Gared Steinke got his first taste of an Arenacross track in Oregon as a kid and has been hooked ever since. Now a six-year pro, Steinke is deep in the hunt for points in the 2015 AMSOIL Arenacross series where he currently ranks 10th.
Racing for the MotoSport.com/Lauerman MX Race team, Steinke hasn't missed a Main since the series started a month ago. He's placed in the Top 5 a few times and as long as he remains in the Top 10 for points through Round 10 he moves on to the "Race for the Championship" Rounds where the points of the Top 10 riders get reset based on placement in the standings and a whole new "season" takes off for the final five Rounds.
Steinke finished 10th overall in Arenacross in 2013 and moved up two spots to eighth overall last year. This year the stacked field is as aggressive as ever and he's endured some point losses thanks to the almost inevitable crashing that happens from the close-knit tracks.
Steinke finished in 11th place after qualifying in his first Supercross race at Oakland in 2011 for the West Lites class and then got 10th in Seattle a few weeks later. Supercross is still in the cards but Steinke says Arenacross is where it's at for him.
MotoSport got a chance to talk with Steinke prior to Round 6 at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Wilkes-Barre, PA.
Years riding pro: Six
What age did you start riding and on what: 3 years old on a JR 50
What do you ride now? KTM 250 SXF
Hometown: Woodland, CA
- 2013 10th overall Arenacross with one podium and four Top 5 finishes
- 2014 8th overall Arenacross with one podium and five Top 5 finishes
Other sports participated in: BMX, baseball
Other hobbies/interests: Free riding, skateboarding
1. How did you get started riding a dirt bike?
My dad bought me a JR50 for Christmas when I was three, he was always into Motocross and his favorite rider was Danny Magoo. His plan before I was even born was for me to be a Pro Motocross/Supercross racer.
2. Did you always have a goal of going pro or was there a moment when you realized the possibility and then made it a goal?
I always have just loved riding and was always good and did decent and races but in 2011 in Supercross when I got 10th at Seattle for Lites West I realized I could possibly do well and then went to Arenacross to make a little more money.
3. You've been riding Arenacross for a few years now, are you content with the series or do you want to try Supercross again?
I have raced Arenacross all my life, my first race was an Arenacross track in Salem, OR on a JR50. I plan on racing a few more years and would like to do a few more Supercross races, but I believe my home is in Arenacross.
4. Since you've done both do you think the tighter track in Arenacross helps riders transition to Supercross or does putting time in Supercross help once back in Arencross?
I feel like riding Arenacross then transitioning to Supercross is better because it makes you a smarter racer and is a downsized version of a Supercross track but with bigger whoops.
5. You've had some good rides this year and some where you tangled with other riders. What's the key for you in avoiding the traffic jams on the track?
Always to get a good start that's the best way, but it is Arenacross, and it's so tight and a lot of the pile ups come from one rider making a mistake and taking down three or four other riders with him.
6. Lappers prove to be a genuine obstacle in Arenacross, is grabbing the holeshot still an effective means to winning or does taking a few laps to survey the field and then making a charge to the front work just as well?
A lot of riders like me like to take a few laps before we get going so I think taking a few laps is better for me then getting the holeshot.
7. In many respects there's two seasons to Arenacross as long as you stay in the Top 10 for points. Since the points start over after Round 10 for the Top 10 riders are you in "win" mode now or just trying to keep up in points?
Really just trying to stay in the Top 10 until the points reset and not create any enemies until then!
8. It's an interesting twist to the series - as a rider do you like or do you prefer it to be similar to Supercross?
I like how the points reset it makes it interesting and if you've had a few bad races in the beginning due to other riders it lets you regroup.
9. You've made the Race to the Championship cut before - how different is the energy at the gate for that first race after the points are reset compared to the opening Round of the Arenacross series?
It's way more intense. Everyone wanted to win the first Round of Arenacross but anyone will do anything it takes to win the first race of the Road to the Championship.
10. How do you practice for Arenacross, be it in the offseason or between Rounds, when authentic tracks are more or less built for each race?
I train in the preseason for two and a half months on and off the bike. Between seasons, and when I'm on the road, I try to ride once or twice Monday through Friday and hit the gym once or twice a week.
Written By: AndrewT