Grant Langston in action at Millville in ’07. He would go on to win the AMA Motocross Championship that year.
Throughout his career as a professional dirt bike motorcycle racer, Grant Langston has seen his share of highs and lows both on and off the racetrack. He has been one of the few racers that have achieved the sheer variety of racing championships and titles. He’s conquered the 125cc World Championship, both the East and West 125c AMA Supercross and Motocross series, AMA Supermoto Unlimited and most recently an AMA Motocross Championship in ’07.
The lows came soon after when his son, Devon, was diagnosed with autism. More bad news came when he began having vision problems which eventually would be identified as a melanoma in his left eye. Not only did this compromise his career but his life if untreated. In the years since, Cool G is on the road to recovery and even raced Supercross this year under the J-Law racing banner until a humongous crash at Daytona prematurely ended his season.
At the end of this summer he officially announced his retirement but still managed to race a few international events including the recently held Bercy Supercross (find out more in the 2010 Bercy Supercross Results). In addition to his Southern California-based Langston Motorsports dealership, he has formed the Langston Racing Academy in which he’ll coach persons looking to become better at the sport that has given him so much over the years.
We recently had the opportunity to talk with Langston at Milestone Motocross Park where he was a guest of Yamaha for the 2011 Yamaha YZ two-stroke press event. In our multi-part conversation (read part one in the Grant Langston AMA Supercross Interview) we talked about a range of different subjects and we have divided it into a three-part interview that will be coming out in anticipation to the start off the 2011 AMA Supercross season in Anaheim, California on January 8, 2011.
HIS TYPICAL WORK WEEK (LANGSTON OWNS LANGSTON MOTORSPORTS, A MOTORCYCLE DEALERSHP IN PERRIS, CALIFORNIA):
I do a lot of meetings and discussions and things behind the scenes. I’m not always physically in the store selling bikes or writing-up purchases. I go in there because most people come in and see me at work and they want to come in for an autograph. Sometimes my parents will say Grant will be there Friday and my mom will call me and say: “hey I’ve told like five people that you’re coming in Friday. What time can you come in?”
I’ve also been doing the coaching stuff and just been working on trying to sell property, sell this, organize that. It’s so weird—you put off so much stuff when you’re racing because it isn’t your priority then you get to a point when you’re like, I need to solve all this. Like I said, cleaning out the garage and closets, and I’ve even started packing boxes getting ready to move.
PRICING STRUCTURE AT HIS NEW COACHING SCHOOL (LANGSTON RACING ACADEMY):
It depends. If it’s just a private lesson it’s going to cost more. If you bring a friend or a small group and I can work with them. That way it’s not killing people financially, but it’s also worth my while. A tank of gas to the track and back with lunch is like $50 to $60 already. When people are like ‘how about $100 for a lesson’, you don’t want to be rude and say it’s not worth my while, but that’s why I say bring a friend then it becomes worth it. A lot of people struggle with money and coaching is typically pretty heavy for someone so I try and work with people.
WHY HE BEGAN COACHING:
I enjoy it, the kid enjoy it half the time they just want to ask questions like is Ryan Dungey cool? Or what was it like racing with Chad [Reed]? And the parents always feel like they’re getting something out of it too. At the end of the day I’m not stroking my own ego but I do believe that I’m very good at coaching. I’ve been through it. I’ve ridden a lot of bikes all over the world. I really have a diverse background whether it’s sand, hard pack, Supercross, outdoor.
I enjoy when people enjoy receiving the knowledge. You feel important and that you’re helping someone. I get a kick out of it and it’s something I really want to do because I’m not an office guy. I want to be out in the sun with a hat on outside at the track. That’s what I enjoy, that’s what I grew up with. I want to keep pursuing that and hope that will become something that is taking up my time and keeps me busy because that’s important. I’m at that stage where I’m getting bored and that’s not a good thing because I either spend money or half a little too much casual drinking time [smiles].
HIS ASSESSMENT OF THE ’11 SUPERCROSS SEASON:
What I’m excited about is I think there are a handful of guys that genuinely believe they can win. And it’s been a long time since we’ve had that. I really believe that we’re going have… we’ve said this in years past but it has the making to be one of the best series ever. There is a lot of depth and a lot of guys that can win. I hope no one gets hurt because unfortunately that took away a little bit from the series.
I think it’s going to be a good year for many reasons. People have been saying things about James [Stewart] and where his heart is. For him it’s a chance to come back and say I’m still James Stewart. For Ryan Dungey I think he can go and show ‘hey, I won last year, it wasn’t my fault they got hurt and I can do it again when they’re here.’ For [Ryan] Villopoto I think he believes that he could have or should have won so now he has an opportunity to redeem himself. And for Chad [Reed], he has a chip on his shoulder. A lot of people are thinking he might get his ass handed to him. So knowing him, he’s feeding off that. He’s at home mad. Just doing motos and pounding laps and going for it—he’s a hard worker too. That right there for me says we’re in for a treat. And not taking away from any of the other guys you’ve got a lot of guys going fast: [Justin] Brayton, [Josh} Grant, [Davi] Millsaps, [Andrew] Short, [Austin] Stroupe, [Nick] Wey… then you have some euro guys.
Langston rips around Milestone Motocross Park at the controls of the 2011 Yamaha YZ125 and YZ250 two-strokes.
Unfortunately [Marvin] Musquin (2010 MX2 World Champion) just got hurt. It would have good to see him at Anaheim 1. It would have been cool to have a World Championship move over straight into Supercross. The last time that happened was with me in 2001. So I just think it would have been cool to see what changed in 10 years since. Are the euros good enough to cut it? He’s talented. The French guys tend to take to Supercross pretty well. They have a Supercross series and they’re guys in the south of France with Supercross tracks. So they get to ride on them at a younger age. I’d like to see Cairoli over here at some point. I think he has a little work to do in Supercross but in outdoor the guys a four-time world champion—he can ride. I think the series has the making to be awesome.
Now I feel like a fan from the outside that is going to watching and cheering. I look forward to it and I hope we don’t get let down with injuries because that really does take the fun out of it. That’s why I’ve tried to talk to Feld Entertainment about having a better system when guys are complaining to multiple people with different opinions. There needs to be a better chain of command. There are and were certain things that should have been fixed that could have prevented injuries that were discussed beforehand.
That’s why so many people got so bent out of shape because they kind of felt like nothing was done when really it just got lost in translation. I hope to help them a little bit with developing a better system. If we can keep the tracks safe—I’m not talking about making the tracks easy—but run-off area, tuff-blocks where they should be, where they shouldn’t. Should they be staked in? Or should they roll off when bumped? There are a lot of little things that people don’t really look into. And if you do all this stuff and keep guys out on the track. People out there might not have the money to buy a dirt bike but they’ve got $30 to go watch a race and if you keep the series exciting and have lots of guys that can win you’re going to have sold out stadiums and better ratings which will in-turn bring in outside corporate money which is going to really help the sport…
Stay tuned for the third part of our exclusive interview with Langston next week.