Rider Spotlight: Bryan Smith
NEWS April 26, 2012
Photo by Brian J. Nelson
AMAP: So you’re headed on a road trip... where to?
BS: Jared Mees and I are headed from Flint, Michigan to Willow Springs, California to go to an Eddie Mulder West Coast Flat Track race. He does a few races out there, and we thought we’d go out and race in our down time. Jared and I are pretty close and from Flint, Michigan, so we thought we’d head out together to go racing.
AMAP: So you’re from Flint, Michigan. Have you lived there your whole life?
BS: Yeah, I was born in Flint and lived there for the longest time. I live just outside of Flint, in a town called Flushing. Born and raised in Michigan though. In regards to flat track, it’s like the southern California of motocross. A lot of legendary flat track riders are from there – Jay Springsteen and Scott Parker are two I know of off-hand. Everybody knows about flat track or knows someone that follows it.
AMAP: Do you get to ride on the ice like Jared Mees in the winter time?
BS: I do get to ride on the ice in the winter. I didn’t get to ride on the ice that much this past winter, as it was pretty mild. Hopefully it gets pretty cold next winter so we can ride on the ice more.
AMAP: How exactly did you get into riding motorcycles?
BS: Through my dad. He always wanted to race, but never had the opportunity. We had some cousins that were involved in flat track racing, and my dad actually went to school with Scott Parker… So he knew about flat track, but never raced. He got me into dirtbikes, bmx bikes and had me ride both for a couple years. He took me to a pro race when I was 6-7 years old, and ever since then, I wanted to race motorcycles.
AMAP: You’ve been in AMA Pro Flat Track for a while now. Tell us about your development as a rider in the series.
BS: My rookie year was in 2001. When I was at Daytona last month, they called me a veteran. I didn’t exactly like it, but I guess it is what it is. (laughs) I’ve been on the circuit for quite a while, and climbing up the ladder the last couple years haven’t been the best, but I gradually worked my up for the last few years or so. I’ve had a couple good runs at the championship, and I’m hoping I can do the same this year. Every year’s a learning year, regardless if you’re a rookie or at the top. I learned a lot last year switching teams and all. I went back to the Harley-Davidson after being on the Kawasaki, and kind of setup my own deal. Now we have a steep learning curve with this new Kawasaki, so it’s going to be interesting, as it’s going to take a lot of my knowledge to do well this year.
AMAP: We just saw pictures of the new Kawasaki 650 parallel twin you’ll be racing at all the mile tracks… Tell us more about it.
BS: To me, it’s like a factory bike without the factory part. Everything’s done 21st century. The Harley-Davidson’s are really good and win a lot of races, but they’re a pretty old school design. Both the frame and motor have been the same for a long time. This is the first flat track bike to be built outside the box using modern technology. The whole bike was designed in a CAD program before one piece of metal was cut for creating it. It’s totally different than any flat track frame that has been created before. Usually, people build the frame around the motor, whereas these guys went about it differently. Rick Howerton is one hell of a fabricator and engineer. He saw me win the Indy Mile in 2010 on the Kawasaki and thought, “I could do this.” Instead of doing things the same old way, he wanted to do something bigger and better. The technology and resources he had came into play and went into the building of the bike. It’s like a modern day flat tracker. It still has a little more going into it, so when fans see it at Springfield, it’ll look really good.
AMAP: You’re racing the 650 at all the miles.. What track layout do you think you accel at most?
BS: Definitely the mile tracks. Even when I was young, back to when I rode 250cc bikes. I’ve always done better on the mile tracks and won more races on a mile track than other layouts. The half-miles are kind of a hit and miss, and the ST/TT races aren’t my cup of tea. I think we have one of the best bikes, and I’m personally better on a mile than any other track, so it should be a winning combination.
AMAP: Have you even gotten to throw a leg over the new Kawasaki 650 you’re riding at Springfield? We’d expect you to say you like riding it the most out of all the bikes you’ve ridden.
BS: Not this 650. I rode the Werner/Springsteen Kawasaki a few years ago, so I’m familiar with the power, but the frames completely different from the previous bike, so I know it’s going to handle differently. I plan to ride the new bike before Springfield. My favorite bike to ride is the old-school 600cc Rotax. Before all the 450cc singles bikes came out, we used to ride them at all the ST/TT tracks. As far as the mile goes, the Harley-Davidsons are great, but I hope to do really well on this new bike.
AMAP: What expectations are you setting for yourself going into the rest of the 2012 season?
BS: I’m doing what’s best for me. Riding the Honda CRF450 in Short track and TT events is probably the best bike for those events, while riding the Harley-Davidson XR750 in Half-Mile tracks is probably the best bike for that style track. On the mile, the Kawasaki and H-D are neck and neck, so I’m hoping the new bike I’m riding will come out on top. I’m riding what I think are the best bikes for each style of track, and am trying to have every little advantage competing against these top riders. I’d be lying if I wasn’t going to say I’d take a shot at the championship. I haven’t been in that position in the past couple years, but I go to every event, do the best I can and give ‘em hell.
AMAP: Do you see any obstacles that you will have to overcome when the season gets going?
BS: Not really, but I think I have to do a whole lot better on the 450 singles than I did last year. I need to better my results. Daytona this year went a lot better. My buddy Barney Mars, who owns Oasis Homes, owns my singles bikes. He’s definitely a big help to me.
AMAP: What draws you to the sport? The thrill, competition or the speed?
BS: The competition. You look at the lap times at Daytona, and there’s not even a second between the fastest and the slowest. The competition is so tight, there’s never one guy that’s going to dominate, so there’s always a chance you can come out on top.
AMAP: Who would you consider to be your racing hero?
BS: Definitely Scott Parker. I grew up admiring him, and he’s helped me a lot through my career. He was #1 when I first started racing. I got to meet Scott when I first started racing AMA Pro. I was brainwashed at a young age that I wanted to be like Scott Parker, race flat track and be number 1 one day. I’m still real close friends with him. It’s really cool to live your childhood dream to follow in your hero’s footsteps.
Brian wants to thank his sponsors: Crosley Radio, Howerton Motorsports, Eaken Racing, Kawasaki, Midwest Performance Hardware, Guts Wear, Carbonix usa, Dryer Motorsports, Tucker Rocky, Freelance graphics, Jeff Gordon, Oasis Homes Bazzaz, RHC, Sponseller, MBH Trucking, Boughner Racing, Weiss Racing, Supertrapp, CrankWorks, Works Connection, K&N, Wiseco, EBC, PMP Sprockets, Silkolene, Subaki, Millenium Tech, Motion Pro, Cometic, Web Cam, Universal Coasting, KK Supply, Shoei Helmets , Oakley, MSR , SIDI, The Wizard, Chop Docs, Terry Everett, Big Unit , Re101.com, Achatz Burgers, Douglas Racing, Steve Betts.