Rider Spotlight: Sammy Halbert
NEWS March 8, 2012
Photo by Dave Hoenig
AMAP: Where are you from?
SH: Graham, WA
AMAP: What's your favorite food?
SH: I generally eat healthy, but I really like eggs. Egg white is the purest form of protein, and we raise chickens so our eggs are nice and fresh.
AMAP: What was your first motorcycle?
SH: A Yamaha PW 50
AMAP: How did you get into motorcycle riding?
SH: I always had the opportunity to ride if I wanted to, since my Grandpa Bill used to race and so did my Mom and Dad. They took me to the local indoor flat track when I was riding a little PW 50, but I wasn't into it back then. I even started crying because I didn't want to do it. My parents never pushed racing on me at all, but when I was ten I finally decided I wanted to do something on Saturday nights other than watch TV. From that point on, I've spent almost every Saturday night racing.
AMAP: We know you’ve ridden in the Vance & Hines XR1200 series, tell us some of the biggest things you’ve noticed going from dirt to asphalt.
SH: The speeds in road racing are much faster and, obviously, dragging your knee is very different from sliding your hot shoe on the ground. Growing up watching road racing on TV, I thought it couldn't be that hard. But there is really so much technique involved and learning how to control the road race bikes and use the whole race track is quite challenging. I have a whole new level of respect for road racers now that I've tried it.
AMAP: Out of all the motorcycles you’ve ridden, what’s your favorite?
SH: I used to really like riding our old C&J Framed Rotax 600, but honestly, I enjoy winning more than anything, so I love any bike that can help me win races. I've been winning lots of races on my Yamaha 450s, so that might be my favorite bike at the moment. Also, the couple of times I had a chance to ride a Yamaha R6 were an eye-opener for me. The power and speeds on those bikes are incredible. I would like to try that some more.
AMAP: DAYTONA® Flat Track is right around the corner.. we know you’ve got to be excited about heading back.
SH: I don't really get too excited before races, but if I'm able to dominate like I did last year, I'll be a happy camper. I really just look forward to spraying the bubbly up on the podium and celebrating with my friends and family.
AMAP: Contrary to other riders in our series, you’ve performed well at DAYTONA® Flat Track. Is there something you think you excel at more than the other riders?
SH: Yeah for sure. I just really like to let it all hang out and get super sideways, and the DAYTONA® Flat Track allows me to do that. That's part of why I am so interested in speedway racing. Those guys get to keep the throttle twisted and stay sideways pretty much the whole time. A lot of the half mile tracks we race on these days aren't prepped very well, and almost none of our tracks get watered enough, so you really have to tip toe around and try to keep the wheels in line. To me that's not very fun - unless of course you're winning.
AMAP: What draws you to the sport? The thrill, competition or speed?
SH: I would say all of those things draw me to the sport, but most of all the competition and the satisfaction I get from winning.
AMAP: Who’s your racing hero?
SH: Once I got into racing, I really looked up to Joe Kopp, as he was the fastest rider from the northwest and would always take the time to talk to me. He and I don't really get along now, though, so I wouldn't say he's my hero. I just have a lot of respect for all my competitors, because it's not that easy to go in circles as fast as we all do.
AMAP: What are your expectations going into 2012?
SH: They are rather high. Last year I set a pretty high standard for myself by leading the championship for all but the last few rounds. Realistically I am looking to do a little better than that, which would mean leading from the very start of the season until the end, a feat that I don't think anyone has ever done. I know if I play my cards right, I can do it.
Click here to view Slammin' Sammy Halbert's Rider Profile.