Pulpmx: Let’s talk outdoors before we talk indoors. How’s the outdoor testing going?
Andrew Short: It’s good to be on the KTM and the 450 because I’ve got to ride it before but never race it. I’m really excited about the motor and the power’s so linear and it has a lot of torque. I think it will be really rideable. So those are some of the things I’m really looking forward to. That motor really suits more of an outdoor style track and I think for my riding style it’ll be really good. I’m pumped with the initial feeling of the bike.
When you were at KTM before, you were riding the new bike, which is last year’s Dungey model, can you remember enough to compare your bike now to that one?
Honestly, yeah. It’s really similar. The bike I was on was early, pre-production stages. But the overall feeling was really similar. What’s cool about KTMs is a lot of the parts cross over, from bodywork, swing arm… Actually the swing arm might be a little different, but a lot of the parts are very similar. It gives a similar characteristic from bike to bike. A lot of the characteristics and traits pass over except for the power. That’s what’s cool about KTM, they offer all these different power plants for different people and personalities. So some people that love a 350 don’t need a lot of torque like Roczen, they really make the bike work. And then old dudes like me that love a 450, they dig that bike. So it’s cool.
I’ve talked to a few guys recently about this, and you were just in California for a couple weeks. Does the whole Glen Helen, stop-watch nationals, does that bug you at this stage in your career?
At that point in my career I’ve learned from it because I know you can’t put a lot of emphasis and power into how fast you’re going on a Thursday at Glen Helen. So you have to be mindful of why you’re out there and that’s to get the bike ready and set up for the real race and not get over your head and injure yourself, and also not get in a cockfight and do something stupid and run your body down. It’s easy to get caught in those games when you surround yourself around people that put a lot of emphasis on that. But the older I get the more I realize what really matters and what to put power into, or energy into, and that’s what’s important is race day.
But you’ll back me up that a lot of people like managers do put too much emphasis on that in our sport?
It’s kind of crazy sometimes how the managers and mechanics…
Same with race day, though. A lot of people go fast in practice but then nobody remembers that. They just remember the results in the main event. Awkward how that works and how you’re having such a bad day sometimes when you’re struggling in practice and then everybody forgets about it on Monday morning. They’re like, oh, we had such a good weekend! And you’re thinking, yeah, we had a good 20 minutes but the rest of the day you guys wanted to kill me. So it’s just the nature of the beast.
That actually might be what your race this year in Oakland was, right? On the production Honda? After the main event you were like, “I don’t know, man. I got lucky. I felt like crap. The bike didn’t work…” Even though you got 6th.
And realistically that wasn’t a 6th place ride. As a racer when you line up behind the gate you put everything in the box and just go forward and do your best and that’s what happens.
When you were younger did you get caught up in the stopwatch nationals?
Honestly I didn’t even know about stopwatch nationals until I got to Honda. And then (Ernesto) Fonseca and there was a guy that was helping with my training, Michael Johnson, and (Eric) Kehoe loved the stopwatch. I actually learned a lot from that as well. There’s a lot of benefit to that and you have to be mindful of your surroundings, other people, what they’re doing, and that’s how you gain knowledge and everything else. You get to another level by doing that. But you just have to be kind of in a place for it. I just learned what works for me, I should say. Yeah, there is a lot to it.
Andrew at Houston earlier this year where he would go on to get seventh in the main event.
Pirelli’s a great tire. They’ve won a lot of titles, but there’s no secret that maybe if there’s one thing that you’re indifferent about on the KTM it’s the tires.
Yeah, and that’s not knocking Pirelli; that’s simply that I’ve ridden Dunlops my whole life. I mean, if I were to switch to Bridgestone or Michelin or whatever I would have struggled because I didn’t have the feel. You’re not going to gain a feel in a matter of a couple days of a new tire, especially when you’re switching brands and whatnot. So, their success from around the world speaks for itself. The more time that I spend on the tires and learn about their resources I feel a lot more comfortable on them and feel like that’s definitely not what’s holding me back. I’ve enjoyed working with them and what they have to offer.
Now that we’ve switched to Outdoors they have some really amazing tires, even some looses that I feel like could be an advantage. It’s hard to tell but tires are definitely an integral part of our sport. It’s cool to see what other people have to offer, but at the same time I have great relationships with some of the people at Dunlop as well. But I think they both make good tires and the competition is great for the sport and also the progression of the tires. I’m glad that somebody else is in our sport like Pirelli to put an emphasis on it. Because if just Dunlop was out there it would be horrible. It’s cool to see them out there and not only to ride the tires but get to know their crew as well.
When Bridgestone went away it was a big deal that I don’t think can, at that time, be emphasized enough. Tires are huge for you guys. That’s a big deal.
Yeah, tires are huge, but I think it’s more mental. It’s like you find a tire that you like and you believe in. And you know how mental racers are. If you believe in something or a tire, it doesn’t matter what the conditions are. You’re going to run that tire and say that it’s the best. It’s a weird deal.
True, Brock Sellards ran a Dunlop 490 everywhere, in the sand included. And RV’s run the same front tire basically everywhere.
Like somebody on a Honda would say that tire’s unrideable. It’s just weird how riders get off on their little tangents and they believe in something.
This BTO Sports KTM team holds a right of first refusal in your contract. Can you see this being something you do next year? Is this somewhere you could imagine going back to and will be in serious discussions with next year?
After my situation for the last year and a half I’m kind of a firm believer in just going day by day. It’s hard to know what’s going to happen in the future. I’m just very thankful that I’m able to still be out at the races. Vince from BTO and Scott Witt and the Butler Brothers, Forest and Karston, they gave me an opportunity to stay on the track and without them I wouldn’t have been able to do that. I was getting to the point where something had to happen. So the whole situation is I’m more or less just thankful to be out there, able to live my dream. It’s not going to last forever and I want to make the most of it. It’s been a great ride and I’ve enjoyed the last few races with them. So it’s been cool.
Andrew always smiling at the races.
We’re going to do a podcast on the 450 outdoor class and it’s stacked, dude. I don’t know if you’re aware of this but it’s stacked. It’s going to be a really good season. I’m looking forward to Hangtown.
More so than Supercross you think?
Because you’re adding Deano. You’re adding Rattray.
Well, Rattray was there last year.
Yeah, I know but he was hurt..
And you’re losing Millsaps and you gain Deano.
And you get Barcia full-time.
Yeah, but he rode Supercross.
You’re right, but as opposed to last year.
Supercross season was probably the most stacked it’s been in how many years?
A long time anyways, this outdoor season is here and do you feel like you’re overlooked a little bit? You look at the big names in Supercross and there you are, 7th in the points. I bet at the end of outdoors you’re going to be 4th, 5th, 6th, and a lot of guys that get more hype will be behind you.
No, I don’t feel like I’m overlooked. I feel like the people that credit deserve it and there’s a reason why. For me, coming into a new series you have to evolve with the sport each and every year and now that I am getting older it gets more fun because I have a lot of experience and I feel like that goes to my advantage and if I use it properly I should be up there in the mix. The biggest thing I’m looking forward to, I think it’s going to help me to, is that I’m in a solid situation now. Last year in outdoors was a little tough still. I think mentally I’ll be in a better place and that’s what I look forward to here in the future hopefully, seeing as I have the stability and I think it will allow me to be a better racer. I don’t feel like I’m overlooked by any means. I’m just so happy to be there and want to improve and then go up there with those guys.
At RV’s title party after Vegas SX and keep in mind there may have been some beers consumed, but I was with Nick (Wey) and Timmy (Ferry) and Nick was asking Red Dog what did you do when you got older? Timmy was basically shocking Nick with saying how little he did in-season near the end. Nick’s talking about all this Tour de France-type stuff he’s doing and how he feels guilty if he doesn’t do enough in the day. And Red Dog was like- "I just rode, man". Timmy said in the off-seaon he would cycle but he was basically- "I just made sure I got rest". And it was blowing Nick’s mind. It was a really interesting conversation anyway. So do you feel like you do either too much or are you backing it down and you just concentrate on riding? What’s your theory as you get older?
I think I’d be a better rider if I was more like Timmy, and unfortunately I get more of the mentality like Nick. I almost feel guilty because I love racing and I try to just maximize everything to the fullest whether it’s training off the bike or even motos. And that’s been a downfall of me my entire career because I’ve gotten sick where I’ve over trained and ran my body into a big hole and stuff like that. The biggest thing for me is that I’m older is getting enough rest and have some reserve for the end of the season, be able to manage and cope with it. But I can see where they’re both coming from. That’s on point, because as you get older, which more and more racers are able to do now, you have to be mindful of where you’re at in your career. You can’t get away what you previously did.
Nick was basically saying if I get beat at the race and then if I were to lay around all week and just ride I feel like I’m not doing enough… I’m going to get beat again. And Timmy’s just like, no, man, I just rode. It was pretty funny to listen to them.
The hardest part for me is with the kids. When you get home you train and ride, you’re already tired from the race, let alone the training part. And then with kids you’re, like, wide open. And that’s the hard balance. Everybody’s human first and athlete second, but it’s a delicate balance for sure.
For a few races this year Andrew rode a production bike with help from Kranyak Racing.
Let’s talk about the bike. Factory Honda… If you could take something from your Factory Honda that you’ve ridden over the years and bolt it onto your KTM, what would it be?
It’s not just one thing. If you put one thing on the KTM it wouldn’t help unless you took the whole package. I like how the Honda moved. It was just easy to lean and initiate the apex of the turn. The factory bikes had a lot of connection in the Honda. The stock ones were probably horrible. That was one of the things that when I went to the stock Honda for Supercross I really struggled with.
No, not that; the connection with the motor. It had no snap.
However much you turn the throttle on your factory bike it’s kind of how fast you’re going to go. It was that kind of connection?
I don’t know, it’s just really connected. In-between rhythm sections and coming out of turns. But I feel like the KTM is almost a better outdoor bike because it is more stable. It has an unbelievable motor and stuff like that, where Supercross I kind of struggled with it. And plus I didn’t have an off-season to get used to it. One weekend you’re on this bike, you go ride it for a day or two and go to a race. You just feel awkward because you’re mind is so programmed onto something else.
What would you bolt on your Honda from a KTM?
It’s so torquey. KTMs have a great clutch in terms of feel. I think that’s something that they’re really good with. I’m not sure the reliability on the clutch is… Well, the reliability on both clutches, on the Honda, for a pro, is kind of dodgy because I think I need to get off mine. I think it’s more of a rider error than those manufacturers. But I don’t know, they both have their pluses and minuses. But I think the KTM’s definitely a lot more suited for outdoors.
The Honda, you guys went for a 6-spring clutch eventually for reliability issues, right? The stock was four and then I think all you guys were burning them up or something. Something was going on because all the factory guys went to a 6.
Yeah, they flip-flop back and forth quite a bit.
What about steel frame? Steel frame versus aluminum. You rode aluminum for 10 years, if not longer.
Yeah. Honestly I don’t think that steel and aluminum is as big of a deal as where the center of gravity is, where they put the motor, the pivot points, stuff like that. I think that’s more important than necessarily the feel because which way they manufacture the frame they know how to get the right flex in the right places now in aluminum frames, where the steel one feels…it’s plenty stiff but the KTM has a great feel. I think more or less where they’re focused on putting that center of gravity and where they put everything is more important than the material they use.
What about your supercross season? Were you happy with it? You had a lot of crap go sideways this year. It seemed to me like I thought you had a good season with everything that went on. You were always like, eh, whatever. But I think you should be happy.
Yeah, when I look back on how it unfolded I think I should be happy. I accomplished quite a bit. I wasn’t sleeping at night. I was a wreck. I learned a lot off the track as well, in terms of life in general and how to handle yourself as a professional and whatnot. That will benefit me more when I think I am done racing in the real world. But on the track I felt that sometimes that I was hampered because of all those situations that were happening and the different elements I was going through.
But I feel like overall it was good but when I would pull off the track at the end of the night after the main, there were a lot of times I felt really disappointed and bummed because I know I’m a better rider than that, and I could finish better if certain things were different. And that’s hard as a racer, knowing that you can do better but something’s holding you back and it was out of my control. I couldn't do anything about it.
Yeah, knowing that you didn’t leave everything out there. There was more to give I guess, right?
Yeah, well, I left everything out there. I did everything I could. It wasn’t for a lack of effort. Just the situation for what it was. That’s life.
When things were going sideways with Larry (Brooks) and you were doing the Kranyak thing and you were getting everything ready with Enzo and all that… Was there a point where you just shut your phone off? How hectic did it get?
It was crazy but we were all in the same boat. I wanted to stay racing and be able to pay my bills too. You can’t keep paying to go race. And so I was really thankful of Mike Kranyak and their crew. It was a couple days’ notice before Oakland, and Hansen… It was just really weird how it all happened. So my phone never...I never turned it off. I was always trying to figure out how we could get there or trying to figure out how to keep going racing and all that.
I was imagining you tell coach Seiji or Jackie, I’m going riding and bicycling and you have to do all this. That’s what I imagined.
None of that happened. I never went riding period. I was trying to get everything just to get to the race. And there were so many people. It wasn’t me. I have to thank all the people involved, obviously Larry and Jeremy as well. They did everything they could to help me for a long time. Same with Kranyak and his crew, Dang and Chris and Paul… There’s many people at different times and we were all kind of stuck in a not-so-good situation. We were all trying to make the most of it at that certain time, and that was including myself. So I think it shows everybody’s character and how much they love racing and how much they love going to the races. It just wasn’t how any of us wanted it to go.
The #29 awaits its rider at Seattle.
Did it ever come close to working with Kranyak? In the very beginning, was it ever going to work over there or come close to working?
Definitely. There were many situations that we were trying to get to work. I’m very thankful to everyone. They were all really trying to help me get to the races. And we were looking at every different option out there. I worked really hard on trying to figure out a way to do that. And then eventually that’s where Butler Brothers stepped in and they offered me the best plan to move forward.
Now Forest was telling me he had his eye on you for a long time...
Yeah, it was early
So you always had that in your mind that that could work? They needed someone to fill the shoes of Jason Thomas.
Yeah exactly. And they were in a weird deal because (Michael) Byrne was hurt or whatever. That’s the hard part; obviously a deal doesn’t come together in a matter of a couple days. It takes quite a while to get people to commit to it and get on board. I think that’s where Forest is very fortunate to surround himself around good people with Vince and, Vince from BTO and Scott Witt. They’re both helping out on the business side and they were able to make it happen.
How big were Craig and Max from WPS in this whole process along the way?
They’ve been huge my whole career. And they’ve supported me wherever I went.
But what if you had to go to a team where you couldn’t wear their stuff? Or was that not even an option?
That’s not an option. I’m a Fly guy for life. I would rather not race than not wear Fly.
You were going to do something but you were always going to wear Fly.
There’s no way I would not wear Fly.
Last question, we were just talking about this in Vegas. You won two trucks from the shootout.
Pretty gnarly. I don’t think many people know that.
Actually I don’t know if I won the second time.
I thought you did?
Actually I did because the Honda people I think were a little bummed when I got in the Toyota truck after I won it the second time. Like they didn’t want me to get in it, but I got in it. I remember hearing that afterwards. I never kept them.
How big was that win for you on Motoworld? That just really, really did a lot for you and your career and your confidence and everything.
Yeah, that whole year was amazing for me. I finished on the podium I think at the first round. I didn’t expect it; I was just going out riding. I wasn’t very structured with my training; I just loved to ride. I didn’t have the knowledge and the people around me to kind of guide me. So I was just living in the moment and one thing led to another ands somehow I won a race. The next year was where the struggle was because I expected to win races and be on the podium but I didn’t know necessarily how I got there. It took a while to really sit back and learn…
I thought that really propelled you, that win. You really struggled the next year?
Yeah, I struggled the next year. I was on a 125 two-stroke and everybody else was on the four-strokes. I think my bike wasn’t as good as it should have been. And then when I moved to Honda then it all kind of clicked.