Our build-up to the 2013 Maxxis British motocross championship continues. An in-depth interview with Brad Anderson – is he ready to get back to the business of winning again?
When Brad Anderson announced he was off to Australia at the end of 2011 we all figured he’d be back sooner rather than later – and we were bang on the money. Heck, even before Kevin Strijbos had laid claim to Brad’s vacated Maxxis MX1 title the north easterner was back in the UK and putting pen to paper for an attack on the 2013 title chase with LPE Kawasaki.
Now one of the elder statesmen of the motocross scene Ando has more than age and one of the toughest line ups in Maxxis championship history to contend with this summer. Brad and his wife Hayley have just taken delivery of their first son – congratulations Brad and Hayley. But as every parent knows, with the joy comes the pain of sleepless nights and mountains of nappy changes. Oh, and if that wasn’t enough, Brad will be dealing with a change to Kawasaki machinery after four years with Honda.
We caught up with Brad and his wife, Hayley before the birth of the son…
DBR: How did the deal with LPE come about?
BA: “Steve James has wanted me to sign with LPE for a couple of years now. I just felt like this was the year to come back and try and win the British championship again. It’s been great riding for Steve so far because I know he’s passionate about it and hopefully we can do a good job of it!”
DBR: You’ve been riding Hondas since 2009 – how are you finding the switch to Kawasaki?
BA: “With this weather it’s hard to get out riding and testing. We just got my race bike done but with it being so bad out there I don’t want to ride it until the conditions are a bit better. It’s a big change from Honda. I haven’t ridden a Kawasaki since I was on a 60! The engines are totally different so we just have to see how we get on testing.”
DBR: So what you’re saying then is that you’re still yet to really ride the bike?
BA: “I haven’t really ridden it at all. When I got back from Australia in November I was still contracted to Honda and they said I couldn’t ride a Kawasaki. I respected that decision so I didn’t get a practice bike until January and I’ve only ridden that a few times.”
DBR: Moving on to this season. You could say you’re one of the old guys now… do you think you’re going to have to up your training to keep up with the younger riders?
BA: “I would say so definitely. I’m getting to the age now where I only have a couple more years left so I have to train harder to stay competitive.”
DBR: Do you follow a set routine for your training?
BA: “I’ve always trained myself in the gym – just done my own thing and followed a set routine. This year I’m mixing it up and I’ve got a personal trainer and I train with a couple of other guys. The routine that Sharky puts us through is definitely intense. We’re working on strength and turning to more cardio soon. The goal is just to be as fit as possible – then it’s just down to me and my riding. I feel like the training is helping a lot and it’s a big step in the right direction.”
DBR: Looking at the racing this year. What do you think peoples’ expectations are of you? What expectations do you have for yourself?
BA: “There’s always people expecting me to come back and win it but the British Championship is so solid this year – you have Tanel Leok, Barragan and Ramon is an ex world champion y’know? It’s definitely going to be hard but if I want to win the British championship again this is the time to do it. It will be really good if I can do it this year and show I am the true champion!”
DBR: Your wife Hayley is expecting your first baby in March – how are you feeling about it all?
BA: “It’s really exciting! We have been trying for a while and then we went to Australia and it happened there so that was cool! She didn’t want to find out what it is but I did and obviously being a motorbiker I was hoping it was going to be a lad and luckily we are having a little lad!”
DBR: I take it we will be seeing him at the races soon then?
BA: “Absolutely! As soon as we heard the news Apico said they will sort us out with a little balance bike out for him. He will be straight into the routine coming away with us and everything. It’s up to him really about motocross, I don’t want to push him into it if he doesn’t like it but we’re both born and bred with it so hopefully he will be too.”
DBR: So do you think you would be a pushy pro dad?
BA: “Yeah well my dad pushed me hard when I was little – I used to get sent home and all that if I didn’t do very well. My missus is soft though so I’ll have to kick her into touch and sort it out so we’re a little rough and tough with the lad – if you’re too easy with them then they’ll just walk all over you.”
DBR: Now you’re back in England where are you living right now?
BA: “We’re moved back to where Hayley is from in Penrith so she can be closer to her family and it’s only about an hour from where I’m from. Hayley’s family has a private track there too so I can practice there when the weather is a bit better.”
DBR: Your first race of the season at Hawkstone is fast approaching what are your plans before that?
BA: “Plans are to get the race bike dialled in if we can and that will be a good first outing to see if everything is alright with the bike – at least if struggling there then the we will be ready for the first round of the British in March.”
DBR: How are you finding fitting into the new team?
BA: “All the riders are alright which is good because there’s quite a few of us at the moment. Steve is dedicated and it’s a big bonus when the team owner wants to win more than anything else.”
DBR: Out of the British riders who do you like to go riding with and get along with the most?
BA: “I get on really well with Neville Bradshaw – he lives pretty far down but when we get chance it’s good to get together. When he first came over from South Africa we hooked up on the same team and have always got on really well with each other – I was best man at his wedding too! There are other riders up towards Scotland – Bry Mac and Billy but he’s gone to Australia. I just try to hook up with someone who’s quick so we can bring each other on.”
DBR: Do you think in a few years maybe you will go back to Australia?
BA: “I’d go back for one or two races but I wouldn’t go back for a whole season. I’d definitely go back for a race or two just to see how I go on the Kawasaki. I don’t have any plans to move back there though.”
How to make it as a pro the Anderson way…
“I think the reason I am where I am today is hard work. When people have it too easy they won’t push to 100 per cent – I gave 100 per cent because I didn’t want to go back to work! So the advice I would give is always give 100 per cent and stick in. If you put everything into it and train hard you will make it to where you want to be.
“I have to add, I wouldn’t be where I am now without my dad. He could have been a property developer and had loads of houses but instead he decided to put his money and effort into me and that helped massively bringing me to where I am. If it wasn’t for him I probably wouldn’t be into motocross either!”
The other half!
A quick sit down with Mrs Anderson…
DBR: When you moved to Australia was the plan to stay there permanently?
HA: “Brad promised me it would be a year maximum but he started talking about maybe staying another year as soon as he got me out there! When I fell pregnant after seven months I think we both decided it was time to come back – more so me though as I was way more homesick than he was.”
DBR: So you’re happy to be home?
HA: “Yeah absolutely. We’re back living near my family and my brother has just had a little baby. Also with Brad being away racing so much I wanted to be home near my mum!”
DBR: How has it been for you fitting into the new team?
HA: “Steve and everybody seems really nice and we’re just getting on with everybody. I think everyone in the paddock knows us, they know how Brad works and they know what we’re like. We’re the kind of people that just speak our minds – maybe a bit too much sometimes but what you see is what you get!”
DBR: Are you looking forward to this season?
HA: “Definitely, I can’t wait! Since Brad has been back he’s been really pumped and really keen again so it should be good.”
DBR: A lot of people have high expectations of Brad – is this something he handles well?
HA: “In the British Championship there’s always a lot of pressure from sponsors, family and friends to be winning and it did get to the point where it was a lot of pressure all of the time. But since we’ve been away for a year and just been the two of us… I think people have missed us maybe. There’s not as much pressure and I think people are just glad to have us back. Brad has come back with a much more laidback attitude and I think he’s just looking forward to enjoying himself again.”
DBR: Before you met Brad were you into motocross at all?
HA: “I’ve got three brothers who all raced motocross so I’ve known Brad since I was about six. My mum and dad have a racetrack so Brad used to come and race there. He says I fancied him but he definitely fancied me although we never dared ask each other out. He reckons I asked him out but it didn’t happen that way – he asked me out!”
DBR: How long have you been together now?
HA: “10 years. I could have murdered him and been back out by now!”
DBR: Which part of racing do you enjoy the most?
HA: “The part I enjoy most is when Brad wins. When he comes in and I look at his face and I know that he’s so happy at what he’s achieved. I’m so proud of what he’s achieved. He came from having nothing and doing nothing to being British Champion. He’s not had loads of money and he’s just been a hard working and down to earth person. That’s the thing I’m really proud of.”
DBR: Which parts are hardest for you?
HA: “The bad times. Going from winning to having a bad day is difficult. One minute you’re on a high and everyone loves you, next minute everyone’s slagging you off and treating you like a piece of sh*t. It helps you find out who your true friends are but it makes it hard to trust people. Sometimes people come into your life and just want to be with you because of who he is. You see them come and go in the industry – every year there’s someone new but you just know how it is. “And then there’s all the washing – all the f*cking washing! Kit, helmets, goggles, boots. He won’t let me touch his goggles though – that’s one thing. He tried to teach me how but I just think if I messed them up he’d mess me up so I don’t go near them!”
DBR: Your baby boy is expected in March. Brad is hoping to have him on a bike and treat him mean! How are you feeling about that?
HA: “He will be coming straight out of me and on to a bike! Nah, Brad thinks he’s going to be hardcore and strict and the baby’s going to do as he’s told. I know for a fact that when the baby comes it will just melt his heart though, Brad’s a big softie at heart so he will end up wrapped round his little finger! I’m too soft so I’ll be no use – we argue when Brad shouts at the dog!”
DBR: What attracted you to Brad in the first place?
HA: “He made me laugh. He still makes me laugh all the time now. Half the time he doesn’t know what he’s saying, he’s hilarious and he doesn’t even know he is – that’s the best bit!”
DBR: On a motocross bike what’s more sexy – speed or style?
HA: “Definitely speed – a bit of rough and ready!”
DBR: After Brad has finished racing do you think you’ll stay around the motocross industry?
HA: “Oh yeah for sure. We have both grown up with it and it’s in our blood. Whether it’s with Brad or our son we will always be around motocross – it’s our lives! After the race season for a couple of weekends we go out with our friends and it’s great but then after sitting in a pub for a few weekends you just find yourself waiting for the next season to start. It’s literally all you know!”
DBR: Have you spoken about what you’ll do when Brad has finished racing?
HA: “I think he should do an army style boot camp – he would whip the kids into shape! People have paid Brad to train their kids and they always like it when he’s mean and shouts at them so it would be awesome!”
DBR: Are you hoping to make it to any GPs this year?
HA: “Yeah if Brad gets our camper sorted! Rocky [the dog] has a passport so hopefully we can go – all four of us – with the pushchairs strapped to the roof and everything! Just because we’re having a baby I don’t want that to get in the way of Brad’s racing and I don’t want our lifestyle to change – we will just have to fit the baby around our lives and racing.”