ATV Motocross

Tuesday Feature With Joe Byrd

Tuesday, May 6, 2008 | 12:00 AM

The 2008 ITP Tires/Moose Racing ATV Pro Championship Series has produced three different winners in the first four races. The most recent victory, by defending AMA Pro Champion Joe Byrd has spun the series into a guessing game as it approaches Round 5 this weekend: the Concept Haulers ATV Showdown at Sunset Ridge in Illinois. The factory-Honda rider had gotten off to a slow start but found out that a small adjustment in his program made a huge difference, and now he’s back in the points chase. We caught up with Byrd and spoke with him about his first four races in the series, the amazing parity in the pro divisions, and how he plans to successfully defend that big AMA #1 plate.


First off, congratulations on that big win at Birch Creek!


We brought out a new machine, and sometimes a new bike just clicks for you. It really worked out in our favor.


You say you brought out a new machine; were you riding an old quad to begin the season?


No””we race a new bike every three or four races, and sometimes one machine just isn’t as good as another one. You can build three bikes exactly alike, and every time there will be one that works better than the others. Plus, we had so much bad luck in the beginning of the season that we just said, ““Let’s get rid of that black cloud and try a new machine.” It worked out.


 All of the factories seem to be ramping up their ATV programs. How much help are you getting from Honda?


I’ve been getting a lot of help from Honda for the past few years. They take care of me and treat me right, and are very good people to work with.


The series is still young, but we’ve seen just about every condition imaginable. There have been dry, high-speed conditions like we saw at Glen Helen, and a really tight, twisty track in Kentucky. Do you have a preference in track conditions, or style?


In general, we all have to ride the same tracks. You just have to find the fast lines and get good starts. I like riding on everything, actually.


It was good to see the defending AMA Pro Champion crack off a win. A lot of people were saying that Dustin Wimmer was going to run away with the series. Then you and Doug Gust won the past two races. It’s still anyone’s ballgame in the points chase.


The general public always says, ““You’re only as good as your last race” [laughs]. You know, that's never true, but people seem to always want to say that. Wimmer had some good luck in the first couple rounds, and he was riding good, so my hat’s off to him. But not every round is going to go as smoothly as those did for him. I’ve had winning streaks like his before, and before I knew it, someone came around and crushed it. It will happen again, too. If I go out and win the next two or three races, someone is going to come up and beat me. This isn’t like two-wheelers [laughs], where one guy wins everything! There are six or seven guys that can win in the pro class at an ATV national.


We spoke with Gust about that fact last week. The AMA Pro ATV series has more parity than any off-road genre in motor sports. That has to feel good to be a part of.


Yes, it is. You try really hard to be out there winning every race like James Stewart, but there are a lot of guys that have been racing in this series for a long time that aren’t ready to give up yet. Then, we have all of these new kids that want to come up and beat us. We’re beginning to get the financial support the series deserves and all of us are riding faster and faster. I think that is why the sport is looking so good right now.


It also looks like Pro ATV racing has a healthy future. We’re seeing record numbers of amateur entries, and look at all of those Hondas! Plus, your wife, Heather, has been on a roll. Tell us what you think of her and some of those other amateur riders.


We all had a really good weekend. Heather won both of her motos, I won both of my motos, then support rider Clay Holmes swept his class. It’s hard to have a better weekend than that.


Do you see any amateurs coming up who are going to be banging bars with you guys in the pro class soon?


Clay Holmes is going to be up here battling with us within a year or two.


Well, we are rolling into Illinois for round five. What are your expectations for the weekend?


I’d like to go in and try to win the thing. I would at least like to finish on the podium. We want to keep going. We like to run strong, and everyone on our team is feeling strong. I’m going to go out and try to get good starts and go for another win.


Right on, Joe. Anyone you would like to thank before we go?


I would just like to thank American Honda, Dunlop Tires, Custom Axis Racing Shocks, Walsh Race Craft, and everyone helping our team. We couldn’t win without them.


For more on Joe Byrd please visit his website at: