Damon Bradshaw has not yet turned 50 years old but has already retired from two careers. Bradshaw retired from professional supercross and motocross in 1997 and went on to have a successful career in Monster Jam before leaving the sport in 2017. The “Beast From The East” is not one to sail off quietly, and has been a regular attendee at Monster Energy AMA Supercross events in 2019, where he is serving as a brand ambassador for series sponsor Fly Racing and WPS, as well as Gas Gas Motorcycles.
We caught up with Bradshaw earlier this week to talk about what he’s up to now and to get his take on the supercross championship.
Racer X: I understand you’ve been to a lot of the races for your role with Fly Racing. What is your official position with them?
Damon Bradshaw: So I typically fly in to a race city on Thursday morning or Wednesday night, whichever flight I can get in early, and I visit with some of our WPS [Western Power Sports] dealers on Thursday and Friday. And then on Saturday, we have a big dealer hospitality during the fan fest out at the truck. We will visit with some of our dealers that we visited with on Thursday and Friday and some that we weren’t able to get to. Then we kind of do the same throughout the race. We bring some of them up to our suite. So it’s just more or less a hangout and visit with those guys. Also we put together ride days that I do throughout the summer with a few of those dealers that I visit with around the U.S. That number is growing and we are trying to do more of those. Last year I think we did 10 or 12, and I know this year that number’s already going to grow. I enjoy those, and I think the dealers do as well. It’s just a different mindset for them. They get out of their workplace and are able to come out and hang out, ride, have some lunch, visit with everybody from Fly Racing and WPS, including their rep. It’s something I think that worked well for us. It’s been really good. The outdoors are going to be a little bit different. I know we’re sponsoring that but I don’t think we’re going to staff it quite as hard as supercross. I’m just happy to be a part of all of it and going back to the races again.
Is there a schedule where you can see your ride days anywhere, or is that just kind of organized by dealer?
No, they’re not. I should try to post them, but it’s usually dealer organized, or the reps in the area organize them with the local dealers. So three or four of the reps will get together and gather up the sponsors and the vendors. They kind of take care of getting it arranged. We help a little bit, the guys do at the office. Then if it works into my schedule, I’m there. Which pretty much that’s what I’ll do for the summer.
Are you still involved with the Gas Gas?
I am. I do a few things with those guys throughout the year. It’s a small budget at this point and hopefully in the future it will grow, but it’s fun. And the bikes are really good. So I enjoy being part of that small team.
What are your thoughts on the season so far with the racing?
It’s been interesting, and certainly very fun to watch. I really look forward to 5:30 p.m. and getting up in the stands to watch the races. Even though Cooper [Webb] has won six rounds, which I think Eli [Tomac] is getting close to that now, you still really can’t feel super, super confident about picking a winner, really in either class. I know [Adam] Cianciarulo, other than him, being as dominant as he has, it’s still been exciting because a lot of the riders have stepped it up and made the racing really interesting again. I’ve probably enjoyed the most seeing Cooper get himself out of his slump or whatever you want to call it, whether it was team issues or bike issues or himself. It’s just good to see a guy that was struggling in some way climb himself back out to be a pretty dominant, solid guy on the starting line. I don’t really want to call it a slump or whatever.
Obviously he wasn’t comfortable, whether it was with the bike or the team or just mentally or physically or whatever. But to see somebody dig themselves back to being as dominant as he has been and as solid as he has been dealing with adversities and everything is impressive. So that’s been fun to watch. Obviously we all know that you can never count Eli out when he’s ready to go. But I think there’s guys there that haven’t gotten wins that I really would feel like that should or are overdue to get one. I know that there is still some possible winners in there that just haven’t happened yet. So it still makes it exciting for these last two rounds.
That’s for sure. It is down to 18 points and Eli is now on fire.
It’s far from over. I know the one year for me, having a 27-point lead going into two rounds and losing the championship. It’s never over until the end! I know that from my own personal experience.
What do you think is going on with Eli this season?
Personally, I think he needs a change. I think he needs a drastic change. He has lots of talent and still a lot left in his tank. I know because you can see it at times. I obviously think as everybody knows he’s super capable. When he’s on, he’s on, and when he’s off, he’s off. I don’t know if that’s all him. I don’t know any of those guys. I just kind of look from the outside and know where I was at back in the day. I’m not saying that was the answer for Cooper, but it kind of shows its face that way. I don’t think you can really point the finger at one thing. He [Webb] had lots of changes. Motorcycle, trainer, everything. I don’t know that so much on Eli’s side as far as that stuff, but sometimes new faces, a new motorcycle, can make a big difference in a rider’s mindset. It’s not like he’s caught in this slump to where he can’t win. We’ve seen that he clearly can, but I think a lot of riders do it when they’re good one weekend and then the next weekend they’re not, they’re just searching for whatever they think can be the problem. I get that, but I don’t think you can necessarily blame it on the motorcycle—either him or Cooper, to be honest, because they’ve shown excellence at times. I just don’t see a bike going from one extreme to the other in supercross. Now we go from supercross to outdoors, then yeah you can put some blame in the motorcycle. Me, personally, I think it’s a mental thing with Eli, but I think a change for him would be good.
What about Kenny [Roczen] and the Honda guys?
I think the Honda is a great motorcycle. I really would have thought that Roczen would have had a win by now for sure, or multiple, because I think there’s been times where he’s been the fastest, smoothest guy on the racetrack, and his motorcycle looks like it works really good. Just opinions, I guess. Everybody’s got them, right? I don’t know Kenny personally. What the guy has been through, you can’t help but be a fan. Then to see him show the speed and the smoothness, he deserves one. He’s just got to make it happen. There’s been I don’t know how many weekends that by far he’s been the fastest guy through the whoops. Like lightyears faster. It’s one thing to qualify in practice, but the main event is a whole different story, and getting that win is tough.
Who do you see as upcoming talent? Between Adam and some of the other Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki guys, there are some fast kids that are moving through the ranks.
My opinion on Adam is I think he needs to be on a 450. I think [with] his size, and I think he’s been there long enough. I think he’s ready to go. I think they need that up there because I think those classes, the 250 classes are—and not that he can’t continue to win—but there’s a lot of guys in there. I think it’s time for him to move on. He’s at that age, and his size. I think he’s ready to go. As far as talent moving up or guys, it’s been hard because literally this year has been almost like reeducating myself again on all the riders. You know the top few guys in each class, but I was away for a while and didn’t really pay a lot of attention to it because I was busy. So it’s been kind of fun learning all the guys again and trying to learn their teams and numbers. It’s like I’ve had opportunities to do some podcasts. A lot of the guys on the podcast they eat, breathe, and sleep it, so they have so much knowledge it’s hard to talk with those guys because they know so much of what’s going on.
I don’t get to watch practice or qualifying or anything because I’m busy. So I literally go in for opening ceremonies and watch the main events. It’s really hard. I think Austin [Forkner] obviously still needs some time down there, and to get some more solid wins, but again, he has the speed. I think it’s just that mental. I know from my past when you get some age on you, let’s say 22 and 23-ish, you just become such a different person mentally and physically than what you are at 16, 17, 18 years old. So I think it’s a good spot, even though I did move pretty quick. I rode 125s only one year, but I couldn’t stand them. I was ready to move up and I had something to prove. I was just glad that Yamaha agreed and I was able to do that. I think some of those guys, they don’t want to. But the other thing is that the injury thing is crazy now. I feel like they want to add more supercrosses rounds, but they’re going to run out of riders if they make the series too long!
In your opinion on the injuries, do you feel there are more now than there was back when you raced?
That’s a tough question, but it sure seems like it a lot. Now when a guy goes down, you’re almost considering them out before they even get up. If you’re watching them and they go down pretty good, it’s like game over. Back in the day, most of the guys always got up. I know the bikes are completely different motorcycles and the tracks are different now. People argue with me that the tracks were this, this, and this back in the day, meaning that… I guess they were pretty gnarly, but I don’t quite understand why the guys are getting hurt so much more. I don’t know what the answer is to it. Obviously, the tracks are different and they’re trying to tuck a bike into a hole that it really doesn’t fit. There’s no recovery room. There’s something there right away on the track. So, I don’t know that you can blame it on the track builders or really blame it on anybody, but I just think the speeds and how far the guys are able to jump… to me, the motorcycles make guys better than what they really are. I don’t know about our top guys but meaning that you can make a mistake at the base of a triple and if you have two bike-lengths or three bike-lengths it’s not a problem. It’s crazy. Again, I think about [Justin] Barcia this season. I don’t know how many times he had a bad one… that guy has to be pretty damn tough because I know I saw him throw himself down a lot this year and he’s still there. He keeps trying to come back and do it. So he was an exception. It’s like you see a guy go down and you just assume you’re going to count him out. Cooper’s taken a couple and been able to shake it off and move on, which is how championships are won. But the bottom line is that you don’t like to see anybody get hurt. We all know it’s not easy. It’s a brutal sport.
What about on your personal side of things? Did you end up moving back to North Carolina full-time?
No, we still kind of bounce back and forth between Boise and North Carolina. We’re actually in Carolina now but I’ll go to New York and then after Vegas we’ll go back home. Kind of give the weather and the winter a chance to move on. It’s nice in Boise, but up where we live I think the snow’s still on the ground. Really it’s another three weeks, four weeks up there of winter. But we came back to North Carolina and do a little visiting. It works into the schedule. Then my ride day stuff will get fired up here throughout the summer and that will keep me busy.