GNCC Racing

Tuesday Toolbox: Lucas Grounds

Tuesday Toolbox: Lucas Grounds

Tuesday, July 2, 2019 | 9:00 AM
Tuesday, July 2, 2019 | 9:00 AM

Fourteen is a little young to be racing a full-size bike against adults. But that hasn’t stopped Lucas Grounds from excelling at it. Grounds comes from Martinsville, Indiana, and is in his first full season racing big bikes. The last two GNCCs, he has not only won the 125 B/C class in the AM race, but also has landed on the overall AM podium, beating both Sportsman A and WXC riders on his way there. He is the current points leader in his class and hopes to wrap up the championship early so he can try out some PM races later in the season.

Grounds currently leads the way in the 125 B/C class.
Grounds currently leads the way in the 125 B/C class. Ken Hill

Congrats on your recent string of overall podiums in the AM race! And you’re doing this from several rows back, right?

Thank you! And That’s right - I believe it’s seven rows, but I’m not completely sure.

How did it feel getting on that overall podium for the first time?

Well, I had no idea I was on the overall podium at The Penton until I pulled off the track and my dad told me I got second. I was like “really??” because I was just out there having fun and surviving the mud. Honestly, I didn’t think I was pushing all that hard… (pauses) I’m being dead serious, that’s what happened (laughs) … man I hate being on voice record (laughs again).

I believe you (laughs) Sometimes just being smooth and enjoying yourself on the muddy days will get you further than pushing super hard and making a ton of mistakes will. So, can you tell us a bit about the race itself?

It started raining, I think Friday, or maybe Saturday morning? It didn’t really bother me though, because normally I really enjoy racing in the mud. Sunday it started to get pretty tacky, so it turned out to be a really good track, I thought. I was just having a good time out there. I actually had a good start, which is rare. From there I just kept riding until I found a good pace, what I thought the leaders were doing.

Grounds appeared on the overall AM Bike podium for the second time.
Grounds appeared on the overall AM Bike podium for the second time. Ken Hill

Tell us a little about how you got started racing and what brought you to the GNCC series.

I got my first dirt bike for my third birthday. I didn’t start racing until I was four because you can’t get an AMA card until you’re four. We actually started out in motocross, and did that until I was in 50 sr. We went to a MAXC [now-defunct local Indiana off-road series] and I loved it! So, I told my dad I don’t want to do motocross anymore, let’s go race in the woods. As far as the GNCCs, when they were first doing the micro racing they used to have a race every year at the Limestone 100. We did that and I thought it was really fun. The next year they added micro racing to the series, even though we didn’t do all 13 rounds. We’ve been racing GNCCs ever since then.

Given that you started out so early, I’m guessing your parents were racers too?

Yeah, my parents actually raced quads believe it or not! (laughs) My dad didn’t want me to race quads because they’re money pits. He also thought having me race bikes would be safer, because my mom broke her collarbone numerous times on her quad. It would finally start to get fixed, then she would break it again. That was kind of a cycle for her. So that’s why I got a bike instead of a quad. My parents wanted me to get to experience racing but in a better way than they did.

I know this season is your first full year on a big bike. Was there anything you struggled to adapt to?

I did the last four GNCCs in the AM class last season, so I think that made it much easier coming in this year. Adapting to the bigger bike wasn’t bad, since I was already starting to outgrow the supermini last year, which is why we moved up in the first place. I did have trouble getting used to how much traffic there was in the 10 AM race, and it was a lot harder to pass.

Grounds came through second overall at The John Penton GNCC in Ohio.
Grounds came through second overall at The John Penton GNCC in Ohio. Ken Hill

And what are some of the lessons you’ve learned about making your way through that traffic? From seven rows back I’m sure you see a lot of it….

You just have to learn where to pass and when to pass. But at the same time, you can’t be too patient with the slower riders or you lose way too much time.

As far as training goes, what does an average week look like for you?

On a normal week, we spend Monday cleaning up and doing recovery, then I ride Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Then we leave for the race on Friday. At the facility we usually ride from about 9:00 until 2:30. After that we have a little bit of time to get changed and relax, then 3:30 we do a workout. After that it’s mostly bike maintenance and prepping for the next day.

You train at a facility?

Yes, I live and train at SSR Training Facility, in Bowling Green, Indiana. Since I’m homeschooled now, I’ll get to stay here year-round instead of just in the summers like before. Steven Squire is the trainer here. He actually used to race XC2 in the GNCCs, and before that he rode motocross and supercross. He’s really good at on-the-bike coaching. We met Steven and started training with him before I even started riding in the woods. Back then though he didn’t have a facility and were just training behind a house that belonged to one of his family members. And I’m still training with him today.

Are your parents staying at the facility with you?

They come and check in on me as much as they can, but most days I’m here alone. There’s a lot of people around who can help me out if I ever need anything though. The biggest concern I had at first was cooking food. I kind of got hung out to dry when mom left me here (laughs). I had never really cooked for myself much, so she was like, here’s the grill, here’s how you start it, now go cook some food. So now after a few weeks here on my own I’m basically a pro chef (laughs). I can cook every kind of meat except fish, because that takes, y’know, actual skills. But I haven’t gotten food poisoning, so I’ll call that a win.

Grounds currently has a 23 point lead in the class going into the ninth round.
Grounds currently has a 23 point lead in the class going into the ninth round. Ken Hill

Moving back into racing, what are your goals for the rest of the season?

I want to try and get the 125 B/C championship wrapped up early so that we can try some three hour races this year, like how we did some of the 10 AM races last year to get ready for this season. That way we aren’t diving right off into the deep end next year with no idea what to expect. We haven’t decided whether we’ll go to 200 B or 200 A. Hopefully we’re able to ride enough 3 hour races in the 200 B class later this year to see if I should be in the A class or not based on my overall finishes.

And who would you like to thank?

I would like to thank Spykes, Fly Racing, DQ (my mechanic), Steven Squire, YSD Graphics, Hoosier Tires, Grounds Quality Lawn Care, Mobius, Scott, Acerbis, ODI, Slick Products, IMS, and my mom, dad and grandparents.