Blake Wharton Interview
Making his first team/bike change of his pro career, Blake Wharton is returning in 2012 on board Suzukis.
Blake Wharton was a top amateur prospect not too long ago racing for the Factory Connection team. Like Justin Barcia and Eli Tomac after him, and Trey Canard before him, Wharton was picked up as an amateur by the Factory Connection-owned GEICO Honda and then was brought up into the pro ranks through the Factory Connection system. He has actually won in the pro class, but recently it’s been tougher on him. After sitting out the entire 2011 outdoor season following shoulder surgery, Wharton is going back after it, but now as a part of the Rockstar Energy Suzuki team.
Motocross.com: So, you’re riding for the Rockstar Suzuki Team this year, right? So, talk about what all went on with you this past year at Factory Connection and how you ended up at Rockstar…
Blake Wharton: Okay. Let’s see… I started off the year doing Supercross. I did East coast this last year. When I got to Jacksonville, I hurt one of my shoulders but it was an old injury that I’ve been dealing with for a long time – a torn labrum. It was one of those things where you injure it and then it heals up a little and the pain maybe goes away, then you injure it again… It’s kind of back and forth a lot.
Okay… So what happened after that?
We originally didn’t really know if it needed surgery or not because when we had originally gotten the MRI for it, it never really showed up. But we went back after Jacksonville to get my shoulders looked at again because it just wasn’t making any sense; I’d fall down and it would be easy to kind of hurt them because they were not real stable; they were kind of loose. I got a different kind of MRI where you get the dye put in – they inject that dye so they can see inside the shoulder. I found out I had a torn labrum on the right pretty bad and then torn on the left equal, or worse. So, after that we figured I’ll just ride out the last rounds. It was Canada, Dallas, and St. Louis. I raced Canada, raced Dallas. I did pretty well, considering. I got two podiums there and then I went to St. Louis and got fifth, I think. And it wasn’t really where I wanted to be, but at least I kind of figured out what some of the problems I was dealing for the last year or two or three or however long. So, I went and got surgery right after Supercross. I got surgery on one and then a month later I got surgery on the other. We did them at separate times. Pretty much everything from then has been healing up until the deal when I signed to Rockstar Suzuki.
Have you started riding now?
Actually I started riding and I rode seven times in California. I rode six times at home just to get back to on the bike. I had been off for five months. Then I came out to California and I rode six times, then I crashed and broke my finger at Pala. I start riding again tomorrow [Wednesday, November 16th] from that. I’m working with Randy Lawrence [as a trainer] this year and so far the team has been good. Like I said, I haven’t spent much time on the bike but I like the bike. Brent Myron is my new mechanic… I’ve got some good guys around me this year. Last year was good, too. The GEICO team is good. But sometimes change is needed.
Do you feel like this is where you need to go in order to pick yourself back up and get back where you were before when you were able to win races and stuff?
Yeah, I think so. Sometimes it’s hard to tell what to do. You’re always trying to figure out how to get better, trying to figure out how to win versus getting third or forth or fifth. For sure; I already feel better. Just the surgery on my shoulders was a big thing for me. I’ve already been working out and riding bicycles and getting ready in that sense. It feels good. I’m only going to be, the way I see it, I’m only going to be better than I was this last year. I’ve got better shoulders and I’ve been working hard. I’m going to take some time off. Weirdly, I’ve never had a surgery up until my shoulder surgeries. I’d never had a surgery before. So, I guess you could say it was kind of needed. Maybe I should have had it before. That’s why I didn’t have one earlier, because I never did it before. But I got two surgeries on my shoulders and then I got my wisdom teeth taken out a couple months later. And then I got a little surgery on my finger. So, I went from never having surgery to having four, which is not a lot in comparison to some people, but it’s kind of funny.
Well, you’re an interesting guy in that you have other interests, like you play drums and whatever. I think I heard you were playing guitar now, too. Are you the type of guy that maybe this type of time off helped not just physically but mentally or emotionally?
For sure. I’d have to say so because, like I said, I’d never had surgery before, so I’ve never really taken a lot of time off and fortunately I’ve never really broken any bones. Some guys have an injury a year where they get six weeks or a month off. That’s not good but at the same time you can also constantly go and go and go and maybe wear yourself down a little. Like you said, the time off I had, I was playing guitar. After I got my surgery, I was playing guitar, I was playing the drums… I took lessons from a guy who taught singing and guitar playing. I’ve definitely been doing some other stuff that I haven’t been able to do because of time. You travel so much as a racer. Right now, I’m not doing that stuff as much but I’ve still my guitar out here, I’ve got my drums out here. That’s one of my things I do for fun, for sure. I do my thing at the track but then when I get done I think my interests are maybe a little different from some of the guys. I like to go jam.
Do you know which coast you’re going to race yet?
It all can change but I think maybe I’ll shoot for East Coast again this year and then see what it looks like. If everyone stays healthy on the team and if it all works out that way I’ll be doing East. Regardless, though, I’m going to start riding soon and get back going on it and get on the Supercross track because you never know. In 2010 I got switched right at the last second, so I’ve got to be ready.
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