GNCC Racing

Tuesday Toolbox with .... Andrew Matusek

Tuesday, November 13, 2007 | 12:00 AM

Once again Kawasaki Team Green’s Andrew Matusek overcame a close fight to win the bike 4-Stroke A Lites Title. The 20-year-old has been one of the hottest GNCC amateurs for a long time now, but after three-straight A class crowns it’s finally time to move up to the pro ranks. Kawasaki has signed him to race XC2 Lites in GNCC for 2008. It’s been a long time since we’ve spoken to Andrew, so here’s an update with the fast young man from Georgia.


Man, you never make these titles as easy as they could be.


Yeah I don’t know something always seems to happen. I’m not sure why. Last year it was me Justin Monsrud and it came down to the last race, and I ended out just ahead.


Same thing this year.


Yeah I had to finish within one place of Scott McClure at the last race. I got a horrible start, and then I got up front with Corey (Buttrick). I crashed a few times battling with him, so backed it down a little bit just to win the title. Then I ran out of gas on the last lap coming into the gas section. It was tough.


Wow. Did you think you were going to lose it right there?


Well, I was a mile from the finish, so I had to push. I went past someone’s pit and asked for gas, and they filled me up.


So you were pushing after riding for three hours.




You started the year strong, winning the first three races. What happened after that?


After North Carolina, I was practicing and the bike stalled on the face of a jump, and I broke my hand. So I was out for two races. I came back John Penton, and my wrist was sore and my hand was sore. I got out front and started fading. Snowshoe my bike was having some problems, so that was the end of my throwaways. I had to put the hammer down from there.


Did it make you ride differently, knowing you had no room for error?


Not really. I come to the line trying to be the guy who everyone has to beat, but it does add some pressure. It seems to happen over and over every year for some reason. Hopefully next year I’ll get through the whole season without problems.


Let’s talk about that. What’s the Kawasaki program for you like next year?


It’s a little bit different. The first few races we’ll have the 18 wheeler there, after that we’ll have our own trucks, or even a Kawasaki fifth wheel trailer. Doug Duchette is back with Kawasaki now, and he will come to some of the races with that truck. As far as racing, moving up to pro class is going to be a big change for me. I’ve always been able to be a little bit ahead of everyone in my class as far as sprinting speed, on the first lap I was always able to get out front and run. Next year in XC2, the pace will be so fast, I’m not sure where I will fit in. I’m looking forward to it though.


You worked your way from the C class through to the A class. Has getting into the pros been the long term goal?


At first, when we started racing again, it was just for fun. My dad raced trails way back in the day, and I started racing C class in GNCCs in 2003, and it was just for fun. I led in Georgia at my first GNCC. We started traveling around with Terry Mealer, and he taught me everything I know about GNCC racing. I won seven of the nine races in B class, then we got hooked up with Team Green, and then I moved to the A class. After hooking up with Team Green, I started to take it much more seriously, and I started training and treating it like more than just a hobby.


Your motocross background is very impressive. Talk about that.


I started riding when I was three. A little after that we started racing motocross. I think I learned all of my colors and numbers as a kid from watching the pros. When I was six years old, we decided to go bigger and qualified for Loretta’s, but before we went there we went to Ponca City and I won in the 4-6 class, and then I won a title at Loretta’s. Then I got another title at Ponca when I was on 60s. But when I was 11 at Ponca City I crashed and was in a coma for a little bit, and doctors told me to take it easy for a year. I wasn’t allowed to ride. I never got back into the motocross scene after that, we just started riding for fun again. My mom is kind of against the motocross, she seems to think that in the woods you don’t get hurt as much. And the last couple of times I have gotten hurt it’s on a motocross track.


So how long was the gap between racing motocross and GNCC?


The last year in motocross was August ’98, and my first GNCC race in Georgia was March ’03.


You know, from the motocross days, Tony Alessi and Mike and Jeff always say good things about you.


We battled with them a lot, and we’re still good friends with them. I battled with Millsaps and stuff, and also Matt Georke and Brandon Layton. I raced James Stewart at a couple of nationals, if I was running up a class, because he was a year older than me. Ponca City in ’97, I beat James Stewart. He went down on the first lap and I just held him off. That was my moment of fame in motocross!


How much different is racing in the woods?


I think the motocross helped my sprint speed. I know the first woods race I really did, I did a woods race before the GNCC, and I rode it like a motocross and crashed like five times in the first lap. I had to calm down a lot and treat it more like a trail ride, and just sprint when you have to.


What kind of stuff do you ride for practice?


We kind of switch it up. I don’t like riding the peaked motocross stuff anymore, because you have a higher risk of danger. The more natural stuff, like grass tracks, that’s what I have at my house. We have some nasty creek crossings and off-cambers, too. Usually I practice with Russell Bobbitt, we push a couple days a week and have fun on one day, and that’s when you do the gnarly stuff like log crossings and just have fun. Then, when you get into the gnarly stuff like Snowshoe, which is probably the gnarliest thing I’ve ever encountered, that helps out. I’ve never seen anything like that place before. You could see on the video that even David Knight was almost getting stuck, and if he can’t make it, I don’t even want to look at that section!


Nice. Do you think you can win some races next year in XC2?


I hope so. I tend to start the year strong, but I don’t want to go all out and crash all over the place. Hopefully as the year goes on I’ll have some luck.


It’s going to be good watching you guys move up. We got to see you and Cory Buttrick race in Ironman. Had you ever raced before?


I raced him one time at a local race in Ohio. The Ironman, that was fun. I got a bad start, and then he went down pretty hard and I led, and then I crashed. It seemed like whoever got the lead, you would just crash after half a lap and give it back. We went back and forth, it was fun. I know he wouldn’t take me out or anything and that made it better.


We’ll maybe we’ll finally see all of you boys battling it out as pros.


Yeah Cory B, Josh Monsrud, Hayden O’Kelley, the list goes on. It seems like every year another name just comes up through the amateurs. I’m just trying to step it up, doing more cardio and giving it everything I have.


What’s the off-season plan?


Last year I did SETRA and I ended up winning it. This year I think I’m going to lay low a little bit. SETRA is good to get some racing in but this year I think I’m gonna’ do more practicing on the type of terrain you see in GNCC, because it’s different. Also, I’m going to California in the winter, and then I’ll be down in Florida for a bit too, just to get ready.


Will you be at the banquet next weekend?


Oh yeah I’ll be there.


Cool, see you then.