Rider Spotlight: Luke Gough
NEWS June 13, 2012
Photo by Dave Hoenig
AMAP: Where are you from?
LG: I’m from Hill Top, New South Wales, Australia. I actually go home in the off-season with a Visa to work and make some money. During the season, I stay in Ohio with Skip Eaken, who I ride for.
AMAP: Do you ride motorcycles in your down time to stay in shape?
LG: Not necessarily. I pretty much get to ride when there’s a race going on. In the past, I haven’t really had any kind of a training program or such. This year, I’m stepping it up by running and doing more things to improve my fitness and get in shape.
AMAP: How did you get into riding motorcycles?
LG: I’ve always been obsessed with them as a kid. When I was five years old, I got my first bike. I started racing motocross at six. I eventually found my way into flat track racing. Then I did speedway racing for a while, and after that, I decided to head over to the United States and give flat track racing a go.
AMAP: How do you feel your experience in AMA Pro Flat Track has gone since starting?
LG: It’s been great fun the whole time and has been a big learning curve. I’m slowly finding my way towards the front of the pack, so hopefully I can keep that up this year.
AMAP: Did you get to do any flat track riding in Australia?
LG: Not for a while now. It will have been four and a half years since I’ve raced flat track in Australia. I pretty much sold everything I owned to be able to come over here and do this, so I don’t have any equipment over there to use. The off-season for them is around the same time as our off-season.
AMAP: You’re a five-time Australian flat track champion, correct?
LG: Yes. We separate dirt track championships (TTs) and long track championships (half-miles). I won two of the dirt track titles and three of the long track titles. I only competed in what we call the senior class (AMA Pro Expert class) for three years, and I won those five titles. That’s why I came here! Laughs.
AMAP: Can you compare riding overseas with here in America?
LG: It’s quite a bit different. We run different wheels and tires. We don’t run on clay at all either. I never ran on clay until I came over to America. It took quite a bit to get used to the different types of bikes and their setups. We don’t have framers or twins. I had never even heard of a 450 DTX bike. Like I said earlier, I had done some speedway stuff, but it’s quite a bit different than running a twins bike on a mile!
AMAP: What track layout is your favorite?
LG: I think the miles are now my favorite. It’s taken me a little while to run as well as I would’ve liked on the mile tracks, but in the past two years, I’ve had Skip Aken help me and have some good equipment under me. With some track time under my belt, I’m excited to visit all the mile tracks on the schedule. Lima is one of my favorites. It’s a good cushion, and I can never go wrong there!
AMAP: What are your thoughts on riding in AMA Pro Flat Track since coming overseas?
LG: It’s good! It’s a good series. We don’t have a real series in Australia, so it’s really good to have 16 nationals for a series and be able to chase that throughout the entire year. Sometimes you get some tracks that you like, and others that you don’t. Once you learn them all, you learn to like them all if you want to do well at them!
AMAP: How would you say you’ve progressed as a rider in AMA Pro Flat Track?
LG: Every year that I’ve been here, I’ve done better in the points, and I’ve achieved something I haven’t the year before. Before last year, I had never made a front row start for a main, and this year, I made four of them. This year, I’ve made one right off the bat. Hopefully, I can get on the front row as much as possible. I’ve never finished better than 10th in a national until last year, where I had to top-10 finishes – fourth place being the best at Calistoga. Then I was running up there in the top-three, and either had a mechanical issue or crash of my own, but I feel like I’ve proved to myself and everyone that I can run up there. Now, I just want to do it more regularly.
AMAP: What goals are you setting for the rest of the 2012 season?
LG: I haven’t gotten to finish within the top-10 in points, but that’s been the goal for the last three years. I’d like to be in the top-10 for points and get a podium this year. I’d really like for it to be a win, but a podium would be awesome. I’d like to turn that top-10 into a top-five. I couldn’t make it to Daytona, because it’s quite expensive travelling from Australia to America just for those two races. I stayed home and saved some money. I’m a little ways back in points, but feel like I can get back up there.
AMAP: What obstacles do you think you will have to overcome to obtain your goals?
LG: Hopefully none! Laughs. I hope it comes down to me and my riding. For our first race on the twin at Springfield, we had a new bike. We had some issues, but all in all, we went away pumped after the bike’s maiden voyage. I’m looking forward to getting it back on track and get it up towards the front.
AMAP: What draws you to the sport? The thrill, competition or the speed?
LG: It’s almost like a drug. Once you get hooked, you can’t stop. Especially when I do better and move up the rankings, the more I want to keep going until I feel like I’ve reached my potential, I won’t quit. I guess when I can stand back at the end of the year and say that I couldn’t have done any better, then that’d be it.
AMAP: Who’s your racing hero?
LG: Well, I never got to see any American flat track, so I didn’t know about all the great racers until I came over here, apart from watching On Any Sunday. Mic Doohan and Troy Bayliss are two of my heroes. I met Mic at Indianapolis two years ago, but haven’t met Troy yet.
Luke would like to thank his sponsors for their support: Dick Ford, Skip Eaken Racing, Johnson Cams, KK Motorcycle Supply, Roeder Racing, Nicely Motorsports, HPR, HAP'S Leathers