Kyle Chisholm has been a part of Monster Energy Supercross for a long time, and always has valuable insight about the sport. This year, he got a new ride for the 51 Fifty Yamaha team in the 250 class, and is currently sitting 7th in points.
We caught up with Kyle after the Seattle race. He had a lot to say about the muddy conditions, shortening the races, and his future in the sport:
Moto Now: Take us through your night. Looked pretty rough out there.
Kyle Chisholm: Long day but short day, with only the one practice. Heat race started out well, but then we had a weird issue with the bike, and had to go to the LCQ, which is never fun in these conditions. Made it through, but it made it tough because we didn’t have much time to wash the bike or anything before the main event. Not ideal, but we made it through. The start in the main was a little tough, but I made it through and got up to 5th, which is good, it’s the goal a top 5 finish. Just made a few mistakes in the last few laps, a few guys got by me. I tried to push back, but they cut the race short, and I kinda forgot about that. I was going to regroup, but all of a sudden I look up and there’s the white flag! I was like, “you gotta be kidding me”. Ended up 8th, so not bad. Moved up in the championship, which is good. The positives are that I felt good and rode good. The team has been good, and the bike was awesome, besides the weird thing that happened in the heat race.
What happened? I noticed you off to the side right after the finish, and then you had to push your bike off the track.
It was the clutch. We put in a brand new clutch before the heat race, and then it made if halfway through before the clutch was completely gone. Just a weird thing, maybe just a bad part or something like that; a defect, we don’t really know yet, but not normal. I’m super easy on clutches; I normally go 15-20 hours on clutches normally. Obvsioubly the conditions were tough tonight, but no clutch should only go for 2 minutes. Probably just a freak thing, but it is what it is. We put our heads down and got through the LCQ, and almost had a top 5 after. All in all, it ended up okay.
You have to be happy with a top 10 though?
Yeah, like I said, the team was awesome. They worked their butts off, the whole 51 Fifty crew was good. We’re going to keep working and come back for Salt Lake and try to get a top 5.
I have to admit, I was really impressed with how much you seemed to regroup after the LCQ. Because in that LCQ, you were behind Pettis, and couldn’t make anything happen. It seemed like your pace was off compared to the main…
To be honest, when I got into 3rd in the LCQ, I wanted to pass Pettis but in the back of my mind, I was like “Save the bike. you’re good, with a good lead over 4th. Just save it, don’t crash, don’t do anything stupid, we’re in.” So I kinda just cruised it out and got into the main event. It was only 1 gate pick, which wouldn’t have made much of a difference.
Was it a good opportunity to ride the track so close to the main though? It seemed like the track got better throughout the night, and was the best in the main?
It did, but it got tougher. It quit raining, but when it does that the dirt gets sticker, the moisture comes out of it. If it had kept raining it would have been more watery and forgiving. But instead, it got super sticky and the ruts started to get super deep. The turns you just had your feet up, because you couldn’t put your feet down the ruts were so deep. The one positive to the LCQ was getting the extra track time, but like I said, it was a negative to wear down the bike more and not have enough time to prep the bike for the main event.
I’ve been to a few Seattle races before, and this definitely seemed to be the worst mud race. Obvisoubly you’ve been to a lot more races though, and have experienced it all. How does this compare to previous mud races?
It wasn’t the worst one. I was kinda bummed they cut the race shorter. We do minutes now, it used to be laps. 15 laps the old way would have been a long race, over 20 minutes. But now that they go by minutes, we only did 8 or 9 laps instead. So i feel like they should have done 15 minutes still, because it would have been less laps than the old races.
I agree. Twitter blew up about that too; everyone was frustrated.
Yeah (laughs). All of a sudden they told us on the gate, and I’m like “really?”. And then yeah, in the main I lost a few spots, I was wanting to regroup but all of a sudden the white flag was out. It was only 8 minutes, and I forgot! But yeah, not the worst conditions. I think they got some new dirt this year. The dirt previously was a little bit more sandy, which allowed the water to soak in a bit more. It was more clay tonight, which got it really wet, but once it stopped raining, it soaked in and the ruts got super deep and sticky, definitely not like it did when it used to be sandy. But definitely tough when it gets rutted like that.
Okay, so this is a more general question, but can you talk a bit about when you will retire? You’ve been around for a while, are you feeling drained? Does it get tough doing this year after year?
It does and it doesn’t. Doing it a long time, I kinda found the balance. We do training and riding all year, even in the offseason. And then this year I was racing the 450s too. So for me I haven’t had a weekend off besides Easter last weekend. For me it’s all about the balance though. You race, and then you go back and want to work on this, this, and this. Go back and pound out laps and train, you just want to work hard. It’s easy if you do that a whole bunch of weekends in a row to burn yourself out and go backwards. So you have to find a balance with the training and riding, and making it so that you’re good to go on race day. To be honest though, I feel like I’m in as good or better shape than I’ve ever been. If you look at someone like Justin Brayton who’s a bit older than me, he didn’t have quite the same amateur career. I’ve been doing this pretty competitively since about 7 years old, whereas he had a bit more of a later start. He wasn’t at that top level for as long. But to be honest, I’m having a lot of fun. This year has been great, it’s a new team for me with the 51 Fifty guys. It’s been a lot of fun working with them and my mechanic Brent, who I worked with back in 2010/11. So I feel like our team is a good group of guys. I look forward to it, I’m not miserable coming to the race. I’m having a lot of fun, in good shape and enjoy training, and I feel like I’m riding as good as I ever have, so still on the upswing. I don’t see the end in sight, which is scary to say that now that I think about it. I’ve been doing it a long time, and I know the day will come at some point, but as long as I’m enjoying it, having fun, and being successful, I want to keep doing it.
Cover photo from Yamaha Motor USA