GNCC Racing

Tuesday Toolbox: Grant Baylor

Tuesday Toolbox: Grant Baylor

Thursday, September 17, 2015 | 12:10 PM
Thursday, September 17, 2015 | 12:10 PM

The GNCC Racing Nation has watched Grant Baylor grow up. From the youth ranks to the afternoon, two XC2 championships and now a Factory Yamaha ride in the premier XC1 class, Grant has only gotten faster as he's got older! Last week, he was part of a small, select team representing the USA at the 90th running of ISDE. had the chance to ask a few questions: Hi Grant. I know you just got back from ISDE. Are you caught up on rest yet?
Grant Baylor: No! [laughs] Not yet. That will probably take a while. 

Grant Baylor has grown up racing GNCC, moving from the youth ranks to XC2 and now onto the premier XC1 class. 
Grant Baylor has grown up racing GNCC, moving from the youth ranks to XC2 and now onto the premier XC1 class.  Photo: Ken Hill

That had to be a pretty cool trip, tell us a little about it. 
Like anything, it had its ups and downs. I was the 2nd fastest Junior rider. (JR is younger than 23.) Seems like  I got faster as the week went on, but just couldn't get ahead of Sanders (Australia). One day, I was 9th overall and 2nd in one test, right behind Ryan Sipes. I had a great time, felt like I rode well, learned a lot! But for the Junior team, it was a rough week. Layne Michael got hurt the 1st test of the 1st day. The way scoring works, they take the best three out of four scores. That meant Nick Davis, my brother Steward and I had to ride flawless. Then Stu crashed and separated his shoulder on the last test of the first day. He gutted it out and kept riding. We were within striking distance of Sweden and getting faster, but on the 5th day Nick's bike broke.  

The USA Junior Team won ISDE last year, right?
Yeah and that was really cool. I wanted so bad to back that up this year. But things happen. I was able to finish good overall as an individual. I was pretty proud of Steward for riding the way he did.  

Here in the States, we were keeping up with you guys on social media and saw that Steward was injured. You're his brother, so you know more about it. Just how much pain was he in?
It was a 5th degree separation. There are three tendons a that hold the collar bone in place. All three of those were snapped and he could move his collar bone around! It was weird. He could push it in place, but it would fall back out. He taped it up and rode anyway. He's ridden through pain before and said it felt better as the week went on. He finished the week, but I don't think he's going to be ready for Unadilla. He doesn't really have anything to gain at GNCC, but he still has a shot at the National Enduro title. I think he's going to try and get healed up enough to put his best effort in there.  

Baylor has been no stranger to the podium this season, and has even battled up front.
Baylor has been no stranger to the podium this season, and has even battled up front. Photo: Ken Hill

We are wishing him well! Even though the USA Junior and World teams didn't do great, for the first time ever, we had an American overall it! It had to be cool to be there and see Ryan Sipes take the victory!
Oh man! He killed it all week! He and Kailub Russell were 1st and 2nd on the 1st day. Kailub got hurt and so then Sipes battled with the Australian, Milner. They had a pretty good pace going. But Ryan blew it open on the 4th day! He gained a 40 second advantage over Milner and then hung on to the end to be the first American to overall the thing. He's a bad dude! 

No doubt! We are proud of all you guys!  
Team-wise, I wish we could have kept it together. I don't think the USA has ever fielded such strong teams. Taylor Roberts, Thad Duvall, Ryan Sipes, Kailub Russell; they were all right there! It's pretty awesome to have 4 guys in or near the top 5! And then Kailub gets hurt and Thad's bike breaks. It's like the Junior team; we were so fast! We started out with Stu being the 2nd fastest, I was 4th and if Layne hadn't got hurt, he was faster than both of us! All I can say is, "It sucks!" We've never had both teams so strong! I hate it, too, that Kailub messed up his knee.  

We are still waiting to see the outcome of that. I know Kailub flew home early from ISDE to get it checked out. You are currently 2nd in points on the GNCC series, though. 
Yeah. I don't have my hopes up that I could improve that. I hate to see any competitor get injured. Kailub has a 104 point lead right now with 4 rounds remaining. He would need to miss all four rounds, and I would need to win all four. I'm still looking for my first win! My plan is to put my head down and try my hardest. Thad Duvall and I are really close in points, so it looks like we will be battling it out! I'm also competing in the National Enduros. I'm right behind Bobbitt and my brother in points, so I'm going to give it 100% there, as well.  

Grant Baylor has had a standout rookie year in the XC1 Pro Class. 
Grant Baylor has had a standout rookie year in the XC1 Pro Class.  Photo: Ken Hill

Now that we are talking about GNCC, you're on a different color bike than what we are used to seeing you on! 
[laughs] Yeah. I was 3 1/2 years old when I started riding and I started out on a KTM. Up until this year, I had only ridden one race on a different brand. I think I was 6 or 7 and my bike was broke, so I borrowed a friend's Kawasaki.  

The Factory AmPro Yamaha is a huge change for you, but you've adapted quickly!
It's a great bike and a great team. Randy [Hawkins] brought the bike to my house and right off, I was a second faster than I was on my old bike. That gave me a lot of confidence! KTM is a great bike. I just gelled with the Yamaha really fast. It's more the rider than the bike.  

This is also your rookie year in the premier XC1 class!
There was a lot of talk before the season that I wouldn't do any good; that switching teams was a mistake. And then, I didn't do any good in Florida! I was so nervous! I dumped the throttle on the starting line and didn't fire the bike. I was just a bundle of nerves that first race. But we got to Georgia and I settled down. I got 7th, I think. And then I got in the top 5, then a podium. And now, I'm sitting second in points in a really stacked field! 

Baylor is currently sitting second in the points championship standings.
Baylor is currently sitting second in the points championship standings. Photo: Ken Hill

Have you exceeded your expectations?
Oh yeah! Definitely. I more expected to be around 5th. But, I seemed to improve with every race. I still want that win, but I'm working towards it! I'm happy with 2nd. I don't know if a rookie has ever sat in 2nd place. Most of the time, a rookie is doing good to be in the top 5. I've just been learning a lot. I learned a lot last week at the ISDE and think I'll be able to put that to good use these last four races.  

You kind of have a pattern of starting off slow and gaining speed toward the end of the race. Is that intentional?
No. It's a lot of work! My first year in the XC2 class (2013) I won the championship, but I had to chase Jason Thomas down almost every race. I would cruise the first lap, get comfortable and then gain speed. It's not really a good thing! It would be a lot easier on me, my dad and my mechanic if I would just be there at the beginning! Last year, I figured out how to lead the XC2 class on the first lap and sometimes would have the overall lead from the second row (on adjusted time). So I'm not sure what's changed this year. It think its comfort level. It's mental! It's not easy coming from several minutes down, so I'm working on being up there at the beginning.  

Maybe so, but you sure do put on a show for the fans!
Well, the rest of the season, my goal is to be in the top 3 off the start. I've been on the box at the end, so I know I have the speed. Like I said, I feel I gained sprint speed at ISDE, so I have confidence coming in to Unadilla!

Great interview, Grant! Look forward to seeing you this weekend. Who would you like to thank?
First, my family. My dad has sacrificed so much for my brother and I. My mom too. Even my grandparents and my sister. The whole family has put so much into my brother and I. It's starting to pay off! I'm really grateful for them. Thanks to Randy Hawkins and the whole AmPro team. We have a lot of people and products behind the team. My mechanic and friend, Cory. I couldn't be doing what I'm doing without the support of great people and sponsors. Thank you!