Colton Haaker is on the cusp of winning the 2015 Geico EnduroCross series Championship and with two rounds remaining he'll need to find 12 more points than Cody Webb, the current leader and defending Champion.
Of the seven rounds played out this year Haaker has two wins to Webb's three and neither rider has finished out of the Top 4. Haaker is moving up though. In 2013, he finished fourth and last year he took third.
When he's not competing in the series which extends from March through November, Haaker stars in a number of videos, some for Lucas Oil and now in a new series with MotoSport. Don't worry, these are not your run-of-the-mill prop the camera down as he practices clips. (Check out the one filmed at an abandoned water park.) He not only shows off his ability to climb rocks but the cringe worthy horseplay moments don't get left on the cutting floor. He's also featured in the newly released Moto 7 The Movie.
We caught up with Haaker last week just as he picked up some coffee so he was more than chatty to talk about the EnduroCross season, his career and what exactly is EnduroCross anyway, just in case you wanted to know.
Years riding Pro: 9
What age did you start riding and on what: 6 years old on a Honda MR50 with a clutch
What do you ride now: Husqvarna 350 4-stroke and 300 2-stroke
Hometown: Hollister, CA
- 2013 X Games Silver Medalist
- 2009 Junior Pro Endurocross Champion
- 2010 Junior Pro Endurocross Champion
- 2015 King of Motos Champion
Other sports participated in: Mountain Biking, basketball, skeet shooting, wake surfing
Website: YouTube Channel
1. How did you get started on a dirt bike?
My dad. My dad raced in the 80s. He was on off-road racer. It was a family thing. He enjoyed doing it and it was something he passed on. It turned from a family camping thing to a family racing thing then it just turned into me racing.
2. You've done Motocross but EnduroCross called. What do you like about this form of competition?
I like EnduroCross because of the challenge it provides. I'm drawn to more challenging riding and obstacles. EnduroCross provides a balance between Motocross and Trials that is unique in that it's difficult to manage and race.
3. There are some crossover skills but what strengths do you need to be accomplished in EnduroCross that Moto riders don't have?
Honestly to be good at EnduroCross you need some sort of Trials background. In Trials you get obstacles over rocks, logs and other gnarly obstacles but at slower speeds. It gets you accustomed to racing and riding those obstacles verses a Motocross guy who basically only rides on dirt.
4. EnduroCross is gaining in popularity but still new to a lot of people. Can you explain in a nutshell what it is and how the competition works?
EnduroCross is a race track made up of outdoor elements found in natural settings like the forest, desert and other environments that you ride on. It brings those elements outdoors into the indoors so that people can watch from the seats, drink a beer and laugh at the expense of riders struggling to race on those elements. There are 12 riders in each race and it's formatted the same as a Supercross with heats and a Main event. The main events are 15 Laps.
5. So speed isn't really a factor in EnduroCross. Don't you ever get the urge to just pin it?
Oh all the time. I'm drawn to more difficult riding and the gnarlier the better. However there are times it's hard to motivate myself to go out to the backyard and ride my EnduroCross bike. You can't just ride EnduroCross . I have to mentally prepare myself to get around a track. It's never super buttery and smooth. I can't just cruise around.
6. Is arm pump are bigger problem for enduro riders than Motocross riders?
I think arm pump is the same for any type of racing. I believe that arm pump is a more mental thing than actually physical and there are other contributing factors to arm pump than what you're riding. Warm up, bike set up, mental attitude, focus and posture all contribute to arm pump.
7. How does your series differ from the National Enduro series where Kailub Russell was recently crowned Champion?
The National Enduro series is all outdoor and they ride on trails and in the forest. In our EnduroCross they bring in what they're on outdoors into the indoors. The National Enduro course is 50 miles long so you can't see all the riders all the time. In EnduroCross, everyone can see everything that happens.
8. And it's completely different from Trials?
Trials is a different bike, the only thing similar are sometimes the obstacles we're riding on. The rocks, logs and different elements. Trials is not a race either. It's a competition and that's where you get the mixture of the Motocross and trials event in EnduroCross. It's a race but over Trials-like obstacles.
9. Can you make money? Meaning are you making a living competing in EnduroCross or do you have a day job?
I actually make money doing EnduroCross. I'm one of the few guys lucky enough to make money doing EnduroCross.
10. You're an X Games silver medalist for Endurocross. How did that run go and is that the highlight of your career thus far?
X games was cool because we got to go to a bunch of different countries and being a part of it was not something I ever imagined for my career. So that was cool and unique. It's not the highlight of my career though. I don't have a specific highlight because I've enjoyed it all. I used to run a race team and now I'm a factory rider. I've also produced TV commercials for Lucas Oil and I enjoy being a part of MotoSport.com. I take a lot of pride in my ability to market myself to companies.
11. You're 11 points back from Cody Webb for the Championship in the 2015 Geico EnduroCross series. You've got two wins to his three. How do you tackle the remaining two rounds?
My only option is to win the next two rounds. I'm looking forward to racing my own race and proving to myself that I can go out there and win these last two rounds and focus on my weak points and minimizing those errors so I can win the next two races. At that point the championship will fall where it falls. I'm just going to do my best to put myself in a position to win both races.
12. How do you practice? It's not like there's a Glen Helen enduro riders spend practice days at.
I have a track in my backyard. I have five acres I live on. That was part of my investment towards my sport to build my own track and practice. That was the only way to get better. Other than that I ride trials a couple times a week and ride Motocross a couple of times a week.
13. You must crash a lot. Does it tick you off when you crash or just make you want to get better?
Crashing is just a part of it. Obviously I don't like crashing. But I've been pretty progressive with my riding over the last few years and as far as what everyone is doing on a dirt bike I'm on the upper end and with progression you have to take some hits.
14. I've seen your videos and there's some Freestyle going on there. You have an eye towards getting into that?
Just my own take on it. Freestyle was born out of guys not wanting to follow the mold of racing. So I'm basically doing my own impression of what I think my take on free riding and free style is. I'm not following the mold of what free style is either. I'm doing my own take on mixing my different skill sets. It's pretty fun. I like it and enjoy it and mix it in with trials and enduro riding.
15. You ever think about taking up a round in Supercross or Motocross?
Oh yeah. Many times. I raced two Motocross Nationals five years ago at Hangtown in the 250 class and at Washougal in the 450 class. I've always wanted to go back and race more Nationals and maybe in 2016 I'll be able to.