GNCC Racing

Tuesday Toolbox: Glenn Kearney

Thursday, March 19, 2009 | 1:45 PM

Husqvarna's Glenn Kearney had high hopes for a GNCC Championship this season, but he broke his leg just 19 days before the season started in Florida. Amazingly, he scored 10th in the XC1 Class at the opener, anyway, riding in pain. This weekend, this Australian transplant gets to race in his adopted home of North Carolina, and his leg is getting better. Can Glenn fight through the pain and get back to the front of the pack?

How are you doing this morning?
Excellent! Getting ready for the race this weekend.

How's your leg feeling today? 
A lot better than what it was a few weeks ago, that's for sure! I got a scare at that last one. I thought I had broken it worse than I had originally. It turned out to be not too bad.

I bet it was pretty hard to race in that condition.
Florida was more difficult because of how rough it was with the big sand whoops and what not. It had only been 3 weeks when I raced Florida. I kind of expected to struggle a bit with that one but I think the sand helped a bit. I was able to stay standing a lot and not have to put my foot down. I was really happy to get through that. It hurt but it was bearable. I've ridden with broken bones before. I knew what I was in for.  It's not really fun but I knew it was possible! Georgia I expected to be easier. But the ruts were so deep  I was having trouble catching my feet. I'm sure everyone was.  Sure enough I just caught the tail of my boot and it just twisted my foot. The instant pain was so bad, it was worse than when I broke it.  When I broke it, I didn't think I had done any damage. I thought I had just sprained it and I was surprised it was a fracture. This time, it hurt so bad that I straightaway assumed the worst. I didn't put any weight on it because I didn't really know how bad it was.  It turned out the fracture all stayed in place. I had done some ligament damage to start with. I'm sure that was a lot of that pain. I did a little bit more damage to the inside of my ankle. In two weeks it's come a long way. I got rid of the cast and I'm walking around with barely a limp. I think in two more weeks we should be back 100 percent. It was so disappointing to start. I was so excited to come over and do well. Right before to go and do that it was so devastating. Three months of work down the drain I thought.  It looks like we might be able to salvage it.

You've said you'll be ready for the next race, what are some of the things you're doing to get ready?
Just rehab every day. That's the beauty of motorcycling as a job. If I had a 9-5 I wouldn't have time to spend on the injury like I have.  I'm in the pool every day. Lots of physio and stretching. We all train pretty hard. Anything I can do to keep my cardio fitness up without further injury to the ankle, I'll do it, so that's swimming and on the bicycle a lot. We got an elliptical trainer in the gym and it's made a big difference, too.

You said you live pretty close the race track. Is this race special to you because of that?
I don't know why, I've always liked this race. This is my third year living there, but even before that this was my favorite race. I like the layout of track. There are a lot of hills and different terrain with the hill climbs, and grass tracks. The dirt here is pretty good. It's a red clay. It's looking like it's going to be good this weekend. It's good to be close to home. Better than going to New York and Florida and being in the car.

At the Steele Creek GNCC in 2007, at the end of the race  you started going into seizures and kind of had a rough year after that.  What are your memories of that event?

That always gets talked about. That was one I should have won but didn't.  It was a hot weekend and dry.  I had some sort of sickness for awhile. Doing some tests to see what had happened. I still don't know what happened. They thought I might have had Glandular fever. It's called Epstein Barr over here or something like that. It was never really diagnosed. That race was good until the last corner. I battled with Barry (Hawk) and it was a pretty exciting finish. At that point I was pretty well cooked. I've watched the video of it and I remember parts of it. I was about done and lost control in the last couple of turns. I crashed into the scoring lady and broke leg. I felt really bad about that. The next sort of hour or so after that was pretty scary. It might have been the scariest thing that's ever happened to me. It took a long time to get over it mentally. Then last year was a difficult year with the new team. This year we're on track for doing well. Wyatt Seals, the mechanic, has got the bike going really well. Working directly with Husqvarna North America and everyone involved there does a great job. Mark Brady, the President and Scott Hardin, the state national manager do everything and everyone's really into the racing. I really want to do well to repay those guys for helping me. This is my fifth year so I really want to do something.  I've been here and moved my whole life from Australia out here and it takes a lot of effort. It's time to get back up front and show that I can ride.

Why did you make the switch from the Husqvarna 450 four-stroke bike to the 300 two-stroke?
I'm one of the smaller guys in stature. The 450 is a great bike and has a lot of power. It's great in general conditions but when the conditions got really technical or rocky, that's when I got off balance. The two-stroke is a bit lighter and feels so much more nimble. I've had a lot of success on the two-stroke in the past. Husqvarna came out with this new 300, it's got a great engine and the overall package is great.  In general sort of conditions there isn't much difference.  I can still do well in those races. It's the ones where I'm losing so many points in the championship is the technical races. We decided to focus on what would help me get further to the front and try to minimize the damage in the points.

How do you feel about Steele Creek this weekend?
Really good. It's been raining here for about a week. We rode close to the track yesterday and the conditions were just about perfect. It was the first time I've been back on the bike outside of those first two races.  I was also able to change the bike back to the regular set up. I was having problems shifting, but I have flexibility back in the ankle so that makes a big difference. I got here and broke my leg so we never got to set the bike up properly. We made a lot of changes in a short period of time, which isn't the ideal situation, but I think we're definitely well ahead of where we were for Georgia. I'm going to go and try to score as many points as I can. I'm feeling lucky to be out there to race.

So I have to ask, you have a pretty Irish name like myself, are you of Irish descent?
I have Irish heritage back there somewhere. I've never really looked into my family tree or anything but I've got red hair, short temper, and I like beer.  I guess that's all Irish traits.  You can't not like beer!

So did you celebrate St. Patrick's Day?
No, I had my birthday a few days ago too and I didn't really celebrate that either.  Nothing out of the ordinary- just training and rehab. Total focus at the moment.  All I have time for right now is bikes!