Ricky Carmichael Interview
By Amanda Woods
Amanda: Ricky, how are you?
Ricky: Everything is good. Just been really busy with my car stuff. Doing a little bit of riding here and there when I can fit it in, and when the weather is good. My life is really good right now. My kids are good, … I’m just really happy.
Amanda: Well, fans really want to know what your doing, and what you have been up to lately, especially with car racing, so we are going to focus on that primarily today, but a few other questions before we get into that.
You have always been a really hard working and dedicated trainer, do you still train and if so, how do you train now?
Ricky: Well, I don’t train as much as I used to, I am just getting over my Epstein-Barr virus, and lately I’ve been feeling much better, so I have started back up with my training a bit.
I don’t ride as much as I used to, and that certainly was a form of training, but I’m still very active, … but nothing like I used to be for sure. I’m enjoying life a lot more now.
Amanda: How often do you pull your dirt bike out of the garage and go riding?
Ricky: My dad always has it ready for me when I want to ride. But both my practice partners have been hurt for a while, … but just got back riding here in Florida, so I have been riding a lot more in the past few weeks. And my practice partners are Ben Townley and Ivan Tedesco. They both split the place up and use the farm here.
Amanda: Back to training, do you do anything training wise specific to driving cars? And do you still work with Aldon Baker?
Ricky: No I don’t work with Aldon anymore. And as far as the car stuff goes, we don’t do much as far as training goes there. I think the physical training that I did for motorcycle racing was far enough for car racing. I think there are other forms of training that could be done for car racing rather then so much strength training and cardio training.
Amanda: What do you find the hardest thing so far about driving and racing cars?
Ricky: The hardest thing for me so far is how much mental concentration it takes. Things just change so much. It takes way more concentration than someone may think. It’s also very competitive, and everyone is close to one another as far as speed and skill … its very, very, very competitive.
Amanda: How much of a time commitment is racing cars for you verses racing motorcycles full time?
Ricky: Right now it’s not too much of a time commitment. Our series is only 13 races, and we do testing here and there. It takes a lot more to go test a car then it does a motorcycle. You need a lot more guys, and renting out a track it’s a pretty big deal. As far as the time goes, it’s not too time consuming – yet.
The only thing that’s made it hard is still being involved in motocross somewhat, and trying to do the car thing at the same time – that’s where it gets pretty busy at times.
Amanda: For those of us who don’t know what team are you on, please let us know. And, is there a website were fans can follow your racing?
Ricky: Yes, I am racing for Ken Schneider Racing and we have our own race cars and everything. I’m racing what was formerly known as the Busch East Series … it has a new sponsor, so officially it’s called the “Camping World East” series. It’s a NASCAR Sanctioned Series. NASCAR runs it, and it’s basically a stepping-stone to the Craftsman Truck Series nationwide. It’s a very competitive series. Some of the big teams like Hendricks and Gibbs have their younger drivers in the series learning, and we are racing last years Sprint cup cars. It’s a very, very competitive series and teaches you a lot! You can check it out the website at www.eastseries.com.
Amanda: How often are you in the race car? Can you break it down from practice to testing and then race time?
Ricky: With testing, you have to rent a track, usually a track that you are going to be driving on from about 9 in the morning till 5pm. I’ve actually only tested once, so far and it went very good.
You get to the track at 9am, get in your car around 9:30 and you get some rubber laid on the track. Then you figure out what needs to be better, and you stay in your car, because most of its quick changes. Then you go out and run a few laps. We do about 2-3 laps at a time, just enough to get a feel for the changes. Then you pull back in. And you are always trying to make it better. The only time you get out of the car is if your ready for a break or its going to be a major change.
As far as the race schedule goes, we will get there the day of the race, and there is a big tech inspection to make sure no one is cheating. We run the cars through a template and make sure no one is cheating with things like aero dynamics, wheel base, length, under the hood … things like that.
Then a drivers meeting is held, also one for rookies, which I sit in on. After that two timed 45 minute practices are held. Then there is qualifying, where everyone lines up and they send one car out at a time, and you get two laps to qualify. Then an autograph session after that, and then the race after that. And that’s a complete race day.
Amanda: What were you thinking the first time you got in your race car. Was it what you expected?
Ricky: These news cars are a lot heavier, and the wheelbase is a bit narrower, and we are racing on smaller tracks, like half mile to a mile. And these cars are really hard to get slowed down … they don’t like to brake and turn at the same time! So you kinda’ have to straight brake them first. As far as getting to the gas? These cars are so heavy it’s hard to feel how much power they have, but we are running about 650 horse power. We all run engines that are pretty much the same, so no one is able to cheat.
Amanda: What do you have coming up as far as the next few races?
Ricky: Its 13 races. And there is two road courses. We also race at 3 of the NASCAR tracks: Loudon, Dover and Watkins Glen. Most of the races are held on tracks in the North East like New York and New Hampshire.
Our first race is in Greenville, South Carolina – it’s called Greenville Pickens, April 19th – it’s a Saturday night show, it’s a half mile track and we’ll go 150 laps. The second race is a month later, so we have a little down time after that first race which is pretty cool.
Amanda: Is car racing everything you thought it would be?
Ricky: Its definitely everything I thought it would be, … but at the same time its been a challenge. And I love it! Its keeps me occupied and gives me goals and a place that I want to be at.
Amanda: What are your long term goals with car racing?
Ricky: My long term goal is to be a competitive Sprint Cup driver, which could take up to 2-3 years. It’s a long process. You can’t just move up. I have a car, now I need a lot of practice, and a lot more experience.
Amanda: You are new to car racing, but what advice would you give to someone wanting to get into the sport of car racing? And, what advice would you give to someone getting into racing Motocross/Supercross?
Ricky: As far as car racing goes, I would tell guys coming in “Don’t just think your coming in and taking the sport by surprise, because its hard. You need to respect the guys, and respect the cars. You put your pants on the same as everyone else does.” Especially at a local level, those guys have been racing there for a long time and they are really good.
As far as motocross, my biggest advice is to have fun! I think sometimes it’s the parents that want the kids to win more than the kids do. And I believe that you need to go out there and do what you can do. Don’t go out there to try to impress people. Do what you feel comfortable doing on the track, and have fun!
Amanda: Speaking of kids – how is it having twins? How much has your life changed now having twins?
Ricky: My kids are just over a year old now, and just starting to walk. It’s hard to explain how your life changes once you have children, unless you have children. It’s just awesome! I’ve always felt like I’ve had a bond with both my kids from the day they were born. Every time I’m out during the day, it seems like I can’t wait to get home just to see them. And you hope that when you get home they are not down for a nap. We have been very blessed. We try to keep our kids on a real similar schedule … they take naps at the same time, they eat at the same time, and they sleep from about 8 at night till about 8:30 in the morning. My little boy sleeps all through the night, and my little girl wakes up every once in a while. But the coolest thing about my kids right now is just to watch them learn. They are learning new things everyday, and it’s just so neat to watch that process.
Amanda: Do you see your kids racing in the future?
Ricky: Well, I hope they don’t want to. I try not to think about that. But I would support them in whatever they want to do. But I’m telling you right now, I will encourage them to do other things (laughing). I’m thinking “I don’t think we are going to be doing this, what my dad did.”
Plus, they would always have, especially my little boy, a certain standard that he would have to live up to. And because of what I have accomplished, he would always be labeled and have high expectations, and that’s not fair to him. So I hope he has no interest in it.
Amanda: Anything coming up soon for us RC fans to look forward to?
Ricky: Yeah! Ill be doing the Step up competition at this weekend’s ESPN Moto X World Championships … I’m looking forward to that. Then after that the car races I have coming up!
Amanda: Anything you want to say to your fans?
Ricky: I would like to say that I miss them. And I miss the racing part of things. I don’t miss the week leading up to the race. But I do miss the racing and performing in front of them. And I just want to say “Thanks” for all the great support! I’ll always be around!