Photo by: Hoppenworld
Twenty-seven year-old Blake Wharton will make his much anticipated return to racing tomorrow night in Minneapolis aboard the #93 TiLube Honda 250F, and it is really anyone’s best guess what we will see from the Pilot Point, Tx. rider that first turned pro eleven long years ago. Blake was slated to chase the comeback in 2018, but a preseason injury delayed the comeback until the 2018 Indianapolis East / West Shootout and a torn ACL in the Salt Lake City SX main event—where he still finished 11th—ended the comeback story prematurely.
Now all healed up with a few gate drops under his belt, the once factory prodigy with three 250SX main event wins on his resume will line up and try to reclaim that potential he left behind when he announced his retirement at the end of 2014. It’s crazy to think a rider could go from five podiums and a win in 2013 to walking away from the sport a year later at just twenty-three years-old, but that’s what happened and Slash is back in 2019.
Why is Blake coming back? “I felt like I could do more on a bike, that I could still ride, I could still race and I could still go fast even after being off for three years,” Blake told me in an interview I recorded with him last year. I think he proved that to be true when he went out in Indianapolis last year and qualified 6th fastest in the 250SX West in his first timed qualifying session in four years.
Will Blake reclaim the potential he walked away from in 2014 and become a podium threat again or will he struggle and quickly remember why he walked away from it in the first place? That is the million dollar question everyone is asking. The history books have shown that comeback stories like Blake’s don’t often end with reclaimed glory and podium celebrations, but that’s what Blake, his minion of fans and guys like me that love to tell comeback stories is hoping for.
I have no real clue how this is going to go, but I can tell you it is the story out east that I will be watching closely, and no matter how it goes I am stoked to see Blake, his hair and his eccentric racing intellect back on the gate. I’m not even sure if “eccentric racing intellect” is even a real thing but if you have ever talked to Blake, you know it fits.
Check out Blake’s 2019 ride in the Instagram post by TiLube Honda below.
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