When the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup debuted in 2007, of the 25 young riders around the globe who were chosen to compete on the world stage, three of them were Americans. Finishing sixth in the final standings that season, with a race win and three podiums, was Cameron Beaubier, while JD Beach, who notched three top-10 finishes, was 16th in the 2007 Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup. Beach returned in 2008 and won the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup in only his second year as a road racer.
But, what about the third American rider who was chosen to compete in the inaugural Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup? That was a youngster who went by the name of Kristian Lee Turner. He finished on the podium at Mugello and Assen and ended up 10th in the final points standings.
After being away from motorcycle road racing for several years, Turner showed up at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca this past season and entered the MotoAmerica Twins Cup Series. It wasn’t a memorable first outing for Turner in the Twins class, but his win at New Jersey, bookended by second-place results at the preceding Pittsburgh round and the succeeding and season-concluding Barber round, propelled Turner to third in the final points standings and an invitation to the MotoAmerica Night of Champions in Las Vegas where he accepted his trophy for a truncated, but immensely successful race season.
Kristian Lee Turner is now known as just Kris Turner, and the still-young 26-year-old is making a comeback in road racing. We caught up with Turner, and he has quite a story to tell.
Kris, let’s talk about this past season. You joined Twins Cup at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. How did that come about? Did you like what you saw in the class and wanted to get involved?
That’s a funny story. I hadn’t even owned a motorcycle in about two-and-a-half, three years or so. Just out of the blue, I decided to go get a streetbike. I got a 1000 to ride on the street and rode it home. I went all the way up to Knoxville (Tennessee). It’s like two hours from my house. I rode it home. I took the back way. That was the first time I had really been on a bike in years, and I just kind of got that itch again. Then, the next day I got up and it was pouring down rain. I was like, crap, I can’t go ride. So, it just so happened to be the same weekend that MotoAmerica and MotoGP were at COTA. So I basically just laid on the couch all day and watched racing. Honestly, that was the first race that I had watched in a couple years. When I got away from it, I really wanted nothing to do with it. As soon as I watched the race, all of a sudden, I was like, “I could still do this.” So I texted my dad the next day, and I was like, “Hey, I want to go get a bike. I want to go racing again. I think I can still do this.” I kind of looked at lap times from the year before and some of the tracks I had been to, and I said, I think I can do this. So, it kind of just progressed from there. The initial plan was to get a 600 and go do Supersport. I hadn’t even raced in MotoAmerica. When I quit, it was still the AMA Pro days, but what the Supersport class is now was essentially the class that I left when I raced in the Daytona SportBike class. My dad called John Ulrich and asked him for some advice, and John said, “I think he needs to do the Twins Cup class. There are a lot of opportunities in that class.” So, it was all last-minute. We had actually found a 600 that we were planning on buying, and then, at the last second, we decided to go do the Twins Cup class, which I think was a good idea. It was a lot easier for me to get back up to speed on that. I bought a bike, I think, two weeks before the MotoAmerica round. I knew there was no way that I could get that bike ready for Road America. I honestly didn’t know that I could get the bike ready to go for Laguna, either, because I bought a Suzuki SV650 for $1500, and it was trashed. We ended up taking the whole thing apart, all the way down to the frame. Cleaned it. Put a whole different front end on it, shock. Had to get wheels. Had to do motor work, everything. So it was really a stretch to get it to Laguna.
So, you’re from Tennessee. It’s interesting that you started the season at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. It probably just had to do with the schedule. Whatever the next round was, you were going to try to make it. Is that the case?
Yeah. My dad kept telling me, “There’s no way we’re going to Laguna. You’ve never been there before. It’s all the way across the country. You haven’t been on a bike in a couple of years.” I’m like, “Yeah, fine. We’ll just plan on doing the last three because they’re all on the East Coast.” Then the next day I texted him, and I said, “Hey, I just got signed up for Laguna, so we need to get that thing ready.” So it was all last second. We had, like, a month to get the bike ready. I called John Ulrich because the M4 shop is an hour-and-a-half, two hours from me down in Alabama. So they actually let me throw my bike in the back of their big rig, and my dad and I flew out to California. There’s no way we could have done it if it wasn’t for that. So that was a really big help. We got to Laguna, and this is why I think honestly it was a good idea for me to get on the Twins Cup bike. I wasn’t really excited about it at first because I used to race a 600. I actually tried to race an SV650 a couple years ago, and it just didn’t have that “wow factor” with the horsepower. I wasn’t really excited about it. I got to Laguna and the first two sessions I had speed shock real bad. I was going off in the turn and was actually scaring myself and somebody would go blowing by me on the brakes. I’m like, “Man, this is going to be a lot harder than I thought it was going to be.” But, in the first qualifying session on the last lap, I put it on pole. It sounds silly, but after being gone for so long, I actually turned around as soon as I crossed the finish line. Because I knew that was going to be my best. I kind of hit all my marks. I looked back and saw my number at the top of the board and started fist pumping. I was so excited. It was really cool for me to be gone for so long and be able to get back up to speed again that quickly. Even on that lap, I scared myself in every turn. I was turning in early. I actually ran over the curb in turn three. It was really hard for me to get back up to speed. Even when we went to the next round at Utah, I still wasn’t completely comfortable on the bike. I didn’t really get a whole lot of lap time at Utah, but I still wasn’t completely comfortable on the bike. I still felt like I was trying to re-learn how to ride a motorcycle.
I had to skip Sonoma for a work-related event that I had already committed to. Honestly it would have been really hard for us to make it because we were already starting to struggle. We didn’t finish Laguna, and we didn’t finish Utah, so we hadn’t gotten any contingency or purse at all. We were kind of banking on that money to be able to make it all the way back out west to go to Sonoma. But I was also at the time trying to save my job a little bit. I was working on a Snap-On truck and they do a big tool show every year and it just so happened to be in Nashville, which is right up the road from me. I had already told my boss that I would go. He put a lot of money into it. He was already getting frustrated because I was traveling a lot. I told my wife and my dad, “I’ve got to go to Nashville.” But we went to New Jersey more than a month-and-a-half later, and I won that race. You go from being on top of the world, and no disrespect to the Twins Cup class, but I know it’s just the Twins Cup class. I finally won a professional race. That’s something that I’ve worked years to do. To be able to come back and do it so quickly, I was on top of the world. Then, the next day we were driving home and my boss calls me and he’s like, “I think you need to go focus on racing. This isn’t really working out.”
You talked about your win at New Jersey, but you finished second at both Pittsburgh and Barber. You finished the season with a second, a win, and a second. When you got back into this thing, did you think you were going to end up the season in third place in the championship?
This is actually what’s funny about it. Whenever I bought the bike, I told my dad, “If we can make it to Road America, I could still mathematically win the championship.” But, once I got to Laguna and that kind of went south, and then Utah was a horrible weekend for us altogether, at that point I was kind of starting to get down. I’d been off a bike for so long and then I did my first two races and I didn’t even finish. It was really starting to weigh on me a little bit. I’m like, “What am I doing? I’ve got a family now. I’ve got a job.” But I told myself, “Don’t give up yet. Keep pushing, keep pushing. Worst-case scenario, go do the rest of the races this year, and we’ll see where we’re at at the end of the year.”
So, you showed up at Laguna and you had some issues. Then, you also had some issues at Utah. We thought that’s why you didn’t go to Sonoma. But then when you came to Pittsburgh, you sure did regroup. It went great from then on out.
Our problem at Laguna shouldn’t have happened. We broke a chain on the warmup lap. It was a brand-new chain. We put it on right before that weekend. I still have no idea why it broke. It wasn’t tight. It wasn’t loose. There was nothing wrong with it. It just broke. So that happened. Then we went to Utah, and we had a lot of motor problems. We still don’t really know why it happened because it was the same motor we had at Laguna and we had no problems with it. But, at Utah, the piston started hitting the head, so we broke two pistons. Xavier Zayat was there riding one of Mike Copoulos’s bikes, and something happened to the bottom end of his bike in first practice, so their bike was just sitting there. So I called up Copoulos and said, “Hey, buddy, I need to borrow some parts off your bike.” So if it hadn’t been for that, I wouldn’t have even been able to race Utah.
The camaraderie in the whole paddock is terrific, but we hear about a lot of cool stuff that happens among the Twins Cup riders. I know Chris Parrish is a good friend of yours, and all of you seem to have great camaraderie within that class.
Oh, yeah, absolutely. After I crashed at Utah, the bodywork on my bike was destroyed. It actually split the lower right down the middle, and we were able to take the entire fairing off in one piece. Right after the race, before we even left Utah, I went over to Parrish and asked him, “Hey man, how much are you going to charge me to get some new bodywork and paint?” So we went in together and got some from Hot Bodies. They were doing a two-for-one deal, that way it would be cheaper for both of us. Then he painted it for free, which is saying a lot. That’s the guy who ended up winning the championship, and I’m out there trying to take his spot. So I thought that was really cool. I’ve known Parrish for a little while. He was real good friends with some good friends of mine, so I always knew he was a good dude. I always liked him. We went to Vegas. Parrish and his girlfriend Beth and I went down the strip, and we spent some time with Jason Madama, too. I actually picked up Madama from the airport and gave him a ride to his hotel. That’s what I like about road racing. Everyone in that paddock is friendly. No matter what you need, you can go and ask. If you’re on a Yamaha, you can go ask the Westby team or the Graves team or whatever. “Hey, I need this part.” If they’ve got it, they’re going to let you have it. The M4 Suzuki team, that was big for me this year. We weren’t very well prepared for the first few rounds we did, and they helped us with whatever we needed. I’d go see Rob Silva and Keith Perry, and they’d give me whatever I needed.
You weren’t a newcomer to road racing this year. You jumped back on the horse, so to speak, after a couple years. Tell us about your racing career. How it started and what you accomplished.
I actually grew up riding motocross, but I got tired of getting hurt all the time. I had a couple concussions and some injuries. I told my dad, “I want to go do something different.” We were actually looking into getting into go-karts. We were going to race dirt go-karts. My dad raced dirt cars when I was younger. That’s kind of the direction we were leaning. We were actually at a track looking at a go-kart that we were going to buy and he looked at me and he said, “Hey, I found this thing called a SEMRA. You want to try it out?” I was like, “What is it?” He was like, “Basically we just put street tires on your YZ85 and go ride on asphalt go-kart tracks.” I was like, “Yeah, sure. Let’s do that!” So I remember going to my first race. It was in Elgin, South Carolina. I was terrified. That was in 2005 when I was twelve years old. I went to my first race and was sitting there thinking, “I’ve never crashed on the asphalt. I don’t know what that feels like. Is it going to hurt?” I learned a lot that year and ended up winning the SEMRA GP 85cc championship. So the next year we got on a 125 and did some WERA stuff. That was in 2006. I ended up winning quite a bit. Racing with people like Miles Thornton. At the end of 2006, we got invited to do the tryout for the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup in Valencia. I only raced a 125 for a year and was still learning a lot. So to me it was more about the experience of we’re going to go to Valencia and Spain, and that’s going to be awesome. Even if I didn’t make it, I got to go to Valencia and ride somebody else’s bike. So, I remember they put a press release out saying that Cameron Beaubier got in. Then, a couple days later, they put one out saying JD Beach got in. This is such a clear memory to me. It was really early in the morning, and I was lying in bed about to get up and get ready for school, and I heard my dad tell my mom, “I don’t think he made it.” We hadn’t heard anything. Hadn’t gotten an email, nothing. I was so bummed out. I didn’t say anything to them, but I was so bummed out. I went to school and got a call halfway through the day from my dad who said, “Hey, you made it!” I wish things had gone different in the Rookies Cup for me, though. It was a real up-and-down season. I’m not here to play the blame game, but I either was doing really well or my bike would break. But, I was the first American to podium at Mugello, and I was the first American to cross the finish line at Assen where I also got on the podium. The whole year, Cameron Beaubier was consistently right up towards the front. I had a lot of fun traveling with JD and Cameron. I was too young to really appreciate it at the time, but it was awesome. So the next year, I come back to the States and raced an M4 Suzuki for John Ulrich and also did some WERA regional races and won a few of them. I won a national championship at the WERA Grand National Finals. I won the very first Roadracing World young guns award. At the end of 2008, I got to do a wild card ride with Veloce Racing at Indianapolis the first year that MotoGP went there. I was on the 125 so were the first practice. Somebody said that a motorcycle hadn’t been on that track in like 80 years or something, so I made sure that I was the first one sitting at the end of pit row, so whenever they let us loose for the first practice I could say that I made the first lap at Indianapolis on a motorcycle. It wasn’t the greatest weekend, though. I qualified for the race. I can’t remember which hurricane it was, but the tail end of a hurricane came through there. The race was a monsoon. I just kind of went out there, rode, finished the race.
Back to the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup for a minute. We want to emphasize the fact that there was the Red Bull US Rookies Cup and there was the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup. You tried out for and got into the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup, which is the world championship.
Yes, it was the first year for the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup. Cameron Beaubier, JD Beach, and I were the three Americans who were selected.
We’ve talked to Mathew Scholtz about when he raced in the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup in 2008, the year after you did. He said it wasn’t an easy thing to be involved in. It was all the same bikes, but it wasn’t really a level playing field.
Here’s the thing. People always say that spec racing is the way to go, and spec racing creates good racing. I’ll give them that. I don’t know how they’re doing it these days, but back then, that first year, they had a lot of apprentice mechanics. So all the bikes are the same, but you’re limited by how good your mechanic is. So, I had a lot of just stupid, little mistakes that shouldn’t have happened. My mechanic and I had a good relationship in the beginning, but halfway through the year that kind of started dwindling down a little bit, as a bunch of little mechanical problems started happening. We were racing against Johann Zarco, who won the championship that year. Lorenzo Savadori, Luis Salom. We were racing against some big names who went on to be stars. Beaubier, too.
And JD Beach, who is now going to race a Superbike.
Absolutely. I think that was actually JD’s first year on a road race bike. We did a test in Italy before the season started and JD was struggling a little bit. He was towards the back in most of the sessions. I followed him for a couple laps and he wasn’t going real fast. I came in and I told my dad, “That kid’s going to be fast one day. I have never in my life seen anybody that could back in a 125. You don’t do that on a 125.” He had that thing sliding around everywhere. I was like, “He’s got a talent. He really does. He just needs to learn where to go faster and how to get faster in certain parts.”
That’s a great story because a 125 is all about corner speed, except when JD Beach is riding the bike.
Yeah. He was trying to flat track the bike. I was amazed just following him around and seeing what he was doing, even at that point. I look back, and I think that’s what hit me the most. It weighed on me for the last few years. I was looking at people like Leandro Mercado who raced in World Superbike this year. He came over here and was racing in the Supersport class back in the AMA Pro days. I had a couple good races with him. And people like PJ Jacobsen. I had some great races with him on a 125, and he raced in World Superbike, too. Jake Gagne, I had raced with him. He raced World Superbike. I’d seen all these riders that I had raced against who were on the world stage now doing decent, doing good in places. Zarco, and all these people. Not only had I raced them, but I had beaten them at some point. That started weighing on me. I kind of walked away before I probably should have. I kind of went a different direction in my life. I got married, had a kid, had normal jobs. I would try to go that way. Just establish a life for myself. That’s the reason that I had trouble watching the racing for so long. Because, even in MotoAmerica I was seeing Beaubier, JD, and Jake Lewis. Don’t get me wrong. I’m super proud that all those guys have gotten to where they are now, but I raced against all of them when I was younger. I’m not saying that I was better than any of them, but I had beaten them at certain points.
These are all your peers, your contemporaries.
Right. These are the guys that are being successful when in the back of my head I’m thinking, “I know at one time I could beat these guys.” I got on a streetbike and something in my head snapped. I was like, “I’ve got to go do this again. This whole job thing, this isn’t who I am.” It took a lot of maturing. It took a lot of growing up. I had to get a little stronger mentally. I had to grow up a little bit. I think that’s the biggest thing. Being off the bike for so long, I think it helped me a lot. But I got back on a bike this year and the mistakes, the bad habits that I had before, I was able to just change them. It didn’t get in my head. I was able to go out and say, “This is where I need to go faster. This is where I’m losing time.” I was able to go back out and go faster in those sections.
How old are you?
You’re the same age as Cameron Beaubier who just turned 26 last week.
Yeah, I’m only three months older than him.
You’re still young for a rider.
Yeah, I am. That’s been the hardest thing to swallow this year. I’m 26. I’m young, but in racing, half my career is gone. I’d love to go race World Superbike one day, but being 26 now and starting over, that’s going to be really hard.
Let’s talk about this coming year. It sounds like you’re all in on doing another year of Twins Cup. Is that the plan?
Yeah. That’s something I’ve never actually done. Throughout my whole career, I was never able to get enough financial help to do all of the professional rounds. So, next year, that’s our plan. We’re going to do all the MotoAmerica races in the Twins Cup class.
On a Suzuki SV650?
Yes. We’ve kind of bounced around the idea of getting a 600 or a 1000 to do maybe Supersport or Stock 1000 or something like that. But, our focus is definitely on the Twins Cup class for next year. I’m hoping some Junior Cup guys will come in there, and we’ll get more people on the grid. I know Parrish and Madama are both planning on doing the whole season. I’m not saying that it’s going to be easy, but I feel like, if I could do all the rounds and get in better shape, I think I could contend for the championship, and that’s obviously the goal. Right now, I got to lose some weight and get back in shape. Since I showed up at Laguna, I’ve lost 20 pounds. I’ve got about another 15 to lose.
I know Chris Parrish was losing weight during the season, too; at least he was talking about it. Draik Beauchamp is also going to race in the class, too, from what I understand?
Yeah. My understanding is he’s going to go do the whole series with Andy Palmer on a Yamaha MT-07.
Draik was a Junior Cup rider who obviously has moved up and is using the Twins Cup as an intermediary class or a rung on the ladder before moving up to Supersport. We’ve heard differing opinions on that. What do you think? Do you think Twins Cup is a good development class to prepare for Supersport?
I’m going to start by saying this: I have nothing but respect for Josh Hayes. But, when he gave his opinion on it, it kind of made me mad a little bit. Like this dude, he doesn’t like us. And I’ve known Josh and Melissa for years. Then, he was on Pit Pass, and he kind of elaborated a little bit on it, and I really thought about what he was saying. He’s not wrong. He’s not completely right, but he’s not wrong. I get where he’s coming from. The Twins Cup class did have kind of a club feel to it this year. And I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that. It was the first year. You’ve got to grow the class to get everybody out there. Some people were saying that it was the sideshow class, and nobody takes us seriously. But, until you show up and show them that you’re taking it seriously, they’re not going to. I don’t mean that in a bad way. I want to see the Twins Cup class bloom. When I got on an SV650 this year, I was amazed at how similar it handled to my old GSX-R600. Kind of going into the turn and across the middle of the turn definitely, it felt just like my GSX-R600. There’s not much power on an SV, and it’s really, really hard to spin up the rear time. It’s not impossible, and if you’re fast you’re going to, but when I went from a 125 to a 600, I was terrified for the first day because I had never ridden anything that fast. And I got up to speed pretty quick. I think it’s hard for the average person to get off a little bike like that and jump straight to a 600. I really do believe the Twins Cup class is the perfect bridge between Junior Cup and Supersport because you’re getting on a bike that’s geometrically close to a 600 and handles kind of like a 600. It’s got more power than the Junior Cup bikes, but it’s not really enough power to get you in trouble.
Junior Cup wasn’t around when you first started. What do you think of the class? Do you wish they had Junior Cup when you started out?
Yeah, absolutely. When I started, and I did my first pro race, I raced against people like Danny Eslick and Dane Westby and Martin Cardenas, people like that. That was intimidating. Now, they have a class for younger riders to get into, and get familiar with the paddock, which is important at that age. And you got to feel like you belong there before your confidence really starts coming up. And not only that, it’s provided some wonderful racing. I always make sure to watch the Junior Cup races. I’m really excited for that class. I’m excited for all the classes. I think MotoAmerica’s class structure is really good right now. But definitely having a class for younger riders to come in and kind of put their name in the paddock, make their name known, get comfortable there, feel like they’re welcome there, I think that’s really big. If you get them comfortable at that age, that’s going to bring their confidence up to where, when they do get to the Supersport class or whatever, they’re going to be able to go faster quicker.
Let’s talk about this coming year. Unless you’re being paid by a factory ride, most everybody who races in this series or road races in MotoAmerica or pretty much anywhere around the world, needs an influx of money. You’ve got some interesting plans for that. Can you talk about what you’re going to be doing this year as far as sponsorships or how you’re going to fund your racing?
Absolutely. Every season all professional racers, as soon as the season is over they’re trying to find sponsors. They’re sending out resumes. They’re working. A lot of people don’t realize the off-season is really just as busy as the race season because you’re trying to improve your program for the next year, and you’re also trying to find sponsors and all sorts of stuff. That was a big reason why I walked away when I did when I was 20. We got to the point where we couldn’t really afford it anymore, and I couldn’t find any help. So, I did the normal thing. I put a really good resume together with the help of a graphic designer, who helped me out a lot. She helped me put a resume together that looked really good. I sent it out to a bunch of people and I didn’t get any answers. No responses from anybody. So I was like, you know what? I’m going to take this into my own hands, do something a little bit non-traditional and sponsor myself. So, I had this idea to start a website and create an online business selling motorcycle gear, parts, accessories, everything you could possibly need. Everything. I got set up as a dealer for Western Power Sports, and I started a website called MotoUniverse.net. I’m hoping I can really grow that to the point where maybe I can live off of it, but to where it would actually fund my racing. I’m going to use that. That’s going to be the title sponsor for the team. I’ve got some other stuff kind of in my back pocket. A good buddy of mine is going to do the Baja 1000 next year, and he’s going to race for MotoUniverse.net. I’d really like to get into flat track, too. I’m actually going to Rob McLendon’s next week to do my first flat track race. He’s doing a big flat track race, the Pan Handle Clash, at the end of January. I offered up a $300 purse for the winner of the Open Pro class. I’ve got people I grew up with who race supercross and outdoor stuff. I’m going to try to talk to them. Find somebody in flat track. Find somebody here doing off-road stuff, whatever. I’d like to get my name in every aspect, every discipline of the sport and sponsor people and kind of grow like that. But the way I see it, you can go give your money to one of those multi-million dollar websites like Rocky Mountain ATV or whatever, and you’re giving money to some dude who is already a millionaire. Or you could come shop with me. I’m going to give you the best deal I can. I always look at the price of stuff on the other websites. So, if they’re selling something for 40% off, I’m going to sell it for 40% off so, too. You’re helping the industry. You’re helping people go racing. The money is going right back into the industry because however much money I make doing this, it’s going to go right back into my racing program. It’s going to go into other people’s racing programs. Just this morning, I launched the website out. I’m still working on it, and I’ve still got a lot of work to do on it, but we have a lot of marketing plans, too. We’re going to do some product review videos. We’re going to do some fun, entertaining videos. Maybe if we can get everything together we’re going to start doing a podcast, like a MotoUniverse podcast where we’re just going to talk about everything inside of the motorcycling world and really try to put the name out there so we can get this thing to grow.
It’s a catchy name. So, next year you’ll have a good-sized MotoUniverse logo on the side of your bike?
That’s pretty great.
I’ve got sponsors, too. I don’t want it to sound like I’m doing it all by myself. I’ve got some sponsors. I’ve got people helping me. I’ve got Arai helmets. I’ve been hooked up with them since I did the Rookies Cup in 2007, so I’ve had 11 years with them. I’ve still got sponsors. I’ve got something that I’m working on with Jonathan Farmer at VO2Leathers. I’m going to start working with him. Been wearing their leathers. Oakley, we’re working out some stuff for some motocross gear that we’re going to try to put out. I’ve got my foot in that real deep. I do appreciate everyone who is working with me, but these days, it’s really hard to find financial help.
You’ve got to be resourceful, which you’re certainly doing. We’ve talked to Kyle Wyman about how he elevates one of his sponsors per round. He has a pool of sponsors with the idea that he’s going to feature different ones at each round, so that’s an interesting way to handle it. You’re doing it your own way with an e-commerce solution and your website MotoUniverse.net. Let’s talk about next year. You’re all-in on Twins Cup and will race all the rounds. I’m sure you’re happy that MotoAmerica has added a couple extra races.
Yeah, absolutely. I’m really excited that, for Twins Cup, they’re doing it at Road Atlanta and Pittsburgh. I haven’t been to Road Atlanta since 2012, but that was always one of my favorite tracks. I always felt really good there. So I’m excited about that. And Pittsburgh, this year was the first year I had even been to Pittsburgh, and I fell in love with that place right off the bat. That place is amazing. The asphalt is wonderful. I told my dad I’ve never been on a track this smooth.
For now, let’s assume that you win the championship in Twins Cup next year. You’re 26. Do you think you’re going to maybe move up to Supersport or Stock 1000?
I’ve kind of got a five-year plan.
Let’s hear it.
When I say I’ve got a five-year plan, I’ve got a goal of where I want to be at the end of five years and I’ve got an idea of how I can get there. I’m going to do the Twins Cup next year with the hopes to win a championship. It would be awesome to put that on my resume and be able to say that I won a MotoAmerica championship. I think there’s going to be some pretty stout names out there next year, so it will be something I’m going to have to earn. But, definitely for 2020 at least, I want to be in Supersport. We’ve been talking about putting a Stock 1000 bike together, too, just because the contingency is so good in that class. Eventually, I want to get on a Superbike. I’ve never ridden a Superbike, and that’s where I want to get to. Like I said earlier, I would love to get to World Superbike one day, but I’m not going to get into World Superbike racing a 600 or a Twins Cup bike. The Superbike class right now is stacked. There are some really good riders out there on some really good bikes. I know I’m going to have to establish myself a little bit more to really get competitive in that class, but definitely, I want to get on a Superbike as quickly as possible.
You mentioned about the money. Talking to Travis Wyman before, that’s one of the big reasons why he raced a BMW in Stock 1000 last year. BMW’s contingency support program is pretty solid.
I know Chris Parrish will attest to this, too. It got really difficult for us to make all these races. Like I said, I didn’t finish the first two races I entered, and we spent a lot of money to get to those two races. So, it made it hard. But once that contingency money and that purse money started flowing in, it made it a little bit easier. We’ve got the bike now. We don’t really have to put much more money into the bike to get it to where we want it. Travel expenses for the first couple races might be kind of hard, but the Suzuki pay is so good this year. In MotoAmerica we’ve got a nice little purse up there. Really, you could break even in the Twins Cup class. Even to put a championship effort out there, you could win a championship and come out without it really costing you money at the end of the year. There are a couple of brands that are paying really good contingency support in Stock 1000 and Superbike. That’s definitely intriguing to me.
You’re a great ambassador for MotoAmerica, and you are a walking testimonial to not give up on your dreams. We’re glad you jumped back into it. It’s good to know that with the solid background you had, you’re able to pick up where you left off. Having the website is terrific, as well. All the best to you next year, and we’ll keep watching your career for sure.
I appreciate it. I would like to say one thing to kind of cap it off. Anybody out there who has a dream, they need to grab it and go. My buddy who is doing the Baja 1000, he’s not a professional racer. He’s a local woods rider. Nothing super special about him, but he had a dream to go do Baja. I’ve kind of worked with him a little bit and he’s going to go do that. This is what I told him, this is what I tell everybody. If you have a dream and you’re not doing everything you can to chase that dream, then why are you here on this earth? I’m a firm believer that we’re not all here just to work 9-5 and go pay the government half our money. I honestly believe that everyone on this earth has a talent that may not necessarily make them famous, but they’ve got a talent that they can go out there and make something of themselves. It’s up to the people who are willing to put in the effort that really I think at the end of their life they’re going to be able to look back and say, “I did everything I could.” I think that’s really important.