Rider Spotlight: Bobby Fong
NEWS June 14, 2012
Photo by Brian J. Nelson
AMAP: Where are you from?
BF: I’m from Stockton, Calif. just about 35 minutes south of Sacramento. I’ve lived in Stockton pretty much my whole life.. born and raised here. It’s a pretty small town, but I think we’re top-two in the country for crime rate. Laughs. It is a nice area here though. I moved out of Stockton to Fair Oaks last year, but the commute was too much, and with the high price of gas, it was better to move back.
AMAP: What type of motorcycle riding do you get to do in your spare time?
BF: Living in Stockton, I’m pretty close to everything. I’ve got a lot of motocross tracks around me. There’s a supermoto track at the Stockton Fairgrounds about 10 minutes away from me that recently closed down, but my friend has a really big ranch and area to do all of my training. I try to stay away from the extreme motocross tracks so I don’t get hurt during the season.
AMAP: Being from Stockton, you’re really close to Infineon Raceway. Is it considered your home track?
BF: You can call it my home track, but I never really ride there. It’s probably one of the worst circuits I’ve raced at. I never really do well there.. I don’t know why. I did have a lot of friends and family there, so it definitely gave me some extra motivation. I’d say my best track is Mazda Raceway Laguna-Seca.
AMAP: What makes Mazda Raceway Laguna-Seca special?
BF: I just really like the track. The last time I raced there, I lead the race by three seconds and crashed on the 17th lap in a total rider error move. I’m more mature now, so hopefully won’t make the same mistake.
AMAP: How did you get into riding motorcycles?
BF: My dad was a streetbike guru and my grandfather was always into Harleys. My dad worked at Harley shops when I was a kid, and we knew this guy Dave which lived right next to the famous Lodi Cycle Bowl. I started riding there at age five and won races. I went on to racing grand nationals and won amateur grand nationals for the west coast and United States. As soon as I went to 250cc flat track bikes, Suzuki sponsored me for a local supermoto series here in California when the Stockton Fairgrounds opened up. I started road racing by doing my first track day at Thunderhill Raceway. I think I was 14 years old on a 1999 Yamaha R6 and totaled the bike the first time I went out there. I got too worked up and tucked the front. In 2005, I won the AFM Rookie of the Year Award. The following year, I got picked up by a local team and won the AFM Championship with them. I hired Jim Doyle, Kenny Roberts’ old manager from back in the day, and he’s really gotten me places in road racing since 2007.
AMAP: You’ve really developed as a rider in AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike competition with Meen Motorsports…
BF: Yes. For one, I’m 21 years old now, and it seems like I’ve matured, mentally. I’ve got a really good crew behind me, and that makes things much easier. Jim Rashid is my crew chief, and I’ve worked with him and safety first to really make it work. We connect, think alike and it’s helped to be close with them. The team has gotten better each weekend. We’ve had a little bit of bad luck here and there, but that’s racing. Graves Motorsports is helping us out a little bit, and the team has been working well together while becoming more organized. Things are getting better, and I’m excited to go to Barber. I just really need to work on my qualifying. I have the race pace, but for some reason I can’t qualify. Hopefully I learn how to qualify, start off with the front group and do well until the end. My qualifying will be bad, so I’ll use up all my brakes and tires to get to the front before the race’s over.. If I can qualify up front, that’ll give me a much better advantage at a race win.
AMAP: Tell us about how your ride with Meen Motorsports came about and how you’ve taken the team to new heights in AMA Pro competition.
BF: It all started off over the winter time when Ronnie Saner from Latus told Ameen Sajjadi to call me. We did tests at Chuckwalla a month or two after that. It’s a real small team with a tight budget, but he’s motivated to win and will do what it takes to do it. We don’t exactly have the newest or nicest looking rig in the paddock, but we’re not there to look good, we’re there to win. Most people want to be at the track to be there and look good, but our team’s not like that. We don’t care how we look. I like having a beater box van and kicking the butt of other people that have ten times the budget of us. It’s a big accomplishment to me.
AMAP: What are your expectations and goals for the remaining rounds in the 2012 season.
BF: For a start, getting on the podium would be awesome. We still have a little bit of work to do to win a race, but we have the ability to get on the podium. The next accomplishment would be to get a win. If we got a few wins and podiums under our belt and finished top-three in the championship, that’d be the biggest accomplishment for the team and me.
AMAP: What obstacles do you see ahead of you to be able to do that?
BF: The main obstacle is qualifying and getting the bike setup. It’s hard to setup your bike when you go two seconds slower than when you actually race. It’s something in my head.. I don’t know if it’s something that changes my mind from qualifying to the actual race that makes me go so much faster or try harder. I always give it 100%, but it’s something that I need to work on. I think that’s my biggest obstacle. I’m in good shape. I have a personal trainer – Fred Merkle – old trainer from back in the day. I feel pretty fit. I’m a little heavier than some of the other riders out here, but I won’t sacrifice strength over weight. If I’m able to get my qualifying down, I see myself fighting for the win.
AMAP: What draws you to the sport? The thrill, competition or the speed?
BF: The competition. It’s exciting and makes you feel accomplished when you do well. I work a full-time job back home, but this is my passion. I know I was meant to do this. Beating the competition gives you the satisfaction of knowing you’re one of the best and gives you the motivation to push harder. A lot of people doubt me, and I see that, but I like to prove people wrong. I want to make my dad proud. He sacrificed a lot of house payments to get me to the track to win.
AMAP: Who would you say is your racing hero?
BF: You know, I really don’t look up to anybody. There are racers that I really like – James Stewart and Valentino Rossi are among the best. But there isn’t anybody that I think, “I want to be like that person.” It’d be nice to have a lot of money, but the best thing to me would be the best person you can be.
Bobby would like to thank all his sponsors for their support: Meen Motorsports, Yamaha, KTech, Graves Motorsports, Pilot, Moty Designs, Bazzaz, K&N Performance Filters, Galfer, Sharkskinz, Suomy, Sik Industries, San Jose Yamaha, Radiomedics.com, Kolor Werx Graphics
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