5 Minutes with ... Mike BrownTuesday, April 29, 2008 | 6:49 AM
CAS Honda rider and former AMA Champion Mike Brown has barely registered at the front of the MX1 world championship field this season after trips into the rough Dutch sand of Valkenswaard and the quagmire of Spain, but in the furnace of Portugal, Mike Brown showed signs in the second moto that the veteran still has a hand to offer to Grand Prix racing. A resilient push in the last half of the last moto saw him capture fifth, and he insists his season has now begun in earnest.
Racer X: Mike, just how close were you to returning to the U.S. in the off-season?
Mike Brown: Not very, actually. It would be great to go back and race there, but I had a good season here in 2007 and Harry [Ainsworth, CAS Honda team owner] wanted me to stay here again and we confirmed a deal quite early to do another year in 2008. Going home to just race the Nationals would be awesome, but other than that I am having some fun over here.
Yeah, for sure. We had to look at everything – the family’s lifestyle, the money, where I wanted to be racing – but I am doing okay over here. The only real way to make some money back home is to race supercross.
What’s your evaluation of 2007? Again, you proved that you could handle World Championship racing with a moto win, a podium, points in all but one moto out of thirty and a British MX2 title. It was a tougher story for Ryan Mills and Sean Hamblin...
For those guys, it was their first year here, and that first season is always hard. I can still remember coming over here in 1997 with Rinaldi and it was a difficult time, and I was living in Italy with my wife and there were obvious language barriers. Ryan [Mills] had that problem. Sean [Hamblin] didn’t do too badly. He was based in the UK and I really thought he was set for another season. People underestimate the riders here and also the tracks, just the same as it would be for any Europeans to go over to the States and be quick there. It was a good year for me, though.
Perhaps you need a special kind of character to succeed overseas...
Well, it helps when you are doing okay with your racing. For sure, if the results are struggling to come, then the homesickness kicks in a bit more. I’m from the East coast and I think that helps me to settle in. I don’t need the big city and I think some people struggle if they don’t have everything they need – they don’t have the right environment around them. I’m settled in England and it feels a little like home because of the family I’m living with.
No, everything is more or less the same, but the results have not come my way yet. Last year, I also struggled up until this point, and the race here in Portugal was a lot better. I hope it will be a turning point. We have new suspension and a new bike, but I am crashing from trying too hard at the moment. The conditions at the races have been awful and I haven’t managed the starts.
Being away from your young family cannot be easy. Will they be coming over more this season?
Yeah, I go home for a week after the Italian Grand Prix and then they will travel back here with me for a few weeks. My older kid is five and he is now in pre-school, but for sure they will be visiting through the summer. They’ll stay with me and should be fine in the UK. To be honest, even though I miss them, the set-up we have is not too bad because I can just focus on the training and racing and not be worrying about whether they can get around or if they are okay. It will be awesome to have them with me though. I remember being in Italy and feeling very homesick in my first year. I think my wife and I spent the first two weeks crying.
Yes, and surprisingly quite a few other people. When I went to Glen Helen last year, I was shocked by how many people were coming up to me saying they followed the GPs on Mediazone. That was good. It helps that the family can see what I’m doing. In a way, it makes them feeling like they are here with me. We chat a lot on webcam and I feel like I have seen the kids grow up on a screen. You go home and suddenly they are a lot bigger – that’s probably the hardest part. Maybe, if they end up racing, then I’ll travel with them and we’ll spend more time together.
Do you still follow supercross? What do you think of the current series?
Yes, it seems a bit crazy over there at the moment, but I think America needs the action and the attention. It doesn’t look like the economy is too good at the moment and if there is extra interest then that is positive for the series. I was up at 6.30 a.m. looking for the results. I think it will be an exciting finale next week in Las Vegas.