Between the Motos: Kevin WindhamWednesday, March 11, 2009 | 6:11 PM
GEICO Powersports Honda's Kevin Windham will be having a homecoming of sorts when he returns to his native Louisiana for the return of the New Orleans Supercross. K-Dub is one of the most popular riders in the entire sport, so you can imagine how high the decibels will climb when he's introduced on Saturday night in the Crescent City. We caught up with the veteran during a busy week of media requests, ticket requests, bike testing, and just being a father of three at home in Mississippi.
Kevin Windham: It's been a busy week. Even some of the months leading up, some of the work we did with local television stations and stuff. They're really starting to play this week. It's been a lot of fun. I got to be honest with you; I am listening to the commercials come on the local radio and talking about seven long years since supercross has been in New Orleans, and I remember winning there, and I think getting a third on the podium, and then also, there was a year I didn't even race there. So, one side of it is I am glad it's back there, and the second side is like, “Man, dang, I'm old.” It's been a lot of years since we've been there and everybody's all buzzed around here and the energy people are going to bring there... It's going to be a fun weekend for me.
Now, have you been back to New Orleans since Katrina came through?
Yeah, I have. I have been down there a fair bit. They are coming back. So, things are coming back. It's coming along and everything's going great. It's going to be exciting to be in the Superdome and be in the home of the Saints, and it's going to be a lot of fun.
I understand that Randy and the crew at MSR might have some new threads for you this week.
Yeah, I am trying to do as much as I can to resemble the Saints. They are working with them a bit and actually running their team logo there on my helmet and stuff and been working closely with them. It's been a lot of fun for me to see that side and to enjoy some football games, although I haven't yet. But believe me, I got plans for the upcoming football season. So, it's been fun, and they're really rallying around their local guy. The Saints and the organization are supporting me and obviously me to them. So, it's going to be nice to be there with them and try to look as best I can as a football player.
Is there any chance that they're going to get LaDainian Tomlinson?
That I don't know.
Next time you see Drew Brees, ask him.
I will. I hope I see him there this weekend. We'll see what's going on; get the low down. [Editor: Tomlinson re-signed with the Chargers.]
Well, you had some black and gold on last weekend. I got to tell you, I thought the Factory Connection Racing GEICO Powersports look was really cool. Hell, you've probably raced in more colors than anyone Kevin.
Yeah, and a lot of time for the same team. Honda's been really cool with allowing us to do some different stuff, and GEICO's just been an incredible sponsor. With their black and yellow, we try to get it in there as much as possible, and Honda's been really cool in supporting us in doing some different stuff. And I think it's cool to see companies like that coming in, and they've been in for years, but in this economic time, they have really stepped up and are helping us out tremendously, and there is a reason for the team at this point. It's good to have them on board.
They brought out their cameras and their high-def and did it right. The commercial, I think, turned out really good, and I think that they're going to take us to a different level. Really, I think it's not going to be, from what I understand, a commercial that just airs like during a supercross program. I think it'll air a little bit more regularly and maybe come across some viewers that don't know much about supercross, and hopefully, we can get them converted and get them an insurance plan and get them watching supercross. And that would be a win-win for everybody.
Last week, in the black and gold, you didn't have quite the same luck that my beloved Pittsburgh Steelers had.
Yeah, it was a tough race for me. We've actually been working to get a set-up that is really good for me. We're getting closer. I actually had a decent race going, and I did some pretty big swaps. It's kind of what happens at Daytona. That's par for the course and I don't think the best rider in the world isn’t going to get out of shape there. My middle laps, like 10-15, they slowed down a good bit. Luckily, I was able to kind of turn it back on at the end, but I think I missed out on a good opportunity, a golden opportunity, to land on the box. I tried to catch and hang onto J-Law at the beginning. I was impressed with the way he rode. Who knows what to expect out of that guy, but he rode really strong there and ran out of a little gas there at the end. Chad got the win, I missed an opportunity, and that's something I have to deal with, build on and try to finish out strong here.
Let me ask you, I watched the replay of the start. You had a front-row seat; how did you not go down in that? That looked like quite a yard sale.
To be honest with you, the dew had set in, and James came in there hot, and from my vantage point, which was pretty much right beside him, he grabbed a handful and lost traction on the Daytona grass, that area of the track we hadn't really rode on and roughed up. So, he came in hot and laid it on in, and man, it was carnage. There were people down everywhere. I was able to snake through at the inside and was in a decent position. I was surprised at how it worked out for me.
As far as the rest of the season, you've got seven races to go, and you've been known to pick it up at the end. Last year is a good example. What would you be happy with at this point, seven races to go in the series?
Well, like I said, it's a work in progress for us, and everybody knows that we got the whole new bike. I'm still, week-in and week-out, I am testing this week, and I'll be testing next week. Right now, I think if I can get things to go the direction I want them to go and get a little but more comfortable, I think that I can pick the pace up a little bit, and I think that's the thing that's holding me back right now: my ability to feel comfortable, to be honest with you. That's what I want to work on. It's a great bike; I love the EFI; I love the power. It's been a little bit frustrating, and at this point, I want to get this solved by end of the season, you know? If not, at least have a really successful off-season here going into 2010. It took us a while to get things going this year because we were slow getting our parts and slow getting our bikes. It's just the way it goes. So, right now I want to continue to ride strong and ride hard and find the podium. With this in mind, I think there are really, really legitimate racers not making mains. We've seen that with Villopoto, Ferry, Grant and the list goes on. It's pretty cutthroat at this point. I’m just going to keep rockin' and rollin' and try to find that box.
It has and it's forever changing. When I was 13/14 years old, first starting to feel a regular 250, yeah they didn't have what they have now, but compared to what I weigh now, it's light as a feather. It was tough to keep the thing under my legs, and I think the four-strokes have more power, so they are always trying to go out from under you, but if there's any sort of hesitation and you are expecting that hit and then you don't have it, there's also a little more drag there as well. So, it's like you are trying to balance a marble on a steeper hill. It can go either way. Your weight can get transferred to the front or the back quicker.
The whole four-stroke engine with all the moving parts obviously makes it not want handle as well. It's a handful. I ride the 250 sometimes, and it's like, man, you just feel like you can power that thing around and whip it around. And that has kind of inspired me to revisit some things for the outdoors – maybe come out as a Lites rider, or maybe not. We’ve got to see what we can do and what we can fund and get myself out there. It's got my mind working to try to make the 450 handle like the 250. There's got to be a way to do that and continue to do that and be able to rip those corners. Even on a 250F, that's a true test for these kids to go as fast as the big bikes do, in that class. The power of those things is so incredible and yet the handle as good. So, they are doing everything we do on the track but yet handle just a bit better. It's a really competitive bike. I think you'd lose it on the start, but other than that, the power of these bikes is just insane. Our bodies are made of the same stuff and the tracks are getting more and more difficult and the bikes are getting better and better, so it's a real tricky game right now.
The one thing that never changes is gravity.
Yeah, and I am finding out that the dirt is starting to hurt more and more, but I don't think the dirt is changing; I think I am just getting old.
Welcome to your 30s, there, buddy! If there is any justice in supercross, that one you think you gave up last week, I hope you pull it off this week in front of your hometown fans. New Orleans is always going to be a party, but that would be a hell of a party.
I've been there for it before. We've won there before. So, we can do it again; I've got to get a good reason to get out and celebrate with my friends.
Good luck and I appreciate you calling in!
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