Two Kevin Windham interviews in one week? Why not? You can never have enough K-Dub. Earlier this week, we re-ran an interview with Windham from 2013 where he talked about his racing career. Today, we are running an interview with Windham about racing the Motocross of Nations and more. Enjoy!
Kevin Windham is back! As I’m sure most of you know, after Ronnie Mac dropped out of the Motocross of Nations for Team Puerto Rico, Travis Pastrana called up his old teammate to see if he wanted to do it. Windham agreed to do it on a GEICO Honda CRF450R, and now the fun begins—at least for all of us wanting to watch KW hit the track again, maybe not for Kevin himself! We caught up to Windham this past Monday on the PulpMX Show to get his thoughts on suiting back up one more time.
Racer X: I don’t imagine you’re a big reader of Racer X and listening to podcasts, but did you kind of know the controversy of Ronnie Mac a little bit? When your phone said Pastrana dialing through, were you like, I know exactly what this guy wants?
Kevin Windham: Well, unfortunately, the opportunity presented itself a long time ago. Again, it was something that I was into. I thought it was a great idea, but just couldn’t really get behind it. Then I got the info from the Unadilla debacle and the call from Pastrana and I kind of had an idea what was up. In my head and in my heart, I said, this would be fun. Now’s the time to go for it. But we have six weeks now. I’m riding around here with these kids and I’m like, imagine what it is to come off an injury of four weeks or six weeks or eight weeks, or a broken femur that may take six months—it’s been five years. And I’m like a quarter-century older than most of these kids I’m riding with. I don’t know what the expectations are other than just trying to have fun and go out and raise some money.
Awesome race. I’ve only been honored enough to do it for three times. I went twice. I raced it twice. Once I was on a team, but the whole September 11 thing happened. To be able to go do it again and raise some dough for Puerto Rico is going to be amazing. So I’m honored to be out there, but I am not ready right now. Four-and-a-half, five weeks left. We got a little bit of time.
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Here we go.. @redbudmx #MXON #teampuertorico?? www.teampuertorico2018.com to get your team merch for mxon.. we are using the proceeds to go down to PR with a team of builders to help fix some homes and rebuild some moto tracks. This project is going to be a lot of fun. @pit_viper @wienerschnitzel @redbull @nitrocircus #KevinWindham #thelegendreturns
Have you ridden much? I don’t think you have. In those five years, did you pull the 450 out once in a while? How much did you ride?
I rode a little bit for Party in the Pasture, a charity event we have here at the house. Then I’ve recently been doing some area qualifiers for Loretta’s. Ride a day or two for that. A day or two a year for the last five years; that’s about it. Honda is fully supportive and behind me, but I was obviously pressed for time so I had to go buy a bike from the local dealership. And again, that goes back to that “I hate Travis Pastrana” thing because everything that I have on my property that rolls has sank in the pond down the road because every time Travis comes, he wants to cross it in everything we got, from four wheels to two wheels to whatever else. I’m like, that’s a great idea. All my bikes are flooded out and ruined from that dumbass coming down here every so often.
I read a lot about how you were so naturally talented, so this should be no problem for you. Just show up.
There’s going to be some rust that needs to be knocked off. I laugh. I text with Travis almost daily just about preparation—or lack thereof, I should say. I’m like, my wrist feels broke right now. The only thing is, I haven’t fallen at all. I haven’t really taken any hard hits or anything. It’s just the old frame and the bones and the joints are not quite what they used to be.
This is going to be great, though. Fans are going to go nutso for you, Ryan Sipes, and Pastrana at RedBud. It is going to be a huge hit. You will raise some serious money for Puerto Rico, who sounds like they still need it. At the end the day, it is going to be really cool. I don’t know what everybody expects for results. I don’t know how this is going to go, but the idea is awesome.
It is. I’m honored to be a part of it for so many reasons. I look forward just to being at the Des Nations. That’s an amazing race, and to have it on American soil at such a great facility like RedBud is going to be a lot of fun. We’re doing some cool stuff. Like I said, Honda is backing me. We’re going to be auctioning my bike off straight off the track. There’s a lot of cool things to try to help the guys out. At the end of the day, there’s not a lot of pressure—other than the fact that I’m trying to get through my head even though I’m removed from the sport, I’ve never lined up on a line going, “Twentieth would be great this moto.” I’ve never done that before, but I have to come to terms with that. I don’t know. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say I’m not going to be up there with [Jeffrey] Herlings or [Eli] Tomac in moto one or two.
Also, GEICO guys fully helping you, as you mentioned. Did Pastrana ask you to ride a two-stroke?
He did. That’s a cool idea. Obviously, him and his two-strokes around the valley there at RedBud up the hills and whatnot would be fine, but then I started thinking, I’d really like to jump LaRocco’s Leap. I’m like 225 pounds. I’m probably not going to do that on a 250. Then I got to thinking, roost hurts a lot less when someone’s passing you. I can’t see myself getting like 42nd starting position because a mechanic beats me to the first turn. There’s like 40 bikes, but I’m sure a mechanic could probably run faster. I just don’t want to eat roost for an entire moto. If I can get a holeshot and fade back to wherever I fade back to, I’m down with that. So, I chose the 450.
I saw Pastrana’s Instagram. He was actually maybe debating not doing the two-stroke, maybe riding a 450. Which, again, if you want to be competitive, 450 is better. I know there are a lot of two-stroke fans out there, but to me, I think you made a smart choice, and if I’m Pastrana and I do care about results, get a 450 for sure.
The awesome thing about Pastrana, you have to learn to deal with it, but whatever our plan is today, it’s going to be different tomorrow and almost every other day leading up to the next four-and-a-half weeks. So who knows? I know what I may be riding. The rest of us just go along with things, but we’re having fun kicking ideas around.
You know who the happiest person is about this is? It’s Dano!
Yup. He’s come out of retirement, too. I hear he’ll be there. It’s crazy. I’m actually going to have my old mechanic, Alley [Semar]. He can actually hold a pit board for me. I’m not sure he still remembers righty-tighty, lefty-loosey because he’s more removed than I am, but he’ll definitely be in the mechanics’ area holding the board and stuff for me.
Berluti, what was it like having Pastrana and Windham on Suzuki? You were there working for [Rodrig] Thain, maybe?
Tony Berluti: That would have been ’01, ’02. Thain and Budman [Buddy Antunez]. At supercross, it was amazing. Kevin would do 20 perfect laps, and Pastrana just couldn’t wrap his arms around that. He’d maybe be faster than Kevin on a couple laps, but he just would come in shaking his head. This is how perfect Kevin was. It was fun. Those were good times.
Windham: The problem with that, Berluti, was the fact that we were doing those 20 perfect laps at the test track. I couldn’t pull that crap at Anaheim 1 or any of the other races. I was a test track demon. I could just rip those laps.
Do you miss it? It’s been a while. You’ve been on our show a few times since then, of course. You at peace with everything and how it ended, and all the things you’ve been doing? Like you said, you’re a track promoter. How’s retirement life been?
We’re extremely busy. Planet Fitness has been a great follow-up to the supercross career and motocross. Those have been going extremely well. When I was having my children—well not me, my wife. Before, it was bottles here, diapers there. It was really easy. But man, 15 is my oldest and my baby is 8 now. The other two are scattered in between there. So it’s 8, 10, 13, and 15 right now. Man, I’m busy. They’re all stick and ball sports people. My son rides a little bit, but he really loves baseball and basketball and golf. My daughters are doing their stuff, all day, every day.
So, extremely busy, but to answer your question, do I miss it? Absolutely. Do I regret how I went out? I really don’t, because I was going through some tough stuff in my head. When you have those thoughts in your head that are on repeat and every weekend it’s the same thing, over and over and over again. It felt like so much insanity to me that I just had to kind of step back.
We don’t see you around the races much. I think you’d be great on TV. I don’t know if they’ve asked you and you’ve declined. You’ve done it a couple times. I guess just busy with real-life stuff. I get it.
I’m a few years away from my baby getting out of the house, but I think the years and the things that I’m able to experience with my kids are priceless, and I’m very thankful for that. So who knows what happens after? But right now, I got a more important job to do at the moment.
You’ve never been a huge fan of traveling.
Not really. It’s definitely the worst part of the job. Just recently read an article from Kid Rock. I love his thought process. He said he’s not into living in the big house, and he actually just bought a double-wide because it fits his needs better. He said, I’ll never part with my private jet. If you see me going to races, it’s with my jet parked outside. I guess no one’s really doing that private thing anymore.
How many races a year do you do on your track?
One a year. We’ve had just the area qualifiers. It’s kind of an unfortunate place for motocrossers. It’s fairly big in the Louisiana/Mississippi area, so that’s a little bit frustrating. When we have our area qualifier, we’re trying to get guys coming from Ricky’s [Carmichael] amateur supercross there after Daytona, and they start heading through to go to Texas for all their spring stuff and get the ball rolling there. We try to capture some guys, but there’s not a lot of AMA members and racers in the Louisiana/Mississippi area. So it’s kind of disappointing, to be honest with you.
Do you like the promoting business? It’s a lot of work, right?
I like it when people have fun and they really enjoy my track. As a rider, you just want your track to be good. I think all you guys—and looking back, I don’t have much in life to complain and how many things weren’t right for me. I’m sure you guys have all had riders that probably bitched far too much. That’s not a fun part of it. You’re not just hearing your rider. Everybody that’s there has got some sort of either positive or negative. We love hearing the positive, and the negative I’m like, man, I wish they didn’t feel that way or think that way. But in today’s world, that’s just kind of what we deal with.
How much factory stuff will your bike have? What did you tell them? Did you say, “Look, I got to have factory suspension?” What are your expectations, bike-wise?
There’s a couple little deals that I’m pretty particular with. I’m a weird guy with footpegs. I really want to have some good footpegs. As far as my bars and clamps and those kind of things, I will tell you Honda is putting some pretty good stuff on these bikes stock these days. But it’s so hard for me to hold onto a 450 anyway, I don’t think we’re going to really ramp it up. Most of the guys detune those anyway, right?
They try to give them a ton of power and then use the electronics to kind of detune them a little bit and kind of just where you need it.
I know one thing my bike will have. Being gone only five years, I know the air forks are something I’ve never rode. A lot of people say, hey, you didn’t miss anything. But I’ll tell you what I will be riding that is the best invention since sliced bread is, you don’t have to kick my damn bike. You press the button and that thing fires up. You think I’m worried about the weight? I weigh 225 pounds. You can put a regular can battery in my damn bike. As long as I don’t have to kick it, I don’t give a damn.