BabbittÃ¢Â€Â™s Monster Energy TiLube KawasakiÃ¢Â€Â™s Tyler Bowers is on a roll with four consecutive wins and sits atop the points standings for the AMA Arenacross championship. Last year he was also in a similar position, leading in points for the championship, and with only three rounds left in the season, he crashed, breaking both femurs. Bowers got back on the bike last November determined to take back the championship title he nearly achieved last year. We caught up with Bowers at the eighth round of the AMA Arenacross series in Sacramento, Calif. and got to find out what drives this serious competitor.
Monster Energy Kawasaki: So how long have you been riding motorcycles?
Tyler Bowers: I first starting riding motorcycles when I was 18 months old, IÃ¢Â€Â™ve pretty much been on two-wheels my whole life. I decided that I wanted to become a professional motocross rider when I was six years old. From then on I have sacrificed a lot to get where I am today. My family really has sacrificed everything so that I could do this professionally. From living in a trailer in the middle of a corn field for years, to missing time with friends and family to train everyday, I have sacrificed so much. IÃ¢Â€Â™ve put in a lot of hard work, had some great experiences, and made a lot of new friends. Overall itÃ¢Â€Â™s all been worth it, I wouldnÃ¢Â€Â™t trade it for the world.
MEK: How has growing up in Kentucky shaped your career?
TB: I love Kentucky, but itÃ¢Â€Â™s hard to race there during the winter. Right now Kentucky is knee deep in snow. During the winter months we couldnÃ¢Â€Â™t always afford to go down to Florida to ride, so it made me even hungrier to ride when I did get on my bike. It definitely pushed me into Arenacross because itÃ¢Â€Â™s all I could race during the winter. I made do with what I could. Now IÃ¢Â€Â™m living in California and I can ride year round.
MEK: So whatÃ¢Â€Â™s it like being part of team BabbittÃ¢Â€Â™s Monster Energy TiLube Kawasaki?
TB: Man, its just great. I really get all the support in the world from the team. Eddie Babbitt, Denny Bartz, Ryan Holliday, and everybody from the Monster Energy Kawasaki team has done whatever it takes to get me and my KXÃ¢Â„Â¢450F on the podium every week. The support has been awesome, I couldnÃ¢Â€Â™t do it without them. I really love my KX450F ever since I got on it last year. The bike really fits my riding style. It has a lot of bottom-end and gets me where I need to be when I need to be there. I can seriously kill the whoops with my Enzo suspension. My mechanic, Chad Goodwin, does a great job making sure itÃ¢Â€Â™s dialed-in and fresh every weekend. IÃ¢Â€Â™m amazed on how well the bike performs for me, I absolutely love it. Its great having that push from behind and having a team supporting me that wants to win as badly as I do.
MEK: So why do they call you the Hitman?
TB: Well, I come and do what I need to do to get the job done. I try to get it done clean, but it doesnÃ¢Â€Â™t always come out clean. I get the job done no matter what it takes, and I will do anything to win. ItÃ¢Â€Â™s like a chess game out on the track, you have to race smart.
MEK: Would you say youÃ¢Â€Â™re a dirty racer?
TB: Well, IÃ¢Â€Â™m aggressive. I donÃ¢Â€Â™t like racing dirty. To be completely honest with you, I try to make clean passes, but if they donÃ¢Â€Â™t stick and IÃ¢Â€Â™m behind a guy for too long and he holds me up, heÃ¢Â€Â™s going to have to get out of the way somehow. If he doesnÃ¢Â€Â™t get out of the way on his own I will usually give him a few turns then IÃ¢Â€Â™ll rev my bike, and maybe yell at him. If heÃ¢Â€Â™s still in the way then IÃ¢Â€Â™m going to get around him one way or another.
MEK: Define arenacross in a couple words.
TB: Bar fight. ThatÃ¢Â€Â™s how it is. Its aggressive out there, sometimes stuff happens and you get mad at people. You just have to learn how to deal with it. Those tracks are just so tight and everyoneÃ¢Â€Â™s so close. ThereÃ¢Â€Â™s not always a lot of room to get away or make a pass. Sometimes the only way to pass is to rub with somebody, thatÃ¢Â€Â™s why its like a bar fight. Usually thereÃ¢Â€Â™s a lot of rubbing going on, sometimes with several racers in the same turn. ThatÃ¢Â€Â™s racing and if you make someone mad out there you know youÃ¢Â€Â™ll have to deal with them later. It gets pretty exciting for sure.
MEK: Tell me about the worst day youÃ¢Â€Â™ve ever had on the track.
TB: My first Hare Scramble at Honda Hills in Ohio, when I was 6 years old. That was the absolute worst day of my whole life. It was February and it was freezing, it maybe warmed up to 40 degrees outside. The ground was frozen, and thawed out just an inch or two from the top. I remember there was a straightway with a checkpoint going into a woods section. I had to go wide-open through the straightaway, and then I had to lay my bike sideways to slide through the mud to get to the checkpoint. I would get up, wipe my number plates off, and then take off again. After that I went through the woods and the trails were just covered with mud loaded with ice underneath. It was the most miserable experience ever. I have never done a hare scramble since.
MEK: How about the best day of riding youÃ¢Â€Â™ve ever had?
TB: I donÃ¢Â€Â™t know, IÃ¢Â€Â™ve had so many great days riding. I am especially happy racing this year since I got injured last year and was able to make a comeback. Now I take every moment on my bike as the happiest day of my life. ItÃ¢Â€Â™s so fun to be back on the bike everyday, even my bad days are great.
MEK: How do you think the accident last season affected your mentality toward racing?
TB: It strengthened me more than anything and made me even hungrier this year to win the championship. It made me angry about losing out last year and motivated me to work even harder. I really wanted my championship and it made me work that much harder to get my speed back. This season, the first three rounds got off to a slow start because I put too much pressure on myself. I was pushing too hard to get by guys too quick, or making other mistakes like trying to gap the field too much. Now IÃ¢Â€Â™m trying to race smarter. IÃ¢Â€Â™m stronger than ever and getting back to where my speed was last year. I want that championship more than ever this year.
MEK: So does having four-race win streak add more pressure or confidence to your game?
TB: I think it actually gives me a little bit more pressure because now I am competing with myself. Now I have six wins total, and a streak of four straight. Last year I won seven consecutive races, and now I feel like I have to try to beat that personal record. I tend to put more pressure on myself than everyone else. IÃ¢Â€Â™m pretty happy because now I have the ball rolling, the wins are stacking up and IÃ¢Â€Â™m having fun out there. I feel like IÃ¢Â€Â™ve got things figured out now. I just have to get out there, keep racing, and take every race one at a time.
MEK: So with six rounds of the AMA Arenacross left, whatÃ¢Â€Â™s the key to maintaining your points lead and clinching the championship?
TB: The key is just riding smart and keeping the bike off the ground. IÃ¢Â€Â™ve been having fun with it, training all week, and racing on the weekends. I enjoy winning more than anything. IÃ¢Â€Â™m going to keep stacking those wins up and keep doing whatever it takes to keep the wins coming.