Last week we fired off three questions to three competitors in Red Bull Straight Rhythm to get their take on the event—you can read AJ Catanzaro and Ryan Sipes’ takes here—but we also asked Luke Renzland for some info. Luke, by the way, put together an awesome YZ125 build that looked very, very much like Jeremy McGrath’s 1991 Peak/Pro Circuit Honda. As a bonus, today Luke rides for Traders Racing Yamaha, which just happens to employ Skip Norfolk, who was McGrath’s mechanic back in ’91. So this retro-bike even had the real retro mechanic working at Straight Rhythm.
Luke was busy prepping his Dreamland track last week so we ended up running the story before his answers came in. We’ve got them now, though.
1. Tell us about your sick bike build. How did it actually perform? How cool was it to be on it?
The bike was awesome. Everything from looks to performance was spot on! The original idea to do a McGrath themed bike was pitched to me by Jeremy [Malott] from Red Bull, and I instantly was committed to making it happen since I already had such a close friendship with Skip Norfolk. Luckily, the ‘91 Peak bikes were mainly blue, so the Yamaha worked perfect for the project. It was a full effort from scratch. My parents helped me out by buying the bike from a local dealership in New York, and from there we had the motor built by JMS performance and suspension made by Öhlins. To top it off, Limited Decal made the graphics look spot on! The thing worked awesome on the track and looked even better in the pits. I’m still excited about how well everything turned out, and we will keep the bike forever.
2. How did the race go?
The race went pretty good overall. Obviously, I went there to win, but fell just short and landed on the podium with a third [in the 125 class]. The bracket racing format is tough. You have to be on point every time you hit the track, and I just made a few crucial mistakes in my second bracket. It’s very easy for a small mistake to snowball into a big chunk of lost time when you’re riding a 125 in those steep, technical sections. But, overall, I had an absolute blast. Red Bull blew away my expectations with this event and I had a lot more fun than I imagined possible.
3. What did you learn now that you’ve done it?
The main thing that I learned was that two-strokes are still awesome. I also learned how much more fun an off-season race is compared to a championship series race. It was so cool to see all the riders pitted out of vans and mingling in the pits, opposed to everyone mean mugging each other and taking it way too seriously during the season. It was awesome. Overall, I was reminded why we all started riding dirt bikes in the first place: because they are a ton of fun, especially when you’re riding with a good group of people!