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

Rider Spotlight: Jake Lewis

NEWS July 25, 2012

Rider Spotlight: Jake Lewis

Photo by Brian J Nelson

AMAP: Where are you from?
JL: I’m from Princeton, Kentucky. I was born here and lived here my whole life. It’s a small town of about 7,500 people.

AMAP: We know other riders like Tommy & Roger Hayden, along with Hayden Gillim and JD Beach are from Kentucky. Do you go riding with them when you’re not at the track?
JL: For sure. They all live in Owensboro, Kentucky, which is only an hour and a half away from me. I go up there and train a lot, ride bicycles and put in many laps around with Roger and Tommy. It’s pretty fun because they can push you, and I push myself to hang with them. It’s definitely good training before the AMA Pro races.

AMAP: How did you get into riding motorcycles?
JL: My dad, uncle and grandfather all used to race, so I have a racing background in my family. Then, I got my first motorcycle (Yamaha PW50) for Christmas when I was four years old. I started out dirt tracking and then road raced at eight years old because our sponsor, Earl Hayden, told us to try it out. Ever since then, it’s been really fun and I’ve progressed from there.

AMAP: Like many other riders in the road racing paddock, you have a flat track background. Is that something you think helps you out on the asphalt?
JL: Definitely, when you go into the corners really deep and back it in, it helps out a lot. And also, late in the race when the tires go off and you’re sliding around, I think you benefit from the control. James Rispoli and I used to ride flat track together back in the day. Now, it’s pretty fun to battle with him on the asphalt.

AMAP: What are your thoughts on the competition in the AMA Pro SuperSport class?
JL: I’ve raced a lot of guys like Dustin Dominguez and Hayden Gillim before in the past, but this is actually the first year I’ve raced with James Rispoli and Tomas Puerta. The competition is definitely good. Each weekend, there are plenty of riders you see battling it out at the front of the pack no matter how fast you are. I’m used to all the competition from my earlier years riding by competing in more challenging classes, which has made me push harder. I think that’s why I’m running in the front today.

AMAP: Tell us about your development with the Riders Discount Vesrah Suzuki team since coming onboard for 2012.
JL: It’s definitely been good. Last year, in the WERA Nationals, I raced against Mark Junge, the team owner. We rode together and got to know each other really well. Since then, we’ve been on the podium nine times with three wins and leading the points in the East. We all get along, they treat me well and I get along with my mechanic. It’s very nice to be on a good team that supports you all the way.

AMAP: You’re not the shortest person in the paddock. For someone reading this spotlight that’s a tall rider/racer, what things have you had to overcome in the past to be competitive?
JL: I’m 6’2” actually, and most of the riders are shorter than me. I think there are more advantages to being tall. You can hang off the bike further and move the bike around more because you have longer legs to allow it. On long, fast tracks, it sort of affects you with aerodynamics and tucking in, but I’ve adapted pretty well. I think it’s an advantage for me because I can use my legs more and move my arms around at tracks with difficult transitions like Road Atlanta or Infineon.

AMAP: What are your thoughts on the up and coming riders visiting the podium more than once this season?
JL: Coming into this year, I didn’t think I knew who my competition would be. James (Rispoli) and I had some really good battles, but recently, guys like Hayden Gillim, Tomas Puerta and Dustin Dominguez have picked it up through the races. Dustin’s been going really well the past two races and has become a factor in the championship. It’s going to come down to the last three rounds including Laguna.

AMAP: Is Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca a track you’re excited to go to this weekend?
JL: I feel good going to California. We struggled a lot at Mid-Ohio with the setup. We tested a few days ago and figured some things out with the suspension, so it should help out a lot. This will be my first time at Laguna, so I know I’m going to have to quickly learn the track, but it’s going to be a fun weekend with everything that’s going on.

AMAP: What’s your favorite motorcycle?
JL: I really like the Aprilia 125cc. It’s basically the MotoGP 125 bike. This season, I’ve been on my Suzuki GSX-R600, and I’ve really been enjoying riding it. It’s very fast at tracks like Daytona and Road America. Compared to bikes I’ve ridden in the past, it handles really well and fits me. The seat position helps a lot being my size when things get moving around below me.

AMAP: What is a favorite track of yours?
JL: I really liked Road Atlanta and Barber because they’re close to my hometown and are technical tracks. I seem to do well at technical tracks, because with a dirt track background, I feel like they fit me better.

AMAP: You’ve had the opportunity to test at both Homestead-Miami and NOLA. Give us your thoughts on those two tracks.
JL: I really like both tracks. At Homestead-Miami, I was the fastest overall in the SuperSport class during the test. I really like the layout. NOLA’s a very fast flowing track which I’m a fan of. Even though I had a crash in the second session which ended my test early, I’m looking forward to heading back there for the finals.

AMAP: What draws you to the sport?
JL: Just the competition. I love battling with all the other riders. Whoever works the hardest is going to come out on top. I enjoy that part. It’s just so much fun, as in the 12 years I’ve been racing, I can’t see myself doing anything else.

AMAP: Who’s your racing hero?
JL: Nicky Hayden and his brothers, just because I’ve worked with them since I was four years old. Seeing Nicky win the MotoGP World Championship definitely has pushed me to race hard. I also aspire to be like Valentino Rossi and Casey Stoner one day, because seeing them ride is just unreal.

Click here to view photos of Jake on AMA Pro Road Racing's Facebook page

Jake would like to thank his team and sponsors: Vesrah, Riders Discount, MCJ Motorsports, American Suzuki, Nielsen Enterprises Suzuki, Parts Unlimited, Penske Racing Shocks, Traxxion Dynamics Fork Components, Yoshimura, Catalyst Racing Composites, Shoei, Cortech, Sidi, Held, Motion Pro, Sudco Int., Bazzaz, Factory Pro, Maxima Racing Oils, Spiegler Brake Lines, Adjustable-levers, Vicci, Vortex, DID Chain, Zero Gravity, GPR Stabilizers, Trek Bicycles, Suzuka Tire Warmers, K&N Filters, Full Spectrum Batteries, Oakley, Roclun, Andrew Swenson Designs and Drippinwet.

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