At just 18 years old, Carter Gordon has lived a life that a number of young motocross racers hope and dream of. Originally from the eastern Illinois town of Mattoon, Gordon has spent the majority of his childhood living and training in warm weather and traveling the country racing all of the big amateur nationals. Carter now resides in Tallahassee, Florida, and spends his days training under the tutelage of Jeannie Carmichael at the famous GOAT Farm.
A recent graduate of Amsoil Arenacross’ Ricky Carmichael’s Road to Supercross program, Gordon has raced the last few rounds of Monster Energy AMA Supercross. While Gordon has failed to qualify for the main event thus far, he finished fifth in the LCQ in Daytona and put in some solid fast laps at his hometown race in St. Louis this past weekend. With another close-to-home race this weekend in Indianapolis, Carter looks forward to another opportunity to make his first 250 main event.
(Note: This interview was conducted via iMessage and has been lightly edited for clarity.)
Racer X: Hey, Carter, thanks for taking the time to chat. What are you up to?
Carter Gordon: Trying to stay warm up here at home! Just finished riding out at Bubba Pauli’s house with a bunch of fast dudes.
Oh, cool. So you're back in Illinois for a bit? Just between STL and Indy, or what?
Yes sir, just staying at home for the week between St. Louis and Indianapolis. Then I'll be back in Tallahassee.
Back to the GOAT Farm?
Yep, back to work at the GOAT Farm to get ready for the last couple East Coast rounds.
You're a recent graduate of the Ricky Carmichael Road to Supercross program, so for those who may not know you, tell us a little bit about yourself.
I'm 18 years old from Mattoon, Illinois. I've been racing for 12 years. Well, the plan was to do arenacross and then amateur stuff this year, but I ended up getting mono before Mini Os and didn't have a very good week there. Then I just moved onto AX and I had some decent results and got all my points. It took me a while to get them, which meant I didn't have much time to prepare for Freestone MX, so I was stuck between finishing out the AX series or doing amateur stuff again. Then I ended up riding the SX track at the GOAT Farm more and more and got pretty good on it, so I decided to try few East Coast supercrosses and the rest is history.
You seem to be adapting quickly to supercross, though. You've been qualifying well, ran fifth in the LCQ in Daytona, and this past weekend in St. Louis, you looked fast. Just a bad jump in the LCQ or what?
Yeah, I've been getting more comfortable on the weekends and I'm pretty confident now. I qualified 20th last weekend in practice, so I was pretty happy with that. I was struggling with wheelie-ing right out of the gate, but I've made some changes this week and we got it figured out for Indy this weekend.
Talk a little about your expectations coming into supercross versus the reality of lining up. Are you where you expected to be coming in, or how much of an eye-opener has the process been so far?
It was a struggle at first, for sure. At my first SX, I thought it wouldn't be that hard, and I qualified 41st at Atlanta—that definitely was an eye-opener. But now that I have the schedule down pretty well and everything else that comes with it, I love it. Moving on from amateurs was a really good decision for me, I believe.
What would you say your biggest challenge has been so far? Just learning the schedule and finding a groove?
Probably learning the tracks in practice and the different obstacles that come with them on each track.
You’ve also been dealing with a pretty gnarly ankle injury. You sent me a photo after Daytona. That must make learning supercross even more interesting, huh? Are you all good?
Yeah, I ended up fracturing my fibula at Daytona in practice. Luckily the pain isn't too bad, so it hasn’t made much of an impact on my riding, but it looks gnarly for sure.
Let's talk about your program a little bit. I know you train at Ricky Carmichael's, but what's your program like? Do you have a mechanic? Do things on your own? Paint us a picture of what your week looks like.
Yeah, training at Carmichael's has been great. I started after Loretta's last year and I've made huge strides since starting there, so I've been really happy. For off-the-bike training, I work with Drew Whitehead, and he has really helped my program a lot. I do all my own bike work and all the driving by myself. It gets pretty stressful at times because if I don't get it all done, I can't ride or race the next day, but it feels good knowing I have some of the best-looking bikes at the races and knowing I did it all on my own. A normal week right now is ride Monday, Tuesday, Thursday; travel days Friday and Sunday; and race Saturday.
Are you able to rider with Austin Forkner, Joey Savatgy, and those guys at the Farm?
Yes, we all do [our] motos and sections together. Riding with all of them has really helped me a lot. There's so many little things that add up and that I've been able to pick up on, so it's really good having all the guys at the Farm to ride with every day.
We talked about your struggles; how about your strengths? What do you feel are some of your strong points now as a professional racer?
I think I'm a pretty smooth rider, so that would have to be one of my strengths. I also think I'm a little better at longer motos as well; that's why I struggled in amateurs so much. So, that's something I've been working really hard on at the GOAT Farm, and it showed last weekend with my good qualifying laps.
With just a few rounds of supercross left, what are your goals to finish this thing out? What's it going to take to see the #151 in the 250SX main event?
I really want to be in the mains every weekend. I've been really close and I've made lots of progress since Atlanta, so I think it's only a matter of time. I've been working on a few problems that I think have kept me out of the mains, so I'm ready to see what I can do the last couple East Coast rounds.
Being from Illinois, you basically have back-to-back "home races." Does that give you a little extra motivation and good vibes heading into Indy?
It's been nice to be back home and have family and friends get to see me race, which doesn't happen often. I got to visit with a lot of friends I haven't seen in a long time at St. Louis, and I'm sure Indy will be the same, so I'm looking forward to it!
Sounds awesome. Best of luck this weekend. Anyone you'd like to thank before we let you go?
I wouldn't be able to do this without ATVs & More, Fusion Graphics, FXR, Motorex, Mika Metals, Hinson, Guts, Bell Helmets, Möbius, FMF, Dunlop, Notoil, Acerbis, DRE, Twisted Development, family, and friends. Thank you, everyone!
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