AMA Pro Flat Track » Don Tilley Memorial Charlotte Half-Mile

Rider Spotlight: Blake Young

NEWS March 1, 2012

Rider Spotlight: Blake Young

Photo by Brian J. Nelson

AMAP: You’re from Wisconsin.. So how cool is it having your friends and family watch you race at Road America?
BY: Being from Wisconsin, I feel blessed having a race course as nice as Road America in my backyard, so to say. To have friends and family come out and support me like they have in the past is great. It makes me excited and energetic for the race weekend to arrive. It’s always been a good event for me, as it was one of the first racetracks I’ve ever gotten to road race around, so it’s pretty special to me.

AMAP: You got your first win there, correct?
BY: I got my first Superstock win, my first AMA Pro win there in the rain. It was quite eventful.

AMAP: Have you always lived in Wisconsin?
BY: Born and raised.

AMAP: But right now, you’re in California.
BY: Yeah! California is where I come to get away from the weather in Wisconsin and focus on the season ahead of me by getting some good training in. My team (Yoshimura Racing) and American Suzuki are out here. I have a lot of friends out here that I get to ride with. I spend my winters here, but I will fly back to Wisconsin when it’s snowing so I can go play in the snow! We’ve been having a weird winter, as we haven’t gotten that much snow. Because of that, I haven’t been spending much time there. If the snow’s blowing, I’m there riding snowmobiles or riding my RM-Z450s on the ice. It’s cold enough where you can’t get on a road bike, but warm enough that you can’t get on a snowmobile.

AMAP: What was your first motorcycle?
BY: My first motorcycle was a PW50. That’s pretty much the bike to have, but I had many bikes afterwards. I had Cobras to King Cobras to Cobra Juniors to Italia Jets to LEMs to Moto Morini... I still have my Moto Morini in the box, I haven’t found the time to get it out and have it all 100% restored.

AMAP: With all the dirtbikes, we’re going to guess you tried motocross..
BY: I actually didn’t do much motocross at all. I can actually count how many motocross races I’ve done on one hand, not using my thumb or pinky. At the age of four, I did my first flat track race. I grew up in Wisconsin racing in District 16. For my younger years, I built up my rank through racing flat track. You guys have a picture of me on my CR80 flat track bike from back then.

AMAP: You have a flat track background, how important do you think it is in road racing?
BY: I think you need some sort of background, whether it’s motocross, flat track, trials, etc. You have to have some kind of feel for a motorcycle before you jump onto a road race bike, but if you look back in time, it kind of repeats itself that many great motorcycle racers have backgrounds in other types of dirt-based motorcycle riding. I think it helps tremendously, as a lot of my skills came from dirt track racing. For example, rear wheel steering is a huge one. When the bike gets sideways on the rear end, being able to recover, slide it around and drive it out of the corner with it stepped out a little bit is something that I learned in flat track that was then applied to road racing.

AMAP: Out of all the motorcycles you’ve ridden, what would you say is your favorite?
BY: Hmm... I think there have been quite a few. The bike that’s closest to me would be my Moto Morini. The bike I had when I was going up was rare, and I have a lot of memories on it. As far as getting my blood pumping, it would have to be the 2012 Suzuki GSX-R1000. Every time I ride it, it gets me going, excited and is a big handful.

AMAP: From a rider’s standpoint, what would you say are some differences between the 2012 and 2011 model?
BY: For the most part, they’re fairly the same, but there’s a big difference in the motor. It has a lot more power and has lost weight. When I got on it, I expected the same great handling, but the power has definitely been increased. It’s pretty hard to improve something that’s as good as it is, but they have. 2012 is going to see some powerful GSX-R1000s.

AMAP: What’s your favorite racetrack?
BY: The proper answer to that question is whatever racetrack we’re racing at that particular weekend. But Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin definitely holds a spot in my heart... It’s the combination of it being a great track, having the comfort of friends and family there to cheer for me and the ease of living near by the track.

AMAP: What draws you to the sport? The thrill, competition or speed?
It’s a combination. The speed and being able to do it for a living is great. Being able to work with this family of people known as the motorcycle industry is great. The motorcycle industry is a great industry to be in, and everybody seems to know each other. It’s been a small community that I’m proud to be a part of. For me, I just need to win, be the best and that’s what I’m here to do.

AMAP: Are there any off-season training techniques that you do in preparation for Daytona?
I don’t think there’s anything different from one track to another. You always have to work hard, eat right, be in shape and fit and be in tune with your bike. I’m excited to kick this season off, but Daytona is Daytona… There’s not much you can do to prepare for it. Last year, I ended getting both wins, so I hope to get the same results.

AMAP: What are your expectations going into 2012 with Yoshimura Suzuki?
BY: It’s pretty obvious.. win the championship.

AMAP: Who is your racing hero?
BY: I’d have to say I look up to Kevin Schwantz. What he’s accomplished both on and off the track is impressive.

Click here to view pictures of Blake from the 2011 AMA Pro Road Racing season

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