Interview: Cole Seely talks about coming out of retirement, his smooth style and WSX

Back in 2018, Cole Seely who was then an HRC Honda rider, announced his retirement from the sport. However, with Supercross going global and WSX starting last year, Seely decided to come out of retirement to race all around the world.

After the opening round of this years series, we sat down with Seely to discuss WSX, the reason he decided to race the series and more.

GateDrop: Cole, that’s the first round of the WSX series done and dusted here in Villa Park, I think you were getting better and better as the night went on just the shame about the crash. How did the event compare to Cardiff and Australia last year?

Seely: I mean it is good, I am glad to be on a 450cc again. The heat race went pretty well, I had a good battle with Dean (Wilson) and Joey (Savatgy) for a quick turn. But me and Dean swapped positions a bunch so it was kind of good to get back into battle mode I guess. The first main event went good, I tried to get around Brayton there for fifth at the end, I was playing offensive but should have played defense with Nicholls right behind me. In the second one I wanted to get the holeshot so bad because I hate behind behind those guys, I held on for a quarter of a second too long and ended up over shooting the first turn. The third moto, I rode good and tried to get Brayton again for sixth but then washed out. I don’t think I popped anything in my knee but I did feel a pop, it felt unstable when I got up so I aired on the side of caution and decided to pull in. I’d hate to go out there and twist it again if something was wrong and mess it up. Even walking around now it’s a little unstable so I’ll get it checked out when I go home. Hopefully it checks out, I think it will be fine.

This article continues below

GateDrop: You came out of retirement to race Cardiff last year pretty much and now racing WSX again this year but you don’t race much. What is it like racing these guys that race AMA SX every week – it’s intense out there…

Seely: Yeah, it is such a different feeling with this series. The format is so boom, boom, boom and so quick. I enjoy it, it allows someone like myself who doesn’t have experience really all year long to come out here and battle with these guys like Wilson. It felt good battling with him in the heat race because I know he has had a decent year in Supercross and had 17 rounds under his belt. I am coming out with around 2 rounds done this year, it just feels good to be out there and I got a little bit more confidence back tonight. I just need to go home and work a little bit on the endurance and a little bit of strength and we’ll come back for Singapore fighting.

GateDrop: What was it that lured you out of retirement? Where you missing it and would you have raced AMA SX regardless or is it for WSX and to race outside America to travel the world a bit?

Seely: Exactly, that is it exactly. I never really had the urge to fight and comeback to race (AMA) Supercross, Not only because personally I don’t want to do it but also because I’ve all the respect in the world to those guys lining up there, they’re the cream of the crop and the best guys in the world. I’ve raced them for years, I know how prepared and all in you have to be in order to be one of those guys even just to be in the top five or top ten. I just don’t have it in me to do that anymore but the idea of lining up six times a year, at least this year and going racing around the world and being able to travel with my wife. That is something I never got to do before and anytime we did race overseas it was always so rushed. We’d go to Paris and I’d fly in as late as possible and leave as soon as the race was over to go home and train. I never really got to explore and take in parts of the world. For instance this week, I am staying a couple of extra days out here and am going to go and check out Bath after this. Last year we stayed in Cardiff for an extra day and then went to see London after. The older I get the more I want to see the world and travel and take it all in.

GateDrop: Just looking back at what you achieved in the sport, you had podiums and were a consistent top five guy. Looking back are you happy with what you did during your time as a pro?

Seely: Absolutely, I should never have had the career I had and I knew that the whole time. I got lucky so many times and put the hard work in. When I say lucky, I mean getting matched up with the right people and a lot of people that were good to me from the beginning as well as the end. Everyone who had my corner was very special to me and when I signed onto the Troy Lee team for my second year of racing I was going to college. I was ready to hang it up and find something else, I didn’t think it was on the cards but I got that call and man, the rest is history. We hit the ground running and I took advantage of every relationship, sponsor and every connection I made. I tried to take advantage of it and learn as much as I could. I achieved a lot more than I thought I ever could in this industry and on a dirt bike so I am very thankful for the career I had. I look back on it with no regrets.

GateDrop: Just focusing on the Motocross Des Nations when you got to represent America at Matterley Basin – a special event? What was it like to ride a different track with different competition?

Seely: You know, it started out as very honored and very excited. When I got there I was very humble, very, very humble. I mean it is hard to come over here and race these guys on tracks they are so familiar with but Matterley Basin was an amazing track. I loved riding it but I don’t know how those guys go so fast around that track. If I could show up on a Sunday and cruise around, throw whips and have fun around that track, it was so much fun. But trying to race the best in the world around that track, I just didn’t have it in me and we had a mechanical both times on track because of the race. But nonetheless it was an honour and an opportunity I never thought I’d get to have.

This article continues below

GateDrop: Watching you ride, you are very smooth, I love watching you ride but it’s not typical American which is to be very aggressive – the AMA National tracks reward that type of riding I suppose but you are so smooth, where did that come from?

Seely: You know, I rode a lot of BMX when I was a kid because we didn’t have a lot of tracks were I grew up. The closest track was like an hour and a half away so I didn’t get to ride a lot so I filled that void with riding BMX. I also looked up to guys like Jeremy McGrath and Jean-Michel Bayle, guys that were really smooth and methodical. Even from a young age I didn’t really know what it meant to be smooth but when I saw that riding style I was attracted to it. I always tried to think, what would McGrath look like or what would JMB do? Or even Reedy when he was at the top of his game, he was always my favourite too. It is really surreal because I got to race against Reed as well as being friends with him and McGrath. I got to spend time with JMB in Detroit one time because he came and hung out with us in the Honda pit. It is just so cool to be around your heroes like that and people you’ve looked up to in your whole life.

GateDrop: When you look at the sport today it’s looking good in America with the Lawrences and Deegan then in MXGP you’ve got Herlings and the likes of Coenen coming up – the future looks bright…

Seely: I mean Herlings, he just looks like he was genetically built to ride a dirt bike. He’s an absolute animal. Then you have Lawrence who is the most calculated guy on a bike with an effortless riding style that’s so fast and smooth. There’s a lot of guys that carry that style for being smooth and I like watching guys like that. But I also like watching guys like Barcia, guys that kind of hang it out and more so because I don’t know how they do it. When I was team mates with Tomac in 2016 I’d watch him ride and he’d be a little quicker than me at the test track and I’d try to ride like him and I’d just go slower. I don’t know how they do it and how they hang it out like they do but at the same time Herlings and Tomac are just the perfect build to watch a dirt bike and it is something amazing to watch.

Interview: Andy McKinstry

Image: WSX