GNCC Racing

Tuesday Toolbox: Steward Baylor

Tuesday Toolbox: Steward Baylor

Tuesday, February 3, 2015 | 12:45 PM
Tuesday, February 3, 2015 | 12:45 PM

In 2012, Steward Baylor was the rider on the rise. The 2011 XC2 champion was on his was to claiming his second XC2 title as well as the National Enduro championship. Then a wrist injury mid-season was a huge setback, costing him the XC2 title. Steward was still able to come away with the National Enduro title but re-injuring his wrist and having multiple surgeries were huge setbacks in his XC1 career. Nearing the end of 2014, Baylor looked to be returning to his old form and with a bit of winter training, Stew came away with the win at the opening National Enduro round last weekend. We caught up with Steward to hear more about his 2015 privateer plans, hopes for the future, and more. How's it going today?
Steward Baylor: Going well! Just hung out in Sumter with Trevor [Bollinger], Jojo Bowden our 250-A rider, and Jesse Groemm, helping him out with his concussion. I had to deal with one last year, so I’ve been hooking him up with some good doctors. Hopefully he will be good soon, it sucks to see someone else with one of the many injuries that set me back.

Steward Baylor came away with the Sumter National Enduro win this past weekend!
Steward Baylor came away with the Sumter National Enduro win this past weekend! Photo: Ken Hill

So you've been busy this winter. How's it been going?
It's been a real struggle to be honest. I haven't had the extra money to do the things I usually do pre-season, so we’ve made the best of it at the house with Trevor and Jojo living down here.

What's it been like putting together your own team?
It's been good at times but a real headache as well. It's more than any person can do being a team manager, getting what support we could, being a mechanic, and trying to find time to ride and train on top of it all. But I know without a doubt this is what I want to do, and it was the only way I could do it. So needless to say, we’ve been on a tight schedule and have had to overcome some huge obstacles over the past few months, but we’re pushing forward and things are looking good.

Photo: Ken Hill

How is it working with Trevor Bollinger?
It's awesome! He’s as driven as they come. We’ve really worked hard and having an extra person for Grant and I to ride with definitely helps out. He's had to make some huge adjustments jumping on a new bike as soon as he got his cast off of a broken wrist, but he has been progressing fast and really liking the new KTM.

So tell us how the Sumter National Enduro went!
It was a rough day honestly. I really felt strong all day but it had it's ups and downs. I’m so happy I edged out the stacked field for the win, but it was close. I had a big get off in test 4 when I caught a guy’s barkbuster with my arm. After that I couldn't really feel my left arm when I got riding, and I knew I had to stay smooth and work with what I had. So, I just tried eliminating my mistakes in the last two tests and it paid off.

Keep an eye on Stew this year, he seems to be finding that fire he had back in 2012!
Keep an eye on Stew this year, he seems to be finding that fire he had back in 2012! Photo: David Robbins

How did it feel to come away with the win?
It felt great! I couldn't be happier that I was up there. I really needed that boost to show that the old me was still in there somewhere. I rode mad at the world, which I haven't done in a while, and I just found that fire I've been searching for since 2012.

So obviously that's a big confident boost heading into the next enduro and the GNCCs?
Yeah, it's definitely huge. I think this year will be great if I can stay healthy. I'm really looking forward to riding the 450 at the GNCC's and I can't wait to see how it goes.

You've struggled with the wrist issues for a little while now, how's it feel to bounce back to where you were in 2012?
It's just awesome, no other way to explain it. The wrist won't let me forget about it but I've found a way to work with it just changing a few things such as the Flexx bars. They’ve been a huge help for me.

Steward Baylor hopes earn that National Enduro Championship again, and he's off to a good start!
Steward Baylor hopes earn that National Enduro Championship again, and he's off to a good start! Photo: Shan Moore

What are your goals for 2015?
I really want the National Enduro championship again. It’s been my goal since last year but I think this year I have a much better shot. And in the GNCC's I’m hoping to be consistent and try to get up there and challenge Kailub a time or two. He's an awesome rider and I just hope that I'm in the ball park. With all that said, my ultimate goal is staying safe and out of the operating room this year. The 7 or 8 surgeries, I honestly can't remember, have really taken a lot out of me.

What are you doing different in 2015?
Nothing really. Just sticking with what I know works. I know what I've done over the past few years and there have been a few mistakes that I’ve made, but there’s no better way to learn than from the past.

What's it going to take to make it happen?
Right now, I just have to stay healthy and do what I know works. I'm still not as sharp as I once was but I think a lot of that has to do with the fear of injury. I think as long as I can keep riding with my heart and staying focused on the goal of a championship I can be a top guy again.

What about beyond 2015? What do you want to make happen in the coming years?
As of right now, I’d love to see this team take off and to start adding to the program. We just need the results and the professional attitude to speak for themselves and see where it takes us.

Alright, before we wrap it up, who would you like to thank?
First off, god for keeping me safe and letting me have the awesome life I have. My parents, grandparents, brother, sister, girlfriend, and awesome friends for supporting me and motivating me throughout the week. KTM, Kenda, Ever Rev, Motul, Fly, FMF, Leatt, RidePG, RidePG Suspension, Shoei, Sidi, Moto Tech Trailers, 100%, Asterisk, Super Sprox, RK Chains, Excel, Rad hubs, TM Designs, P3 Carbon,, Bulletproof Designs, MotionPro, Super B, Moto Seat, Works Connection, ARC Levers, Fastway, G2, IMS, Anklesavers, Boysen, Twin Air, Robby Neeley with Neeley Racing and all the guys that have helped me over the years!