Cody Gilmore is one busy guy these days.
The privateer's privateer is still racing, don't worry about that. Though you won't see him in any rounds this year for Motocross, Gilmore is laying the foundation for what he hopes turns into an annual summer showdown in the Midwest with his Best of the Midwest series that started last month and runs six rounds through October.
Originally a one-off event held at Abbott Motocross Park in Nebraska, Gilmore was approached last year to herald a brand new multi-state, multi round series designed to allow anyone who wanted to race an affordable chance to compete in a bonda fide Motocross event that paid, and paid well.
Gilmore, who beat one of life's biggest adversities after a cancer diagnosis in 2005 nearly ended his career, jumped at the opportunity just as long as he was personally involved. Well regarded in the industry, Gilmore soon had a number of sponsors on-board including MotoSport, a long-time supporter of his.
With Round 1 of Best of the Midwest in the books and Round 2 on Saturday, we sat down with Gilmore to see what's been going on, of course talk about the new series and see where he's headed. By the way, he's also running his own Motocross school!
1. It's been a while. Last time we talked you were returning from injury and intent on making the Main in the final rounds of the 2014 Supercross season and you did! Was that a career best stretch?
Yeah, it was. 2014 was a good year for me. I came back from a broken collarbone, only missed a few rounds then made every main except Daytona to close out the year. I think it was eight mains in a row, which I was happy with.
2. We didn't see you in 2015 though except for a few Motocross rounds. Injury? Other responsibilities?
I actually raced Anaheim 1 in 2015, then the weekend after I flew over to Germany to race a Supercross over there. I ended up having a weird crash and tore the ligaments in my thumb. I ended up needing to get it fixed, so the season was over for me. I'm pretty bummed about that one because I had an awesome off-season, I was in the best shape I'd ever been in, was going the fastest I've ever rode and was working with Buddy Antunez which was great, he helped me a lot. It sucked to see all of that work go down the drain.
3. So you got a few Supercross rounds in this year but you're taking on a whole new venture this summer. Tell us about Best of the Midwest.
Yeah these past few seasons have been rough and injury filled. I came in this year hurt, wasn't really ready to race but tried to make it happen anyway. I raced three Supercross rounds, made a main, but ended up breaking my jaw and missing the last few rounds, it's been tough.
With so much downtime and knowing I can't race forever, I've been doing some different things and getting my foot in the door with different projects and my MX Schools. Craig Fritz (Operations Director at Abbott MX) and Pat Thomas (Thomas Tracks) came to me at the end of last year and asked if I'd be interested in putting my name on a series that they were wanting to start, kind of like how James Stewart and Davi Millsaps have their own nationals now, that's kind of where it all started.To make a long story short my answer was, "Yes," but I wanted to be more involved than just that. I had a bunch of ideas, connections and resources I wanted to use with my many years in the industry. So us three pretty much started last November and built this thing from the ground up.
4. And MotoSport is involved! How did that come about?
I've had a great relationship with Motosport.com throughout my pro career and I'm friends with many of the employees that work there. When we were looking for sponsors for the series, I wanted to go to the companies that I felt comfortable with and that I knew I could trust. I pretty much used the same foundation as I have in my privateer professional career - work with companies that have the best product and best support, not just the biggest wallet. I really have to thank Brandon Hoff for all of the hard work and truly making this thing happen though.
5. Now you're wearing a marketing hat. What's the process in developing a racing series?
It was more time consuming than I could have imagined. It started out with needing to figure out where and when we wanted to go. That was one of my things (to figure out) when I agreed to join in as a partner. I wanted to go to the best tracks and events possible in our area. Craig and I went to work and we were able to nail down every track that we wanted in the series.
The Best of Midwest had our criteria that we wanted each track to accept, for example, the pro purse and getting each of the tracks to agree on the same classes, so that took a little while to get sorted out but we are really happy with how everything came out. We ended up with a 200% purse plus $500 in each of our pro classes which is good money, especially for a six race series.
Another cool thing that we have come up with is in three of our rounds, 50cc riders will get their first entry free. That is something I really wanted to make happen in all of the rounds and if it goes well this year that is something you can expect in all of our races in the future. I really think it's important to get new young kids out to the track and racing, that's the future of our sport.
6. Obviously you're not going to compete with Lucas Oil Pro Motocross. So, is Best of the Midwest geared towards the privateer, amateur, or anybody who wants to race?
All of the above, it's geared towards anyone who wants to race. We have classes for everyone. Our goal is to be the premier regional series in the Midwest. I look at series like the Texas Winter Series and see what a great job they're doing, that's where we want to be someday.
7. You've also started the Cody Gilmore MX School. OK, free advertisement. How did this get started?
I actually started doing schools when I was 16 for the local dealership I rode for. He had customers and other riders who he sponsored that could use some instruction, so that's pretty much how I got started doing those. I've been doing schools ever since, maybe one or two per year but I've never really put any effort into them as in advertising or trying to line a bunch up.
These past few seasons they've kind of been falling into my lap with my racing slowing down a bit. So I've put more effort in trying to get more lined up and small things like making a Facebook for them. I've also been working with some great young riders like Diesel Thomas the past few years and that has raised some attention to Cody Gilmore Mx Training as well.
8. Is the Motocross School the next phase of your career?
I'm not sure if I can say it's the next phase, there are a few things I want to stay busy with and I definitely want to continue doing them but it's not my only focus either. I enjoy helping people get better and improve their riding, it feels good when someone comes up at the end of the day and tells me that I have helped them to be a more safe and smart rider.
With that said, I'm not completely done racing and that will always be my main focus until I decide to step away completely, it has to be that way or it's not worth the time. Racing takes so much commitment and effort, you can't just do it half-hearted. I've made that mistake a few times and ended up hurting myself. I've also been looking at getting into some other forms of racing not on a dirt bike. I'm looking forward to the future and what it has in store.
9. Where do you hold school and when?
My day to day training is primarily based out of Abbott Mx in Lincoln, Nebraska but I also have different classes at tracks all over the Midwest. Visit Cody Gilmore MX Training on Facebook for upcoming classes, I have a few in Nebraska, Iowa and South Dakota all in the near future. I will also be holding classes before each of our BoM rounds.
10. So, is the privateer life of trying to race Supercross and Motocross more or less over?
I wouldn't say it's completely over yet but it's starting to wind down. We will see what happens but I still love to race and I would like to keep going overseas in the winter and racing. I have a few years left in me for sure.
11. Is it a hard transition to leave the part of racing life behind?
It is super hard. I've been racing since I was 7. I've tried to retire a few times but knowing I can still do better than I have and improve my results keeps me going. That and I love racing. I love traveling and everything that comes with it. I'm not ready to give up on my pro career just yet, but staying busy with other things will make it easier when the time does come.
12. Back to the Best of the Midwest. You see this as an annual thing? Growing towards something?
Yes it will be an annual thing for sure. We want this series to keep growing in the future. It will get better as we go and we will give riders more incentive to want to come race too.
13. Are you racing in the series?
I didn't race our first round as I wanted to make sure everything was covered and went smoothly but I plan on racing the rest of them, at least in one class.