Rider Spotlight: Cory West

NEWS May 17, 2012

Rider Spotlight: Cory West

Photo by Brian J. Nelson

AMAP: Where are you from?
CW: I’m from Eureka Springs, Arkansas. I’ve been there since Junior High. I started riding a scooter around town to get to school and what not when I was 13 years old. When I was 14, I could get a 250cc and under motorcycle license. I bought a Ninja 250, and living in the mountains of Arkansas, the roads are really twisty. I learned how to maneuver the motorcycle through the twisties, where it progressed into wanting to go racing. My family have been big motorcycle people since I was a kid, so that’s where it came from.

AMAP: How did you get into riding motorcycles?
CW: My dad started me out on a PW50 when I was four years old. He used to race AMA Pro SuperBike and battle of the twins in the '80s, and I have a great uncle that’s in the AMA Hall of Fame. Once I got big enough to handle a proper dirtbike, I got excited about riding motorcycles again. Road racing motorcycles was kind of like a dream of mine, so it was something that I've chased.

AMAP: You’ve been in the series since the early 2000s. Talk about your development as a professional rider.
CW: Well, I started when AMA Pro had the 250cc class, and I had just turned 16. To be honest, my road race skills weren’t quite up there. It was good to start racing the pro series to learn the tracks and get the experience. In 2003, I raced in Spain, and that was quite the experience. It kind of woke me up as to how serious road racing could be and where I could go. When I came back to the states in a bore, I started riding SuperBikes. That was the start of me being more competitive. In 2007, I jumped off a SuperBike onto a 600cc SportBike, and that’s when my results really started to improve. It just took a while to find the right bike in the right class to get the results I was looking for.

AMAP: This year, you are the head rider for Riders Discount Vesrah Suzuki. How did Riders Discount come onboard and what did that mean for the team from last year to this year?
CW: I wouldn’t say my riding’s changed. I feel that I’ve learned more about the GSX-R600 and we’ve got some more notes than we did last year. Brian Gibson at Riders Discount did some track days with us last year over the off-season, which initiated the possibilities of getting their sponsorship. We did maybe three-four track days with him and everything just clicked. Jake Lewis is a super fast rider in SuperSport and I’m the veteran of the team, which I’m still not used to. I used to be the young gun, but I’m getting older and more experienced. Though, it is cool being able to help out a young rider that’s almost as fast as me… and I have 11 years experience under my belt!

AMAP: Do you get to ride a lot during your down time or use other forms of motorcycle riding to stay race ready?
CW: I’ve always used minibikes like XR-100s for honing my skills on the motorcycle in the off-season. I’ve never been big on motocross, so I tend to stay away from jumps and stuff, because I’m not comfortable in the air. I really like sliding little dirtbikes around and learn how to push the front and slide the rear. As far as training goes, I like to ride bicycles quite a bit. Many of the other riders are into road bicycle riding, but with me being from Arkansas, I tend to like the mountain bikes a bit more. That’s what I use more for training.

AMAP: Out of the tracks on the schedule, what track are you most excited to race at?
CW: The next two on the schedule are probably my favorite of the whole year. I really like the big, fast racetracks that have heavy braking in them. Miller Motorsports Park and Road America have all of that.

AMAP: You’ve ridden many motorcycles. Is there a motorcycle that you’ve enjoyed riding the most?
CW: It’s hard to say, I like motorcycles so much, it’s hard to pick a favorite. I like my 2012 Suzuki GSX-R600. I’m kind of a big guy for the 600cc class, and I really get a kick out of riding the 1000cc bikes. The last time I rode a 1000cc bike for the season was 2009 in WERA. I rode a Suzuki GSX-R1000 and had so much fun.

AMAP: What draws you to the sport? The thrill, competition or the speed?
CW: I think everyone that takes something seriously has goals. My goals were to get a top-10, then a top-five, then a podium, and I’ve been checking them off through time. My next two goals are to win a race and win a championship. I know how perfect the year has to be to win a championship, but to stand on top of the podium would be awesome. My dad took me to a World Superbike race at Laguna-Seca in 1995, and that’s what kind of started me crazy for Roadracing. I think it’s a neat sport and kind of like a circus when you go see it. Everybody is like family at the track, so it’s hard to get away from it once you’re in.

AMAP: You’ve gotten to test ride NOLA Motorsports Park. Give us your thoughts on the track.
CW:  I’m super excited about NOLA. I forget about it because it’s so new and at the end of the season, but it’s going to be a great track for us to compete at. I actually went and did a track day there, and it’s a very fast and flowing track combined with a top-notch facility. I’m sure it’ll be another hit on the AMA Pro schedule.

AMAP: What goals and expectations are you setting for yourself with Riders Discount Vesrah Suzuki this season?
CW: This year hasn’t started off as well as last year, and we had a DNF at Road Atlanta, so we’re at a points deficit. I want to get the bike working good enough to where I can get back to racing at the front like we did on a few occasions last year. We seem to be lacking a half-second. It’s a matter of getting the bike worked a little better and keeping up with the hotter pace this year. I want podiums and a win.

AMAP: Who’s your racing hero?
CW: I’ve got a few of them. Most of them are just in my family. My dad was the first one I ever saw a picture of dragging a knee. He taught me pretty much everything I needed to know about riding before I put my hands to the handlebars. My dad is definitely my hero. My great uncles Robert and LeRoy Winters are great racers. LeRoy sort of started the lightweight two-strokes in the off-road business in the 60’s, so I think he’s pioneer in our sport. But for a modern day active racing hero, Colin Edwards was my hero when I was young. I saw him race at Laguna-Seca and he signed a big Texas flag for me. I’ve always been fond of him, but now I can go ride with him at his Texas Tornado Boot Camp and rub elbows with him in the corners and talk motorcycles with him. 

Click here to view photos of Cory from the 2012 season on AMA Pro Road Racing's facebook page

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