The Racing Capital
of the World
August 26, 2011 | By Tom Surber
Q: Driving your motorcycle over barriers that seem impossible to overcome seems awfully risky. What injuries have you had to deal with?
A: Actually, both sports I specialize in (Trials & Endurocross) are considered very technical and difficult but are safer than many motorcycle sports. The terrain can be severe but that slows down the speeds and makes potential injuries less. I have had several small bumps and bruises over the years and only one "big one". I fractured my cheekbone in 1996.
Q: Are you ever nervous or afraid when you’re faced with certain obstructions? If so, how do you overcome that?
A: Sometimes the obstacle courses can be pretty intimidating but I've also put in countless hours of training and know my limits. Mental strength is key for any championship level sport. Of course I've been nervous before but dealing with it and having the confidence to perform under pressure is a key ingredient to winning.
Q: As you near 40, are you still as driven as ever to do what you do?
A: I still enjoy riding very much and couldn't imagine my life without it. I've learned to juggle several types of riding and racing to help keep me motivated. I really look forward to my time on the bike and the challenges competition and demos provide. I feel like it keeps me young and in shape.
Q: How do you view the future of your sport?
A: Sky's the limit... Endurocross just made its debut at X-Games 17 and there is a lot of buzz about how fun it is to watch. Local tracks and races are popping up all across the nation. New teams are getting involved and riders from several different disciplines are coming to race. The future looks bright. Trials is a little more specialized and more difficult to do. It also has a very European flair that receives mixed reviews from our Nascar, World wrestling, and Monster truck loving nation. Trials is my true passion and a niche sport that can really drop jaws but realistically it will probably remain underground with a small group of dedicated followers. In a demo format however it will thrive.
Q: What are your thoughts about performing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway?
A: Performing at IMS in conjunction with the MotoGp race is an honor. The fastest men in the world on two wheels deserve a great track atmosphere. Hopefully our demos will help provide entertainment to the thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts and make the 2011 Indy MotoGp a memorable weekend. I'm really looking forward to being part of the program and showcasing the skills of MotoTrials to the mainstream public.
Q: What’s it like to be considered one of the world’s best at what you do at such a young age (19)?
A: “It’s definitely super-awesome. Coming up from being 13 when I originally started, it’s definitely cool to at first go from my childhood to turn into the youngest top competitor that they have. So now I’ve turned into a top competitor, but now, if anything, it’s kinda the normal deal.”
Q: How much fun is it using your creativity in coming up with new stunts?
A: “I mean it’s super-fun because I also road race and also race flat track, and obviously I love all of them. The main thing I enjoy about some of the racing stuff is that whoever crosses the finish line first wins. But the one thing I really enjoy about freestyle is that there’s such an open range, where in road racing and flat track there’s a right way to do something and a wrong way to do something. It’s so developed that’s it’s really easy to teach somebody how to do it because there are specific ways to do things. The thing I like about the freestyle is it’s just open range to do what you want. You can use your own creativity because nobody’s there to teach you on how you’re doing your stuff right or wrong. “
Q: You’ve been credited for contributing to streetbike freestyle having a cleaner image these days. How bad was the image previously, and how much better is it now?
A: “The worst it ever was was maybe two years before I got involved, and then it was still pretty bad when I first got started. The one thing that I really helped with was because I did the racing and I did the freestyle, I bridged the gap between the road racing and the freestyle, so it became a much cleaner image to it because before there was a big riff between road racers and freestyle. And along with that, me being at a younger age and coming from a family environment, it just kind of brought that kind of young motorcrosser image into the whole deal . You know, go to the track with your parents and everything like that, so it really made it more acceptable to a younger fan base and a family fan base. “
Q: When you balance on just your front wheel, how much tire contact do you have with the ground? Two square inches? About the size of a credit card?
A: “Well, I run 32 PSI (tire pressure) in the front, so with all the weight on it I’d say it would be a square inch or so. It would be no more than the size of a silver dollar for the contact patch on the ground.”
Q: What are your thoughts about performing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway again?
A: “The first two big events I ever did were with Red Bull and it was the Indianapolis MotoGP and the Laguna Seca MotoGP. The first time I came to Indianapolis it was really cool because it was such a warm welcome and they had me doing stuff on Tuesday and Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, and I did all the inaugural deals on the front page of the Indianapolis newspaper, so it’s kind of become a home for me because I don’t really have anything in Minnesota. And Indianapolis being one of the closer cities to me, it feels like a home event and it’s always a cool thing to come to. I have so much to do and so many friends here that it’s one of my favorite events that I have, and it’s always a warm welcome to come back here.
Q: What’s your favorite aerobatic flying trick or maneuver?
Q: Has your plane ever had any malfunctions during a performance that gave you concern?
A: I had a flight control failure during the 2001 World Grand Prix in China. I crashed into the river going over 180 mph. The aircraft flipped end over end several times before stopping up right in about three feet of water. To put it in laymen terms it is like driving down the road at 180 MPH and right before a turn the steering wheel locks up. You try your best to move the wheel to make the turn but it will not move. Everyone told me I was very lucky. I said I was sort of lucky. If I were really lucky it would not have happened. Sort of lucky you live through it!
Q: Do you ever get fully accustomed to dealing with the G-forces you experience