This weekend in Seattle Kevin Windham won his 17th career Supercross race on what could easily be considered one of the toughest tracks of all time. The veteran racer has no plans of hanging it up anytime soon, saying he plans on racing until 2014. MotoUSA caught up with Kevin yesterday afternoon at his home in Mississippi.
Kevin, first off, congratulations on your win Saturday night.
K-Dub won his first race in two years on a brutal track in Seattle. Can he get another in Salt Lake City?
Thank you. It was just an incredible night. We had been close; the GEICO Powersports team had been closing in on it. To finally get it done near the end of the 2010 season and the way 2009 went for us, it just really feels good to get one and to look forward to the next two. I’m looking to finish out the season with some steam.
It seems you had been on the edge of getting a win for a while. You have been killing it in practice and had a few podiums. Did you think it was just a matter of time this season?
It kind of felt like we were close, and sometimes when you haven’t won in a while, going back two years for me, it starts getting tougher and tougher. I think a lot of it for us was we weren’t giving ourselves a good opportunity from the start. I wasn’t getting great starts, and coming from behind is tough. We made a clutch change going into that weekend (Seattle), and the team was confident in the change. It was a little bit stressful because we didn’t get a good chance to test it with the abbreviated practice schedule and track conditions that wasn’t a mud race but wasn’t dry by any stretch of the imagination. We went into it with me trusting their expertise, and it worked. We got two holeshots and won the race.
Take us through the race. You blasted the holeshot and then gapped the field pretty good. It looked like everything clicked for you that night.
Windham led the main event from the get-go, grabbing the holeshot and never looking back.
It’s crazy. I was talking to the team after the race, and I was saying that I finished some of the races this year feeling like I rode some of the hardest races of my career and just mustered up a sixth. You have those races that are hard, and you don’t get the position you think you were capable of getting. And then all of a sudden you have a weekend like this weekend where, honestly, just from start to finish there were no problems. You hate to say it was easy; it’s never easy. The track was treacherous, even on the 20th lap it was like, “don’t blow it in this whoop section.” But in hindsight, the wins usually come easier than the place you would think it would be easy. Looking back, it was a great weekend for us.
In Seattle you told me about your plan to continue racing until 2014. By then you’ll be racing guys that weren’t even born before you started racing professionally.
It’s already that way; well, just getting there with the current round of Lites riders. When I talk to Trey Canard and Barcia, I think those are the last of the generation of riders that were alive when I started racing pro. I’ve already started thinking about that, and it’s funny talking to these kids that don’t even remember some of my Lites wins because they were too young . I take it as a testament to my career and I feel blessed to be able to still be out there doing what I love.
So what’s your secret or motivation to be this successful for this long?
With a plan to race until 2014, we could see Windham on the podium a few more times before he retires.
This sport is tough. When you look back at the things I was doing as a 16-year-old kid from a 30-year-old’s perspective, I felt like I was a man. You know, going to France and Japan racing and making way more money than a 16-year-old should be making, it’s crazy. But when you’re dealing with a sport that calls you old when you’re 30, you have to start at an early age. The things that I’ve gone though and the changes in life that happen growing up from 16 to 32 is a big gap, and I’ve done a lot of changing. I’m just lucky to have weathered the storm. I’ve made some terrible decisions in my career. Some of them were because I was young, and you have to kind of mess up sometimes to come out on the backside as a stronger person. Right now, to answer your question, why am I still up here is fear. I don’t want to be a new person. I’ve been a motorcycle rider since I was three. When I lose that, I’m losing a huge part of my life. I think I’ll find a way to deal with it by sticking around in some fashion. The proof is in the pudding with team managers like Roger DeCoster, Eric Kehoe, and now Mike LaRocco doing our team; it’s very apparent whatever it is that gets us into the sport runs deep, and it’s something that you really can’t get rid of.
So do think having the experience of being a former racer helps in being a team manager? Having them know what it’s like to line up and lay it on the line?
It’s hard to say you couldn’t be a team manager by not having a racing career of some sort, but I can tell you a lot of times in our sport it’s not necessarily about the numbers. It doesn’t always have to make sense. It’s just the passion and the love for what you’re doing. Nine times out of ten that’s what gets you through. It’s a really die-hard group of people who are very passionate that take the cake whenever you are trying to get the job done.
It seems like you really enjoy the opening ceremonies, just as the crowd enjoys your part in them.
Windham's opening ceremony rides always gets the crowd pumped up for the night's events.
I do, and I really take pride in my opening ceremonies. The nose-wheelie has been around for a long time, and the crowd really enjoys it so I’m going to continue to do that. Recently it’s funny; I’m walking the track and looking off to the side. Our team manager will be looking at me like, “What are you looking at?” and I’m like,” I’m trying to plan out what I’m going to do for opening ceremonies.” There’s the whole aspect of racing and the preparation trying to win, and then there’s the opening ceremonies thing. It’s an opportunity to let my hair down and do whatever I want. To hear the feedback from the fans, it just feels good. They’re out there for the love of the sport, and I want to try to give them their money’s worth both during the race and during the opening ceremonies. I get so fired up, it’s almost like I can’t contain myself still to this day. With the fireworks, the announcements they do, the national anthem, and everything else that goes into the opening ceremonies it still raises the hair on the back of my neck.