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Straight-outta Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, 4-time Daytona 200 winner, Danny Eslick, will be gunning for win #5 at this weekend’s event. For the 79th running of the Daytona 200, Eslick will be reunited with the legendary TOBC Racing team aboard their Suzuki GSXR600.
In addition to his success at Daytona, Eslick is also a 2-time AMA Daytona Sportbike champion and took the AMA Harley XR1200 title in 2011. Eslick has also competed in World Superbike, Moto2, British Superbike, Brazilian Superbike, and American Flat Track races.
Gary Semics has been a top professional motocross racer, and trainer to both amateurs and national championship racers such as Jeremy McGrath and Ryan Villopoto.
He continues today as one of the most published trainers, with an extensive catalog of How-To videos. His riding school is one of the best known in the world, at his facility in Lisbon, Ohio he can teach nearly any level of rider to become a better, more fit racer.
PJ Doran: Welcome to Pit Pass Moto, the show that keeps you up to speed on the latest in motorcycling and brings the biggest names of motorcycle racing right to you. I'm PJ Doran.
Dave Sulecki: I'm Dave Sulecki.
PJ Doran: This week we have Danny Eslick and Gary Semics on the program, but first want to talk quickly about road racing news from Qatar. Unfortunately, we didn't have the MotoGP class as we discussed last week, but we did have Moto2 and Moto3, and very importantly, the one and only American representative California and Joe Roberts went ahead and set a new track record at Qatar in practice leading up to qualifying. Then he went ahead and qualified with the pole position. He had a great race. He was in the lead group till the final laps finishing ultimately in full fourth place. It was an amazingly good race again for the one and only American representative in the road racing series. So, we congratulate Joe Roberts on his performance, it was amazing.
PJ Doran: The race ultimately ended, the Moto2 class that is, ended with Nagashima winning the race followed closely by Lorenzo Baldassari, and Enea Bastianini, with Joe Roberts in fourth, it looks to be a great season. And now with the off-road news from Daytona where Pit Pass is Tony Wenck, what's going on in Daytona?
Tony Wenck: This is the 79th year for the Daytona Bike Week, and the 50th running of the Supercross. And so, I was down there Saturday. Good day if you're a Kawasaki fan, Garrett Marchbanks took the 250 win for Pro Circuit Monster Kawasaki, and it was a sleeper show in my opinion. I'm sure they did a better job on TV of hyping it up and the race and stuff, but it was just pretty uneventful in the 250 class to watch. And then in the 450, Eli Tomac, we all knew Eli Tomac was going to win this thing and I think he's one of the winningest, I think that was his number four for Daytona Supercross wins.
Tony Wenck: So, that puts him in a pretty elite group of people to have won that many races at Daytona, and you know what, there's no stopping Eli Tomac when he gets on a tear, he's a beast and Daytona is 100% right up his alley. Last night we were down on Main Street, ran into the HRC mechanics. So, Duff was down there. My buddy from Iowa, Justin Brains Mechanics, Ken Roczen, Kenny's mechanics was down there and a bunch of the guys and we're just kind of talking about how Kenny he felt about it. Kenny was actually pretty stoked on his ride, even though he knew he was going to get ran down.
Tony Wenck: He knew he was going to get passed, which is probably what he did. But what he did afterwards I thought was pretty impressive and he was pretty excited about it. He stuck with, he didn't just lay down and take a second place. He stayed with Eli Tomac and did his best to hang with him. And I think that says, whether Eli Tomac will say it, I think it plays a mental role for Kenny's performance and for the fact that he hung to Eli.
Tony Wenck: That he didn't just shut them down. And unfortunately for Kenny, he straight points down now, whoever they were tied going into that, but now we're about halfway through the season. I think there's, I would not bet against Kenny Roczen. I really think Kenny is being smart about the series and where Eli has some office, which will put him down. Kenny if he can stay healthy, he's going to, I wouldn't bet him against him for the championship. And did you see Kenny is no longer doing autograph signings or dealership, I think due to the corona virus.
Dave Sulecki: Signed other times. Yeah, there was. There was a blurb on the internet about the Seattle Supercross might be canceled, and that's coming up I think in April or maybe later this month. But yeah, there's rumors they've already canceled one of the MXGPs, the Italian round in Nigeria.
Tony Wenck: Obviously Italy's really hard with that. There a lot of deaths over there, but and then like you said, PJ, a lot of the MotoGP guys weren't able to adjust, so they just didn't run that class, but it's definitely not hurting the crowd down here. There's a lot of people here. I was wondering how it would be and it's like pretty much shut Main Street down every night and it's funny people how they're spreading their germs.
Dave Sulecki: Well alcohol kills the germs. So, that should take care of some things.
Tony Wenck: I'm not drinking any, so I better get to it.
Dave Sulecki: This year Tomac has not handy any of those implosions, past years, past Supercross seasons anyway, where he's had those rounds where just nothing goes right, and he gives up on himself. I'd counter with, I'll play devil's advocate. I think he's a little mentally stronger in Supercross this year than he was in years past. I agree with what you said Roczen closing down on him and give him another lap we would have had a battle right to the finish line. But I don't see Tomac doing those things he's done in years past where it's really affected him if he's had a tip over and it takes him 30 seconds to get up. You don't see that this year. He just seems to be a little more in tune with himself.
Tony Wenck: Not yet.
Dave Sulecki: Not yet. You got what, seven rounds last left in the series. So, it's going to come down to the wire. I said this before, nobody who started their seven season has gone on to win the championship who hadn't previously won it. So, you got two guys in that same scenario that have a chance to win it this year. And I think they're firing above everybody else, Webb's in there, but he's just had some bad luck.
Tony Wenck: Speaking of Webb, I don't know how much I showed on TV but he rode a really good race. He was, I think he finished third but he killed it, he was doing great. I'm wasn't exceptionally stoked on my guy Justin Brayton, he rode around the 10th, 11th place and I don't think they showed it on TV but, and I didn't even see it until a video of last night from Trey Canard, check this video, I think it was Trey or somebody, it was on Dave's phone, last corner by the start there on the last lap, things got out of control, and he didn't mean to, but he crashed into Brayton and broke top of Brayton's hand.
Tony Wenck: So, Brayton rode straight to the Red Cross finish line, rode straight to the medics track, 30 minutes later he comes out with a cast on his hand. He got the cast and he's racing this weekend he said, so he's incredibly tough rider, but that's what happens when you ride around a template place. That you can't avoid stupid shit like that because that's that's what happens in 10th place.
Dave Sulecki: The guy that really impressed me this weekend, that's really hadn't shown up all years is Plesinger. He had a great start, was battling with those guys and he finished-
Tony Wenck: He looked awesome.
Dave Sulecki: He finished up six and he's really not been anywhere near. He hasn't sniffed the front of the pack hardly at all yet.
Tony Wenck: And the race was killer, but you know what, he's an off-road guy, he was the... I think they called him the Grand Marshal or whatever. The GNCC yesterday, we went rode up to that and watched. He was there, I got to hang out with them for a little bit. Kailub Russell, so this is his last year. He's the Factory KTM guy. He's announced he's going to ride off into the sunset, and I imagine he'll be a some sort of a trainer or something, stay involved after his retirement. But, I kind of thought when he made that announcement, I kind of thought maybe he would just, maybe call it in one last year, the last season. He beat him over two minutes. I mean, he's straight up there, but-
PJ Doran: He is a competitor man. He just doesn't back down.
Tony Wenck: He was not winded, his face wasn't dirty, he was like holy cow, he's a different animal than the rest of them guys and like a guy like Josh Trank who's running around, he got third that's a really good day for him yesterday especially in the Florida sand and stuff. All of a sudden he's relevant again. If Kailub is gone, I mean like for a championship.
Dave Sulecki: Yeah, I mean, that's to two events in a row where he's pulled a third and he's look competitive. You got to devolve out and those guys not being there, so it certainly helps him but yeah, Russell's just a freak. I mean, he off-road, he's just got so dialed after all these years, he's just, I got to wonder what he's going to do next. After GNCC, what's he going to do? Is he going to try other disciplines, is going to be like Sipes, who, by the way, I think he got 16th in the Supercross.
Tony Wenck: Did you see his front number plate in his heat race?
Dave Sulecki: No, no. Oh yeah, that's right. It had a picture of somebody on there. That's right. I didn't see that.
Tony Wenck: [crosstalk 00:09:05] that I slap everywhere, I put one on the front fender, and I took pictures of it, and I'm laughing [crosstalk 00:09:10].
Dave Sulecki: I saw it online, that's right. So yeah.
Tony Wenck: I went to tear it off and his dad's like, "Leave it. He probably won't notice." So I go on and race half the night with my ... I'm surprised they didn't make him yank it off [crosstalk 00:09:19] number and everything.
Dave Sulecki: Make sure you get one of those on his flat track bike for this weekend.
Tony Wenck: Okay.
Dave Sulecki: Yeah, we got to see the Tony on there. All right, and then we also have some MX2 results. Tom Vialle from France won that class, so it's kind of a replay of the previous weekend. Bruno from France runs got second, Jago Geerts in third from Belgium. So, that series is kind of going strong. And as I said before, Thomas Kjer Olsen has not shown up, he's had some injuries, I guess. So, he's kind of struggled away. That's it for off-road and Motocross Racing.
Dave Sulecki: Moving into the Pit Pass trivia question of the week. Definitely key to our event coming up this weekend the Daytona 200. Daytona 200 has been won by a father and then his son, who were they and what years?
Dave Sulecki: One of our perennial favorites one Danny Eslick, crazy fast guy and multiple Daytona 200 winner. As we're leading up to the Daytona, Danny, thanks again for joining us. What's your plan for this year you got somewhat of a new setup going in. So, tell us about her.
Danny Eslick: Just looking forward to being back in the Daytona 200. We had a little bit of bad luck last year and just wanting to rebound and come back strong and this year has got a pretty deep field in the 200. So, I'm looking forward to just having a big race at Daytona this year.
Dave Sulecki: And who are you riding with and for? Let's start there because as we know the Daytona 200 is a once a year, essentially a one off race, it's not part of a greater series. So, things for this race aren't exactly like the rest of the of our national road racing season. Who are you riding with?
Danny Eslick: Doing it with Michelle Lindsay again, the TOBC racing bunch. It's really come together last minute as it has over the past years. But this one even more so than in the past with Michelle having pancreatic cancer and having some issues there with having to take care of her health problems. And racing was definitely put on the back burner. She's stepped away from the race in full time as it is, but we've continued to do the 200 and everything just really ... the ball started rolling.
Danny Eslick: Palm Beach Police Department jumped on board again and applied as Medavina from Daytona Beach there, and then I had Tulsa Powersports here out of Tulsa that stepped on board, and just the ball really started rolling and we ended up coming up with a bike and crew and here we are last minute headed to Daytona.
PJ Doran: Yeah, Danny and you're not the only one to say this in the previous weeks, we've been talking to fellow competitors of yours that are on their way to Daytona. A lot of last minute plans came together. The entry list continues to tell that story as people add to the list.
PJ Doran: So, you're not alone in that, and clearly, I would say you're still arguably a favorite given the number ... your experience at Daytona and the team that you're on, TOBC, no joke, has been there a lot. They know how to win as clearly do you. Do you feel like you're still one of the heavy favorites? Because arguably you are.
Danny Eslick: I hope so. I know I've got a crew behind me that knows what they're doing. Everybody that's going to be on board has done it in the past, either with myself or with another rider. So the experience is all there, it comes down to the luck of Daytona. Sometimes it's good to you and sometimes it's bad. So, hopefully it'll be good to me this year.
PJ Doran: And this race really has, I've always thought played to veteran riders, history shows that. There have been a couple of instances where a young newer rider has pulled something out of their hat, but I mean, would you agree Danny, this race always seems to favor guys who've got a little experience under their belt, arguably a veteran racer?
Danny Eslick: Yeah, I mean, it's tough I'd say actually my very first Daytona 200 was one of my best ones until I won. I mean, my first one I got fourth in 2005 or something like that and then I didn't do any good there basically till I won. So, it was a long road coming to the first one and then to stack a few more up back to back on top of it. It all happened real quick, but yeah, I definitely agree with that. Daytona is the only race like it really, in the states for us and with the banking and the only one like in the world. So, with the pit stops and the strategy and that kind of stuff. It's definitely tougher for a young rider that hasn't done a lot of endurance racing and stuff like that, to shine in it.
PJ Doran: Danny, you said this deal comes together last minute. Have you got other plans? I mean, you're also a notoriously fast and capable flat track racer. So, we see you in our national flat Trek series on a pretty recurring basis. Do you have solid plans for the season in that series or have you got a day job sadly?
Danny Eslick: I do have plans but McGrane racing stepped up and they've got a couple Kawasakis. I'm going to be raising their production twins class with AFT and with mono American stuff, there's just not much for rides or anything like that out there. And I've always stuck to my roots with the flat track and you never steered too far away from it. So, it's good to be able to get back out and do that. It used to just be when I wasn't road racing, but now it looks like it's going to be a bit more of a full time gig doing the flat track stuff.
PJ Doran: Yeah, and that class that you're talking about the production twin classes, they're putting some new focus on it. I think that's a good thing. It's just opening up the paddock, there's more potential seats for high caliber riders to get out and showcase their sponsors and their own riding talents. I think it's awesome.
Danny Eslick: Yeah, I think what they're doing the other class is stupid and it sucks. I don't see the light in that one but that's a personal opinion of mine but I mean, it's good for the production deal. I mean, the production classes are going to be one of the ones to watch now. There's going to be a lot of talent in there.
PJ Doran: So, you specifically referenced the super twins, you mean, Danny?
Danny Eslick: Yeah, that's what [crosstalk 00:15:46], whatever they're called.
PJ Doran: Yeah, super twins versus production, which is ... it makes sense. It's an affordable way to get into the series in which, it certainly should help pump up the paddock a little bit.
Danny Eslick: Right. Yep.
PJ Doran: So, what were you doing Danny? Have you had to succumb to the unfortunate reality of a real job? Or have you managed to put that off entirely?
Danny Eslick: Oh, I keep that put on the side burner. We don't want to mess with that now.
PJ Doran: So, you have managed to secure yourself a real job one might call it?
Danny Eslick: I stay away from that. I stay from racing motorcycles. It sometimes makes for a long winter but Daytona can't get here quick enough.
PJ Doran: Yeah, so your arms feeling a little light? How many watches do you have already? And I know they've changed it a little bit. Is it the winner gets the watch? Or are they doing one for qualifying too?
Danny Eslick: Right. Yeah, no, I got the last one when they gave it away for pole, for what? 2010, I think it was. And then I got the first one, I believe it was for pole when they gave it away for the race win. So, now it's just for the win.
PJ Doran: Got you. So, you don't need a day job? You've got enough of those you could mortgage those bad boys. They're worth a pretty penny, those Daytona Rolex's, that's money in the bank, as they say.
Danny Eslick: Right, yep.
Dave Sulecki: They should make you wear the watches during the race as you gain them then you just get heavier and heavier every day to run a race.
Danny Eslick: Yeah.
Dave Sulecki: You're going to have to split them up two on each arm.
PJ Doran: That's a handicap system right there. I'm sorry, I don't know enough about the schedule. So, you don't get to run Daytona Flat Track because that is only the other classes or are they running the production twin class at Daytona?
Danny Eslick: Yeah, no production twins at Daytona.
PJ Doran: And are there any other AFT stops where that class is omitted or is it everywhere but Daytona?
Danny Eslick: To be honest with you, I haven't even really looked at the full schedule. So, I don't know I just go race to race.
PJ Doran: Got you.
Danny Eslick: I'm not sure what it is, but whatever it was that they run, which I think is most all of them. I don't think they're doing the TTs, though, as far as I know.
PJ Doran: Yeah, that's what I would've guessed, would be the TTs would probably be the ones you just pull back to that class from, but that's absolutely fine. There's a lot of talent going into that class this year. I mean, who are you looking to be your primetime competitor? Or have you even gone looking that far? Is it all about the bike and the team right now?
Danny Eslick: I haven't even really ridden a bike. I got a few laps on them at Springfield Labor Day weekend, but we had some bike problems and didn't really get any good quality lap. So, seat time wise, I've never ridden the motorcycles yet. And we're definitely have a little bit of a learning curve ahead of us. But there's a lot of guys and there's a whole stack field of people in that production class. So, I mean, it could be anybody you really never know.
PJ Doran: It's going to make for some really good racing. Again, I don't think the what you're describing, Danny, is abnormal, much like the last minute Planes at Daytona. I think there's a lot of teams that are relatively last minute committing to the class in this season with AFT but again, I think it's going to make for some killer racing. What's been the most memorable for you this past year, if we don't talk about last year's Daytona? Yeah, you had a little bit of bad luck what else did you really enjoy doing this past racing season?
Danny Eslick: I mean, there wasn't a whole lot. I went, did a Moto America rounder, did Road America which is always one of my favorite rounds to go to. And then okay, I was riding a Kawasaki there and got around pretty good on it for never really throwing a leg over the ZX6 and then got to ride out this Moto Sports 600 from a Moto America, Pittsburgh. And it was a lot of fun to just be back out there and just see the familiar faces and everybody that I've been traveling around the country with for the last almost 20 years.
PJ Doran: Yeah, it's you've had a great career and it certainly doesn't look like you're anywhere near done, Danny, which is great news for all of us race fans who hold you in such high regard. There's a lot of again, this is what we do on a weekly basis is talk to professional racers. And, man, there's a lot of guys that are on the bench. It's startling, I really hope that oh, we see a turnaround in what's our favorite chosen sport, motor sport, any of the forms of motorcycle racing?
Danny Eslick: Absolutely. Like you said, there's a lot of talent sitting on the sidelines, just because there's not a lot of opportunity, a lot of rides out there. And it's tough on everybody. So, maybe things will turn around and some seats will start opening up.
Dave Sulecki: Yeah, let's hope so. I think, going back in your history, Danny, you were on the Jordan team. Now, what would it take to get somebody like that back into road racing? We're always talking about guys on the bench. There's not enough teams to go around for riders, how does the sport bring people like another Michael Jordan back into it to pump the series up?
Danny Eslick: Shoot, I have no idea on something like that. That one's above my pay grade, the monkey gets on that ride. That's exactly what it needs, we lost every year for just the last several years. You lose a team here you lose a team there. And it's down to just two or three semis, a handful of semis in the whole paddock. You see it over the last couple years it's just gone downhill and it's a bit frustrating.
PJ Doran: Yeah, and it's not unique to road racing. It's it's the one that hits me the most but, Danny, we're going to wish and hope that this year goes better for all involved most of all you, you've got the upcoming Daytona 200 just this coming Saturday. So, best of luck to you. We want to give you a chance to thank anybody you might want to thank, as far as sponsors and supporters along the way.
Danny Eslick: Awesome, well, thanks for having me on and obviously Michelle Lindsey and TOBC Racing for always sticking with me and having my back and just everybody involved with our program all the fans and I hope everybody makes it out to Daytona because it looks like it's going to be good weather and we know it'll be some damn good racing.
PJ Doran: It definitely will, be looking for our men in the stands there. Tommy Boy Halverson, who you know well, Danny, and Tony Wenck both representing Pit Pass. There'll be down to your pits, I'm sure you'll be seeing them. They'll be coming to say hey to you.
Danny Eslick: Awesome. I look forward to seeing them.
PJ Doran: Well, thanks for joining us, Danny. And best of luck this weekend. We'll talk to you again soon hopefully, get a good run out of her.
Danny Eslick: Awesome. Thanks for having me on.
PJ Doran: This week's trivia question. The week on Pit Pass was the Daytona 200 has been won by a father then his son, who were they and when? And the answer, of course, is Floyd MD, who won in 1948, then his son, the great Don MD, one in 1972. Don MD is also a very well known motorcycle journalist in the industry amongst other things. I bet you have a bunch of stories about one of those MD guys, don't you, Dave?
Dave Sulecki: I do, Dave likes the story behind the story. And Don, he's from that era where when you raced motorcycles you raced every possible discipline, right? Flat track, off road, road racing line, hill climb, you name it, they did it all. And he was on one of the biggest road race teams in 1970. This is the year before or excuse me, 1971, the year before he won Daytona. He was on probably one of the biggest road racing team efforts ever, which was the BSA triumph teams which-
PJ Doran: Absolutely.
Dave Sulecki: When you look at the list of names on those teams, it's-
PJ Doran: Team Romero.
Dave Sulecki: Oh, it's absolutely stellar the names of the writers.
PJ Doran: It's the who is who of motorcycle history.
Dave Sulecki: Yeah, Gary Nixon, Mike Hailwood, Dave El Danna. I mean, including-
PJ Doran: Dave Bugsyman.
Dave Sulecki: Yeah, that's right. Dickman was on the team. So, you don't get any bigger back then. And then the year later Don's without a ride and he gets a privateer Yamaha together and builds a race team and he's riding a two stroke 350 and goes out and wins the race. Steady Eddie just works his way up front by the last three laps, he was in the lead and in Windsor. And as it turns out, there was Yamaha's first win of the Daytona Series.
PJ Doran: And it really marked the beginning of the two stroke era, if you will, in road racing, small displacement two strokes were quickly displacing four strokes.
Dave Sulecki: Yeah, and some of those bikes back then that led into the era with Kenny Roberts and Freddy Spencer after that. I agree it kind of also put more of the US riders on the map, in road racing where they really started make their mark. And the Superbike Series started in the late 70s. And it all took off from there.
PJ Doran: It was an interesting time. And it's fun to look back at that era, because you're right, '71, '72, it's easy to imagine a young Kenny Roberts was probably watching that race from home while winning a whole bunch of races at places like Ascot and up and down the West Coast, flat tracking.
Dave Sulecki: Yeah, and again, exactly. There's another rider that did all the disciplines, which is, watch the movie on any Sunday and you get the vibe, where anybody who rode a motorcycle back then pretty much did at all. Rode every possible type and competed at every level. Dan was one of those stories and Dan's gone on to be a published author. He's an AMA inductee just one of those guys that, he's done it all and he's still in the industry still writing, still writing some of the greatest motorcycle books if you get a chance to check them out online. And really to meet him in person, he's just one of the nicest people he's down to earth, talks to anybody. He does a lot of work with companies like Parts of Limited, writing a lot of their copy for their monthly and quarterly print media. So, he's still deeply involved in the industry.
PJ Doran: Yeah, and it's impossible to...so, I've never met him personally but having been grown up in the motorcycle addiction, if you will, reading magazines, impossible to think of a famous motorcycle picture when someone wins a historic race in the United States and a fair bit abroad, if they were from the US, Don MD always ends up in that picture. There are so many pictures of Don MD standing next to Kenny Roberts or Jean Romero or pick someone through the 70s and 80s winning a race and Don MD he was quite often standing there.
Dave Sulecki: So, he's the Bill Murray of motorcycle racing.
PJ Doran: Yeah, that is a fair comparison and it just strikes me that I've seen his name and Prince so many times because his name's always referenced in the description below the picture. Oh, this is so and so standing with Don MD.
Dave Sulecki: Yep. And the industry is lucky to have him because he's just a wealth of knowledge and just a really great motorcyclist and great guy. All right, coming up next on Pit Pass Moto. We've got legendary racer and trainer to the stars. This guy is pretty much done everything and in motocross and off road Gary Semics.
Dave Sulecki: Gary, welcome to the show.
Gary Semics: Hey, thanks, Dave. Pleasure to be here.
Dave Sulecki: So, just looking down your list of achievements. It's stellar. 1974, 500 cc Supercross Champion. Now, we don't have that anymore but you were one of the early pioneers in Supercross Racing, leading into your career of racing. Going back then, who in that era was your biggest competitor?
Gary Semics: Of American riders at that time, it was Brad Lackey, Jimmy Weinert, those two really stick out. Oh, Marty Smith, Danny Laporte, Gaylon Mosier, Rich Einstein. I mean, there was a lot of guys at that time even that were very competitive.
Dave Sulecki: Yeah, that's a long list of famous and fast racers for sure. Now, I don't know when the AMA discontinued the 500 cc class, but obviously Supercross evolved into what it is 250 cc two strokes. And eventually I think in the 80s they added the 125 cc two strokes and then you raced all the way into the 80s if I recall?
Gary Semics: Yeah, in America, all the way through '81 and then for '82, '83, '84, I went to Europe and raced at the GP series.
Dave Sulecki: Okay, and what class did you race in?
Gary Semics: Well, when I first went over there, I raced the 500 class for two years and then the third year, I raced the 250 class.
Dave Sulecki: So, a lot of those names you mentioned early on in Supercross, you were racing against when you went to Europe, guys like Lackey and-
Gary Semics: Yeah, Lackey was still there. Danny LaPorte, but he was racing the 250 class when I was racing in the 500 class.
Dave Sulecki: Oh, that's right.
Gary Semics: And Marty Moates was over there for a while.
Dave Sulecki: And so, that begs the question, I would say, how was the GP as far as competitiveness in the early 80s compared to Supercross at the time because clearly that was the home of motocross type racing and it was well before Supercross became the de facto World Series of motocross?
Gary Semics: Yeah. Yeah, that's very accurate. I was surprised. I mean, it was very competitive. It was a whole different type of track, really, their tracks were very fast and rough. They got rough, choppy, bumpy, rough type stuff. And then they had sand races that were super, super rough. 40 minute motors plus two laps, which was the same as in America at that time. Where in America, still that way today. When Bill Poto first went over there a few years ago. He didn't know how to set up his bike and that was one of the things that really hurt him. American probably because of Supercross, they get used to stiffer suspension. But I found out when I went over there that oh man that didn't work over there, not on those tracks.
Gary Semics: And I was fortunate enough to work with Orleans at first and then white power suspension and got it dialed in. But yeah, it was a lot softer suspension that would actually move through the bumps.
Dave Sulecki: Yeah, and it seems like you see it less often where US riders are able to go over to Europe and assimilate and merge into the series and do well. There's always exceptions to that but it seems like to me, Gary, back in your area, there were more guys that were able to do it than today. Or maybe less guys try to do it that might be the might be the case but in Villopoto is example but, I always wonder why that is? Is it strictly the tracks or is it everything else that comes with going to Europe.
Gary Semics: A big part of it's a track, different types of tracks. But another big part of it is the culture over there and Americans go over there and they can't adapt to living over there with so many different cultures and countries and all that stuff. But when I first went over, I was fortunate to have some people I knew that got me in contact with the right people, hired a good mechanic. And his brother worked for Graham Noyce. And at that time while in '79, Noyce won the world championship and 500 class, so he was still top rider in '82, when I first went over, and I got hooked up with them, and they really, really helped me a lot.
Gary Semics: I mean, without them, it would have been nearly impossible to do what I did over there. So, the culture was a big, big difference. And I don't know being from Ohio, and no one knows guys, I really liked it. I fit right in.
Dave Sulecki: Obviously, I mean, your success definitely shows that you've had great success over the years racing.
Gary Semics: Thank you.
Dave Sulecki: I have a personal story. I remember lining up at the racetrack and went to Ohio International, I had just turned 40 years old. And I'm thinking I'm a young guy coming into the class and I line up plus 40 gate at OAR and the Suzuki pulls up next to me. And gate drops, we all go and that Suzuki just cleaned house. Well, that Suzuki was you. So, that was my one personal involvement racing against you, Gary. I just remember you were the guy who just destroyed the class that day, and you can continue to do it.
Gary Semics: Thank you. Yeah, that was about the time I moved back to Ohio from living in California for like 12 or 14 years. And, yeah, I couldn't stop racing. I was racing a local scene in Ohio.
Dave Sulecki: Yeah. And that was actually a really good era for that particular track. I think that's when the Hand family was operating it and they really had one of the best racing facilities, I think, in maybe in Northeast Ohio, maybe even Ohio at the time.
Gary Semics: Yeah, it was very good when the Hands had it. And now different owners has it, and he has opened practices there. And it's one of the best tracks around in Northeast Ohio that I know of.
Dave Sulecki: And it's good to see, that tracks got just a tremendous history. Well, you know this, they had Motocross Nationals back there in the 70s.
Gary Semics: Yeah, in '75 they had a Motocross National. And when I was just a kid just starting to get in the race, and I must have been 15 years old, I remember that track and go in there and racing they had this, the reason I really remember it just stands out to have a really need step up jump that back in those days weren't fair. It wasn't very common. So, that goes away back, man.
PJ Doran: Gary, it was mentioned clearly, your work in the sport and industry have not come close to ending. Who are you working with right now? I mean, are there rider that our listeners might be surprised or not surprised that you're mentoring, tutoring and coaching?
Gary Semics: Well, the two guys that stick out in my mind is Luke Fauser, he's Orange Brigade rider. He's just starting, to ride 85 now he's won some championships at the Loretta's and just as a super fast kid. And the other riders, Gavin Towers, who just got a team doing a lot of Kawasaki, and he's also super fast. And my stepson actually, is one of my certified instructors started working with them. And now every summer, they come and prepare my track, and then go to the Loretta's. And as far as other guys like, top name pro riders that you've heard of, everybody's heard of, is I don't really work with them anymore because ever since I got my own track in Ohio, I've been a prisoner to that track. I mean, it takes so much work in track maintenance, to keep it good, and for our schools that we do there.
Dave Sulecki: So, and going back through the history, you've trained some of the top racers in the sport when you talk about the Jeremy McGrath grass and the Ryan Villopoto. How did that come about for you? I mean, it was at a deal where they approached you because they knew of your schooling or your school that you had going or did you approach them?
Gary Semics: Well, with Jeremy McGrath, it was a connection through a guy that freelance for Cycle News and he advised me to get a hold of Jeremy and do a lesson, private lesson for him because he looked like he had really good potential. And I followed up on that tip, I contacted Jeremy's parents because he was only 16. And I went out there to private lesson with him and we hit it off and stayed in contact, kept working together and you know what happened.
Dave Sulecki: Yeah, obviously. I mean, and word of mouth is probably some of the best advertising you can have.
Gary Semics: Yes, indeed.
Dave Sulecki: And when I look at your website, Gary, it's just loaded with content. I mean, you are the 800 pound gorilla of content for training videos there, I think I counted 39 different videos on there the other day that and then you also have the downloadable side. I mean, that's just outstanding that anybody in the world can go on there and pull down training for whatever part of the discipline they want to they want to train on. How do you choose how you want to break it up? Whether its...I'm going to do a video focused on body position or I'm going to do a video focused on, corners, how do you decide to do that?
Gary Semics: Well, it's from the experience that I have through doing so many motocross goals and teaching so many different riders at different skill levels, and understanding how to teach them, what, how to communicate with them, how to break the techniques down so they're able to understand them and be able to do them. And then, I have a prep motocross practice manual that consists of what I call The 55 Absolute Techniques of motocross. And I need to update that because since then I've been finding more but then when you break down the part of those 55 Absolute Techniques of Motocross, you come up with really hundreds of techniques and ways to improve and practice them. And that's how I make all the content in my videos, and you mentioned 39 videos, that's what I have available on DVD, but for my streaming subscribers and downloaders there is a total of 80 technique and training over the years.
Dave Sulecki: Wow.
Gary Semics: So, yeah, I mean, I like doing it. And I get so many good feedback, comments and things like that from people that thank me for it and now it's helped them and improve. And I just feel that's my part of helping this Motocross Industry continue to exist. I mean, I want it to grow and get better and stronger, but it's way behind the eight ball of what it was in the early 70s. And people that didn't live through that era don't understand, I mean everybody, I mean, everybody had a dirt bike. And we're riding dirt bikes, and there were so many places to ride, and they were affordable and the sport grew so fast. And now I feel that has been going the other direction. And I pretty much understand why too.
Dave Sulecki: What do you think is the biggest contribution to it going the other way? Because we have this discussion on the podcast all the time, which is, what's the future look like? Where are the next riders coming from? What are your thoughts on that, Gary?
Gary Semics: Well, it's coming from the cost of bikes, the cost and technology and maintenance and the places to ride. And I don't know if the industry really understands coming from Southern California where you have a lot of top level riders. The average guy out there that's purchasing, equipment and motorcycles and all that stuff. Their skill level, I'd say on average is about a C class level. They just want to go out and have a good time riding their dirt bike, they already have a full time job or they're in school or whatever. And they just want to have fun, they know they're not going to be a Motocross champion or anything, but they love to ride and they want to have a good time.
Gary Semics: And I don't think that the industry is catering to these people. They're making it more of a, you got to have a rich family to get into it and do decent at it. I mean, you can produce new race machines every year for the people that want those, but why not continue to manufacture older models that guys can have fun on that are so much less expensive and easier to maintain and that kind of thing?
Dave Sulecki: Yeah, and I couldn't agree more. I think that's the conundrum the industry seems to be in which is we want to offer the greatest technology but how do you do that at an affordable price and when the sport goes from blue collar to white collar you're you're bound to lose participants in some way. So, how do you draw in the blue collar guys? How do you offer that seemingly not equal but maybe almost as good as vehicle that's maybe it's an older model two-stroke or whatever at a fair price? We've all had that same conversation around the table, which is if Suzuki would rerelease the RM series motorcycles at '19, or excuse me, 2003 prizes. They might have some success selling them.
Gary Semics: Absolutely, because I go to a lot of, not a lot but quite a few open practices and there's guys out there that are below C class level or C class level. There's the majority of guys, and they're not really going to benefit from the top technology, $9,000 four-stroke, they can ride just as fast on a '05 RM 250, it's a lot less expensive, less maintenance. And more people could get into the sport and if we had more and better open practice tracks, so they can go there ride as much as they want and leave, where if you go to a racetrack, you got to be there for sign up at 7:30 in the morning and it's sometimes during the summer. You might not get out of there till seven o'clock at night. Who has time to go do that on the weekend? Or ride fou laps per moto.
Dave Sulecki: Yeah, and I tend to agree I see, we've talked about that also, which is value for your money and practice tracks are really, that's why they pack them in on the weekends because the cost is lower. Yet the seat time as much you can ride on limited amount of time really. And that's why we think the off road series are growing more because it's the same formula. You spend less money, you get more bike time and like you said, you don't need the high technology vehicle to have just as much fun and it's a question for the industry collective. And I don't know if there's an answer coming yet. But we'd like to think that eventually it'll come around to... the pendulum is swinging maybe back towards lower cost vehicles eventually to where everybody could get back into the sport. It'd be great for all of us because the hay days are long over and we needed to pump the sport up again.
Gary Semics: Yeah, I totally agree. And to have these track promoters that are having open practices or racing, I don't know, it would be good if the AMA got involved. And anybody that especially, goes to a race needs to go through some type of motocross school training. I just saw an accident yesterday when I was in open practice. There was 65 rider out there, I'm going to talk with everybody big bikes and everything. He was going super slow, there's a lot of tabletops up there and he crossed over on the tabletop towards the landing didn't know to stay in his line. Sure enough, he got hit by a big bike. It was ugly.
Dave Sulecki: And that's a bad formula for anybody. And we always try to ride safe when we're out there and look out for the grommets going around the track. To your point, I think you grew up through the area came up through the area where they had high school motocross. Do you remember that in the '70s?
Gary Semics: Yeah, I do. But I don't know if they had that in Ohio. I know that they had that in Ohio but I don't know how much of that they had, but I know they have it in Southern California.
Dave Sulecki: I'd love to be at the sales pitch meeting when they go to the school board and say, "Here's what we want to do." And see how that goes.
Gary Semics: Yeah, yeah. I don't think that would fly in most places.
Dave Sulecki: Absolutely. Absolutely. Well, Gary, what we want to do is we want to ... Unfortunately, our time's running out here. So, we always like to take the last few moments for you to thank any sponsors that you have in your program. And talk about those people.
Gary Semics: Oh, sure. Yeah, Factory Connection has been a big help to me, helping me get the right suspension settings. Maxima has always backed me, Fox Racing with their gear, Renthal Handlebars. Dunlop Tires has been a good sponsor, and man their technology in tires is amazing. They keep making them better every six months or so. Let's see, yeah there's a few other ones but I'm not used to getting on a podium and naming them [crosstalk 00:46:08].
Dave Sulecki: That's okay. No pressure at all. We're glad to have you on here and talk about the history of the sport and your contributions and all the great things you're doing to train riders. It's outstanding, we're really, really happy to have you on here. And you're welcome back anytime, Gary.
Gary Semics: I appreciate it, man. Yeah, anybody that wants to get on my website, just go to Garysemics.com. It's my name, Garysemics.com, and you can find everything from there. We do group classes, private lessons. I have certified instructors in six different countries. And of course, all the technique DVDs and training and streaming platform. So, it's all there. And yeah, I appreciate all the support from my sponsors and customers and trying to keep the dream alive.
PJ Doran: All right, upcoming this weekend in the racing world, we've got of course the Daytona 200 this Saturday. That will be Central Time 11:00 AM, followed very quickly thereafter, 3:00pm Central Time that is with the AFT Race from the very same race track there in Daytona. We've also got Jerez World Superbike scheduled later in the month. That is March 27, through 29th. That is scheduled assuming we don't have any more corona virus related interruptions to the racing that is scheduled.
PJ Doran: And unfortunately, yes, there was a Moto GP race that has now been moved to later in the year, results being the next Moto GP race on the calendar will be here in good old USA, the GP at COTA along with our Moto America Series will be racing with them that weekend at COTA. What do we got in the off-road world, Dave?
Dave Sulecki: Oh, we got all kinds of racing coming up. We've got March 14th, we've got returned to Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana, that's Saturday night and also the GNCC is this weekend in Washington, Georgia. It's the General at Aonia Pass. The last one I got to report here is the MX GP in Argentina, is coming up on the 22nd so far no cancellations that I can tell.
PJ Doran: Right on. Well, hopefully it doesn't impact other series like it has. Sadly World Superbike and Moto GP both, I fear there may be more complications, we'll see. I wanted to share with you Dave and our listeners that I found out how to watch the Daytona 200 live this coming weekend. It's available on the internet, if you go to NBC Sports Gold, they have a thing called Track Pass. If you go there, you will find that they have one that pertains to AFT, our American Flat Track Series. DMG owns that NBC Sports or is being broadcast there. So, you have NASCAR options as well as AFT.
PJ Doran: For the low, low sum of $1.99, I was able to purchase one month of AFT coverage and the Daytona 200 is lumped in with that Track Pass package for my 30 days. So, I'm going to watch some flat tracking for the next month again, very reasonable price.
Dave Sulecki: I would say.
PJ Doran: I'm going to be able to watch it live, I'll be in Arizona at a Cubs game probably surreptitiously watching the Daytona 200 from a Cubs preseason game this Saturday.
Dave Sulecki: As we do we sneak off to our phone and see what else was going on, right?
PJ Doran: Yeah, absolutely. And I'll be catching the AFT that afternoon as well. I'm excited to get to watch both of those live.
Dave Sulecki: Well, there you go full access and even at a fair price. That's a bargain at twice the price, I think.
PJ Doran: Yeah, and it took a little work to find that thanks to the very knowledgeable people on the WERA Forum, WERA being the national amateur road racing series. Big kudos to the brain trust that is all the members there, they tend to get to the bottom of any motorcycle-related problem very quickly, huge wealth of knowledge. And it was quickly determined from my perusing of that forum, how exactly I might watch the race. So, thank you again to those guys. We want to thank again, our guests today, and you personally for tuning in. We really appreciate it.
PJ Doran: If you enjoyed this episode of Pit Pass, make sure to subscribe to us on your favorite podcast app where you'll get alerts when new episodes are uploaded. That happens on Thursdays as we know and of course make sure you're also following us on Twitter, and Facebook and pitpassmoto.com.
PJ Doran: This has been a production of Evergreen Podcasts. A special thank you to Tony Wenck for joining us on the news. Contributor Tommy Boy Halverson, and Ed Cooling Camp, social media contributor Chris Bishop, our producer Leah Longbrake, and audio engineers, Shawn Rue Hoffman and Eric Colt. Now, I'm PJ.