Soaring Eagle/Jimmy John’s RCH Suzuki’s Broc Tickle broke his back at the 2014 Toronto Supercross and missed all of that year’s Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship. That made this season a comeback year for him, but he returned as his usual solid self, taking eighth in Monster Energy Supercross and seventh in the Nationals. As a little bonus, he notched a win over the weekend at the Edge of Summer MX race at Soaring Eagle Casino in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan. We had a bunch of Racer X guys go watch and everyone had a good time. We called Broc today to ask him about the event and 2015 as a whole.
Racer X: Congrats. What’s this race like?
Broc Tickle: I thought it was awesome. They had a lot going on—quads raced, lot of amateur dudes there, they had a golf tournament, and then there’s a casino right over there, too. The track was good. I raced it last year and I liked the improvements. Definitely seemed like a lot more of the amateur dudes came and raced.
Seems like the idea of a “big money race” for pros isn’t around so much these days. Did you like that?
I did. Obviously in the moment and winning it was good. But coming right after our last race, it was a pretty long season, so I felt like I wanted to race it, but I didn’t want to at the same time. But once I got there, it was fun. The atmosphere was good, and the track, Randy Poulter did a good job on it. Tim and Amy Ritchie family from RedBud helped, Justyn from RCH—they all did a great job putting it together. I hadn’t done a race like this in a long time—a night race, more like a fairgrounds race. It was awesome being part of it.
Just from seeing social media with your team, and from what our guys saw there at the race, it looked like an RCH team pep rally.
Yeah, it really was. It was cool to have everyone there, and it wasn’t really serious for any of us, so we were goofing around and having fun. Carey [Hart] and Ricky [Carmichael] and Ken [Roczen] were all there and we had a good time.
The team made big changes this year just by bringing Roczen on board. We heard some drama from that, but now it looks like things have turned around positively for him. From your perspective, did it seem different this year?
From my perspective, things have gotten better. The first year for me, 2013, we were pretty new. The next year, we made big improvements just with some new employees, but I got hurt so I didn’t get to race with them all year. But ’14 was a big year for the team, I feel, and they kept adding pieces to the puzzle in my eyes. It was good for me, a guy who is expected to be a top-five or top-ten guy, and also heading in the right direction to be a winning team, in my opinion.
Yes, so when you started here for 2013, you saw it as more of a building process than if you had just signed with a traditional factory team, like Team Kawasaki, just to make an example.
Yeah, and I also felt like I’d be the lead guy on the team and it would be built a little more around me. For me, that was a positive. I was coming off some solid results at the end of ’12, so I thought this was a choice to build myself and the team, so to say.
Do you know yet if you’re back for next year?
It’s not 100 percent done yet. I’m happy with where I’m at, and I’ve been improving all year, bike-wise and performance-wise. I like the team. I’m happy, so there’s no reason for me to go out of my way to make something happen with someone else.
How’d the race go? I heard you pulled the holeshot on Mike Alessi.
Yeah, I got the holeshot. My goal was to get a good start, obviously. I wanted to start ahead of him. The track was kind of technical, and I knew on some parts of the track I could get through it better than he did. My plan was to do maybe seven laps all out and see where he was at. I wanted to get him to the point where he would just give up and I think that’s what happened, honestly. Exactly what I wanted to have happen happened. Like four or five laps in he was staying with me, and right after that I hit one more good lap and he gave it up. But it was fun. The heat race, Jacob Hayes got the holeshot; he washed out on the second lap. [Austin] Forkner was leading and I made the pass on him. It was kind of cool to be race with guys I’m not normally around. Fun to be there—no pressure. I feel like the whole top ten were pretty solid guys. I’ve been telling people, with just a few more good guys, it would be a really good race, and a good one for everybody to come and race.
How was the track? Was it like the Daytona Supercross?
It was kind of like that. It was good. It had a technical section, but once everyone started doing it, everyone did it for rest of the night, but that’s really the way a supercross is, anyway. It was funny. There was one really big jump, probably 135 feet to the sweet spot. On press day it was me, Ricky, Hart, [Blake] Savage, and Alessi. Literally all of us weren’t sure about jumping it. I wanted to jump it; we just weren’t sure about it. Then the quads got out and jumped it on their second lap! We were like, “Man! These guys know how to ride quads!” Just one of those things where none of us wanted to be the first guy to go for it.
You had a solid season this year, so I think people might have forgotten you were coming back from a huge injury. It didn’t look like a comeback year. Did you feel like it was a comeback year?
Up until the ninth round of supercross this year, it did feel that way. I was excited to be back. I was doing well. It was great. Then I started struggling for a few weekends; I started getting frustrated. I wasn’t doing terrible, but I wasn’t doing as well as I was. But then I got on the outdoor bike for some testing. The bike was unreal. Ivan [Tedesco] and the guys did a great job getting that ready. I literally got on the bike and I was like, “I’m ready to go!” I showed up at Hangtown and didn’t make any changes. Hangtown went good. I had a really good race in Colorado. I had a bad race at Washougal—I’d say that was my only bad race of the year. We made some changes after Washougal and I felt like we went in the right direction. The last few races, I really felt like I was back. But, for sure, it felt like a long year. After last weekend [Indiana National], I really felt like I needed a break. That’s why I was unsure about this race. It’s obviously great to race at the Soaring Eagle race, and we had it planned so I wasn’t going to back out of it, but I wasn’t sure. I ended up having so much fun there, then I holeshot and won it. Now I’m actually more motivated. It kind of gives me some extra pep in my step. Building from Utah, Ironman, and this, I feel like Monster Cup should go really well.
The starts, man. You holeshot this one. Have you ever been able to put a finger on your starts? Is it one thing you need to get down to make them work, or just a combination of things?
Honestly, it’s a combination of things for myself. I’ve been practicing starts all year. I know that’s one of my weaknesses, and most people see that, too. My main thing right now is to be consistent during the week and bring that to the weekend. It’s kind of like laps—we’ve all heard about being good on the test track, but then you have to repeat that on the weekend. That’s what I’m working on now. I had Kyle Lewis come out to the track a few times, before Unadilla and Utah, one day a week at Glen Helen. We just went over stuff, he gave me some tips, and I think it helped.
But it’s not just one thing? Like, I’ve heard some guys say, “It’s always the shift to third. Or, “It’s always the jump.”
No. It’s a lot of things, and I actually think it was my focus on the gate at times. I just want to be consistent and in the top ten. Obviously, this weekend I got the holeshot, and I know all the guys weren’t there, but it was awesome to get the holeshot and lead wire to wire. I don’t think I’ve ever done that in the professional ranks at all! For me to do that, it was awesome to just be doing my thing without having to worry about passing people.
Well, just by not coming back from a huge injury alone, things should be better.
I’m really motivated to do well at Monster Cup, and I want to keep getting better. I want to show up at Anaheim and surprise people. And by surprise, I don’t mean just getting seventh or fifth against a stacked field. I want to really open some eyes.
I’ve wanted to talk to you about this for a long time: Back in 2012, you were really the first guy at this level to use the air forks.
Yeah. I think it was mid-supercross season in 2012. I was pretty much the first person to run them while racing. I was developing them a little bit, and then went I went to RCH in ’13, we had them then. I went to a spring fork at Hangtown for ’13, but I went back to an air fork at the very next race. I’m pretty happy with it—I know what I’m feeling and I know what’s going on. And before Unadilla this year, we made some big changes that helped a lot.
Well, what I’m getting at is, even though the air forks get a bad rap from some, they have to have come a long way since 2012.
Oh, yeah. The change we made before Unadilla, I think it changed a lot of the problems everyone had. But at the same time, it always feels natural to me because I’ve run them for so long. Myself, I try not to overthink it, and when we try something new I try not to change it for a few weeks so I know for sure.
Any time off for you?
I’m going to take this week off, then I fly to California Sunday and we have two weeks of testing after that. I might take one week off before Monster Cup, but I don’t want to take any longer than that and lose any fitness. Overall, I feel like it was a good year, but I’m looking forward to next year.