride a Husqvarna or an old Maico! [Laughs]
Is it okay to put your contact information?
Yeah, they can call me at 864-384-2207 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A little off topic, what are your thoughts on the nationals so far this year with all the new changes?
I actually like it. It’s a little rush-rush all the time, because you have the practices, motos, and then you’re done. It’s better all around because you get an extra day to travel, and for the guys who fly in you don’t have to get two nights of hotels and everything. I kind of wish they’d go back to a different qualifying procedure, like the racing qualifying, because you have some guys who have way different track conditions for each session. So yeah, I think it would be kind of cool to get back to racing to qualify.
Though you don’t have a bike to ride right now, I’m sure you have a lot of other sponsors you’d like to thank.
Yeah, the guys at DeCal Works help me out a lot. Also Fly Racing, Scott, etnies, Ogio, RG3 Suspension, Hammerhead, Dunlop, DRD exhaust, and Mike at Rock River Yamaha—thanks!