GNCC Racing

Tuesday Toolbox: Walker Fowler

Tuesday, September 23, 2008 | 12:00 AM

Where has Walker Fowler been this year? After becoming the first ever rider to win both Bike and ATV GNCC Overall Youth Titles, Walker was hoping for big things this season jumping onto bigger equipment. Riding Four-Stroke A Lites in bikes on a WR250F for the Am-Pro Yamaha team, and the Schoolboy ATV class on a GT Thunder Raptor 250, Walker was ready until an ankle injury nearly ended his season. We caught up with Walker to check his progress.

Interview by Jason Weigandt

Fowler two-wheels his four wheeler.
Harlen Foley photo,

GNCC Racing: What happened this year?
Walker Fowler:
Well, it all started in Georgia. In the ATV race, I was just cruising on the last lap, taking my time, and I decided for some odd reason, well, I didn't decide to do this, someone else did, maybe a voodoo doll or something, but my foot came off the peg and I rolled it under the heel guard, the tire, everything. To make a long story short, I sprained my ankle really bad. A break would have been better, or even a torn ligament, because they can do stuff for that, like a cast or surgery. With a sprain, everything is just stretched, and you can't do too much to help that.

Ouch. So what happened next?
I was off the bike immediately. I didn't race Georgia, of course. The only really solid bike race I had was Florida, and I got fourth there. I didn't race again until Big Buck. I raced the quad there and had a bit of a controversial win. I also raced the bike, and after about an hour, the ankle was bouncing off the ground. It started hurting, and I didn't feel good. I got like 8th. Then I was home doing some practice, and then I stuck it in a rut and twisted it the other way. So then both sides were ruined. I had to do a lot of therapy and no riding at all. That was pretty much torture.

The therapy was torture or not being able to ride?
Not being able to ride!

Did you have crutches?
No, they gave me these little air cast things that go in your boot. It was bad because I could just stand there and look normal, and then everyone would think, “Hey if you're just standing there and look healthy, you must be okay.” I guess if you're not in a full body cast, it looks like you should just get back on and suck it up. I still wanted to come back and see if I could hold on and win the title with the quad. The doctor said it would take a freak accident to get hurt the same way twice, so we went for it. It was pretty hard to convince mom, though!

I know you were able to keep on going after Big Buck with the quad. When did you get back on the bike?
The first week after the summer break. I did a motocross camp with Cory (Buttrick). It was the first time I had been on a bike since March. So I've just been riding ever since. This weekend at Unadilla was the first time I've raced both since Florida.

Fowler in a rare bike shot.
Jason Hooper photo

Great. What are you expectations?
Well I'm just happy to be back. On the ATV, I still have a shot at the title, so I need to win there. On the bike, I want a top five, just a good solid ride and not get hurt.

What's the ATV Championship picture like?
It's going to be tough. If Cody Parmerter or Hunter Dalrymple make big mistakes, it will be easier, but that's pretty doubtful, because they're both really talented, really smart and consistent riders. They don't usually make those big mistakes. If they don't, I will probably have to win every race. No pressure there! Then even if I do win all three, which will be tough, they're still going to be duking it out between themselves. So it's going be a three-way battle to the death in that class.

How about the bike Four-Stroke A Lites Class? Even if you weren't hurt, that's a tough class.
(Laughs). Yeah, with Cory (Buttrick) in there, that knocks your hopes down immediately. He's amazing. He never makes mistakes, he is always in the right place at the right time, and he puts in all the work. So I was hoping to maybe win one race, and get top three for the year. I didn't think I could beat him for the title. But I didn't know who else would be in that class. We have Jake Korn, Fiddler, and a lot of guys that stepped it up. I need to pick it up a lot more. I'm hoping to get as much training done as possible. I want to get one good ride in at the Ironman and see how I do.

What's slowing you down now, the ankle or lack or riding?
It's not the ankle now, it's just being a year behind everyone with riding and training.

How has Randy Hawkins and everyone with the AM-Pro team been?
They've been real supportive. They were real bummed out and everything with the injury, though, of course, but they understood, and they didn't want me to come back too early and just get hurt more and more. During the winter I got to do a lot of training, and they just treated me like one of the guys, I guess, I got some tips, and some inside secret stuff that most guys wouldn't get.

What was it like working with the big stars like that?
Oh man! It was very nerve wracking. I flew down to South Carolina by myself and I had never done that before. And then of course, my plane got cancelled due to some storm, and then I went to Philadelphia and then to Atlanta. I was just sitting in Atlanta for like seven hours by myself wearing my gear.

Wearing your gear?! Why?
We didn't want to pay for luggage. I could fit my clothes in the bag on the plane. I wore my helmet and shoulder pads and boots and everything! They let me through security wearing it. I was surprised.

The boys must have been making fun of you.
Thad (DuVall) was cracking up. He really liked that idea, he said he's going to fly like that all the time now. It's amazing to be able to work with those guys. Randy has 13 ISDE medals; he's done it all. And Barry, he's won everything, even on the quad, too, so I really look up to him for that. Then Jason (Raines), Thad, Dirt (Joe Scherer) and Ryan (Belue), they all took me like one of the guys. I just couldn't believe that these guys that I idolized, I was just sitting in some random Pizza Hut in Kentucky talking to them!

He likes his Raptor, but Walker is looking
forward to a 450 next year.  
Harlen Foley photo,

How about working with GT Thunder? Seems like everyone works with Laz Sommers nowadays.
Yeah, everyone, especially in our local series, if you don't have a GT Thunder sticker on your quad, you're nobody. We actually started with him back in the Kasea days. Hetrick was great, too, but they're a little more on the motocross side of it. Laz helped us with the Cobra, too. But this is my first year full-on with him. We're building the Raptor 250 in stages, just so people could look at it and figure what's going to give them the best bang for the buck.

And you're almost ready to move to a 450?
Three races and I'm done forever. My 16th birthday is two days after Ironman! We bought one of Brandon Sommers' '07 quads. It's good, it's definitely been road hard, but it has shown me the difference between a 300 or a 400. It's a lot different.

What's the plan next year?
It's looking like college A or B. And on the bikes, Four-Stroke A again.

Hey so what's up with Adam McGill dating your sister? How weird is that?
We're connected pretty good through that. He was down here almost every weekend in the summer until she went to college. We kind of took him in, he's a fun guy.

Do you ride together?
It's a pretty funny story. When they first started dating last year after Snowshoe, he was coming down to the house, and I didn't really know him much. But I had a 400EX, it wasn't the best quad, but I was pretty pumped that he was coming and I wanted to go ride with him. So I led him out on some trails and about 100 yards into it and I guess a tree had fallen overnight, and I hit it and fell. I knocked myself right out. And I didn't have an end on my camel back, so when I finally got up, water was spraying everywhere. He came up to me and thought it was brain juice shooting out of my head!

You practice with a lot of the fast pack?
We have some property at house. About once a week, Mark Notman, Johnny Gallagher, and Sommers comes down and rides here. Once a month, Traci (Cecco) and Taylor (Kiser) come down, too. It really helps me speed on the quad riding with them.

Well, soon you'll be on a 450 so you'll be an even match for them.
We'll see next year.

Good luck this weekend.
Thanks, Jason.