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Interview: Grant Langston

Published April 10th, 2001

Interview: Grant Langston - Photo 1 of 2

This year he’s competed in the AMA/EA Sports Supercross 125 West Series, and was a leading contender for the AMA/Chevy Trucks 125 Motocross Championship until a shoulder injury put him off the bike for a few weeks. Grant shares his thoughts with us ….

In the Saturday practice session at Southwick, you fell and were injured. What happened?

I was going thru a fast right hand sweeper, and fell. I separated my shoulder. It’s a third degree separation. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to race there at Southwick. It was quite painful. I didn’t ride practice on Sunday. I decided about an hour before the first moto to try and salvage some points. I had it taped up, and went out.

And coming into the race the following weekend at Budds Creek, you decided not to ride. Why?

It was just too painful. There was no sense in continuing. I’ll try to come back as soon as I can and win a few races before the season is over.

When you were competing in the 125 World Motocross Championships, where was ‘home’ for you?

I was based out of Holland. I rode for the KTM factory of Austria, but it was thru a satellite team run by Kees van der Ven. I was able to go back home to South Africa a couple of times a year.

At what point in 2000 did you first think of coming to race in the USA?

It was very early in the season, around April. The whole process actually started by my dad receiving a call from Mitch Payton of Pro-Circuit. Mitch was the one that got the ball rolling.

I always wanted to come to America, but I really didn’t think it would happen this soon. I thought maybe it would happen in two, three, four years time.

So, that’s how the whole thing started. The more I thought about it, I felt I should go now while I’m still young.

Obviously KTM wanted to renew my contract too. So I told them ‘I would like to go to America’. And they said that was good because they want to create a very strong team in America for 2001.

Who was involved in making the final decision to come here?

It was myself, my dad Gerald and KTM.

Can you compare the two teams – KTM in Europe, and KTM in America?

Yes. There are minor differences. The one great thing is that our tuner from last season Harry came over to America this year too. KTM builds a great bike right from the factory, but a tuner can make a big difference in making the bike competitive at this level.

In Europe most of the guys go to the Grand Prix events in their RV’s. Here in the United States we fly a lot more. There are a lot of differences in the schedule of what happens during race day. As far as the team goes, we have the same tuner and the same mechanic (my uncle) as last year.

How is the race schedule different from what you went thru in Europe vs. what happens here?

In Europe you have more time for yourself, especially on race day. Here you are always dealing with something – sponsors, autographs, etc. It’s much more of a public event here. At the first few supercross races this season, I was so surprised. We are lucky to have 20 minutes to ourselves before the main event. The feeling was ‘Man, it’s been a long day!’

You are originally from Durban, South Africa, is there anywhere in the US that is similar to what it’s like in Durban?

The closest area that I’ve seen here in the US that’s similar to Durban would be when we went to the Daytona race. Orlando is the closest big city, and that reminds me a lot of Durban.

Interview: Grant Langston - Photo 2 of 2How often do you get back to South Africa?

The past three years I’ve been doing the GP’s in Europe. Our race schedule there was a bit more spread out, and I was able to get back to South Africa about three times a year.

This year, with supercross starting so early, I only went back once. I went back after the third race at Anaheim for two weeks. And I’ll go back again after the season is completed.

What do you miss most about it?

It’s very difficult to pinpoint one thing. And it’s hard to put into words. People in South Africa are very outgoing, and very much ‘outdoor’ people. There are a lot of social gatherings such as barbecues and parties.

What is motocross like in South Africa?

In South Africa we have ‘junior’ motocross, which is basically 50′s up to 80′s. And then we have ‘senior’ motocross which is from 80′s on up. There are amateurs and pros. We only have a couple of hundred riders total.

Is there a woman in your life?

Yes. She’s from South Africa too. Her name is ‘Sam’. She’s pretty, she’s intelligent, she’s been around the sport for many years and loves racing. And she’s so easy going. She’s great.

When you have time away from racing for a few weeks, what do you do for fun?

I’m the type of person that likes to do anything. If a friend says ‘Let’s go jet-skiing’ then I’ll probably go jet-skiing. If someone says ‘Let’s go boating’ then I’ll want to go boating. If it’s time for snow-boarding, then let’s go snow boarding. I just like to be on the go.

Do you miss Europe at all?

Yes, I miss it a bit because I have a lot of good memories from there. I’m happy to be racing here in the States though, and I personally do not like the format of the GP races this year. What I miss is mostly the memories of what happened there, especially in winning the championship.

I would like to go back and do one or two races a year there. I’m happy to be here in America. Racing is big here, and it’s very professional.

You went to the Netherlands and raced the 250 GP there – tell us about that week.

When we got there it was freezing cold! The factory sent us some great bikes, but they didn’t fit my style. We ended up practicing for two days, and then the session on Friday was canceled because it was too wet. There was a lot of sitting around doing nothing. ; ) And then with the new one moto format …. I crashed at the start … the entire weekend seemed ruined.

I’ll say one word, and then you tell me what thoughts come to mind:

Smets: Determined, fast, strong.

Everts: Smooth, technically correct, very popular.

McGrath: Excellent. Fast, smooth. A legend.

Carmichael: Extremely quick. Accomplished so much in such a short amount of time.

Albertyn: ‘Never-say-die’ attitude. Special for doing what he did coming from South Africa. Nice guy too.

Pastrana: Popular. Quick. Very mature.

What kind of music have you been listening to lately?

Limp Bizkit

What have you been looking at online?

I like looking at anything related to motor sports.

Being a factory rider – what are the best things about it?

The bikes are good. And the major teams have the budget to do what is necessary to win. You have the luxury of having someone work on the engine while someone else is working on the suspension while a technician is working on the chassis. Those people can help you to set-up the bike exactly how you like it.

Being a factory rider – what is the worst thing about it?

No part of it is bad. There are a lot of responsibilities however. A lot of time with the press and media and sponsors. There is no down part of it though … it just comes with the package of being a factory rider.

Finish this sentence – “If people could know one thing about Grant Langston, it would be …… “

Well, that’s a tough one. Maybe just that I’m very determined and motivated when it comes to racing.



Interview: Grant Langston

Published January 13th, 2000

Interview: Grant Langston - Photo 1 of 2 Grant finished sixth and eleventh in his motos (first and second 125, respectively) against 500cc and 250cc bikes, and assisted the South African team to a magnificent fifth overall.

Grant began racing at the age of five and quickly established himself as one of South Africa’s top riders, following in the footsteps of Rob Herring and Greg Albertyn. He currently rides for the Netherlands-based Champ KTM team and is moving to the USA to ride for KTM in 2001. Grant and Andrew are both gentlemen and sportsmen, and Grant has the drive to win as all champions must possess to excel at this level.

Dave Richardson: Congratulations on winning the title this year; it is quite an achievement. Was this your first season to race Grand Prix?

Grant Langston: Thank you. It was my third season. I was 15 when I started to race Grand Prix.

DR: Did you race full time for all three years?

GL: Yes, in 1998 I did full time. At first I wasn’t really qualifying but then towards the end of the season I started scoring some points (He finished the season in 35th place). And last year I was injured during the beginning of the season and I came on strong toward the end of the year and I got tenth (with two moto victories). And this year I had a pretty good year and won it.

Interview: Grant Langston - Photo 2 of 2DR: What was your favorite memory of this season?

GL: I’d have to say Finland. There were two tracks I liked actually, Slovenia and Finland. I chose Finland as my greatest memory because I did everything there. I was the fastest in every session of the whole weekend, free-training and qualifying, won both motos, had the fastest lap time, won the overall and won the World Championship, which was the perfect weekend. I did it in style and that is a great memory to me.

DR: Going into next season, the tracks and style of racing in America is much different. What are you doing to prepare for that?

GL: Actually I am going to go to America at the end of the year to start preparing. I have never raced a U. S. National but I was in America twice before. In ’96 I did the World Mini GP in Las Vegas and won both heats and ended up third in the final. Then last year I did some riding and a bit of supercross there. And from what I see on TV I like their tracks like Unadilla and Red Bud. And Southwick really suits my sand riding. I don’t really like hard slick tracks, it’s not really my style. I’m the type of rider who when a tracks starts getting a little bit of loose sand and a bit choppy that’s when I excel.

DR: What about supercross?

GL: Well, I don’t have much experience. And like I said to my sponsors, don’t expect much from my first season. I expect myself to be in the top 10 and if I can get a single podium in one of the rounds I will be very happy with that.

DR: Where are you going to live?

GL: My mom’s actually lived for four years in El Cajon (California) and I know there are a lot of tracks around Corona and that area. When I go over at the end of the year I will stay with my mom for awhile until I find a place to move into. KTM is building a practice track, they’ve got some property in Corona, and I think so that should be good. David Pingree just signed with KTM and he’s good at supercross so I can learn a lot from him. I can train with him and that should help me.

DR: Congratulations once again on your great season and good luck in America.

GL: Thank you.