Interview: Brad Todd talks about his podium at Culham!
Brad Todd is not really what you would call your typical motocross racer, he’s not from a family of dirtbike enthusiasts and it was never really a plan for him to follow the sport as a career, but finally, after working so hard since he stepped up to the adult ranks, the 20-year-old can say he’s a Maxxis British Championship podium finisher after taking third overall at Culham last weekend aboard his Putoline Husqvarna Planet Suspension machine.
Tell us a little bit about your history Brad and when you last raced with the BYN?
“I think the last time I raced the BYN’s was 2014, when I did the Under 23 races, I’m not too sure. I’ve raced Culham a few times, but I can’t be sure with which championship, I’m pretty sure it was with the BYN, but like most riders I came through the ranks through the BYN junior series as it is the main British schoolboy level championship. I was pretty useless on the bike until around 2011 when I was in the big wheel 85 class. I finished runner-up in the championship and won the Honda Xtreme Academy award for being the lead Honda rider. I had been 14th the year before so it was a big step. From there I started to get some help, although I’ve never been part of a big team and a lot of the work was just dad and I. Since 2013 I’ve been helped by the Planet Suspension guys and we’ve been ticking away at it.”
You’re not from the ‘typical’ motocross background; tell us a bit about how you’ve developed?
“I didn’t come from a motocross family, but I remember asking dad when I was about 11 years old how far he thought I could get, and he truly believed I’d win an A class one day. The big wheel year was a turn around, it was a surprise that year, it was just something that clicked in my head and I started to believe in myself more. It’s been a nice progress in that way, as there was never so much expectation. The pressure has come in over the last few years a little, but the guys helping me are so passionate about it and everyone just wants the best for me.”
Why do you think the Thor British Youth Nationals championship is important for youngsters to develop?
“The BYN is really important for stepping up to this level. You’re riding with the best juniors and at the best tracks in the country, and it means you can figure out where you are in terms of the competition. When you get to pro level and MXY2 you can watch those guys in the higher ranks, the same lines, you can see where you can improve. In the BYN you ride those same tracks and get pushed on by the other riders and the environment similar to the pros, so there’s no surprises.”
A lot of riders said they felt nervous before the first round of the Maxxis British Motocross Championship last weekend, how was your approach?
“For Culham this time it’s the first year I’ve felt calm. Normally I get arm pump in practice, but I’ve been trying to play things down, think of it like a local meeting. I felt good in qualifying, although I messed up a bit. I think the track builders did a good job by not ripping it up and it was quite a lot of fun to ride, which is what it’s all about, having fun. If I had any advice for the youngsters it would be just to tick away, try to relax, enjoy it, and stay calm. Over the years I’ve put a lot of pressure on and thought about things too much, which has always caused a step back. You’ve got to work hard, there’s no doubt about it, but the results are worth it. “
You do a lot of training off the bike, can you tell us about that?
“In the past four years I’ve tried a lot of different types of training, but I’m now doing Fit 4 racing which focuses on a combination of things especially on building strength throughout my body. It’s a bit like CrossFit and I feel it’s really working for me. Then for cardio fitness I do a lot of cycling and I do as much as I can.”
How did things go at Culham and how does it feel to take your first MX2 podium?
“My day started off quite badly, as I made a mistake because I didn’t realise where the finish line was, so in qualifying I didn’t get a fast one in until the fourth lap, whereas all the faster guys did it on their first and I knew that was the right strategy. I was 12th, so it wasn’t the end of the world and the gate pick was okay. I didn’t get a good start in the first race, but managed to make some good passes in the first few corners and came out fourth. I also made another silly mistake by putting my goggle lens in the wrong way round so it steamed up – I’m still learning! I dropped back to sixth and took fifth in the end. In the last one I got an average start and picked my way through to fifth for third overall. I knew what my pit board would say on the last laps so I tried not to think about it and just keep focused on keeping it on two wheels. With all the deep ruts it was better not to push and overdo it, as it was easy to get stuck or make a big mistake. I’m obviously over the moon; it’s something I’ve worked so hard for. That trophy definitely won’t end up in the loft!”
You’ve not been given a chance in one of the bigger teams and have always been a little bit of an underdog, can you tell us about the help you’re getting now?
“I’ve got a lot of people helping me out, Putoline, Husqvarna, Planet Suspension and so many other good people supporting me, in fact it would be easier to send you a list, but it’s not been easy over the years. My dream is to have a go at a Grand Prix, and I hope to go to Valkenswaard this year to see where we could be. We haven’t had as much money as some of the others, and I’ve not had that lucky break in a big team, but at least I’ve had the chance to grow over the years and I’ve always believed that looking at what you haven’t got won’t help things. It was great as a junior to beat those guys with the better bikes and better support, it was a great motivation that’s paid off in a way. At the moment it’s difficult to have fuel money to go practicing and things like that, but I’m very grateful to the Putoline Husqvarna Planet Suspension guys, my family and everyone who helps out. It gives me a lot of motivation to get the results for them.”
You also still work don’t you? What’s the goal for this year?
“I work during the winter, and in the summer I live off the bonus from racing and prize money. That’s an even bigger motivation because without it there’s no income! My goal for the year has to be achievable and I would like to think a top five overall after last year’s sixth overall is what I’m aiming for. More podium finishes of course is the goal, but it’s a long season and I’m going to keep working. I’m hoping to get a bit more help, and obviously for the next round I’ll be going in with a lot more confidence. My goal of course is to be in a big team and do GP’s, but we’ll see how it goes and I’m grateful to everyone who helps at the moment.”
Words and pic: RHL Activities