After hanging up his Fox helmet, Ricky Carmichael now races trucks in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.
Ricky Carmichael is without question one of the greatest dirt bike racers the world has ever seen. During his 11 year career as a professional motorcycle racer, the American rider achieved things that most professional racers could only dream of. One hundred and fifty race wins, including two “perfect” seasons in which he won 24 consecutive motos. It’s this kind of raw talent and determination that helped him earn 16 combined AMA Motocross and Supercross Championships.
During his racing career, Carmichael competed aboard a number of different motorcycles (both two and four-stroke) and teams including Kawasaki and Honda before deciding to finish his career with Suzuki. After retiring in 2007 to pursue new challenges in the realm of four wheels, the 30-year-old remains close to the sport that brought him so much success.
We recently had the chance to talk to him at the Suzuki dealer meeting where the Japanese powersports manufacturer announced the all-new GSX-R600 and 750 sportbike that you can read about in the 2011 Suzuki GSX-R600 and GSX-R750 First Look.
WHAT HE’S BEEN UP TO:
Just doing my NASCAR endeavor, I race the Camping World Truck Series [No. 4 Monster Energy Chevrolet Silverado for Turner Motorsports]. I’m just enjoying that and having a good time. At the same time I’ve been busy with motocross—doing stuff with my sponsors, I love them so much. They do a lot for me. Obviously motocross is the sport that made me and gave me every opportunity that I’ve ever had. So we’re here at the Suzuki convention. A lot of cool new stuff coming out and basically I’m here to sign autographs, see all the dealers. It’s so cool to come out to these things.
Carmichael joined Team Suzuki n 2005 and was instrumental in developing its then all-new RM-Z450 four-stroke motocrosser. Here he is with Mike Gosselaar—one of the best dirt bike mechanics in the business.
RELATIONSHIP WITH SUZUKI:
My relationship with Suzuki is very, very strong. I started riding with them in 2005. And we climbed back up the ladder and got them back up to winning. It was a team effort. They put a lot of support in me and the program to get it to where it is today and for me to be a part of that is special to me. I’m there for them in marketing, testing, racing—whatever it might be. I’m there to help them and for them to use me in any way they want to. I feel that it’s my obligation to do that, so that’s my roll—as an advisor.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE A TEAM ADVISOR:
Basically a little more involved as far as decisions with the race team. Telling them what I think they need or things that I think could help them and with the riders as well. Giving them more advice and just trying to be involved and being more a part of it.
DID YOU HAVE A LOT OF INPUT DURING THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE CHAMPIONSHIP-WINNING RM-Z 450:
They basically did most of the development on the EFI system on the current RM-Z. But yeah, I was able to test it and give them my input and tell them what I thought. I’ve always felt like I’ve had a great relationship with the Japanese engineers and the head guys in charge which I think is very important. You have to be on the same page as those guys. So I worked hard at establishing a relationship with them so we’re on the same page.
WERE ENGINEERS OPEN TO YOUR FEEDBACK:
Absolutely. Obviously everybody has their own opinion on what they think is better but they always listened. Some things they agreed with and some things they didn’t. But they couldn’t just make it good for me they had to make it good for the consumer. But most of the time we were on the same page.
RELATIONSHIP WITH REIGNING AMA SUPERCROSS / MOTOCROSS CHAMP RYAN DUNGEY:
After officially retiring from motocross racing, Carmichael began racing in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. As they say: with age, comes a cage (above). During his reign of terror RC4 was virtually untouchable in Supercross and Motocross (center). Roger DeCoster (below left) and RC4 hang out at the 2007 Motocross de Nations.
Ryan Dungey is a great rider. He had a great base to start with before I even got involved with him, or had to tell him anything. He’s got a great support group around him. We live in the same town. What was my track is now his. I like going out there and watching him ride and if he ever needs help, which he doesn’t too often. I’m there to offer it to him. I definitely don’t need to tell him how to ride—he’s a great rider. Just more along the lines of things to expect like this year, as he was going through his great season, I was like ‘hey expect these things’. Anywhere I can help I’m glad to do it.
HOW MUCH DIRT BIKE RIDING DO YOU DO THESE DAYS:
Not much maybe once every two weeks. I’m just so busy with other things. I wish I could ride more. As I’ve moved on from racing it’s hard to still ride all the time. If I was going to ride all the time I may as well race [laughs].
RACING 700 HORSEPOWER TRUCKS VERSUS 60 HORSEPOWER DIRT BIKES:
The difference between two wheels and four wheels—there is so much parity. There are 15 or 20 guys that could win—much different than motorcycle racing. And for me it takes a lot more mental concentration so that’s been the biggest thing and those guys have been doing it for a long time. I’m starting new. I enjoy the challenge. It’s fun for me, it’s new and I’m always learning.
ROGER DECOSTER LEAVING SUZUKI:
I don’t know the full story. Obviously I have a great relationship with Roger and Suzuki. At the end of the day Roger made his decision. And I’m sure he did what he had to do. But Suzuki will go on. There are other great guys out there. They are a racing company and they are here to win races. They’ll do what they need to do to stay where they’re at which is winning championships.