The 2021 Kicker AMA Arenacross series is about a month away and the 2020 champion Kyle Peters is preparing to defend his title. And if his performance in 2020 is any indication of what’s to come in 2021, he’s a good pick for the championship. After all, the Phoenix Racing Honda rider won a ton of races in 2020, never finished off the podium, and even wrapped up the championship despite racing with a broken bone in his wrist. We caught up with Peters to see what he’s been up to during the off-season, and how his prep for the upcoming season is going.
Racer X: Kyle, what’s up man how are you?
Kyle Peters: I’m doing good, how about you?
Well, I’m still employed in all this coronavirus mess, so I can’t complain!
Exactly. Right now it’s nuts. It’s crazy to me, it seems like the moto industry, from what I can tell, is really booming, as far as gear sales, bike sales, and everything like that. But I keep hearing everyone saying they’re making cuts. It’s like, “What do you mean? You just had one of your best years!”
[Peters won the Kicker AMA Arenacross Championship under some tough circumstances, as he broke a bone in his hand at the Dallas Supercross but still toughed out the title at the AX finale.]
No kidding. So how’d the off-season treat you? You had a long one—you didn’t do any outdoors, right?
No outdoors for me, I’ve been in the off-season for a while now. I was planning on doing at least a couple outdoors, but with everything that was going on, the team and I decided to hold off. So over the summer I went and worked with pops at the car dealership for a couple months and recently just started getting back into the swing of things and training hard at ClubMX. Justin Brayton, myself, my teammate Josh Osby, we’ve got a pretty unreal group of guys. Everyone is pushing every day.
As in pushing each other? Do you guys get competitive?
Absolutely. All of us are competitive as it is, and nobody wants to be the slow guy on the day. Whether you’re having a bad day or not, you really have to go push it to be up there. Between [Garrett] Marchbanks, Osby, Brayton, Joey Crown, [Jace] Owen, they’re all fast and it makes it fun.
You mentioned working at your dad’s dealership. What’d you do there?
I’ve been up there a few different times, but this summer was probably my most consistent time. I started out kind of doing the whole car sales thing, but pops wanted me to learn the whole business so I started going to auctions with him and learning the buying process and how all that works. Then I went over to the service department and started learning how to manage that. That really gives you a whole new perspective and a new respect for those guys. Dirt bikes are really hard, but it’s what I love to do. It really makes me enjoy being back on the bike!
Dirt bikes might be hard, but they’re way more fun, right?
No kidding! It’s a lot of hours to put in at a normal job, but with dirt bikes, you don’t really know how good you have it until you go and do something else. I’m stoked to be continuing to do what I love.
At this moment in time, what are you focused on getting ready for? You raced both arenacross and supercross last year.
Arenacross is a big part of my focus, but it’s like what I did last year. I strictly trained for supercross and didn’t even ride an arenacross track. I trained for supercross and went and raced on the weekends. I think that’s really good because for supercross you do your motos and everything, then in arenacross you go and they’re six-to-ten-minute main events and you’re wide open. And racing arenacross helped me coming into supercross. It helped me with intensity and being at that level, ready to go at round one.
Of course defending your arenacross title is important to you, but I’ve talked to you in the past and you’ve mentioned how important it is to you to put in a strong showing in supercross. If it came down to one or the other, which direction would you go?
It’s hard to say. I really like arenacross, I really enjoyed this past winter, but supercross is always the first love. That’s kind of the dream, to be successful there. But with the Phoenix Honda team, we’re more focused on arenacross and I’d have to go defend that. That’s a tough question, and hopefully something we won’t have to make a decision on. The plan right now is to do arenacross first and then race West Coast supercross, since East is going first. It should match up perfectly, to where I don’t have to pick between them. All the arenacross rounds should be done before the Western supercross Region starts.
So what are the specific goals for 2021?
To defend the arenacross championship. We’ve got some additional competition with [Mike] Alessi coming in, and there are always fast guys. The tracks are a little more basic and it’s really hard to have an edge on anyone. The goal is to win that championship again. I really believe in myself and in my program right now. With my team, my bike, and my training partners, I believe I can be a podium guy every weekend. That’s what I’m striving for, to really go after it this year and show what I’m capable of.
When GEICO Honda folded there was some talk about Phoenix Honda stepping up their program. How close did any of that come to happening? Were you aware of any of the decisions being made?
There were definitely talks, which got me excited. We have gotten more support through Honda, which is awesome. The bikes have gotten a lot better this year versus what we had last year. I think some support came over, and thankfully Honda was grateful enough to do that for us. As far as all of those decisions, I don’t really know, I just try to focus on myself.
I saw on Instagram you’ve got some merchandise available.
Yeah, I got excited and made some patches and threw them on some hats to see how it would go. If anyone wants any KP hats we have a few still available. You can email me, all my contact stuff is on Instagram [@kylepeters], or just DM me there and tell me you want a hat. I’ll get it shipped out as soon as possible!