ATV Motocross

Tuesday Feature: Heather Byrd

Tuesday, July 15, 2008 | 12:00 AM

The Pro Am Women’s division has established itself as one of the most exciting classes in the 2008 ITP Tires/Moose Racing AMA ATVA Pro Motocross Championship. Yet, as action packed as the races have been, Heather Byrd has won every overall thus far. Byrd is already a four-time AMA National Women’s Champion, but she hasn’t let her prior success deter her focus. She and her husband of 11 years and two-time AMA National Champion, Joe Byrd, work together as a team and are looking for nothing short of victory in the remaining two rounds of the series. We caught up with Heather to see what it’s been like racing for her fifth championship.


Heather, you have had an amazing season so far in 2008. It doesn’t get much better than eight for eight! You had some serious competition last weekend with Angela Butler entering and Michelle Natalie stepping up, and winning her first moto of the year. Talk to us a little about that first moto. Was you just holding back for moto 2 or did Michelle surprise you?


Michelle has been running strong all season and that was a track that is close to her and John. I’m sure they have ridden a lot of laps around Pleasure Valley, so I anticipated she would be fast. I didn’t get the best start in the first moto and got stacked up in the first couple turns. Once we got sorted out and I was riding behind Michelle, I started watching her lines and set my own pace.


Joe and I did our homework in between motos and talked about a couple of other lines. He had just been out for Pro practice and had found a couple of things I could use to help me win the second moto. I was able to get the holeshot in the second moto and everything worked out great.


The Pro Am Women's Class has been putting on a great show all year. But, back to you and Joe working together. Just how much of a team are you guys?


Joe and I have been together now for 11 years. It is amazing to have somebody in my life as talented as he is. We have both been racing forever --20 years for Joe and 25 years for myself. We both see things differently on the track, and when we talk we both learn things from each other.


He knows my strong suits and can always tell me where he thinks I can make a pass or make up time on the track.


The Joe Byrd Motocross School is one of the most popular schools in ATV Racing. How involved with the school are you?


Well, I have worked with a few girls here and there and worked with some along with Joe. But Joe is the teacher. He has a lot of patience and he has been doing the school for so long. I work with him while he is doing the schools, but I leave most of the teaching up to him for sure. [laughs]


I have had people approach me and ask me to work with them one and one, and I'm going to work with them. I just want to try my best to help the sport as much as a can.


You just mentioned you have been racing ATVs for 25 years. There isn’t much you haven’t seen! What has it been like participating in the 2008 ITP Tires/Moose Racing AMA ATVA Pro Motocross Championship?


You know, the series is awesome. It has been around longer than any other series, and the AMA is where it’s at. Like you said, it has been an phenomenal season for me, I have been able to win all eight rounds and I’m looking forward to wrapping up these last two rounds and earning that fifth championship.


But like I said, the series has been nice. The promoters have worked well together and the tracks have been great. It’s nice to see all of the facilities be the best they can be. We’re going to the best venues in the country for our events and it has been good.


There are only two rounds remaining with RedBud and Loretta Lynn’s. We are all excited for the big race at RedBud, but you and Joe have to be excited about the upcoming ATV Dirt Days event at Loretta Lynn’s.


We are. Even though we only get to race at Loretta’s once a year, we only live about an hour and a half away, and that is nice. Plus, Joe and I are already used to the heat and humidity, and that is a major factor at Loretta Lynn’s. We have a ton of family and friends that come to cheer us on and having that extra support is wonderful.


But you know, we are really excited about the last two rounds together, not just Loretta’s. I’m originally from Michigan, so I’ll have family and friends coming out to watch me at Red Bud. I think having extra support always makes you ride better so we’re looking forward to it.


Well, two rounds to go. Are you going to ride conservative or try to win the last four rounds?


I know that winning the war is more important than winning the battle, but these last two races are important to me. I already did the math and know where I have to be to win the title, but, as a racer, you always want to win every moto! We’re going into Red Bud and Loretta Lynn’s looking for the win.