ICYMI | Catching Up with Matt Goerke
By Billy Rainford
Florida’s 3-time Canadian MX champion, Matt Goerke, headed into the 2019 season with high hopes of getting himself on the top step of the podium at the end of the long season, but battled one issue after another every step pf the way.
Recently, he was hurt pretty badly at an off season German Supercross that left him with broken bones in his back. It’s not the kind of thing a veteran racer wants to have to deal with, but it’s a real and scary part of our sport.
Here’s a look at his 2019 Rockstar Energy Triple Crown season on his Monster Energy Alpinestars Piller’s Kawasaki:
Truthfully, I forgot he did as well as he did, because he had to fight through quite a few things over the course of the season.
Matt is now at home in Panama City Beach, Florida, getting himself back to the point where he can get back on the bike and get ready to race the final season in his current contract.
I got in touch with him earlier in the week, and this is what he had to say:
Direct Motocross: Hello, Matt. Let’s start at the beginning and tell everyone how you first got into the sport when you were a kid?
Matt Goerke: My parents got me a bike when I was about 4 or 5 years old, and I’ve been doing it ever since.
What was your first number and why did you choose it?
My first number was 210. That was my dad’s number when he raced. I ran that for a couple years, then I switched to number 89. That was one of Grandpa’s pro football numbers. And I ran that and 189 for the rest of my amateur career.
Who did you come up through the amateur ranks racing against?
I grew up racing against Millsaps, Skinner, Johnson, Chisholm, Boni, Davalos. And at the amatuer Nationals I raced Alessi and Grant also.
What was your biggest success as an amateur?
Probably my 2 Loretta Lynns titles. I won the Supermini class (2002) and the 250 A Pro Sport (2004).
What year did you turn Pro and how did that season go?
I raced a couple Pro races in 2004 as an amateur. My best was Southwick and I got a top 10 the 2nd moto. I think I was 5th most of the race, but my pipe broke off at the end of the moto, but still held on for a top 10.
My first full season was 2005. I raced for Motoworld Suzuki. I got hurt in SX, but came back for outdoors on the 450 and got some top 10’s. My best race was a 4th in a moto at Millville.
You’ve been around quite a long time. Could you pick one memory from racing that stands out as a highlight?
It’s hard to pick one. My first SX podium in Atlanta 2007 was pretty cool. My 450 National win at Southwick was great! And all 3 of my Canadian Championships felt great!
[Here’s the YouTube video of Matt taking 3rd in the 250 “Lites” Main in Atlanta in 2007. Ryan Dungey won and Canadian Darcy Lange took 2nd.]
What brought you north to Canada in the first place?
I had a SX-only ride for 2011 and Jason Hughes called me to come ride up there for the Leading Edge Kawasaki team. I ended up having a bad injury in SX so came into MX injured.
I struggled to finish races in the first half of the series, but the 2nd half I got a win at Gopher, and a few podiums. I also won Montreal SX that year.
The next year I rode for that same team and we won 16 out of 18 motos and Montreal SX again. It was a good year!
Let’s talk about last season. I don’t think I’d be saying too much to say that it was a tough year for you. Can you take us through the season?
Yeah, it didn’t go as planned, but I feel my riding was good. I just had a lot of mechanicals because of the new bike and 2 injuries. I still tied for the most race wins in the Triple Crown Series with 4. And there were only 4 MX races where I didn’t have a DNF and I won 2 of those 4.
I’m probably the only one that would look at these stats, but if you give me what position I was in before each DNF, I would have been right in the hunt for the Championship outdoors going into the final round. Same with 2018. I was right in the Championship hunt before my DNF that year, too.
For this year my team has made some big changes with the bike, and I’m really looking forward to 2020!
What did you get up to when the Canadian SX season ended?
I went to race the German Supercross series
Then you got pretty badly hurt over there. Can you tell us what happened and what your injuries were?
Yeah, I had a bad crash in practice at the 2nd round and broke my back and collarbone. I had to get surgery on both in Germany, and stayed there in the hospital for 11 days.
Yikes. How are you feeling now, and what does the near future look like for you? When are you back on a bike?
I’m feeling pretty good now. I’m anxious to start doing more stuff. At first I thought I might be done and it sounds so scary with the back, but surgery went great and I didn’t have any complications after surgery. So I’m healing fast and my spine doctor thinks, if everything keeps going how it is, I should be able to ride in March.
You’ve got one year left on your contract. What’s the goal for 2020?
Same as always, to win!
I’m not sure you’re ready to talk about this, but what’s the plan after this coming season?
I don’t know? No use making a plan or thinking about that, because you never know whats going to happen. So I’m just focused on being prepared for this year and see where I’m at the end of the season.
Hey, are you all back to normal at your place in Panama City Beach after all the storm damage?
Definitely not back to normal, but it’s getting there.
OK, I could ask you a million more questions, but we’ll end it there. Thanks for taking the time to talk with us. Good luck getting back at it and who would you like to thank?
Thanks! I’d like to thank my whole team: Monster Energy Canada, Kawasaki Canada, Pro Circuit, Piller’s Fine Foods, Parts Canada, Thor, A-Stars, Dunlop, Renthal, LimeNine, Acerbis, D.I.D, VP Race Fuels, Xtrig Racing Technology, Hinson Clutch Components, Matrix Concepts, Motion Pro, GUTS Seats, Dubya, Works Connection, ARC Levers, Mechanix Wear, Twin Air, Maxima Oil, Superlight Titanium, Light Speed Carbon, Braking Brakes, CRM Carbon Tanks, Boxo Tools, Moto Option, Rockwelltime, Pelican Cases, Atlas Brace, 100 Percent, Matrix concepts, Beachside Snacks, and Doc Edwards Fitness.
Thanks for taking the time to chat with us this week, Matt. Good luck with your recovery and with the upcoming season. Oh, and I noticed you thanked Thor in that new list. I guess we’ll watch for the Press Release in the coming weeks. Wink, wink.