Even though he’s only ridden flat track a few times, sportbike stunt rider Aaron Colton made the main event in the 450 Singles class in Salinas, California.
We’ve all heard of road race guys riding motocross or dirt bike racers cross-training and racing supermoto, but has anyone heard of a sportbike freestyle rider taking his skills to an AMA Flat Track Grand National? Meet professional Red Bull stunt rider Aaron Colton. He has been riding sportbike freestyle since the age of 13 and has already one XDL National Championship to his name. Not only did he show up to race Salinas flat track but he was talented enough to be in the main event of the Pro Singles Class Saturday on the TT Course. We caught up to a very excited Aaron after his main event:
I’m from the small city of Shakopee, Minnesota, and I just migrated my way out to Redlands, California. I’ve been living out here and I have pretty much no flat track background. Everything came from just popping wheelies and competing in my freestyle [sportbikes] and I was doing some road racing, too, but I’m not doing that anymore this year. Instead I’m focusing on the freestyle and I have been staying with Jimmy [Wood]. I kind of met him doing the whole road race deal and then staying with him got me influenced to do some dirt tracking. So I got a dirt tracker, did like four races, now I’m here [Salinas] and was just hoping to make the program. But instead I made the main, which is a pretty big deal, so I’m stoked! I mean, I crashed my brains out in the main but still finished up, after the restart, in 13th place. So, I mean, it went all right and I’m pretty stoked. If I can make the main two days in a row I would be pumped.
EXPLAIN YOUR SPORTBIKE FREESTYLE PROGRAM:
Well, the sportbike freestyle stuff is basically what I have been doing since I was 13 and I still do it, I still compete in it. I do a bunch of competitions throughout the year and a bunch of military tours and Red Bull events. It’s funny that with sports like this [flat track] no one expects someone that does the freestyle, wheelie-popping sport to crossover to sports like flat track and road racing. So it’s kind of cool to cross expose for some of my supporters and show people how broad my skills are. A lot of people take what I do for granted, like it’s kind of a side show. Then I come out and qualify for road races, come out to dirt tracks and qualify for that as well, so it’s probably a more rounded sport than most people give it credit for.
Basically this year I’m not doing the road racing and I’m just doing the flat track for fun. But I want to pump up my freestyle program as much as I possibly can, so I’d really like to get back into championship contention this year because I’m hurting a little bit after the first two rounds. I’d like to make a good showing and put my Red Bull freestyle program to its fullest potential, so I’m working on that then cross training on the dirt tracker whenever I can.
WHY RACE FLAT TRACK:
Well, I met up with Jimmy Wood through a buddy of mine, Corey Neuer, when I was racing. I met Corey doing some [Jason] Pridmore STAR schools. We were at Miller Motorsports Park for the whole week between the WERA national and the sportbike challenge, so we just hung out all week and all of a sudden I was just like ‘Hey man, I’m coming to Cali’ so I stayed with him for a couple of weeks and rode one of Southland Racing’s dirt trackers and it was totally awesome. From there I turned my Yamaha 250 into a dirt tracker, raced it once and I was hooked. I went out and bought a Honda 450 and had Jim Wood do the set-up on the suspension and the engine package and I came out and have just been riding. I’ve got about 14 hours now dirt tracking and I’m hooked.
ON TRAINING FOR RACING FLAT TRACK:
Basically I’ve just kind of studied a lot about the suspension and how that works as well as the engine package and things like that. Once I got all my set-up dialed I knew that I had a pretty good bike… what I think is national caliber and just raced whenever I could. What I did was come up to Hollister and stay with Hoop [Chris Canepa] and he taught me not to be a throttle jockey and hold the thing WFO. I spent some time at the TT and got some good laps in and then came out here and had a pretty good showing.
HOW YOUR FIRST NATIONAL WENT:
I was just stoked to make the night program. I was just worried that I was going to come out here and just squid noodle out all over the place. Then all of a sudden I went out and qualified 26th and that was all right. I did Okay in my heat and
Freestyle sportbike stunt rider Aaron Colton tries out AMA Flat Track racing at the Salinas, California round.
ran about mid-pack but when the semi came up I knew they were only taking the top-four. I really wanted to be there. After the restart I came around fourth, plucked one off for third, plucked one off for second, then I was trying to battle for first even though it was just a semi. I really wanted to win. Hayden Gilliam ended up taking it home but that race went awesome. It was one of the best races I ever had and I was just that much more stoked for the main.
I was super pumped and stoked to tell mom and pops and let everyone know that I came out here and you know, put it in the main. The main could have gone a little better. We had one restart, and the second red flag I was actually involved in. I just wadded my brains out on the back straightaway and I didn’t really expect that to happen. I broke two ribs in New York five weeks ago doing an event for Red Bull and I’ve been hurting ever since and I caught myself between the handlebar and ended up eating some dirt. I rolled around a little bit, then flopped like a fish, hopped back up, got the thing started, straightened the bars back out and still put an all right showing in for the main. Honestly, I don’t really know what place I got but to be in the main was the biggest thing and to do pretty well and pluck off a few people made me feel awesome.