GNCC Racing

Tuesday Toolbox: Barry Hawk

Tuesday, February 10, 2009 | 3:45 PM

In the unpredictable world of GNCC Racing,  Hawk has proven to be one of the few things you can count on. Beginning with his ATV title fights, wins and defenses in the early 1990s, to his annual threats for bike wins and titles in the 2000s, no one has raced GNCC at such a high level for as long as Barry. But after a tough 2008 season that saw him nearly slip out of the top ten for the first time in a long time, Hawk is facing questions. Is he done? Is he too old to win? We talked to him to get his thoughts.

So you're in South Carolina now training right? How do you feel about your first race of the new season being just around the corner?
I'm actually looking forward to it. Usually, I'm kind of dreading Florida. I'm not the best sand rider around. But knock on wood, things have been going pretty good. I'm looking forward to it. If the race was tomorrow, I'd be all for it. Let's do it! I'm ready to get the ball rolling.

I've heard a lot about your records. Do you think you are going to come back for championship contention?
I definitely hope so. I'm probably, well not probably, I am the oldest guy in the class! Time is running out for me. I need to make it happen. I definitely think I can be there to win the championship. I don't think a lot of people are counting me in for the title, but in 2003, when I won, no one really counted me in for that year. Then I put the whole season together and everything worked out for me. I'm not the flashiest guy and I'm not going to be the fastest guy week in and week out, but I need to be smart and win 4 or 5 races and be on the podium. That could give me the championship again.

What are some of things you are doing now to ensure a comeback?
Well, we just got done eating McDonalds for the third time today and I'm going to Waffle House here in about another hour! So I'm ready! No, honestly we come down here to Randy's and the team works together. We go to the gym and work on the bikes and ride every day. Today so far, we've done a mountain bike ride and we're heading back to the shop right now. There is not a set routine. Randy won't let you sit around doing nothing. So nobody does that! He keeps it fun. This morning we went for a mountain bike ride. Tomorrow we'll probably be going to the gym.  Then Thursday we're going for a road bike ride. We're always doing something different and always doing something interesting. He keeps us on our toes. Everyone is having fun.

Everyone but Joe Dirt.

(Note: Joe Scherer crashed a few days ago and incurred a host of injuries. He is in the hospital now with a broken tibia and pelvis and possible internal injuries. Get well soon, Joe Dirt).

How is your off season going so far?  What races have you done?
Actually, I think I left like January 5 to come to Randy's. I think I've been home six days since then. I've done three races in that time. I did a team race with Thad Duvall in North Carolina and we won that. Then I did the Sumter National Enduro and I had some bike problems and didn't get to finish. Then this past weekend I did a SETRA race. I ended up finishing third there. Me and Thad are on the same bike and team, and for the last hour and a half we were back and forth for awhile. It was good clean racing and I had fun. I was pretty happy with the way things went. You gauge yourself off of the other guys, and based on that, everything in the off-season has been going pretty good. I'm not trying to change this up too much. I'm going to try to do as good as I can in every race and give it everything I've got.

With you and Thad on the same team, Am-Pro Yamaha has the oldest and youngest guys out there. What's that like?
What's interesting about that is, at one time I was the youngest guy on the team and now I'm the oldest member on the team. It's competitive no matter what we do. We went down to Randy's farm and we were shooting some trap and skeet and we turned it into a contest.  If I beat Thad, "I beat you on that one!" It's funny because we are all racers at heart and trying to beat each other. Looking at it with me and Thad, we're on the same bike but we have two totally different riding styles. He holds it wide open.  Everything from the lines he picks to how he rides the bike is totally different from me. But at the race this weekend we ended up racing one second apart. I think he kind of looks up to me because I've done it. At the same time, I can learn things off of him too because he has a different riding style. We're still learning off of each other, but I would think overall he has a lot more to pick up from me than I do from him! I've been around awhile. It's fun and we have a lot of the same things interests. It's almost like a father son type of thing. We are teammates and friends. It's neat. We get along really good.

How is your new bike? You're on the 450 this year? Why did you pick it up?
It's the first time in 10 years I've been on a different bike! This is the first time I've changed anything major. I've heard people say Yamaha forced me to ride the 450, which isn't the case. I chose to ride the 450. I could ride whatever I wanted to. It came down to whatever bike I was the fastest on, which was the 450. I dedicated myself to getting faster on the 450. I made a couple of small changes. I thought they would be minor but they were major changes. I'm more comfortable on it. Now I'm faster on it than my two-stroke. Believe me, I'd rather be on my two-stroke, but I'm faster on the 450. I'm looking forward to racing it this year.

What keeps you coming back for more?

I think a major thing for me was last year getting hurt. I came back and I had some okay races, but  there were only two races last year where I felt like I rode really good. One was North Carolina where I got second, and the other was Indiana, because in that one I was actually close to the front. I know how to win championships. But to get that close, and finish second three years in a row, and then get hurt last year, it's the motivation for me. I've been so close for three years. I want to come back and prove to everyone that I still have it. That the short bald guy still has it! To be there and taste the victory, I want it bad. It's almost like proving everyone wrong. I know I can still do it. I hate to lose.

You could have won a bunch of titles if Salminen and Knight didn't come over to the U.S. Are you happy they are gone?
Yeah. I'm happy they are gone. But I'm grateful to race against them. Bill Daily, who owns Outlaw Motorsports in Morgantown he said basically,"They had to bring in two of the greatest riders in the world to beat little old Barry hawk from Smithville, Pennsylvania." That's almost what it's like. I'm grateful to race against them. Juha wasn't outspoken, he went out there and did his job and. Knight ... well they were like night and day different. He was flashy and told people what he was thinking and showed off. It's neat to race against those guys. They raised the bar. We've all had to step up to try to beat those guys.  I've beaten those guys, but they've beaten me a lot more. If they could both race here and I could beat them all season that would be the greatest accomplishment ever. Those two may be the best in the world week in and week out at what they do.

What else motivates you to prove people wrong? That you can win this championship?
Honestly, all the guys that have won championships. If you win a championship, it's almost like we've been there and we've done it and we know what it takes to do it. There aren't a lot of people who can say that. To stay at that level it takes a tremendous amount of effort and time and the amount of dedication and the level of the people who surround you.  You have to have a good group o f people surrounding you to get there. But, for someone to win a championship, you have to have talent and you have to have a lot of heart because it's a long season. You can train someone all day long. You can have the best bike and set up but if your heart isn't in it, well, you have to have the heart to want to do it week in and week out. Every one of us who has won a championship has the heart to do it. Whatever it takes, we'll do what it takes to get it done.