Rumors of Monster Energy AMA Supercross’ restart have circulated for weeks, but few top factory riders have gone public with their feelings on the topic. The return date for supercross continues to change—we heard May or June, then September, then back to May 15 and then last week May 31—and all those changes make it difficult for teams, riders, and trainers to adapt. Plus, furloughs and work stoppages have further complicated matters.
Last week we spoke with him to get his feelings on the topic. We’ll tackle that here, and also talk to Webb about a wider range of topics in part two of this interview later this week.
Racer X: Where are you? Are you at some million-dollar mansion that you have now that you’re a supercross champ?
Cooper Webb: No. Just the old reliable house here in Claremont. Been in Florida this whole time. Been here, been able to stay at it with training and riding. Actually we rode today. So everything is good here, man. Nothing too bad.
At one point, I think Zach Osborne told us you all did take a couple weeks off from riding or something like that.
Yeah. Basically when we found out Indy was canceled, at first we had just heard that race and I think Seattle or something. So we actually rode supercross the week after what would have been Indy. Then that next week we actually rode outdoors one day. Then we decided let’s take a few weeks off of riding, for me to heal up, still my crash at Dallas and stuff like that. So we ended up taking I think two and a half weeks off the dirt bike, which was nice for me for the body and everything, but we still continued our training, cardio and gym and all that stuff. So we’ve been now riding probably about two and a half weeks now. We started on outdoors. We did a week of outdoors. Then we got told we’re racing supercross, so we started back on supercross last week and this is our second week at it.
You gamely showed up and podiumed two races after that big crash in Dallas, but I’m sure you still weren’t feeling 100 percent. So how much better are you now with this time off?
Now I’m 100 percent. It was a tough crash for me. I was lucky to not have more injuries and stuff like that, but it was definitely a lot of aches and pains. I’d say about four weeks after Dallas I started feeling back to normal, and now I’m back to 100 percent. It allowed me to kind of rest the body. I was able to get on the podium at those two races which was great. They were definitely hard-fought, that’s for sure.
I ask this about every guy we interview. Your whole life is based around trying to get better every day. Stronger, faster, fitter, whatever it is. How hard is it to suddenly have to turn that off and go into, “Well, I can’t drive myself crazy every day trying to improve because I literally don’t even know when my next race is?” How hard has it been to adjust to that mentality?
Honestly for me it hasn’t been that hard! I think I’m pretty good at when I’m at the track I focus on that, but my everyday life I’m not worried about racing really much at all. That’s something that when it’s race day and practice day I think I start to worry about. I think the hardest thing during this time period is just not knowing our schedule. So that’s the biggest thing. Like I said before, one week we were outdoors and then we’re back on supey [supercross]. I don’t mind the maintenance stuff, the training and the riding, but it just is nice when you kind of can get a gauge of when you’ll be racing. That way you can kind of work towards something. For me honestly that time off wasn’t too bad. I enjoyed it. Besides being not able to go many places, it was still a chance to unwind and relax a little bit. It is what it is.
I see what you’re saying. You’re not one of these guys where at the end of every day you’re like, “My lap time wasn’t where I needed, or should I have done another mile on the bicycle, or did I eat the right stuff?” You don’t sweat that stuff so much that if you suddenly don’t have a goal it starts driving you nuts?
Yeah, for sure. I’ve been there before, but now I don’t worry about it. At the end of the day, I know that if I go to the track and give it my all and do everything I’m capable of, then that’s a solid day. You’re not going to have good days every day. That’s something you’ve got to accept. I get a little bit of flack sometimes for actually not caring enough about practice! I’ve been working on that since I got to Aldon’s [Baker’s] and trying to bring that intensity every day. Like I said before, I live for Saturday main event time, but you’ve definitely got to put the preparation in to be able to compete Saturday when it’s time to go race. For me, I feel like I’m pretty laid back when it comes to during the week stuff. When I’m at home, there’s no dirt bike talk. Just BS normally.
I remember you saying it took a while for that to click, riding with these guys and the intensity that Aldon Baker expects during the week. You did say that it got better, but it’s still something you’re working on a little bit?
Yeah, for sure. I’ve understood the importance of practicing at 100 percent. I feel like now I try to bring that every day. I guess I’m just a little different where it’s hard for me to really lay it all on the track when there’s no prize money or there’s no glory. We have competition at the tracks here everyday. That helps. I think at Aldon’s that is what has kept me in it as much as it has is we have great riders that compete every day. It’s rare that I’m ever the best guy. So it always keeps you motivated and trying to get that crown for the day, I guess you could say. So that definitely helps, and I’ve gotten a lot better. Like I said, I enjoy the racing aspect the most. The practice is definitely important and I’ve learned that, but I’d be good if we just raced!
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As some of you know and have heard there’s an opportunity to go racing around May 15th. I’ve been asked my opinion and have been on the phone talking to multiple different people about it the last few weeks. As of April 17th it sounded like a go but as of yesterday it is becoming questionable because some teams and riders feel there isn’t enough time to get ready. I’m blessed to be on @ktmusa where we are always #readytorace but this had me thinking a bit. Feld is prepared to bring back employees, work with the riders an teams to have very limited amount of people at the venue and in the stadium, have multiple health care workers to check every single persons temperature and symptoms every time we come into stadium, as well as to be the first sport back to action while practicing social distancing with some adjustments to the racing and schedule with unfortunately no fans allowed at stadium. I know myself and almost every person in our industry has had some pay deduction or even extreme been laid off until we are back racing. I feel as professional supercross racers it’s our jobs to be ready to race and do our jobs whenever called upon. As of April 17th an possibly prior riders got told of the possibility of racing May 15 which made it fair to everyone to know that in 4 weeks we could be back racing. With bikes ready, SX settings we already have, the 26 weeks of sx we’ve already done this year (off-season preparation) with 3-4 days of riding each of those weeks ( appx 95-105 days of riding sx) I feel like we should do our SX/Mx community a favor and try to be ready to race. With that being said it gives us an opportunity to grow our sport, give people jobs back, and give all you fans a chance to see us race on TV while we do everything possible to stay safe, clean and do the proper testing to insure we don’t spread this virus. A bit of a rant but that’s how I feel what do you guy think? Would you like to see us race @supercrosslive soon?
Let’s talk about supercross attempting to restart. You’ve made your feelings known on this. You put a bit of a rant on Instagram last week and caused some waves. Stirred it up, which I don’t think you’re afraid of doing. It’s pretty obvious that you want to go racing as soon as possible, even if teams or riders aren’t completely ready. You made your feelings obvious with the post last week.
For sure. Obviously there’s mixed emotions and everyone is going to have an opinion on the situation and everything. I think it’s one of those things where it’s a tough line. But like I said in my post, I feel like Feld is going above and beyond to make sure we’re going to be safe. The CDC is on board. They’re going to do all the medical exams with temperature checks and keeping us all in the same place, limiting the people that come in. It’s pretty gnarly, I’m sure as you know, what they’re willing to do to make sure we’re all safe. For me, maybe I’m a little bit hard-headed but when you really look at these numbers… I don’t want to be a crazy guy but to me it’s no different than the everyday flu. It’s obviously taken lives, which is terrible. It’s putting us on a standstill as a country and everything like that. It’s definitely something to take serious. I think as long as we do the stuff that is going to keep us safe, keep us away from exposing us to it, and we’re able to go do our jobs. That’s my thing. It’s just unfortunate when I hear about people losing jobs left and right that have been in the industry for years, twenty, thirty years. It sucks. Even for me, I’m fortunate to where I make great money at what I do, but I feel for the people that aren’t in my situation that rely on that paycheck every week or every month while we’re racing. Like I said, I think as long as it’s done in a very safe manner and professional manner and we’re not cutting corners we’re still racing and doing everything we can… What I like is Feld is really keeping the manufacturers involved, the riders involved. I think this has actually brought us all closer to try to work together on this and really nail it. I also think it would be great to go racing as far as being one of the first sports back for TV audiences, for the fans at home who are I’m sure wanting to see some form of racing, anything like that. I just feel like it would be a great opportunity to bring a new audience to our sport while doing it in a safe way. Obviously I’m ready to get back to normality, which I think we all are. So that maybe is why too. Like I said, I don’t think it would be much danger involved at all, in my opinion.
Because the schedule is ever-changing, now it’s May 31st but before that it was maybe May 15th… Maybe riders and teams aren’t coming in as fully 100 percent ready and prepared as they would like to be. It sounds like you’re just willing to accept that?
Yeah. I think that’s the tough part. It’s hard for me to grasp the teams and stuff not being ready. I get employees got sent home, not allowed to come to work and stuff like that, and at least from a privateer standpoint, I get it. Maybe they can’t get parts because of mailing and places being closed. But my whole thing was, we had supercross bikes when we were supposed to go race Indy. We had all the parts. We had bikes. We had settings. Even for the privateers, at that point I feel like they had most of the stuff they needed. So now we’re in a scenario where we have our settings. Like I said in my post, most people start riding supercross beginning of September and ride four months before Anaheim 1. So basically we’ve ridden over 100 sessions, and that’s excluding races, on supercross, at least at a factory level. Maybe not privateers or 250 east and west guys. Maybe theirs is a little less. My biggest point is we have the equipment. I know KTM shut down in Austria for four weeks and they’re just back opening, and they’re prepared to go racing, which I think speaks volumes for them as a company. I’m not sure about the Japanese manufacturers or if they were shut down or not, but for Austria to be shut down with zero employees for four to five weeks and be able to turn around in two weeks and be ready to go racing I think is incredible. That’s great. So like I said, nothing is going to be normal. Even if we go race in fall, it’s not going to be normal as we know it. I think we all have to be willing to make some adjustments and give a little to get a lot, in my opinion. Everyone has a different opinion. Even the preparation time, especially now at May 31st, that’s five weeks to really get ready. I feel as though the break that we had, no one just took off and went to vacation - we couldn’t go on vacation! We were forced to pretty much stay at home and stay healthy and stay away from sickness. That left us bored and probably training. Like I said, for me, my third day back I feel better than I probably did racing earlier in the year. It comes back quick. I think we’re not going to be 100 percent peaking, but no one is. We’re all in the same situation. We have five weeks to get ready. May the best man win.
Also, didn’t you have years where you came in, you had an arm injury or whatever it is, and you didn’t’ always get the full four months of off-season prep anyway? Tons of dudes show at up Anaheim, they’re on the gate and maybe they’re not fully where they want to be.
Yeah. That happens. As you know in racing, injuries happen. That’s the thing right now that I think is also something to think about. Everyone is healthy, which is great. We’ll have AC [Adam Cianciarulo] back. We’ll have maybe Savatgy or someone like that. It gives them a chance now to be back in the mix. So I think it’s great. It’s like we’re racing Anaheim again. We’ve got seven rounds to lay it all out.
What kind of feedback did you end up getting after you put that post out there about wanting to go racing?
It was all really positive, honestly. I got a call from the president of North America KTM and he was inspired, he said, and was stoked on it. I think it needed to be said because a lot of us felt that way and no one really wanted to make it public. So I felt like I’ve always tried to stay true to myself. Just wanted to kind of tell my opinion and what I’d like to see.
That’s funny. You got a phone call from the president of KTM North America after. So this isn’t like behind the scenes there was this big meeting where the KTM bosses said “Let’s put this together and we’ll use Cooper’s Instragram to get it out there.” This was just you being you.
Yeah. I don’t mess with all the Instagram impressions and how to do all that stuff to get followers. I just post whatever I post.
Stay tuned for part two of our Webb interview later.