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Interview with Damon Huffman on 11/18/99

Motorcycle Daily Editor Dirck Edge interviewed Suzuki motocrosser Damon Huffman just prior to the World
Supercross event in Pasadena, California this Saturday. Huffman is riding a Suzuki
now, after several years with Kawasaki.

MD

How do you like your new bike so far?

Huffman

So far, I think I’ve adapted really quickly to the bike, and since the U.S.
Open I’ve had a lot of weeks of practice and test, so right now I feel very
comfortable. I get on the bike and it feels really, really good to me.

MD

Years ago you rode for Suzuki. Is that right?

Huffman

Yeah, I rode for them for, I guess, four years.

MD

Word is that, since DeCoster took over the team, the 250 has improved
tremendously. Do you feel that’s true?

Huffman

Yeah, very true. My last year at Suzuki in 1995 was when Roger just
came in. And at that time they had a great 125 and a so so 250. Since
1995, I mean the bikes are completely different bikes. I mean its – I think
Roger deserves most or all the credit for that. He’s a hard worker, and
very smart. He’s been around motorcycles forever, and he’s a very
intelligent guy, you know.

MD

At Glen Helen last year in the Outdoor National, it was real hilly and kind
of a horsepower track. Larry Ward and Michael Pichon ran up front on
the Suzuki’s, so they must be making real good horsepower now.

Huffman

Yup, I think so. I mean all of the 250′s these days are very close, but I
think you could build a bike with a lot of horsepower but it might be hard
to ride on the track. So the whole thing about testing is getting the bike
to feel exactly how you want it to feel and when you want the power to
come on. I think that over the years I’ve gotten better at that. Trying to
make the bike better suited for my riding style. There’s no doubt that the
bike has plenty of power, it’s just knowing where to make it come on at.

MD

When you rode 125′s years ago, you dominated Supercross for a while.
When you first got on a 250, you were running up front with Jeremy, and
everybody was saying you were the next McGrath. Then the last couple
of years you kinda slumped a little bit. I know you broke your femur at
one point. Do you feel like you’re ready to get back up on top?

Huffman

Yeah, for sure. When I first came into the 250 class I was up front quite
a bit. A lot of second place finishes and second in points. Then injury
kinda ended that season, and the following season I won a race, got
injured and messed up that season. ’98 was kinda the same thing. So in
1999 my goal was to stay healthy and be there every race. I did that, but
I don’t think I had quite the speed or – I ran up front a few times. It was
just mediocre really. So, for 2000 I definitely plan on running up front.

MD

Do you think it’s kinda good for your head to get on a new team and a
new bike and since you’ve been slumping a little bit the last year or two?
Maybe it helps you get back on track?

Huffman

Yeah. The way I feel now is just really motivated. Everything’s new to
me a new mechanic, a new team, new bikes to go home and ride. So
that’s really kind of sparked me, you know, everywhere. I am really
looking forward to the 2000 season, and I think it’s going to be a good
year.

MD

How do you like your new teammates? Do you get along well with
Albertyn and Pastrana?

Huffman

Yeah. Pastrana I really kinda met for the first time. He’s a very nice kid.
You know he’s young. I think its good to have someone like him on the
team. Albee’s a really nice guy, and seems to be really helpful. He’s
already asked me to go riding, although he’s now on vacation for a while.
Reynard I’ve kinda known for a little while, but I’ve never really talked
to him a whole lot. You know a lot of people on the race team I’ve
known from the past. Also, a new mechanic which is kinda new for me
this year. Brian Berry. He’s going to be working for me. So, it’s been
fun so far, and I think it’s going to be fun throughout the whole year.

MD

Are you going to challenge Pastrana to a jump contest?

Huffman

I don’t know – I’ll have to think about that one. No, not . . . The stuff he
does I’ve never even thought about trying. I’m not that crazy. I don’t
know, I’m a lot older I think, and I don’t even want to do it. I like riding
and jumping – whipping the bike or doing table tops and all that, but not
hanging off the thing by one hand and all that. No, that’s crazy.