Carmichael teleconference, part 2

Continued from part 1 Q: I don't know if you can answer this question. What may be the biggest difference from racing a motorcycle to driving a race car? What's maybe the biggest difference? And are they similar at all? Ricky Carmichael: ...

Continued from part 1

Q: I don't know if you can answer this question. What may be the biggest difference from racing a motorcycle to driving a race car? What's maybe the biggest difference? And are they similar at all?

Ricky Carmichael: You know, I think just what you bring to the table. You know, we're all racers, and I love to race. So, obviously, on the car side, that's what I bring, and I just have that racing mentality.

But what I find, you know, I've always driven the shorter track stuff. And the amount of concentration you have to have is way more in a car than it is on a motorcycle.

For me, you know, a motorcycle, it's like walking for me, riding a motorcycle. So, when I get in a car it takes way more concentration, and I'm just like tunnel vision. There's so many things happening and going on.

Q: You serve kind of a different role with the Motocross of Nations this year. Talk a little bit about your feelings of having to watch that race and seeing the American riders and how that was for you.

Ricky Carmichael: You know, it was fun. I was just sick to my stomach when I couldn't race, when I knew I wasn't going to race that race, and made the decision not to. It was an awful feeling.

And it's something -- you know, it was cool taking the role that I did, but I wasn't ready for that role yet. But, you know what, things happen. And it was fun.

I think that I had -- gave some good advice. And if I was able to help just a little bit, then I guess it was good for me to be there.

Q: And kind of a follow-up, does that -- is this year's event at Budds Creek, is that on your list to ride?

Ricky Carmichael: Oh, yes. Well, the Motocross of Nations, for sure.

Q: Yes, that's what I meant.

Ricky Carmichael: Yes, that's the plan. Yes. I love that event. I'm a huge supporter of it and looking -- you know, I can't wait for that race.

Q: You've -- as much -- excuse me -- success as you've had in Motocross, you've always been underestimated, whether it's Pastrana or McGrath or Stewart -- whoever's coming up. Even last year with the Motocross season when Stewart got on a 450, everybody wrote you off.

Can you kind of compare that to maybe being the underdog in the NASCAR scene and the car scene, and how the press has maybe given you a little bit more of a hard time than somebody else, and how you translate that from your Motocross career and overcoming all that, you know, being underestimated your entire career?

Ricky Carmichael: Yes, well, I don't really think that they've even underestimated me in the car racing stuff, just because -- they've actually been very gracious. I'm telling you, you guys wouldn't believe how gracious people have been to me. I don't know if it's because they haven't raced yet, or what.

But there hasn't been no underestimating there. And the only things that -- it's just been with open arms from everyone coming there and say, hey, we're so glad that you're coming over.

             And it's a great feeling to be involved in a sport
that is so big as NASCAR.  And everybody knows everybody and everyone
treats everyone the same.  There's no entourages getting in the
way.  They jealous, obviously, isn't too bad, right now, at least.

I'm sure if I was doing good it would be bad, but ...

Q: Right.

Ricky Carmichael: But it's just awesome, you know. Those guys are so laid back.

             There's a lot more people talking in that industry,
that's for sure.  The respect level is a lot higher, too.

Q: What are your parents going to do now? I know your mom's been a big help with your motocross and your dad's worked on your practice bikes throughout the year. Are (they) going to be able to help you in your car racing the same way?

Ricky Carmichael: I don't think so. You know, I'm ready to see them kind of retire. And I would love to see my mom help a younger kid coming up, maybe, you know, a guy that's riding the A class at Loretta Lynn's. And I would like to see her kind of grow with someone like that.

And my dad maintained my property and stuff like that. That's a full-time job there.

So, I think maybe between my mom and my trainer, Eldon Baker, helping out, maybe that'll keep her busy for a while.

Q: Hey, what is it about that Anaheim One race that is just (proving to be so) difficult for ((inaudible))?

Ricky Carmichael: I don't know, man. I have no idea. It's always got the best of me.

I think the best chance I ever had was that year in the mud. I mean, I had the dang thing won and messed up. You know, I just never seem like I -- I never seem comfortable at that race for some reason.

             But, you know, I'm not racing Anaheim One just because
I've never won it.  I like that race and I love going to do the
press conference there at the Diamond Club center.  You know, it's
a great press conference.  It's the real deal.
             And I look -- I just like it.  I like everything about
it.  It's just always gotten the best of me.

That's why I never can understand, like I always win the second race, but never can win the first one.

Q: You've had some time to reflect on this last season. And, of course, everybody knows the Supercross season was one of the closest ever.

You have to feel good about how things turned out, especially since that was your last year of full time.

Ricky Carmichael: Yes. It, you know, it was unbelievable. That was my goal. And that's why it was so easy to stay motivated, because I knew in my heart, I knew before Canada started, that this could possibly be my last season, you know, last year.

And it wasn't intended to be that close, that's for sure. And everyone always forgets about, you know, I spotted those guys 25 points. And it wasn't because of my doing. It was an unfortunate problem we had with a shock spring.

And it's just -- it's amazing how people don't ever -- you know, don't ever remember that. But if it wasn't for that, I probably would have bagged both, but I got the important ones, and that was the AMA title.

And it just -- it was -- what an awesome way to go out. I showed up to Vegas. I needed to beat Reed. And I'd been hearing since 2000 -- been hearing since 2004 that he was better than me. And I just beat him heads-up.

Q: To follow-up on that question about -- we've discussed, you know -- it's so hard to quit when you're on top, because you're still the man to beat. And winning both championships last year, you still are the man to beat.

Is there a little bit of sweet satisfaction that you did go out on top? And I guess you've now closed the door on competing in a full season, even if you are in the points lead.

This is ideal for you going out, and the championship career that you've had.

Ricky Carmichael: Yes. That was the whole deal.

You know, the problem, I think -- you know, it's tough as an athlete or as a coach, or whatever. It kind of -- it's a double-edged sword.

When you win you're like, damn, I think I can go another year. If you're beat, then you think, well, maybe I could do it next year.

Q: Right.

Ricky Carmichael: And so, that's why I'm done competing for a title. I know I've had my time, and I feel that the only thing now I can do is tarnish what I've done. And I want to go out and race for the love of the sport and race because I love to do it.

And I think it's time for me now to enjoy what I've been able to do, and have fun.

Q: How much work do you plan to be doing with Mark Martin coaching student-wise? And what does it tell you about going to NASCAR and having somebody of this level say, I'll work with the guy?

Ricky Carmichael: Yes, it was amazing, you know, to -- actually, he's been on me saying, hey, you need to get down here, you need to drive. And basically, he's -- I'd say a day and he's like, all right. I'm going to put it on my schedule and we'll do it.

And to have a guy like that help me is amazing. You don't see that much in moto, and I wish it would be like that. I wish people would let their guard down every now and then, because we all are created equal, you know. We put our pants on the same way.

And yes, it's amazing that each guy helps. I mean, there's top guys out there that help the other guy, that, you know, could potentially end up beating them the next day or the next weekend, or that day. And they help them. It's crazy.

Q: You doing the abbreviated season, and many might think it's obvious that, you know, it's maybe James Stewart's title to lose.

With that said -- and I guess many might think it could be Chad's -- do you see any other guys coming into the picture, say, somebody like Grant Langston, who's moving up, or ((inaudible)) driving?

Ricky Carmichael: Yes, I think Ivan Tedesco is going to be the heartbreaker this year.

I've really focused on trying to get the bike good, and good enough for him to contend for the win and beyond that podium every single weekend. And I think we've got it very close.

Roger's been working very hard. We all have. And I think we've got him feeling very comfortable. And I really believe that he can do it. He's very motivated, you know. He wants to make it a break-through year for him, like he did that first year that he did at Splitfire.

Q: That last question sort of was what I wanted to ask, too, which is about the future of this sport, Supercross and Motocross going forward, without you.

I'm wondering, too, given your popularity and how often you've won, and so forth, I mean, how do you sort of see the popularity of Supercross and Motocross going forward?

I mean, do you think there are still enough attraction and enough big names, and whatnot, to keep filling places like Angels Stadium and where you're going this weekend, even without you?

Ricky Carmichael: You know, I mean, that's a great -- that's a great compliment that you gave me there.

I feel that, you know, with James and him being the first African-American, you know, I think it's a great story. And I think he has what it takes to take it to the next level. But I also know he has a lot of opportunities.

And I just don't want -- you know, I don't -- I just want -- I want the racing to be good. And I think that we need to make a track to make the racing better, at least to where if a guy, a mid-pack guy can get a start, he can lead for 10 laps.

I think that, with that, I think then the sport will keep growing and growing and growing.

I hope it becomes as big as NASCAR someday. It's provided a great life for me, and it's what I love. So, obviously, I want to see it do the best.

But I think it'll keep going. I mean, everyone thought that when Jeremy retired that it would die, and it's kept going. So, with me not racing, I think it'll still keep growing.

Q: You mentioned that you're going to race possibly 10 to 11 Supercrosses this year. Obviously, with your consistency and ability and competitive nature, you'll be (issuing) for a podium, at least at every round.

Ricky Carmichael: Oh, yes.

Continued in part 3

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Series AMA
Drivers Ricky Carmichael , Mark Martin , James Stewart