Photo by: Hoppenworld
These “Privateer Showcase” interviews presented by Race Tech Suspension at MotoXAddicts tell the stories of the guys in the trenches week in and week out trying to chase their dream of racing professional Supercross. While the riders at the front of the pack get the money, the T.V. time and the glory that goes with it, there’s a huge pack of guys just hoping to become regulars in the big show. We tell their stories.
In this week’s Privateer Showcase, we go back to the man that we started this feature with once again: Cody Gilmore. A survivor in every aspect of the word, Cody is one rider who deserves any of the ink he gets. Over a decade since he survived the ultimate battle with cancer, the #374 is still sacking up on Saturday nights, putting his privateer Kawasaki into the 450SX main events and doing a lot of it on his own dime.
Cody didn’t think he was going to race in 2017 and came into the Monster Energy Supercross, an FIM Motocross World Championship series underprepared, but like every other year, he jumped at the opportunity he was given and is racing his way back into race shape. In the first three rounds, the main events alluded him, but at round four in Glendale he holeshotted the 450SX LCQ, led the first three laps and held on to qualify for his first main event of ’17. Cody looked like he struggled with the 20 minutes plus one lap main event, but he left with one point on the board and the confidence of knowing he’s still a main event guy in ’17.
After his first main event of 2017, we gave Cody a call to find out about his season so far and his program for 2017.
Cody, how’s the weather holding up for you down in California this week? There’s been a lot of rain down there lately.
It’s actually been good this week, but it’s been raining on us a lot lately. It’s all good now, dude. Probably like 80 degrees out right now. It doesn’t suck right now. It rained for about a month straight, though.
Are you hitting it hard during the week, or is SX something you’re more doing for fun now?
Yeah, it’s more just fun. I didn’t really plan to race this year. I’m kind of over it. Pretty much, just two weeks before the season, a sponsor stepped up to help so I started riding SX a week and a half before Anaheim. I kind of decided, “Heck, let’s go for it.” I wasn’t going to race Anaheim. I was going to wait a few rounds until I got comfortable again riding, but I decided, “Screw it, I’ll just go race Anaheim.” I thought I would work the bugs out while racing.
You’ve been at this a while now, but how long ago did you start racing SX?
My first year racing SX was back in 2005. I’ve been racing SX for a long time. I didn’t race for two or three years, and I was hurt quite a few times, but my first full year back was 2009. That was after all my cancer treatments and all that stuff was done. And I’ve just been racing since then.
Have you ever thought of going to Arenacross and chasing wins and podiums over there?
I did think about it last year, but it’s pretty hard to do unless you have a full ride. I never had any set in stone offers that were with any teams that were worth going for. I figure if I’m going to race, I want to have fun and I like racing SX.
You gotta think you would be a top five or podium guy over there.
I’d like to think so. It definitely takes some getting used to. You ain’t going to go in and win right away, just ’cause those guys are so good at what they do. But there ain’t no reason why I couldn’t get a few wins before the season was over. It just depends; those guys are good. I think I’m a top five guy in AX, but I don’t want to say that for sure.
Since you’ve been in SX for over a decade, you might be the guy to ask this. Every year we hear this is the deepest field ever, and that is the theme again this year. I don’t think the top five is much different, but is the depth of the field from top to bottom what makes this year so good?
To be honest, everyone is fast every year. That’s the way it looks right now, but when you go back and look at all the good guys, there’s been a lot of fast guys every year. Like in 2005, I can’t really tell you exactly who I was racing against. I can’t remember to be honest. (laughs) But my first year of racing SX, I raced both the 125 and the 250 class on the same night, and I remember the night show would be [James] Stewart, [David] Vuillemin and [Chad] Reed at the front. And there were also good guys like Tyler Evans, Jason Thomas and all them dudes were good. Andrew Short, Sean Hamblin—man, they were all good. I think maybe some years more than others, guys get hurt, but I think it’s stacked quite a bit of the time. I wouldn’t say this year is any different. I think it’s always stacked and towards the end of SX some people get hurt. No matter what, though, there’s always a class full of fast guys.
Before Glendale you had not made a main event in 2017, but you made it last weekend. Everything from your practice times, to your heat race results have been progressing, but what was the thing that got you back over the top in Glendale?
I’d say it was my starts. My starts were good. I’d say last week was the first week I put in a good week of riding so that might of helped a little bit too. I actually put in motos. I’ve tried easing into this year ’cause I’ve been hurt so much lately. I didn’t want to go out and turn it up all the way, I kid of wanted to just ease into it. To say I haven’t been trying isn’t right, but I haven’t been trying to go too fast or kill myself. I think in Phoenix I just got good starts. The first start in the LCQ was red flagged but I was in third on that one, and in the restart I got the holeshot. That definitely made life easier.
On the last lap, you were leading the LCQ and Vince Friese got pretty aggressive for the spot. It seemed like a big risk going after you like that when you’re both in qualifying spots, but what did you think?
I was pissed off for sure. Now looking back at it, I probably would of done the same thing. He had a better drive up the inside of me. I didn’t look back that whole race, so I didn’t even know that was Freise behind me. I’m really glad I didn’t see him, because I think I would of been more nervous, but I probably would of guarded my inside a little better there. I made a mistake in those two sections of clipping my rear wheel and not carrying as much speed as I needed to. It was kind of my fault. I was pissed off at the time just ’cause he hit me kind of hard in that turn. I don’t think he had to do that, but other than that—it’s all good—it’s racing. I was able to stay up, but it sucked because I had to double the triple. It though me out of my rhythm and I got passed by [Nick] Schmidt in the whoops too, but I was still able to make the main, so it’s all good. I’d like to win one of those things now that I led one for so long. That’s the longest I’ve ever led a Supercross race.
Yeah, that had to feel good. The crowd in Glendale was loud too.
It was cool man. I kind of just zoned out and tried riding my laps smooth. It all kind of comes easier to you when you’re up front. It’s kind of scary at first, but it makes it a lot easier. But, yeah, the crowd was loud. It’s funny, when you’re out in the main, you always know when something is going on. It’s super loud down on the track too and whenever Reedy [Chad Reed] made his pass on [Ryan] Dungey, I remember hearing the crowd go crazy. It looks like Reedy definitely has some fans in Phoenix.
Did you make any changes to your bike heading into Glendale that made a difference in your starts?
Yeah, I’ve been on my practice bike all year, which was my bike from last year, and since I didn’t plan on racing, I didn’t do anything to the bike. Once I decided I was going to race, I sent my motor and suspension into Race Tech and they got it all done. That was actually my first weekend back on my race bike. The thing was definitely fast. Race Tech did a great job on it. It definitely helped on my starts. I rode it on last Wednesday and Thursday and got to race it on Saturday.
I know you said you’re doing this more for the love of it at this point, but when the year is all said and done, what results would make you happy about ’17 SX?
I just want to make all the rounds. That’s really the only thing I care about. I gotta keep myself healthy. Like I said, that’s been a tough thing for me. Two years ago, I only raced Anaheim 1 and I got hurt and was out the whole year. Then last year, I was hurt the whole year, came back for three races and then broke my jaw. The last two years I only raced four Supercross’ up until this year. If I can stay healthy, I know I can get some decent results here and there. Making mains would make me happy, but as long as I’m at the races and showing up, that’s all I care about to be honest with you. It would also be cool to win one of these LCQ’s.
And what’s your offseason like after SX? Will you be doing some local races and schools?
I’ll just do whatever local races that pay a lot (laughs). We have quite a few money races back home. If there’s a money race, I’ll race it. If not, I’ll do a motocross school that weekend. Last year I also started a motocross series back home. This year it’s going to be a seven race series that’s kind of a regional series that goes to Highland, Nebraska and Missouri. It’s called “The Best of the Midwest Championship Series”. I started it last year and it went really well. We had a pretty big Pro payout and I raced a few of them. That kept me busy and this years it’s going to be even bigger. We have some things in the works that are going to be neat for that series.
Good luck this weekend in Oakland, Cody. Who’s all helping you get to the races in ’17?
I want to thank Yankton Motorsports, Race Tech Suspension & Motors , Strikt, Thunder Ridge MX Park, Versus PC, ARLO, BestofmidwestMX.com, Ti Lube, Holirosa, Hotcams, Vertex, Rekluse, Sunstar, Inquire Partners, Sidi, Yoshimura, Abbott MX, Galfer, Just1, Works Connection, Motion Pro, GTC, ODI, SDG, CWI, DT1 Filters, Moto XXX, SKVI, 100%, Vortex
More info on “The Best of the Midwest Championship Series”.