There will be another fresh face behind the gates this weekend at Lucas Oil Pro Motocross as California’s Talon Hawkins will make his professional debut with Rockstar Energy Husqvarna. The 18-year-old is already slated to compete at the Loretta Lynn’s Amateur National Motocross Championship in early August, but as we’ve seen with several other riders of late, Hawkins will take the opportunity to make his pro debut while he is still an amateur in order to get a taste of Pro Motocross.
Hawkins raced the Scouting Moto Combine just two weeks ago at RedBud and was riding well battling for second in the first moto when he crashed and suffered a hematoma in his leg. Despite that, he and the team decided that next week that Hawkins would give Pro Motocross a go at Spring Creek this weekend and here he is. We caught up with the #339 on the eve of his professional debut.
Racer X: Welcome to Pro Motocross! We had talked at RedBud about you trying to do a couple of these, but this seems fast! What do you think of it all?
Talon Hawkins: I’m so pumped to be here. It was more of a last-minute decision. Obviously, we’ve been talking about it for a while, like it’s been in the works, but we didn’t really know if we were going to fully commit. We decided last minute to fully commit and we’re out here just trying to have fun.
Have you done any different prep in these last two weeks since you found out to try to get ready for 30 minutes?
No, so ever since I’ve been out at the Baker’s Factory, we’ve been doing 30 plus twos. Thirty-minute motos every once in a while, but mainly just 30 plus twos. So, I didn’t really have to change my program too much. We just did the same thing. Keep the motos, keep doing sprints, just stay fresh on the bike and the training hasn’t changed much.
Has there been any expectations that you’ve been putting on yourself or the team has put on you or is it just to go out and see what you can do and have fun with it a little bit?
There’s no set expectations from the team, but I always have expectations for myself. I’d like to keep it inside of the top 20, score some points. I think that’s a pretty safe bet. But, all in all, I just want to go out there and ride the best that I can and honestly don’t really care where I finish, just ride good.
If you get a holeshot tomorrow, are you going to try to sprint or maybe try to settle into a pace? What are you going to do?
I already know that my first instinct if I get the holeshot is just to sprint my life away. [laughs] Because I know there’s going to be some fast guys coming after me, so I just want to ride smart and obviously finish in the best position. So, I’ll probably start sprinting.
Obviously, this is going to be a pretty good prep for Loretta’s, it’s going to give you a pretty good test. How do you figure that factors into your prep over the next couple of weeks before Loretta’s?
Yeah that was actually a main reason why I wanted to do a pro national. What better prep is there for Loretta’s than doing an actual Pro Motocross race? So, I’m just really hoping this will prepare me for it.
You’re #339, I know we just talked about it, but just first number available I guess?
So, there were a couple numbers available but there was nothing with 71 in it [Talon’s amateur number]. So, I pretty much had to think outside the box here. It was one off of JLaw’s [Jason Lawrence] number, so that was kind of a contributing factor. The 338 wasn’t available, so 339 is the next best thing. Actually, the main contributing factor was my boy Josh Grant, #33. That was the only number with 33 in it. That’s like my idol since I was a little kid. Actually, we’ve grown to be really good friends with our whole family. So, that was probably the main contributing factor.
That’s cool! So, you’re a fan of Josh Grant growing up, and you’ve probably dreamed of this moment right now, so is it almost surreal standing here about to do a Pro Motocross race?
It’s crazy! I’ve been looking up to these guys, even the guys in my class today, I’ve been looking up to them since I was a little guy. Even today, I was just looking across the street and I see [Ryan] Dungey just right across the street from me. He’s going to be geared up and riding the same track as me on the same day. I’ve gotten that feeling a little bit when I was a kid like out at the Monster Cup. I rode the Supermini class a few years and I got to ride the same track, but it's still a bit of a different feeling actually racing at the professional level with the professional riders, and it all feels so surreal.
Tomorrow the track will get rough, but it might not get as rough as the Combine since the amateur kids raced on it all day. The day of the Combine, the track gets bumps from all the different classes and bike sizes. Do you expect it to be harder to get used to, easier to get used to?
I know it’s going to be for sure a learning curve. I know that the rough is a lot different than out at the amateur nationals. It’s just a different kind of rough. I already know it’s going to be hard to adjust. But I’m going to do my best in that one lap of free practice we’ve got and then try to go get a good time in qualifying.
You train in Florida, so you’re used to the heat to a degree. Tomorrow it’s not going to be too hot though. Do you think that plays into it tomorrow a little bit where you know you’ll have a little bit more energy in the tank to save because it’s not boiling out?
Yeah, so ever since I’ve been out at the Baker’s Factory, it’s been really hard for me to adjust to the humidity coming from growing up in Southern California. There isn’t exactly any humidity out there. I’ve been trying my best to adjust to that. It’s starting to come, every week it’s been getting better and better. But I’m not going to lie, I’m pretty glad there isn’t going to be much humidity or be very hot out here.
The next step after this is obviously Loretta’s, but then after that, how much are you trying to maybe race some of the last four? What is the realistic goal for you after Loretta’s?
It all just comes down to how I perform at Loretta’s. Say I do really well, I get a top three in both classes and do a pretty solid job, I would like to go pro and just kind of finish out the rest of the series. But there’s also the option of waiting a little bit longer, going back out to Baker’s or going anywhere and training, and just being prepared. I’m also open to that too. Honestly, it’s whatever the team wants. Whatever we think is the best option is what we’re going to go with. So, I don’t really have a plan right now, just looking into the future.