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Robert "Robby Bobby" McClendon and Taylor Robert

Robert ‘Robby Bobby’ McClendon is the co-owner and mechanic at his family’s D&D Cycles, the Czar at Pensacola Dirt Track, team owner, and accomplished racer. He fills us in on what he's doing for Daytona Bike Week, building engines, and dealing with "Askholes."

Taylor Robert has won the opening two rounds of the Rocky Mountain ATV MC WORCS Series for 2020. He tells us about the first time be bought a trials bike, the WORCS series and its growth, and shares who his greatest competitor is.

Follow Robby Bobby on Facebook!

Follow Taylor Robert on Facebook and Instagram!

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 in motorcycle racing right to you. I'm PJ Doran.

Dave Sulecki:
I'm Dave Sulecki.

PJ Doran:
This week on Pit Pass, we have Robby Bobby McLendon and Taylor Robert. But first, here's the latest news in the industry.

Dave Sulecki:
Wow, another crazy weekend of racing to talk about, Atlanta Supercross, Boy, I tell you, just when you think the series is going to settle down, it goes upside down again. So you've got all kinds of action on the track. 450 class was amazing. Roczen was just on another level this weekend. He just seemed to be dialed, wins his heat, goes out and wins the main event in the 450 class.

PJ Doran:
That was an impressive weekend. Yeah, brought the points on even. It was kind of a show of dominance by Roczen. I'd have to agree with you.

Dave Sulecki:
Yeah, we went into the weekend with about seven points between Roczen and Tomac, and just Tomac had some bad luck. He goes out and wins his heat, just like Roczen did. And I really thought that it was shaping up to be clash of the titans. And he had one of those starts in the main event that just ... He had to fight his way up. And fight his way up, he did. He did good, but now we're even in points, and we've got two red plates going into the Daytona Supercross next weekend.

PJ Doran:
Yeah, that's a big deal. And the other big story, I thought, after watching all the race action from Atlanta was Webb, his bounce-back, literally bounce-back. And then fighting back himself in the final to a podium finish, holding off a charging Tomac. That's impressive for a guy who had a very serious back injury last week, as we know.

Dave Sulecki:
Yeah, for sure. Definitely worth talking about. He climbed up from the bottom and got his way back up to third, passed Davalos there on the last lap. That was quite a last lap, with both him and Tomac going after Davalos, and they both passed him on the same corner. But yeah, full credit to Webb. I really think that Tomac was a story because he came back from mid-pack or worse. I think he was about 13th, 14th place at the start of the moto. And to get up to 4th on a track that just was one-lined and difficult to pass on. He found ways to pass. He ended up on the ground a couple times. He got into it with Blake Baggett, kind of cut under them into a corner and took them both out. Blake Baggett was not happy, and gave him a little shove.

PJ Doran:
Yeah. Definitely that was worth mentioning as well.

Dave Sulecki:
Yeah. And I'm surprised AMA hasn't said anything, but I guess it wasn't major enough to talk about.

PJ Doran:
And they may be letting some scores get settled it seems. The 250 class, we also had some ... a bit of action there, speaking of rubbing and bumping.

Dave Sulecki:
Yeah, there was a little bit going on in there. RJ Hampshire, man, another great start in the main event. Goes out, and he's leading. I think Sexton just wore him down. Just came after him and, by attrition, he just worked his way up there. So, full credit to the defending champ, for sure. He's been very solid. The guy that I really thought would be doing a little better this weekend ... I still think the track was suspect. But McElrath just wasn't able to make up ground, and he couldn't get around Hampshire. That track just wasn't allowing it.

PJ Doran:
Yeah, he definitely gave it a couple of good tries. And it was very difficult to pass there.

Dave Sulecki:
So we're starting to see a little point separation in the 250 class, so you've got 75 points for Sexton, 61 for Hampshire, 70 for McElrath, so McElrath in second. So, it's a good, tight battle, and it's good to see going into Daytona Supercross, which is always one of the premier events of the year. This is the one supercross event that I really look forward to the most because it's like an outdoor race in the middle of the supercross series. And the track is always a challenge. And whoever can win that event really, I think a lot of times goes on to win the championship.

PJ Doran:
It does seem to be a turning point in the season. Every year, in memory, when we go there, whoever comes out of there really does seem to light it on fire the second half, or the majority of the second half of the season.

Dave Sulecki:
Yeah, so we've got that to look forward to. I think the Daytona Supercross is the premier event of the year. It's the middle of the series, and that's usually when things have kind of settled in. But it's a track designed by Ricky Carmichael, so you know it's going to be hard. He's not going to give them an easy track to race. The track maps I've seen look pretty tough, and they do a good job down there with that.

PJ Doran:
Yep, looking forward to that. There was other motocross action around the world, wasn't there, Dave?

Dave Sulecki:
Yes sir. We had the opening round of MXGP in Matterley Basin, UK. And, as we can imagine, in the MXGP class, which is the 450 class to you and I, Jeffrey Herlings, the Dutch racer, just went out and won the first moto, came in second the second moto, and takes the overall defending champ, Tim Gajser from Slovakia, ended up second place. And one of my favorites, Tony Cairoli from Italy, ended up third overall. And here's an interesting stat. GasGas Motorcycles got its first MXGP finish this weekend with an 8th overall.

PJ Doran:
That's historic. That's worth noting. That's awesome, and congrats to GasGas.

Dave Sulecki:
In the 250 class, we had Jago Geerts from Belgium take MX2, first overall, with Tom Vialle second, from France. And Mikkel Haarup took third. So the guy kind of missing from that podium is Thomas Kjer Olsen, who is really kind of looked at to be [inaudible 00:05:42] in that class. He just had a rough weekend. He had a really wet, sloppy track, so he just didn't do well.

PJ Doran:
All right. With the end of those very good updates regarding motocross, I finally have road racing news to share. We kicked off the World Superbike road racing season in Australia at the Phillip Island track. It was entertaining. And we had an American, it is worth mentioning. Garrett Gerloff is in that paddock now, racing on a privateer Yamaha. He looked ever-so-good. In race one, he ran his highest, 7th. Unfortunately, he faded a bit at the end, and finished 14th in race one. And I'll finish off the news on our American. Before I give the result, he unfortunately got run into Sunday morning in warmup, and went off, crashed. He and ... Cortese is the gentleman who unfortunately hit him on track during the warmup. Gerloff was concussed, taken to local medical facilities. He is reported to be okay, no injuries beyond it, the presumed concussion, but was unable to continue the racing on the weekend. But he had a good race one, and we hope that he'll return safely and in good health shortly.

PJ Doran:
Race one, Razgatlioglu was on fire, took it for Yamaha. Story of the track through all three races, race one, Superpole race and race two, impossibly thin margins at the line. I think it was less than one tenth for the top four finishers at the line, so we're talking NASCAR-tight finishes at the line. Razgatlioglu over Lowes on the Kawasaki, teammate to the reigning champ, Ray, who unfortunately crashed very early in the race and was a DNF. So he was unable to immediately come out swinging in the defense of his title. Scott Redding on the Ducati was 3rd in race one.

PJ Doran:
Superpole, more of the same contenders. Ray was able to bounce back from his DNF. He won the Superpole race, then Razgatlioglu in 2nd, and Redding in 3rd. Race two, another just incredible battle all the way to the line. Lowes nips Ray, that's his teammate, at the line. It was thousandths of a second difference at the line, with Redding in 3rd. So, an incredibly good weekend of racing in Australia, and we look forward to more.

PJ Doran:
Unfortunately, it has to be mentioned, MotoGP was to start its season in the coming weeks. The GP class has been postponed from competition in Thailand. Moto2 and Moto3 classes who have been in Thailand for testing will carry on and race, due to travel restrictions from the coronavirus epidemic that is unfortunately impacting a lot of things around the world, now hitting our racing industry as well. So, again, the GP class will not be racing. The upcoming Qatar race is where the GP class will not be racing. Thai GP, the one following it on the 20th of March, has been postponed, hopefully to a later date. Which brings into question the Qatar World Superbike race, which is the week after the Qatar GP. It is presumed that maybe delayed, or postponed, or canceled. Time will tell. So, unfortunate events from the coronavirus situation.

PJ Doran:
Dave, what do we got for our trivia question this week on Pit Pass?

Dave Sulecki:
Yeah, for sure. The Pit Pass trivia question of the week, this is a great one, timed to the events coming up next weekend. Who was the first privateer to win a Supercross? Name the rider, year, and brand of motorcycle. And we'll talk about that later on in the podcast.

PJ Doran:
Welcome to Pit Pass one Robby Bobby McLendon, one of America's, I will say it, America's finest flat-trackers. Robby, welcome back to the show. We're looking forward to talking to you about everything you've got planned for the upcoming Daytona Bike Week events. You've got flat track. You've got road racing all your future. And Pit Pass is going to be there. Look forward to hopefully catching up with you at the track. We're going to have our representatives at the facility, thanks to DMG and their support.

Robby Bobby:
Thanks a lot for having me on, man. It's always a pleasure to talk to you boys over there. But yeah, I've got a full plate, as you can imagine. I do it to myself. I guess I've got kind of a problem.

PJ Doran:
Yeah, so what do you got? You've got a flat track, right? Let's talk about that effort first. That's your home base, right? Flat track is really where you've really made your chops in the motorcycle passion industry, correct Robby? Is that fair?

Robby Bobby:
Yeah, that's definitely fair. We've got a track called Pensacola Dirt Track, and we use it mainly [inaudible 00:10:44] races here and there, have a little local series. But generally this is 100% used for our training, racing, wearing the dudes out, a little bit of everything. We even built a little pit bike track, so we could change it up a little bit because going in circles does get a little repetitive after a while.

PJ Doran:
And so that's not the only ... You've got a team. You've got ride ... How many riders are you going to have totally, that you would say you are representing or they're representing you during this Bike Week event with multiple races happening?

Robby Bobby:
I've got a pretty large umbrella, but obviously everybody first knows that Dalton is my main focus. I don't want to take anything away from the other guys, but most of the other riders have their own teams they're riding for. They just kind of rely on me and get help with me, whether it be building their motors, or training them at the track, or wearing them out at the gym. But me and Dalton have a good thing going. On race day, it's 99.99% Dalton. But we help out Morgan Mischler, Brandon Kitchen, Landon Smith is our up-and-coming amateur. The list goes on and on. There's literally so many people. Trevor Brunner, we worked with him last year. He won the Horizon Award in dirt track.

Robby Bobby:
We'll pretty much help anybody that wants the help. If they're willing to put in the effort and listen most importantly, then we're happy to help. But we do have a few, we call them ask-holes, who asks a bunch of questions, and then they'll argue with you. So it gets ... I kind of turn those guys down in the sense where, "Hey, good luck. No hard feelings." I don't have any hard feelings toward any riders. But there are some guys that think they know best. And, heck, myself included, I'm very headstrong myself. But I've gone around it long enough to know and won enough races to have a theory on what works, and what will work, and what doesn't work. So I'm at the point in my life now where ... I mean, I do love to argue. I think we all know that. But at some point you just kind of say, "All right. Well, who's listening, and who's not?" And now that we've got a Grand National Championship behind us and multiple wins in other disciplines, that I'm just going to rely on that to kind of set how I feel needs to happen.

Dave Sulecki:
So, I'm kind of curious, Robby, with your program, you're doing some engine building. What does that entail? Are you doing tuning and building? Are you running a dyno to do testing and prove things out, or does that go right to the race track?

Robby Bobby:
No, it's a little bit of everything, honestly. Last year with Dalton, we started out with our own program. I don't do cylinder heads. I know enough to know that that's where a lot of the horsepower's at. But I also know that there's a lot of guys out there that just take a Dremel tool and make them worse. So, luckily, [Vance & Hines] came onboard our program last year and provided some amazingly good cylinder head work. And then we coupled that with Daniel Crower. He's got Crower Camshafts out in California. And he also was big into it. But Vance & Hines has stayed with us. And depending on ... last year in particular, sometimes it worked out well to where they just took the bike back with them, and they did some more development because the [Husky 00:13:48] is so new. And then other times, like if it's a Honda ... I built [inaudible 00:13:52] motors the year before. I built Trevor Brunner's motor right before the Grand National Championships.

Robby Bobby:
So, to answer your question man, I've got a buddy of mine that does dyno work for me. I'll go over to his shop, which is locally, and sit there. And we'll play on his dyno. I've got my own dyno too, but we like to use both of them just as a tuning tool because mine seems to read a little bit higher than his, so sometimes I like a stingy dyno. For instance, right now I've got a Vance & Hines cylinder head sitting on the bench, ready to go on another bike I'm building for Daytona. So, yes, I can do it all, but I don't do head porting. It's just too much, too much to lose if you screw it up.

Dave Sulecki:
For sure.

Robby Bobby:
And somebody like Vance & Hines has done so many of them. And you just get a cylinder head back from those guys, and it's a work of art. You almost hate to put it on your bike. [crosstalk 00:14:37]

Dave Sulecki:
Yes, it's automatic. Yeah, it's ready to go, and there's no doubts. I mean, so much of it is engine flow. But it seems like now tuning is so much more involved with electronics, getting the black box ... getting the maps exactly where you like them. Do you get help with that too?

Robby Bobby:
Yeah. We went with a ... Well, I guess we didn't really have much of a choice. When our Huskies were bought, they were so new that nobody really had anything, except for a company called GET ECU. Not only is it a really, really, really good setup, it was very user friendly and versatile. I could be at the track, tuning it with my phone. So, if we needed to make a slight adjustment, we would. But, for the most part, Vance & Hines had us dialed in with the fuel. And then we get to the track and just make little adjustments. But you're so right. Electronics, whether it's dirt or asphalt, road racing, whatever, it's so critical, especially more on the road race side now, which is unfortunate because it just takes your budget to the sky, but it's a necessary evil.

PJ Doran:
Robby, are you ... So it's clear, obvious that you're the flat track wizard, guru that you are, do you have ... So you've got Jake riding one of your bikes for the flat track. Do you have any involvement in the 200 earlier in that same day? Are you going to be fielding bikes, teams, riders in that event as well?

Robby Bobby:
I've really thought about it. I'm going to help out Jake with the little stuff, whatever he may need. He's got a good team behind him, so I don't anticipate him needing much from me in that realm. But there's so many road racers out there that I like a lot too. So, if somebody comes up needing some assistance, provided I'm not buried underneath Dalton entirely, then I'll definitely offer anybody some assistance. But no, right now my main focus is going to be Dalton, and then providing Jake with some very, very good singles. Obviously, they know how to get around a race track. They've won a bunch of races last year. So, it's going to be up to Jake, and I think he's up for the task.

PJ Doran:
Yeah, definitely he is. And, like I mentioned, we are going to be there. Pit Pass is going to be there. Tony and Tommy Boy Halverson are going to be walking the pits. I'm sure they're going to come looking for you. Don't let them bother you. You've got serious business on your hand.

Robby Bobby:
No, we hope to see them. I'd love to have them hang out.

PJ Doran:
Yeah, they're definitely going to make their way to you, I'm sure. What's your outlook, I guess, on the upcoming season? It's getting closer. This is the beginning.

Robby Bobby:
It is, but it's always a struggle. I try to remind Dalton to make sure you realize, "Hey, it's an 18 race series. And, like the cliché goes, you can't win the championship in one race, but you can certainly lose it." So, just like with last year, man, "Hey. If we're feeling like shit today, or if we just aren't getting together, to capitalize and make whatever you can out of it. But then we're on our good days, we're going to come hard-dick, right at it, and try and knock them out of the park." So, we're going to have something for them, for sure, I think. The Vance & Hines Harley crew's been absolutely working their asses off all winter long to make them better and better, and got a lot of good testing underneath his belt. So, it really is going to be on how much he wants it, man. But we'll be there, and then I'll be doing some Supermoto stuff. I help out a bunch with scoring, and I'm running my own races, so there's never a dull moment, man. I wish I had some downtime, but I do it to myself.

PJ Doran:
And you mentioned Supermoto. Robby, I know there was a ... What capacity or which series? I know there's been a lot of movement in our national Supermoto scene. There's a schedule that was just released very recently pertaining to Supermoto, is that what you're referring to?

Robby Bobby:
Yeah, for sure. So, Alex Mock is running that show, and he's doing a great job trying to revive a series that was, for all intents and purposes, was on its deathbed. And I'm happy. We've worked together well with his Supermoto stuff. We've worked together with his hooligan stuff, where he's helping Roland Sand. So, I really do have high hopes for Supermoto to make its way back because it really is a cool form of just every type of racing mixed into one. I'd love to see him succeed with that and keep pushing forward with that.

Robby Bobby:
I can't decide what I want to do, man, if I want to try and get my pro flat track card back. I've even thought about running the 200 next year. Dalton just looked back at me right now and kind of smirked because he knows that [crosstalk 00:18:53].

PJ Doran:
Yeah, nothing like a team owner/manager coming after their rider. You've done some riding recently, racing recently. Are you still doing ... It sounds like you're far too busy to go out and do anything resembling club racing. It's got to be something big, I presume, for you to get on and twist the throttle.

Robby Bobby:
Yeah, I mean I'd absolutely love to. A little over a year ago, the Altus Motors guys gave me an opportunity to see if I could still go around a road race course, and I proved I could. It takes me about a month or two to get back into shape, but there's all different animals, man. But I'm at the point now where, if it's not something legit, I don't want to sound like a cocky asshole, it's just not worth my time because I've got so many irons in the fire. But Dalton, whenever he talks his smack at me, I like to knock him down a peg or two. So, I can hang with him a little bit on the mini bikes and stuff like that. But man, it's just crazy to see the different levels, man. Because I considered myself back in the day, and he just stomps a hole in my ass every time he rides, almost to the point where it's not fun riding with him.

PJ Doran:
Well, that is his job, so it speaks well to you've got the right guy in the seat. What do you think? Clearly in the past couple seasons, the Indians have really seemed to have a step. Are you guys confident you're coming ... you're getting closer to being able to really give them something?

Robby Bobby:
Yeah, I think so. It was Springfield at the end of last year specifically. I think Sammy Halbert proved that they can run up front. The Harley has been ... The thing is, you're taking a Harley, which is basically a production motor, and you've got to tweak it and build all sorts of shit to make it compete with a motor that was scratch-built/designed as a race motor, so they're already behind.

PJ Doran:
Absolutely.

Robby Bobby:
Yeah. You're already behind the 8-ball. Think of it like this, man. You know how hard it was for those CRT bikes back in the day to compete with a real MotoGP bike, same scenario. You've got guys ... Because they had to built off of a production motor. Well, you could run whatever chassis you wanted. But, at the end of the day, it doesn't matter what you do to a production motor; it's not going to be a MotoGP motor. Well, Harley and Vance & Hines has almost unlimited resources. If you go by their shop, you would be in awe, man. They're casting new cylinder heads right there in house. I mean, it's incredible. So they're trying to make a CBR 1000, bottom end and everything, work, and make it into a MotoGP Honda, which we both know that the MotoGP Honda's a V4, and CBR's inline-four, but you get the idea. Big, big tasks-

PJ Doran:
Yeah, different design.

Robby Bobby:
Correct. Correct. There's a lot of work that goes into it, and I can't speak on a lot of it, the technical side of it, just because ... I just can't. But I do know that they're working their asses off every single day, and getting Ricky Howarton into the crew. And they hired Bryan Smith, who is arguably one of the best [milers 00:21:52] you can get. So, I think this year's definitely going to be a stepping stone. Not taking away anything from any of the riders that Harley's had in the past, but I'm definitely biased toward Dalton, so I think that he's the man for the job.

PJ Doran:
We look forward to what's going to happen out there. I think you're absolutely right. We're excited for you and your team, Robby. Again, just wanted to mention we look forward to seeing you at Daytona. And also want to give you a chance to thank ... Are there any ... As we near the end of our time, any sponsors that you want to thank who we haven't already?

Robby Bobby:
Yeah. I mean, first and foremost, I've got to thank my own shop, D&D Cycles. We're a family-owned dealership. But, luckily, when I'm gone, my parents are there to hold the fort down, not that they don't do it when I'm there also. But I couldn't do what I do if it wasn't for them stepping up, because I couldn't leave the shop if it wasn't for them. But then, of course, I already said it a million times, Vance & Hines. They stuck with my guy. They trusted him. They trusted my input on it. And now we're going to be working together. And I'm super grateful for that. And then for our Husqvarna program, I wish I could say thanks to Husky for providing bikes. But seeing as I'm still paying on one and Dalton's still paying on the other, I can't really say thank you for them to that. But, Beringer Brakes, they came onboard. Philippe, he hooked it up big time with some of the best brakes you could ever get. And then Crower Cams. And big, big shout out to Castrol Oil, who my buddy, Matt LeBlanc, came through big time with us for them, which definitely helped because it was nice putting a brand new oil change on the bike every session, just to keep it alive. Because we're on such a small budget, we had to make due with what we had.

PJ Doran:
Well, you've done it very well over the course of a number of years, so kudos to you, Robby. Congratulations on everything you've accomplished thus far, and we can't wait to see what happens for the rest of this season. We're wishing you the best of luck, and can't wait to see you at Daytona. Thanks for joining us on Pit Pass.

PJ Doran:
Thanks, Robby Bobby McLendon for joining us, MotoAmerica flat track team owner and all around awesome guy. Dave, what's the answer to that very interesting trivia question this week?

Dave Sulecki:
All right. Well, let me read the question back one more time. This week's Pit Pass trivia question of the week was, "Who was the first privateer to win a Supercross? Name the rider, year, and brand of motorcycle." The answer is Ricky Ryan in 1987, and it was the Daytona Supercross. The motorcycle was a Honda. I'll never forget that race because it was kind of a wet weekend and a wet race. And the story behind the story was Ricky Ryan had blown up his knee in practice. He lost his ACL basically. And went out in the main and pulled a hole shot and disappeared. And no privateer had ever done that prior to that event. They just were never able to breakthrough the upper crust, the factory bikes.

PJ Doran:
Yeah. It's a huge deal, not to be underestimated in any of the motor sports when someone who doesn't have direct factory support manages to get in front of all of them.

Dave Sulecki:
And things were shifting in Motocross and Supercross in the US those years because 1986 I think was the first year the production rule kicked in, where all motorcycles raced had to be based on a production vehicle rather than, prior to that, they were the exotic, one-off works motorcycles that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, and the factories would build special for each rider. So, that's when things were kind of shifting and changing and becoming a little bit more competitive, where the average person could buy the same bike that David Bailey was racing, let's say, and go out and compete with those guys. So, Ricky Ryan was a heck of a story because he was just kind of an unknown up until that event. And there really haven't been too many privateers since that have gone out and won Supercrosses.

Dave Sulecki:
Next here on Pit Pass Moto is Taylor Robert, a fast racer in the WORCS series out west. Taylor, how's it going man? Welcome to the show.

Taylor Robert:
Hey guys. Yeah, everything's going good. Just been pounding out a couple of races the last few weeks. And then I'm actually headed up to Northern California for a little hare scramble this weekend. And yeah, just having a blast racing my dirt bike.

Dave Sulecki:
Yeah, for sure. I mean, you've had great success already in the WORCS series this year. Winning the first two rounds, I think is just stellar. And you mentioned hare scrambles. It seems like you're a guy who does nearly every discipline of racing, just about, in off-road.

Taylor Robert:
Yeah. And I don't know if it's the combination of just me getting bored doing the same stuff over and over again, but also having a little bit of passion and drive to be one of the best all around riders in the world. So, those two things mix pretty well. I can always change up the training and try something else. Yeah, I just ... Honestly, I enjoy all types of riding, everything from Supercross to a hard enduro. So, I like it all.

Dave Sulecki:
Out of all of those, what's your favorite? Which one do you really like to do the most?

Taylor Robert:
Well, winning is fun, so that makes the WORCS series fun for me. But if I'm just going to go out for a ride with my buddies, say it's non training-specific, it's just go out and have fun, I tend to gravitate towards the hard enduro, extreme enduro type rides. I love that challenge of coming up to a canyon or a hill, and we look at each other and be like, "All right. Let's try and make it to the top." And you find your own way to the top. It's just incredible what these, not only riders, but what the bikes are capable of now. Every year, it seems like we push the limit a little bit further, and a little bit further, and I just love that challenge.

Dave Sulecki:
Yeah, it seems that bikes just get better and better and better. Now, you've done some of those big extreme enduro events like Erzberg, right?

Taylor Robert:
Yeah, I have. I haven't done anything like Erzberg, or Sea to Sky, or anything like that for a few years. But I've done Erzberg, Sea to Sky, Tennessee Knockout, Last [inaudible 00:28:00] Standing, King of Motos, all those good ones.

Dave Sulecki:
Yeah, those are gnarly, gnarly events, that's for sure. Of all of those that you do, which one would you say is your favorite?

Taylor Robert:
Erzberg is just a phenomenal experience. I would say to anybody who's a fan of just motorcycle racing just to go to Erzberg just to experience it because, not only is the mine way bigger than it looks on TV or in pictures, but just the atmosphere there is insane. You have fans from all around the world just going crazy, and you have 1,500 riders trying to qualify to a 500 rider main event. And then sometimes only three or four guys finish. So, it's pretty cool seeing the variety of riders, everybody riding the same track at the same time. It's just an awesome, awesome event.

Dave Sulecki:
That seems to be the one that they really pump up the most and gets the most attention. That's an amazing stat when you think about it. That percent of riders finishing out of 500 that start.

Taylor Robert:
Yeah. One thing people have to understand about Erzberg is that it's not that there's only that many people that can actually finish the course. It's the time limit that they put on the race. They only allow you four hours to complete the event. At the four hour mark, this huge foghorn goes off. Basically everybody has to stop at that point wherever you are on the course. And that's usually what makes it hard for people to finish. It's because you could take somebody who's a decent technical rider, and they could make it through every obstacle on that course, but it would take him all day long. It's those top five to ten guys that are actually racing it and trying, charging in between the obstacles and stuff like that. So that's where they really make up the time.

Dave Sulecki:
Gotcha. Yeah.

Taylor Robert:
Because everything there is big, no doubt, and tough, but anybody who has some grit and a little bit of technical skill could get through it.

Dave Sulecki:
Yeah, it seems that way. And it kind of leans a little bit toward the riders that are, kind of a trials background almost seem to have a little bit of an advantage getting up over some of the obstacles, some of the big rocks anyway. That's for sure.

Taylor Robert:
Yeah, definitely. I mean, trials is very influential in that category of racing. And it's been a huge part of my training, honestly. When I signed my first factory contract back in 2011 with Kawasaki, and we went to the first race I went to with them, it was Geoff Aaron, Terry [inaudible 00:30:21], and Cody Webb on the podium.

Dave Sulecki:
There you go. There's a-

Taylor Robert:
And I thought to myself, I'm like, "If I'm going to do this, I should probably get a trials bike." So, I was 20 years old, went and bought my first trials bike. I mean, it changed my game for sure because I went from being a Motocross kid with a little bit of off-road experience. And then after a couple years of riding trials, I was winning Endurocross races and going to Erzberg.

Dave Sulecki:
Yeah, absolutely. And eventually the International Six Days Enduro, which I'd like to talk about a little bit, that event last year. Winning the overall in E2. I think it came down to that final moto, that special test. I think you were the guy that sealed the deal for the team.

Taylor Robert:
We all had to finish ... Well, not all of us. They take the best three out of four scores. So, as long as three of us finished that final moto, then we were going to win the race. But it's always just nerve wracking because you don't know what's going to happen. I've seen, in 2011, Juha was winning the overall, and he crashed in the first turn of the final moto and DNFed. So, it's like you can make it through the first five days of really tough racing, and then have something stupid like that happen on the last day. So it's always really nerve wracking, but luckily I did win the final moto in my class and was able to kind of secure the win. There was one more race after us, but by the time I crossed the finish line and then Kailub Russell crossed the finish line right after me, that was our three riders that we needed to finish. It was just a surreal feeling.

Dave Sulecki:
Yeah, absolutely. And I struggle to understand why more people in the US don't recognize or see that event, as big as it is. That's a major accomplishment. You're on a world stage against the fastest off-road riders in the world, most accomplished anyway. And to come back, I just want to scream at people when I see them that say, "Do you realize that we won, the US won that event this year?" It's huge.

Taylor Robert:
Yeah, it's really cool. I mean, it's as close as we have to anything like the Olympics for off-road racing. So, I always, when I try to explain it to people that don't know anything about it, that's pretty much where I start. It's the Olympics of our sport. Every country sends their best four riders, and you got to make it through six days of tough racing in order to win. And not only are you trying to win personally, individually, but you have three other teammates that you've got to watch out for, and help them get through the week, and make sure everybody does what they need to do in order to win for team USA.

Dave Sulecki:
And also change tires in a record amount of time. That goes with it, right?

Taylor Robert:
Yeah, it's so funny. The first couple years I went, I was always so stressed about the tire change. But now, this was my ninth ISDE, so I was trying to calculate how many tires I've changed over those nine ISDEs, and it's just kind of like second nature now. I can pretty much do it with my eyes closed.

Dave Sulecki:
So do all your riding buddies bring their wheels over when they need tires changed or what? You're the go-to guy, right?

Taylor Robert:
Definitely for my dad and my father-in-law. They love bringing their tires over to my house.

Dave Sulecki:
Yeah, you'll do it. You can do it in two minutes. I saw it on a video. Right?

Taylor Robert:
Yeah, and that's the problem. When you're talking about ISDE, you like to brag about it and be like, "Yeah, I did a front and a rear in five minutes." And they're like, "Oh, perfect. I'll bring my wheels over tomorrow."

Dave Sulecki:
See, it's a piece of cake, right?

Taylor Robert:
Yeah.

PJ Doran:
Is it an automatic invite, Taylor, when you're involved, such as you were, in winning the deal? Are you guaranteed the next year? Are you looking forward to the next year? At what point do you say, "All right. I've had enough ISDE"? I mean, it's got to be thrilling.

Taylor Robert:
It's pretty much always ... like three or four days in, you're always telling yourself, "Why am I doing this. I don't know why I'm even here. This is so grueling. I'm wet. I'm cold. My butt is raw. Why am I even here?" And then you finish the race and you're like, "That feels good to get that done with." And you don't even want to see a dirt bike for another week or two. And then you already have those emotions coming back in and be like, "You know what? I think I'm ready for next year. I want to do that again." People say the same thing about Ironman triathlons and marathons, stuff like that.

Taylor Robert:
As long as I'm staying fast throughout the year, I kind of get my automatic invite back. This year's looking good for me so far. I've kind of taken over the role as the team captain. And I have a little bit of input as far as choosing the riders and giving my opinion as who I think is going fast and can make it through all six days. So, at this point in my career, I would say yeah. I've kind of had an automatic invite the last few years, but that can change whenever. As soon as there's another up-and-coming kid, like this Dante Oliveira kid in the WORCS series, he's been ripping, he's going to start replacing some of us older guys here pretty soon.

Dave Sulecki:
That's always the way it is. No matter how fast you are, there's always somebody coming up faster, for sure.

Taylor Robert:
Yup, exactly.

Dave Sulecki:
With that in mind, all these disciplines you've raced and you've done very well at, who's been your greatest competitor in all the various series that you've raced over the years?

Taylor Robert:
It's crazy. I've done so much different stuff. Obviously Kurt Caselli was a huge influence to me. I raced Kurt 2009 through 2013 and always had a blast racing Kurt. But I would say the most intense guy that you can ever be on the track with, who never gives up, and you're always telling yourself in the back of your head you're like, "How is this guy still hanging in there," is Mike Brown.

Dave Sulecki:
I've heard that about him on the Motocross track too. Yeah, for sure.

Taylor Robert:
I remember my very first pro race was actually Mike Brown's first WORCS race as well. Obviously, he'd been racing professionally for 20 years before that. I was 18 years old, and he was ... I remember we joked about it on the podium because he was over twice my age. That was in 2008.

PJ Doran:
Wow. Wow.

Dave Sulecki:
Yeah, he's something.

Taylor Robert:
And then you fast forward to ... what was it? 2015 at X Games, which was another seven years later. I'm still racing the guy, and he's well into his 40s, and he's ... I'm battling with him. In my mind I was like, "How is this guy doing this? I'm 20 years younger than he is, and he's battling it out with me on the gnarliest track there is." It just didn't make any sense to me. I'm like, "He's got to break sometime, right?"

Dave Sulecki:
Yeah, you would think so, but he's earned that nickname, Velcro. He's always stuck to your back.

Taylor Robert:
Yup.

Dave Sulecki:
And to meet the guy off the track, he's the mildest mannered, quietest, subdued personality you'll ever meet. He's not like over the top.

Taylor Robert:
Yup.

Dave Sulecki:
And it just doesn't box with him. I guess he's one of those guys who puts his helmet on, and he just becomes a, boom, new personality, I guess.

Taylor Robert:
Totally. Yeah, he is the most aggressive guy I've ever met. He'll clean you out, T-bone you. Come off the track, and you're super hot-headed. I'm yelling at him, "Dude, what the heck was that?" And he'll come up to me. He's like, "Hey man, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to do that." His southern accent. He's all chill and quiet. And at that point, you can't even be mad at him.

Dave Sulecki:
[crosstalk 00:37:44]

PJ Doran:
He knows what he's doing.

Taylor Robert:
Yeah, exactly.

Dave Sulecki:
So this summer is going to be mainly concentrated on the WORCS series, and the lineup for ISDE?

Taylor Robert:
Yeah. We've already kind of started preparing for it. ISDE is a little earlier this year. It's the end of August instead of the beginning of November, so quite a bit earlier. But yeah, just do the WORCS races, the WORCS sprint races, which are what I consider to be the best practice from ISDE on the west coast. They have the Full Gas Sprint Enduro Series on the east coast. And those Sprint Enduro Series really are the most similar and best practice for ISDE that you can get. Going to focus on those, and just kind of push through the summer, make it through healthy, hopefully win some more races. And then get with the team and head over to Italy.

Dave Sulecki:
It seems to me, just kind of outsider looking in because we're more mid-west based, but looking at the WORCS series, it seems to be growing. You're getting a lot more attendance, a little more grassroots. What's your take on it as far as bringing new people into the sport or just seeing a growth of the series?

Taylor Robert:
It's definitely been growing. It was huge back in the day when I started, '06 to '09. I mean, there was 30 pros on the line, 40 pros on the line sometimes. And then obviously with the economy crashing and people ... the first thing that went was their toys. But, as it's kind of come back around, they've got some new owners in it as of last year. They've been doing a really good job with the tracks, just kind of keeping it fresh and different. Yeah, it's definitely been growing. It's been awesome to see some more moto guys trying it out. You have Zach Bell out there, who's ripping. And then a couple other guys from the moto side, Cole Martinez and Ryan Surratt, just giving it a try. It's cool to see it coming back around. The turnout's been awesome. The racing's been really good. At this last one, I was head to head with Dante Oliveira for about an hour, just going back and forth. So, it's cool to see it happen like that.

Dave Sulecki:
And maybe that's the lever they're pulling, is they're drawing in the Motocross riders, which they're probably ... Like what happens out east is Motocross guys go to GNCC because I get more seat time. I get a lot more quality riding in in the day. Maybe that's the thing that draws them to the WORCS series.

Taylor Robert:
Yeah, definitely. Like I was saying before, it's just variety too. I think it's really easy to get burnt out racing Supercross. Most of these guys have one, maybe two practice tracks that they go to. There's a one minute lap time, and they'll pound out 50 laps a day or whatever it is. I mean, that gets pretty monotonous. Where, with off-road racing, you can go practice anything. That's what I preach is any type of seat time is good practice for off-road. You can go do a circle track, or you can go up this hard enduro canyon, or you can go to the Motocross track if you want. Any of it is going to be great practice. So, I think that's what's cool about it. It's something fresh for these guys. They get to try new stuff and new challenges. It just keeps it fun.

Dave Sulecki:
Absolutely. Well, Taylor, our time's coming to and end, and we really appreciate you coming on today. As we like to do, are there any people you'd like to thank, sponsors and such?

Taylor Robert:
Yeah. The Red Bull FMF KTM team has been amazing to me. They're obviously a premier team in the off-road world, and the Supercross world now too, so I can't thank them enough. And just a few personal sponsors I have, Red Bull, Rigid Industries, GoPro, [inaudible 00:41:22] Designs. Thank you everybody for helping me out, and hopefully keep it going.

Dave Sulecki:
Yeah, absolutely. And best of luck this summer in ISDE. And we hope to have you back on here talking about it sometime soon.

Taylor Robert:
All right, cool. Thank you guys.

PJ Doran:
Well, thank you again, Taylor Robert. In upcoming news in the motorcycle world, we've got of course, right around the corner, we're only a couple weeks ... well, one week out from the start of Bike Week in Daytona with the Daytona 200 on Saturday, March the 14th, as well as the American Flat Track Daytona race that evening. In the MotoGP world, this weekend we do have races at Qatar, but again only in the class Moto2 and Moto3. MotoGP was canceled from that race due to travel restrictions. The following week is a postponed race in MotoGP from Thailand. Which leaves COTA, the Circuit of The Americas, in Austin, Texas on April the 3rd and April the 5th, as hopefully that race will carry on as normal because that also involves our Moto America Series. That is their season opener at COTA where they run with MotoGP typically every year.And in World Superbike, the next upcoming race is March 13 through 15 in Qatar. Given what we've seen in the MotoGP class, that race has a serious question mark after it. We will see what happens in that race.

Dave Sulecki:
We've got to wonder how that's going to affect things going forward, if there's going to be more delays or cancellations.

PJ Doran:
It could hit a lot of things, and I think we're going to see that unfolding.

Dave Sulecki:
So, as it stands, schedule is static until further notice, I guess.

PJ Doran:
Yep. And hopefully it doesn't impact our off-road racing, right?

Dave Sulecki:
I don't know yet. I guess I haven't really heard anything yet, because there is some international flavor we'll talk about here in a second.

Dave Sulecki:
Coming up this weekend, Daytona Supercross is March 7th. That's Saturday. This is really one of the greatest Supercrosses of the year. I hope everyone gets to check it out. We've also got the Kicker Arenacross in Amarillo, Texas this Friday and Saturday night. And GNCC Wild Boar is in Palatka, Florida. So, not far from Daytona, so fans can go check out both of those. And then on the international front we've got MXGP in Valkenswaard, Netherlands. So, so far, no reports of cancellations or delays on that series, but I guess we'll have to keep our eyeballs peeled and see what happens.

PJ Doran:
And we definitely want to mention and thank the DMG group, and Moto America, and AFT, and everyone involved in getting Pit Pass to the races in Daytona. We look forward to being there in effect with our very talented Tony Wenck and Tommy Boy Halverson on site at the races. Racers and competitors will certainly see them around the pits, as I know Tommy Boy has a lot of connections in the Moto America pits, as well as the Flat Track pits. We interviewed tonight, Robby Bobby has been gracious enough to offer anybody a chance to come hang out with his race team.

Dave Sulecki:
Sounds like fun.

PJ Doran:
All right. And we want to thank you again as well as our guests for listening to Pit Pass today. We appreciate you tuning in. If you enjoyed this episode, make sure to subscribe to us on your favorite podcast app, where you'll get alerts when new episodes are uploaded. Of course, make sure you're also following us on Twitter, Facebook, PitPassMoto.com also.

PJ Doran:
This has been a production of Evergreen Podcasts. A special thank you to Tony Wenck, Tommy Boy Halverson, Ed Kulenkamp, social media contributor, Chris Bishop, and our producers, Leah Longbrake, and audio engineers, Sean [inaudible 00:45:23] and Eric Colt.

PJ Doran:
I'm PJ.

Dave Sulecki:
And I'm Dave.

PJ Doran:
We'll see you next week on Pit Pass.

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