It’s just a couple of days to go until Dylan Woodcock gets to experience what being a rider at Anaheim one is all about!
A top youth rider in the UK, Dylan hasn’t quite had the success he was looking for so far in the Adult ranks, so when the opportunity came to race supercross in California at just 18 years old, he understandably grabbed it with both hands.
But Woodcock isn’t just doing this on a jolly, he has good, experienced people around him offering their words of wisdom while keeping things fun so he can ride to his maximum potential.
Woodcock as always liked racing indoors. He has spent time in a America before as youth rider, raced Monster Cup and has had experience right from 80s in UK Arenacross with good success. So it probably isn’t as big as a surprise as it may initially seem that he will be out on track this coming Saturday at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California!
We caught up with an upbeat and positive Woodcock to talk more about his story and new direction, as he headed to the track for another day of supercross riding as the countdown begins to one of the biggest races of the year in the dirt bike calendar!
How did you end up going supercross racing in America after a doing EMX and British championship racing last year? That’s quite a change!
It started when I asked a few teams at home if there were any rides avalilable or any chance of me getting a deal on a bike here and there but there are are loads of riders in England that don’t have a ride this year, the sport has taken a big hit this year at home. Lots of teams didn’t want to give rides to young riders.
I have always done supercross and always favoured supercross, I raced in Belfast, did the Arenacross and have raced Monster Cup and all that kind of stuff,
I was speaking to my dad and he said you’re young and you only get one chance at this so it’s better to go there when you’re young. It’s totally different here (USA) some guys don’t turn pro until they are 18/19/20 because the amateur scene is so big, so I wanted to come here when I’m still young (18) and then if I do good people see I’m young and can have a future.
I was going to stay in England and do my own thing but I thought, what the point in doing the Maxxis and travelling all round Europe for no money. I might as well just burn my money in a pot. I’m not going to win anything in the European scene and I’m not sure how much it is if you win a race at the Maxxis but I know it’s not a lot.
Here, if you do good you can win a lot of money, gear sponsors, helmet sponsors, goggle sponsors, they pay contingency money. There is a lot more money to be made here but it’s also tough.
How have you found the adaption to supercross, has it been hard to get used too?
My main thing when I first came here was I didn’t want to get hurt. I didn’t want to push it to the limit. I did two days of outdoors and got my suspension sorted then started riding supercross and just taking it easy, I’m not going to lie, I was very slow. I was a bit scared but once you get he jumps, everything is kind of metric here, the doubles,, the triples, the finish jump, everything is the same size just built different.
So once you have them down you can start scrubbing and getting faster and start feeling it. The past month I’ve been starting to build my motos up and Micky, who runs California motocorss holidays, he has been at the track with me every day and he is friends with Gareth Swanepole and Swanepole is doing my training programme and helping me as much as he can with riding schedules so that was a big thing.
Now my times aren’t so bad but everyone is timing each other and jumping in behind each other – it’s like a race! It’s not like in Europe where there are so many tracks and you see maybe one guy every fortnight, here ther are only about three (public)supercross tracks so it’s like a race!
Is it the jumps you found more difficult or the timing of rhythm sections and the whoops?
The sections are kind of all the same size, when you get here you think it looks so big and it’s impossible to jump but when you ride, you get the flow of everything and it all clicks. I think it suits my style anyway, I like to jump, my timing is good. It’s been a journey though, I can tell you that! I have a plan in my head I want to stick too, obviously I want to make a main event tbut I’m not going to say I’m going to do that. I want to go there and build, I want to make the night show, do well in the heat, if I don’t make that, do well in the LCQ. I don’t want to be hot and cold, and do worse than the last week, just build and improve slowly.
Support-wise are you getting much help from British companies or is it more American?
No just one guy, he’s a great guy, Ben from Maddison and I want to thank him very much, I emailed other companies and they said no, because I was going to America it doesn’t come to our place.
Ben is a good friend of mine and said he would sort me out. He got me Pod knee braces, Thor kit, ODI grips and dragon goggles. As soon as I got here I’ve been to Thor and the gave me loads of gear, I don’t even as for it and they send me some! I have had maybe a years worth of grips in the first package. If you are riding at a pro level it’s good here, they aren’t scared to give you stuff because it’s going to be visible on TV and media, I think that’s why people get more help here because it all seems a bit more publicised.
With Micky there he knows what’s going on and you see to have a good group around going into the first round which is important…
Yeah, I don’t want to change anything. I said to Micky on the way home yesterday I don’t want to change anything when I go to the race. I think that’s what a lot of people do, they put a serious face and they get caught up in the moment and crumble under the pressure. I just want to keep it fun, enjoy the moment and enjoy everything really, from the track walk, the banter in the pits, whether I win lose or draw it just needs to be fun, if it’s fun you are going to do better.
My mechanic from and good friend of mine Jamie is here now too and there is another guy here from Sweden riding supercross, so Jamie is helping us both during the week and will be my mechanic during the race, so that helps bring the nerves down even more because you know him and he’s your mate.
Leading into the weekend, press day on Thursday builds the hype a bit then it will be race day on Saturday, how do you think you will be feeling when you go for track walk for your first supercross?
I’m more excited more than anything. When I get to the tracks I’m shaking like a little dog! Mickey asked if I was nervous and like, ‘ no , I’m just excited to get on the track!’ I feel like a kid again when you’re just excited and ready to go.
I’m not nervous because I have no-one to prove wrong. No-one knows me and I am just another European trying to live the dream. Hopefully I can do well and if I get offered a fill-in ride then I’d take it. I bought my own bikes and Mickey and all would be happy if I got on a team, they want the best for me.
What is the plan after the California rounds?
I’m going to do all the California rounds then if I do well I will come back and do the rest.
After supercross do you plan on racing in Britain or staying in the US and doing some Nationals?
That one is a bit up in the air at the minute. I would like to race in England to keep my name out and see how I do but I don’t really want to race if it’s going to cost me £50k to do it when I could earn more money working and ride and get ready for supercross next year if that’s the case.
All in all, it seems like a no lose situation, you are getting to do something you always wanted and experience something a lot of people would like to do with really no pressure?
Yes and I am really thankful to all my sponsors who have helped me do this, without them I wouldn’t be able to. People think I’m just out here riding my bike or whatever but I have had a lot of hype around me a few years ago then going to EMX and you don’t qualify, it’s a big weight on your shoulders when that happens and you don’t qualify.
Then in the media it’s like, Mel Pocock, Martin Barr, Steven Clarke qualify and Dylan Woodcock missed it again – do you know what I mean? It would be nice to prove people wrong and when I come back have people realise I’m serious.
Do you feel that is something that affected you when you moved into the adult scene, being expected to jump to that high British level straight after being a big name in the youth indoors and outdoors?
Yeah the level is high in England, it’s hard in England everyone is quick, they all ride the same tracks and it’s a big weight on your shoulders. Kids are experiencing it now, they think they are going to blow everyone out of the water, there are a lot of kids that get hyped up like I did, I was with Kawasaki my first year (in the adults) then nothing, the sport can be cruel, it can drop you out quickly.
Martin and Mel my teammates last year, everything was going great, they had the red plate, they were winning, and then they both ended up with no ride at one point at the end of the season – it’s crazy. Both are a lot older that me but they are great guys and positive for the sport and stuff like that, they have got rides now but it’s silly people wouldn’t hire them for the British championship.
The industry seems so small in Britain now, as you were saying America seems to have a lot more oppportunity?
Yeah there is a lot more opportunities here. There are a lot more teams, everything here is in California; Thor, Alpinestar, Troy Lee, Kawasaki,Yamaha, Honda, the list goes on and on. Every time you are at a practice track there are teams seeing you if you jump in behind some of their guys and do what you can to try to stay with them. You have to do what you have to do I guess ( to get noticed).