Interview: 250 National Champion Ricky Carmichael
In 2000 he moved to the 250 class and won the national championship convincingly. Ricky and his Kawasaki are expecting to be contenders in the 2001 supercross series.
Before the start of the 2001 season, there are not a lot of races for you to participate in. What have you been doing?
I’ve been taking care of a lot of press things, like photo shoots. There have been a lot of people at my house the past few weeks. People I know and people I don’t know. It’s been very, very hectic.
What is your preparation for the new season?
I’ve been riding a lot and training a lot with my trainer Aldon. We also work on preparing myself mentally for the upcoming season. My goal is to stay focused.
In the morning Aldon and I get up and go to the gym, run, or go for a mountain bike ride. It depends on how our bodies feel. We don’t want to do too much and burn ourselves out, but we do want to make it worthwhile. We keep our days pretty busy. We try to stay on a schedule, try not to burn ourselves out, and most of all we have fun. I train on my bike about 4 to 5 times a week on my track. As far as the food I eat during the week, I basically stay away from the fried fatty foods and make healthy choices.
What do you think of your new team-mate Stephane Roncada?
He’s good. He’s on a factory 250 now and that’s everyone’s dream. He’s coming from a 125 regional championship. It’s going to be tough for him, …. the 250 class is very tough and all the guys are fast. And I know how that feels. Hopefully he knows that it’s going to be a challenge.
I am not training with him right now because I am on the East Coast. I don’t really get a chance to ride with him that much but we’ve mixed it up a few times on the track.
What are your expectations for 2001? Do you have a ‘game plan’ since it’s a very long season?
My expectations are hopefully to win. I’d like to try and be in the top 3 all the time. My game plan is to stay healthy, stay up front every week and try to win as many races as possible. Consistency is the key to winning championships.
When did you start riding?
I started riding in 1985, when I was 5 years old, a long time ago My Mom and Dad have been a big part of everything I do. I’ve got a lot of support from my parents and I am very lucky.
Do you still learn new things when you ride?
Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t. Lately I have been learning a lot at the races during practice.
Would you consider racing a 4-stroke in the future?
Yeah I would, I would ride a 4-stroke in the outdoor season for sure.
What is the key to your success?
Two things probably: Hard work and the people I choose to associate with.
Who are your main competitors in supercross?
Jeremy McGrath is definitely the top competitor for sure. He has his bases covered. He is the toughest one. He knows how to win, and he’s proven it.
How is your newest version of your computer/video game coming along?
I just played it last week, it’s really good and people will be surprised, it’s awesome!
Do you think about what you’ll do after racing motorcycles professionally?
It’s really to early to say but hopefully I can do something in the industry, going to the races and being supportive with whatever team.
If you could accomplish one more thing in your career, what would it be?
To win as many races as possible and to win a 250 Supercross title. Then I’ll have won every title there is for me professionally.
You look very relaxed no matter how much pressure is on you. How do you prepare for that?
Some people try to put pressure on me but I take it really well. As far as the press hyping me up it’s just in one ear and out the other. That’s how I deal with most things, and I just try to put those issues aside.
Did you have a favorite rider while you were growing up?
I had a bunch of favorite riders growing up. One of them that comes to mind is Damon Bradshaw. I have a bunch of people’s jerseys in my home. I even have McGrath’s jersey!
Is there a woman in your life?
Ursala is my girlfriend, we’ve been together for almost 2 years now. She puts up with a lot of stuff from me and Aldon. I appreciate her. She takes care of many things for me, even washing my muddy, stinky riding gear after it’s been in my gear bag for a couple of weeks No matter what, she takes good care of me though.
What do you like most about racing?
Traveling and hanging out with my friends.
What do you like least about racing?
People who take advantage of others, and people who don’t work hard.
I’ll name some riders …. tell us what you think about them, their strengths and weaknesses:
McGrath: Jeremy has no weaknesses and his strengths are everything. He has all his bases covered.
Vuillemin: David is really fast. He’s just had a little bit of bad luck sometimes.
LaRocco: Mike’s a poor starter but a very strong rider.
Pastrana: Travis is good, maybe sometimes a little sporadic, but he is still young. He will grow out of that.
Lusk: Ezra’s very fast and has good cardio but he’s had bad luck here and there.
Windham: Kevin is super talented but doesn’t work as hard as he should.
Tortelli: Sebastien is very good mentally and very strong. He is good but he’s not as good in supercross compared to outdoor.
Roncada: It’s hard to say, because I haven’t watched him or raced against him that much.
Carmichael (yourself): I am still a little sporadic in supercross. I need to be a little smoother and a little more consistent.
What would you like to see changed in professional motocross racing today?
I would eliminate all the people who aren’t contributing to the sport. I’d add more prime time TV too.
What advice do you have for kids, and their parents that are involved in racing?
Kids should listen to their parents, and parents shouldn’t be too pushy as to how their kids do on a bike. Remember, at that age, it’s all about fun, not results.