GNCC Racing

Tuesday Toolbox: Chris Bach

Tuesday Toolbox: Chris Bach

Tuesday, May 26, 2015 | 9:40 AM
Tuesday, May 26, 2015 | 9:40 AM

Chris Bach is a familiar face in the GNCC ranks. Hailing from Indiana and riding the series as an amateur and then as an XC1 pro, Chris took his first overall win at the Tomahawk 100 in New York a couple weeks ago. caught up with Chris to find out more! Congratulations on winning the inaugural Tomahawk GNCC! That was a high-octane race and there were a lot of people cheering for you. Even RacerTV color commentator Johnny Gallagher was trying to be objective but still spurring you on!
Chris Bach: Thanks Chuck!  It was awesome no doubt.  We've actually had a bit of a inside joke thing going the last year and a half or so, ever since Johnny G. started the TV thing, that if I was winning or on the podium and he was not in the pits, on the track or at the finish line, our friendship would cease immediately.

If memory serves me correctly, you skipped the XC2 class and went straight from Open A to XC1 in 2010 where you shocked everyone by getting 2nd place in your first ever pro race in Florida, and podiumed 4 more times that year for 5th overall. A phenomenal start to a career, but you've had your sights set on the center of the box for 6 years now.  How'd you get here?
I'd love to say I figured it all out. That I did one thing different that week and that was all it took. However, not the case. Every loss is a learning experience and the JCR team has been building steady since round one, 2014. We're putting this puzzle together as a team and becoming more and more of a threat each race. We've reached our team goal and now its time to set sights on another win and more podiums.

So this year, you're on an all new team backed by Honda.  Did you approach them, or did they approach you?
I actually approached Johnny Campbell a long time ago, 2010 maybe? Eleven? I don’t remember. But, it just wasn’t in the cards at the time. I doubt Johnny even remembers me calling! (laughs) For 2014, Johnny and American Honda wanted to go a different direction. The #1 and #2 guys were signed, so I was the next best option based on results in GNCC, and I’m glad I was.  It was the opportunity of a lifetime and I couldn’t be any happier with our program.

Bach claimed his first ever GNCC overall win at the Tomahawk GNCC
Bach claimed his first ever GNCC overall win at the Tomahawk GNCC Photo: Ken Hill

What does your team look like now? You've been a privateer for a long time, hauling your own bikes, working on them, sleeping in a van. The JCR team seems pretty organized. Do you still do the driving, wrenching and cooking?
The dynamic has changed quite a bit for me since those days.  I’ve been able to take a step and just be the racer, not the “everything-er” with some help from buddies.  Our program is small and very family like. We don’t have 100 people in the woods like other teams, but we have just what we need. I have my main guy Dale [Cooke] who drives the Honda boxvan for us and does all my race bike prep and setup. Eric Siraton who is the JCR head wrench/general man of wisdom who works mostly on helping me with motor setup, mapping, and Honda specific questions, but he will throw in and prep race bikes too.  Johnny keeps everyone on task and handles logistics and all that. Danielle and I drive the motorhome to each race and we keep it stocked full of food and drinks for the team.  Come Saturday she kind of takes over everything in the motorhome with prepping meals and restocking and making sure everyone has what they need to their jobs at 100%, and lets me focus on the race at hand. We have 5 people on this team. Small, yet efficient.

Obviously, Johnny Cambell is a legend in his own time. 11 Baja 1000 wins is impressive. Has his mentorship changed your program? Do you train differently because Johnny made a suggestion? Does he have any suggestions for east coast rocks and roots?
JC is a great leader. His resume is heavy but you'd never know it in our pits. I wouldn’t say I train any differently because of Johnny Campbell physically, but I have definitely trained my mind to think a little differently about myself, and how to approach the race weekend in my own head. As far as setup, this was all unknown to the JCR team as of last year. We test and I tell the guys what we need or what I’m looking for in terms of feel, handling, power, comfort, and then Johnny taps into his endless knowledge bank and can say, "Ok. To get that feel we need to do this..."  He has so much experience with the Honda. I know what the bike needs to do, but don’t know how to make it happen. Johnny knows how to make it happen; he just needs input on what direction to go. It’s been the perfect scenario, just takes time to learn.

According to your interview with Racer X, winning took less energy than getting seventh in Indiana. It just seemed to be your day where everything worked. All the last minute changes were the right changes, the nutrition plan was on point, training, etc. Maybe now that you've had time to think about it, are you able to pinpoint just what was working so well for you on that Sunday?
No. Not at all. We did make some changes before the race, but no world changing events. Our entire team package as a whole last race was perfect and I think that’s the key. Efficiency in our team. Everyone was operating at 100% and it just led into me riding a great race at 100%.  We will keep trying to replicate that moving forward for sure.

Chris made some bike changes before Tomahawk, which he credited to his excellent performance.
Chris made some bike changes before Tomahawk, which he credited to his excellent performance. Photo: Ken Hill

You've been at this for a while and I know you have helped instruct at dirt bike camps and even held training days on your own. What advice do you have for the young up-and-comer today?
To keep it short and simple, have you've ever seen that cartoon pic of 2 guys digging tunnels? One guy is about 2 swings away from hitting the diamonds, but after his long dig he turns away and is walking back discouraged. The other guy is just wailing away, nowhere near the diamonds, but he’s pushing forward no matter what. The caption says something like "Always keep digging, you never know how close you are." It pretty much sums up the last 20yrs of my life!

Chris says this photo pretty much sums up the past 20 years of his life.
Chris says this photo pretty much sums up the past 20 years of his life. Photo:

Chris, we are looking forward to seeing you up on that box some more! Who would you like to thank?Since social media is all the rage these days, I’ll thank everyone with their Twitter/Instagram handles so everyone can go check them out. @jcrhonda @honda_powersports_us  @maxxistires @flyracingusa @lucasoilproducts  @procircuit78 @hinsonracing @galferusa @renthal_moto @motionpro @acerbisusa @worksconnection @kingofseat @panicrev @motionpro @alpinestars @racecousa @amegrips @mavtv @gncc_racing @chrisbachracing @eric_siraton @dalecooke133 @throttlejerky