INTERVIEW: Eli Tomac

INTERVIEW: Eli Tomac

“This such a special way to end the weekend, and not something I really anticipated happening with one round to go,” smiled Eli Tomac last Saturday afternoon in Budds Creek, Maryland after being told he had just clinched his third consecutive Lucas Oil Pro Motocross 450 class championship. “I honestly didn’t even know I had the championship until the last lap.”

Easy to see why Tomac was a bit forgetful in the penultimate race of the season as he absolutely charged to win both 450cc motos by well over 14 seconds – an eternity in modern day motocross – to become only the fourth racer in American motocross history to ring up three-straight premier class titles. His third double moto sweep and 10th moto win of 2019, the Monster Energy Kawasaki rider will line up for the final time in 2019 on Saturday afternoon at Ironman Raceway in Crawfordsville, Indiana, signaling the end of the veteran’s 10th year in the sport. On Friday afternoon, RACER spoke with arguably the world’s fastest motocross/supercross racer.

Q: I counted up every AMA Pro Race you’ve ever competed in. Counting backwards, and including Saturday’s race in Indiana, you have competed in 232 races. Looking back to Hangtown on May 22, 2010 when you won the first AMA race you entered, what do you think? You’re a full-on veteran these days, huh?

ELI TOMAC: Wow. Well, the first thing that comes to my head is that it’s almost scary how fast time goes by. Yeah, I do feel like I have been in the sport for a while now, but at the same time, it’s like it has all flashed before my eyes. Like you say, 232 races, it hasn’t felt like that. There have definitely been more good years than not so good years, so it has been a good ride so far.

Q: A decade into your professional career and you have four Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championships to your name…

ET: Yeah, I guess you could say it’s a pretty good record for outdoor championships. I mean, I’m at the point now where I’ve accomplished things that I dreamed of as a kid. For it to be reality is pretty awesome.

Q: Do you feel like a veteran?

ET: Everything is happening so fast. I don’t think all of that will really settle in until I’m done racing. At least, that is the way I am right now. I feel like I kind of take it weekend by weekend. I just go racing. I really don’t try to put myself way up on a pedestal, you know?

Q: I’ve always admired how you have set up your entire racing program in Colorado. It’s been your approach all along, and it certainly seems to work well for you.

ET: Yeah, we’ve definitely done it our own way. Everyone has got the program that works for them, and what is going to work for one guy might not necessarily work for the other. A lot of the time, yes, it will help you; going to a certain place or having a certain program. You have to look at what fits you and what makes you comfortable during the week, but at the same time, you still really just want to push and do whatever gives you the right mindset. You have to believe in yourself. That’s the probably the biggest thing to it all – just having the confidence in knowing you can go win.

Q: I saw that you didn’t really realize you were going to clinch the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross 450 class championship at Crawfordsville until the very last lap of the race…

ET: It was a pleasant surprise. I didn’t know I had it until the last lap there. I came around and [Brian] Kranz (mechanic) threw up the board and it said three-time champ. I was like, “Wow! No way! We actually did it!’ I was actually a 48 or 49-point spread at the end of the day, but we hit that 50 right on the mark and it was a pretty good feeling. It was the feeling you wanted!

Q: Over the past three seasons your consistency has been amazing. Furthermore, you’ve kept your health, and have very rarely missed a race or a moto. That all a huge part of your success as well, isn’t it?

ET: Yeah, that’s what is so hard about our sport. We’re also riding a lot during the week too, and that is something most people don’t see or realize. There is always risk. There is the risk at home, and there is always the risk of mechanical failure. No matter how good all the bolts are tightened, that’s just part of motocross. That’s what is so special about getting these three titles in a row. We stayed healthy, and we’ve had a terrific team effort, and that’s what makes it all possible. It’s all pretty unbelievable.

Q: I have to ask about the Motocross of Nations. You’re not competing at Assen. Did you want to do the race?

ET: That’s a double-ended sword, as always. I would love to be the guy who beats the world. That’s absolutely something that I want to do and would still like to do, it just didn’t happen this year, you know? I’m basically on the same stance as our Kawasaki press release. It wasn’t really even an option for me. It’s something I’m not putting out at all. Hopefully we’ll back in the future.

Q: Well, if anything, you can take on recently crowned MXGP World Champion Tim Gajser at the 2019 Monster Energy Cup, huh?

ET: Yeah, it’s good to see those guys come race over here. Not many of them race in our series or against the AMA guys. It will be good to have a GP guy in the mix at the Monster Cup.

Q: Next Team Tomac mission: The Monster Energy Supercross Series title?

ET: I know. We’ve been so close. Supercross, that’s one thing that keeps me up at night! You know, I felt like it was literally right there in front of me. We didn’t get it again in 2018, but I was a little bit goofy. 2019 wasn’t quite as dominant, but we were still winning races and we were more dominant towards the end of the season. Once again, you have to be the dominant guy, but you have to have that consistency. Gosh, it’s all about consistency and being the dominant guy. It’s hard, you know?

Q: Be a nice accolade for the career of Eli Tomac, wouldn’t it?

ET: Oh absolutely. I feel like that’s one big empty spot on my list of goals and dreams to accomplish. I’m going to be hungry as ever to go get it in 2020.

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