GNCC Racing

Tuesday Toolbox with .... Thad DuVall

Tuesday, March 25, 2008 | 12:00 PM

Thad DuVall may have been pegged as a GNCC star at an earlier age than anyone else. He was still in the middle of his youth racing career when he was picked up by the Am-Pro Yamaha as a bit of a mini-me version of its factory riders. And this was when the Mini-Me jokes were still fresh! Now in his eighth season with the team, DuVall is off to a roaring start by winning the first two XC2 Lites races this year. Believe it or not, we’ve never done a Toolbox Interview with Thad, so this one is way overdue.

Photos by Jason Hooper

Thad DuVall.

What are you doing right now?
I’m out on the tractor working on my motocross track. I’m on the Kubota.

Why drive a tractor? Can’t you just ride trails and let mother nature take care of it?
Man I try to do it all!

So now that you’ve graduated, is this the first time you’ve been able to actually do a lot of riding and training during the winter?
Oh yeah, I went down to Randy’s in South Carolina in January. It was different, I had never been able to do that before because I was always in school. I’ve only been down to Randy’s during January and February maybe two or three times. Until this year.

Big difference?
Yeah, I get to train with guys up here, but you can’t ride because it’s cold and muddy. Down there I got to ride and train with the guys every day. About every two weeks I come home here, and then I go back down there.

So did you do some testing down there?
No it’s a pretty laid back atmosphere down there. We just play Xbox 360 every night.

Yeah! So no trying out five different types of forks?
No, not really, I just ride it really. I do try some stuff. It keeps it fun really.

So the racing thing is going pretty well.
Yeah it’s going better than I thought it would.

You didn’t think you would win the first two?
Well, I want to say yeah, but really, no. I didn’t. The class is stacked, we have all kinds of new kids coming up. I thought I would win at some point, but I didn’t think I would win the first two.

Is that because of the big crash you had coming into the season?
Yeah, at the Sumpter Enduro, I crashed pretty hard. I couldn’t feel my legs at one point, and I guess when people came up on me I was out cold. I was off the bike for about three weeks, and then I rode for two weeks, and then we were in Florida. It was really a mental thing. I was scared because of that crash. It was a big reality check for me. So now it’s “Hey, you need to slow down, get smooth and not crash.”Â

So no more pin it and win it?
I hate to say it, but yeah, that’s done. If I’m in third, great, because I just want to be up on the podium this year.

Then you go out and win the two races!
Yeah it was pretty fun. In Florida I hooked up with Josh, and that was fun and it didn’t really feel like we were even riding hard. In Georgia, the track was good for me. It was really muddy and nasty. That’s like what I ride here at home. It worked out.

That's a real headlight on that bike.

So you’re thinking championship as opposed to individual race wins.
Yeah, I’m taking it race by race, but in the long run I want the championship. I want to be up there every week for Yamaha, not win next week and be way back the next time like last year.

Now you’re on the WR. Last year you didn’t get to try one.
I didn’t try one last year until October. I wish I had tried one before that because it’s awesome! Dude, the bike is amazing. A lot of people are like, “why do you ride a WR?” But for me, just the way I ride, especially a 450, I like to ride in a high gear. Doing that on the WR makes me smoother. On a YZ I’m like in third gear pinned, and on a WR I’m in fifth, smooth.

And the WR can pull that better than a YZ?
The WR pulls way better. I don’t want to ride anything else but WRs.

And I know you have some 450 skills. We heard you won a race in the off-season on one.
Yeah I have one WR250F and one 450. The 450 is all I ride. The only 250F I touch was when I rode it in Florida and Georgia. That’s the only time I rode it all year.

Why ride a 450 that much?
Well, I’m a smaller guy, so after I ride the 450, getting on a 250F, it’s like riding a 125.

Any idea how long you will stay in Lites?
Actually, it was kind of flying around this year that I would ride a 450. I was faster on it than my 250F. My dad suggested, well, you can run XC1. He asked if I was ready and I said no. But next year I want to move up. Maybe. Kind of.

Can Thad really  be consistent enough this year to win the title?

(Laughs). Well you know you can handle the bike.
Yeah I feel comfortable on it. But even on the 250F, hopefully I can be the new and improved Thad DuVall!

Yeah so are we going to have to stop saying it’s checkers or wreckers with you?
I don’t want that to be my deal! I want to change, because I don’t want to be the kid known for winning one race, and then the next race he’s nowhere. I don’t want the riders to think, “Oh, you don’t have to worry about Thad DuVall he’s just going to crash out.” So I want to be the new and improved Thad DuVall where you have to watch out for him at every race. If I have a bad one I have a bad one, last year I had a lot of bad luck. But I’m trying to be more consistent now.

And you’re working hard at it.
Yeah I want to thank all of my friends up here in West Virginia for helping me out. I like it up here, I like living up here more than down south. I like my backyard. I have my dogs, I have my own tracks, I’ve got friends that want to ride every day.

And you’ve got your Kubota.
Yeah got my Kubota! I’m on that thing right now.

Well I’ll let you get back on it. Good luck this year, Thad.
No problem, thanks for calling.