This last weekend Owyhee Motorcycle Club up in Boise, Idaho they had a special guest come out to race at their Vet Nationals. “The Beast From The East,” Damon Bradshaw, showed up on a KTM 350 and tested his skills against the 25+ Pro class and the 30+ Pro class. On Saturday, Damon had some issues and DNF’ed some motos, but on Sunday, “The Beast From The East” was back on form and won all four motos on the 350. After the race, MotoXAddicts.com’s Brian Lueddeke sat down with Damon and asked what his plans are now that he’s back on the bike. To our surprise, we may be seeing Damon in action at some very cool motocross events in the very near future. Here’s how the conversation went down:
Damon, so you’re out at Owyhee Motorcycle Club in Boise, Idaho this weekend. Who talked you into this? Who’s supporting you this weekend?
You know, for the last several years—probably even since 2009 or even before that—I’ve wanted to ride KTM’s, whether it’s dual sport, trails and I also still like to do moto because it’s good exercise. For me—I’m 39—when I’m active and riding, my body doesn’t hurt nearly as bad as when I’m not doing anything or just normal life stuff. KTM has more of a broad lineup of bikes depending on what you want to do. I mean, if you’re a KTM guy and you walk into a shop, they’re going to have something that’s going to fit whatever you want to ride, whether it’s moto or—like the 350—you like a 450 and it’s too much for you, or you’re older now and you don’t want that much horsepower. You want to ride moto; they have that covered. If you want to ride off-road; they dominate the off-road market. Yamaha—who I was with my entire career—they just don’t offer anything for that off-road market. You can buy a bike and build it, it’s just a ton of money to try and get it to where you want it—or you can get a KTM off the showroom floor and ride it. So that’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, and it just hasn’t been the right situation with the right people around and talking to the right people at KTM.
So this year, I started talking to KTM, and I really wanted to make this happen—especially when Carl’s Cycles got KTMs. That really motivated me because I like Jack and we’ve done some business together before on Hondas. He gave me a couple Hondas. That was a little bit of Honda’s help and Carl’s help. So that’s pretty much how I ended up on the KTM. You know, KTM helped out a little bit, Carl’s Cycles helped out a ton and Western Power Sports and Fly Racing have helped me a lot. I can get gear from any company. I can go through Parts Unlimited or Tucker Rocky to get the same product, but I like helping a local company. The KTM thing is focused on a local level too. I want to help Carl’s Cycles sell motorcycles. That’s my goal. I would love for people to go into their dealership and say, “I watched Damon ride, and we talked about the bike, so this is the bike I want. This bike fits me, and I’m buying it because we talked about it.” That’s my goal in this whole thing. And also for it to possibly to turn into a National thing and not just a local thing with KTM. What we’re planning on—between myself, Jack and Carl’s Cycles—is putting together some rides. Whether it’s a ride day at a track—what track, I’m not sure—and some off-road rides. We want to advertise it through their shop, and whether it’s his best customers or whether we do it for the public, we’re not sure yet. The riding in Idaho is some of the best riding in the world.
What about your Monster Truck duties? Doesn’t that tie up a lot of your time?
You know, with Monster Truck stuff I’m really busy between the end of December and the first of April, and then it slows down. If I do European events, then I don’t have a lot of time to do other things. This year, I didn’t do Europe for Monster Trucks, so it gave me a lot of extra time. So that’s what kind of got this ball rolling. It got me wanting to do more riding, and the more riding I do, the more I want to do. I’ve already gotten an offer to do the Monster Cup in Vegas. That’s coming up real soon. That’s a lot for me to bite off and chew, especially at my age and where I’m at in life, but I’ve got a little less than two months to train for it, and I feel great on the bike. I’ve never said this before in anything, but I wouldn’t be going to the event to think I was going to win. That’s just out of my reach. My goal would be to go and qualify for the event—at least be in contention. That’s my goal. Those guys want to use it for advertising. If I do commit to doing it, I’m going to dedicate the next month and a half to training my butt off.
Isn’t it a different format for that event?
Yeah, it’s a three main event format all in the same night. They’re going to be ten laps a piece. The track is going to be based on more of an outdoor platform than a Supercross platform. So their goal is to make the whole track favor every motorcycle, whether it’s a two stroke 250, 250 four stroke, a 350 or a 450. That’s their goal. It sounds like a really fun event, and I kind of got to decide on what I’m going to do, but all that is how the whole KTM thing came about. It wasn’t that anything happened with Yamaha. Yamaha works on a little bit different program with their bikes. They want to give me a reduced rate on the bike, which is fine.
So they’ve changed the way they do it?
Yeah, they want to wash their hands of the motorcycle. I could have went to a Yamaha dealer around, but there’s really only been one dealer in this Valley that I would even deal with when it comes to Yamaha: Snake River. I wouldn’t go in there if there wasn’t another motorcycle within 500 miles of here. The main reason for the change to KTM, though, was the off-road portion of KTM.
So you’re talking about the Monster Cup, but I’m wondering if you’re planning on doing anymore Vet events like this one?
You know, if my schedule will work and everything works out, I’d like to go do one because I know they have them at some pretty cool tracks. If I keep doing what I’m doing with KTM, I should be in good enough shape. Maybe I’ll go and do the one at Glen Helen this year. It just depends on what kind of shape I’m in. I just don’t like going and not being prepared. So I think I’ll have enough time to get prepared for that. I think it’s some time in October.
I think you’re right—that it’s in October.
Yeah, so I might go down and do that. I think if KTM will help me and support me. That might be something I’ll go do. I didn’t realize when that big Vet race was down there. I would like to do more, especially as I get further along and get in shape. There’s a fine line for me. I feel like the speed is still there, but you have to let your upper body catch up, or you end up crashing and getting yourself hurt. It’s hard for me to register that because I want to go as fast as I can go. But it’s like, alright, you gotta let your strength catch up with your speed.
Right, building blocks. My next question is how long have you been riding now?
I got the bike not this past Tuesday, but the Tuesday before, so it’s coming up on two weeks ago. I got to ride two days then, and then I went on a short vacation to a bike rally. I went up and did that, and then all last week, I rode every day trying to get prepared for this. So, really, I have a fair amount of time to ride right now. I don’t have anything else going on. My next event is in December, so I have a lot of time to ride and do stuff and still have time to spend with my family. But if I get dedicated and end up doing this Monster Cup, I will probably leave here and go to Florida or California or somewhere and work my butt off until then. It’s hard to be at home and do that. I’m really easily focused on one particular thing. Once I’m focused on the motorcycle, that’s it. We’ll just see how it all comes together.
Is it still fun for you?
It is! It’s probably, for me, more fun now than even the later years of racing. It’s just way more laid back. I expect a ton out of myself, so that’s enough pressure in itself. When there’s a lot of money and pressure involved, at times it can take the fun out of it. I really enjoy off-road riding. I love going to the mountains, to the north here or to the dessert when the conditions are right. Taking advantage of what we have here. That’s why I moved to Idaho.
So you are still racing Monster Trucks?
Yeah, it’s been the Air Force truck the last five seasons, but they pulled out this year—just the situation with the government and that they’re not doing any recruiting right now. That truck was a recruiting tool. Along with all their sponsor money in Supercross, drag racing and snowmobiles—they’ve backed out of all that. They’re hoping it’s only for one year, and I hope so. It’s been a great sponsor and a lot of great people.
So who’s taking care of you for your Monster Truck for this year?
For the upcoming season, I’m not sure yet. It’s all in the works. There are a couple of different options there, and hopefully, something will come along.
Your first event in Monster Trucks is in December?
Yeah, that’s the start of our season. It’ll be at the end of December. Then from the first weekend in January, I go every weekend until the first of April. Yeah, it’s every weekend, so I’m only home two days a week.
Any events up here in the Pacific Northwest?
We do a show in Tacoma, and we do a show in Boise. We also do a show in Salt Lake and the big one in Vegas. Sometimes I’ll be at those events, but it’s hard to say until I get my schedule. On any given weekend, there could be an event going on in Boise Center, and we could have eight or ten shows going on across the country on that same night. So I may be at one of the other ten. It makes a lot of sense for me to be in the Idaho event, but out of the last five years, I’ve gone to that event once.
Is driving the truck as fun as racing motocross was?
It is! It’s very competitive, but different in the way that when riding a motorcycle you’re very close. You’re competing with the guy, and you can bump and rub, but in Monster Trucks, there’s none of that. That competitive side of motorcycles, I really like. That type of competition fires me up. At times, I get like that in my truck when it comes to freestyle. My truck isn’t a very good race truck, but it’s a very good freestyle truck. The only thing I really don’t dig about the freestyle portion is that it’s judged. I’ve never been a big fan of anything judged. I’m a fan of the checkered flag. What I like is to go and freestyle, and then sit in the autograph line and hear people say, “You should have won.” That’s as good or better than winning.
The fan following for Monster Trucks seems big.
Yeah, the fan following for Monster Trucks is huge—die-hard fans like nothing I’ve ever done before! There’s nothing as exhilarating as going to a stadium that holds 65,000 people and have it full. This year in San Antonio—which was the first time—in two days we did 100,000 people. On any given weekend, we can do six to seven hours of autographs. We do a lot of autographs. People have a lot of opportunities to get photos with us or with the trucks. I give a lot to that portion of the business where, unfortunately, these guys that are racing motorcycles today don’t value those fans like they really should.
I’ll agree with you, and if you look at guys like Kevin Windham or a Chad Reed, this year they’ve really learned to appreciate that part of it. My kids think the world of Kevin Windham because he talks to them and hangs out with them. And I took the kids to Mammoth this year to race, and McGrath took the time to hang out with both of them while we were out riding. You can’t pay for that kind of stuff, and the kids really appreciate it.
Right on! It means a lot to them. These younger kids, I just don’t know if they have the right people around them. I did it, but it was because I had the right people telling me how important it was. Once I saw the importance of it, it made it really easy to do it. For a rider on race day, their focus is unbelievable and what it has to be. So that leaves very little time for fans, but there’s always time after it’s over. And I know it’s hard to do it when you have a bad day, but when you have a good day, try to capitalize on it. I spent a lot of time at outdoor events or Supercross events at the back of my truck or trailer until the last person was gone.
I can attest to that from personal experience as a Damon Bradshaw fan. Going to the Yamaha pits was always cool when you were there.
Yeah, Yamaha was always big on it. I don’t think Honda was big on it. I think Kawasaki was kind of there, but that was our big thing.
Nice! Just one more thing, and I’m going to let you go. Is there anyone you’d like to say thanks to?
With what I’m doing right now, I’d definitely like to thank Jack Struthers at Carl’s Cycles in Boise. I really, really wanted to ride, and he helped me put together the deal with KTM. Once we put it together I was as excited as a kid waiting on new bikes. So a big thanks to him and also to KTM for coming together and making it happen. Also, a big thank you to Western Power Sports in Boise and Fly Racing for helping me. I know that’s going to grow. The owner of Western Power Sports, Craig, lets me come out to their track and just ride with nobody else out there. Sometimes I like to just go and ride and not have to deal with other people on the track. I don’t know if it’s the different levels of riding or what, but sometimes it’s nice to just go out and do your own thing. I’d also like to thank Monster Energy. They pay me a lot of money to wear a helmet, and they help me a lot with my trucks, which kind of bleeds over to my motocross. They are my largest sponsor, so I’d definitely like to thank them. Also, last but not least, I’d like to thank my family because they know once I get focused on something, it’s just been ride, ride, ride. My kids both play ball sports, so their both very busy. They both want to ride motorcycles, and I want them to too, but I think starting a kid on motorcycles at two years old is not that important. They’re either going to have it or they’re not. My oldest is twelve now, and I think he’s at a good age to learn very fast, I think he’ll listen a little easier, and it will register. When they’re young, it’s just kind of a free for all, whether it’s developing bad habits or what. But he’s ready. KTM dropped their big wheel, so he’ll probably do a big wheel Honda 150. I’d also like to throw Alpinestars in there. They build all my driving suits and also give me my boots.
Alright, well I really appreciate you talking to me, and good luck in whatever you decide to do in the future.
No problem and thank you.