Catching Up With... Jay Burke
Jay always had a positive attitude during the season.
James Lissimore photo
Jay Burke is a rider that we've all gotten to know over the years as a hard-working, no-nonsense guy. He suffered a near career-ending injury a couple years ago, but we are all happy to see this likeable rider back on the track and doing things on his own terms. We fired a few questions at him to get caught up on what his plans are for this upcoming year.
DMX: Hey Jay, what have you been doing since the final race at Walton?
Jay Burke: Hi Billy. Since Walton I rode twice. We went to the Madoc race and I felt like I was off - to avoid injuring myself or someone else, I took a much needed break, giving my ankle injury from round 5 an opportunity to heal. Then I rode a few weeks ago at the Dunes and felt really good. Since then I have been lifting weights at the gym - a work-out I never did before (I was always all about the cardio). So other than working, I have not done much, and really, I haven't done any moto.
How would you rate last summer, since it was your first year doing your own team?
Last summer was an incredible experience. We were able to put together a team and travel the entire series exactly the way we wanted to do it. The first half the season went well and as expected. The second half was not what I wanted. It always seems that my home track doesn’t go well for me even though that is the place I love the most, the Dunes. I had a little accident off the finish line and suffered a weird ankle injury. The doctor said there was no break, but it was a mess. Like any other motorcrosser, I pretended it was fine and tried to keep racing.
What are your winter plans?
Plans? Well every winter I fall off the moto radar. Sure, I would love to be doing some arenacross races, but it is just not possible. I have an important role at the company that I work for, and I need to give that my attention.
Over the Christmas holidays, Meag and I are actually heading to Florida to do some riding and vacationing for the first time in a few years. We're spending 2 weeks. With hitting the gym hard the last 2 months, I am eager to see how I feel on my bike.
What are your 2012 summer plans?
2012 plans?!! As of right, now I don't know. Yes, I plan to race, but I am not sure if I can swing the whole series again. The JBR team had a lot of support from many individuals and sponsors, and my teammate Bill Law played a huge role in making the JBR team mobile (huge thanks and congratulations to Bill Law - who drove the rig and reached his goal of getting a national number). Right now, all options are open. At the very least, you will see JBR at the east coast rounds.
Jay made his team possible with support from some of his longest sponsors including his supportive better half Meag!
How receptive are companies when you contact them and mention your privateer effort?
Privateer? I thought I was factory. Haha. I actually didn't reach out to companies looking for support. Basically, everyone that played a role in supporting me over the past few years was again generous in 2011, but instead helped the Jason Burke Racing Team. The same people have been there for years - I couldn't ask for more. I believe they appreciate the hard work and effort I put into racing - but also that I am just a normal guy working Monday-Friday as well. I do what I say, and I only ask for what I need because, honestly, it is really hard to give back to your sponsors in this sport. In addition to the support of sponsors, I have a great job and this year I spent everything I made to do what I love (and Meag helped a bit too - Thanks Meag).
How receptive are 'out of industry' sponsors?
That’s another hard question for me. I try not to go searching. A few of my sponsors have nothing to do with moto; they might ride themselves, for fun, or just know me and see that I put everything into this sport. For some lucky reason, they felt that they wanted to be part of it. People see you ride through casts and surgeries and wheel-chairs, and are genuinely pumped to see you back on the bike. I can only speak for the "out of industry" sponsors that have helped me, but in the end, each is considered a very good friend.
How many more years do you think you have at the Pro level in Canada?
From my perspective, to be competitive in Canada it just takes some work (literally, paid work to fund your riding + time and effort on the track). I feel I can race at the pro level for a few more years, and we will see as life goes on. I know there is going to come a time where I just cannot keep going at the level that I want to. I am sure I will always ride, but toning it down is part of life. Since I am riding, I might as well put in 100 percent of what I can offer so in the end there are no "I wish I had of…"
Burke is not done yet and he expects to be racing for a few more years to come.
How much racing in the USA have you done?
Racing in the USA has been very limited for me. I did a few big amateur races while I spent some time in Florida a number of years back. My parents footed the bill for a long time and I was a spoiled kid, not realizing what it meant. I always found it hard to go over the border as I had no one to go with - my dad worked 7 days a week to keep me going and my circle of friends were not that dedicated. Most of the US racing I have done doesn't count - just local New York stuff, as I live not far from the Niagara border.
If you could do it all again, what would you do differently?
Haha. I hope no one takes this the wrong way, but I always give it straight up - if I could do it all again, I wish I had never seen a bike and that my parents never bought me the first one. Overall, I haven’t been broken up that much, but I can honestly say my body is beaten to a pulp. You always watch the shows on T.V showing you what drugs do to people; this sport is no better. I spend every penny I make to continue. My body is deteriating, and I still can't get enough. I am addicted to riding and just cannot get it out of my system. It truly is a lifestyle. I am in it for the long haul. I guess the answer to your question is yes, I would do it all different, but not sure I would have the option.
What are your thoughts on the whole 2-stroke vs 4-stroke thing?
2-strokes are amazing, yes, but to compete at the pro level against an equivalent 4-stroke is just not possible. Keep a separate class for each! 2-smokers are the way of an amateur because the cost is effective, but, as one gets competitive, they all turn to noise-makers.
Do you like the possibility of 250 2-strokes racing in the pro MX2 class?
Sure, it will sound awesome hearing them, but it's hard to hang onto those, and with limited factories making them, I think it will be hard to become successful as a predominant bike on the line. There will always be a few people that go for it, but I doubt someone would choose it over a 250f.
How do you think the Canadian moto scene is doing these days?
It always sounds like it is dying, but every spring everyone seems to find a way to support the addiction and the races get racers. Support for riders is down, but heart and determination is always high.
Any suggestions that might help improve things?
The issue I always hear about is the cost. It always seems to go up, but everyone still seems to show. I JUST WANT TO RIDE/RACE.
What are you asking for Christmas?
Well, I am in the middle of trying to buy a house, so if everything I got was house stuff I would be very happy. It's not very holiday-ish but not greedy either. Even just a card would do.
Why don’t you go ahead and thank some sponsors?
Justin Moore from Ignition has been behind me for years and I cannot say enough (check out his new “viral lubricants” line – they’re amazing). Brad Coles from Label it- I have no idea how I got so lucky as to have Brad behind me. Podium Graphics. John Nelson at Machine Racing - tough love. Joe Skidd - SSS - he never fails to over-achieve in the suspension department. Pro Wheel deserves a big thank you for the awesome pit tent design they did for the team. FXR- never lets me down - they treat me like family there. My family and girlfriend for supporting me every step of the way. And as always, special thanks to Charry Produce, Northpoint Industries, Rekluse Clutches (who brought to me the very helpful Larry Johnston - thanks Larry!), Bill Law (rider/trucker), Renegade Fuels, Bondi Engines, and Steve Simms at SSR who works whenever (and wherever) he is needed. Scott goggles, and to everyone else I forgot, thanks.
It’s always fun talking with you, Jay. Hopefully, some people read this and see that you are someone they should choose to represent their products and we see you lining up at more races than you expect. Thanks for talking with us today and best of luck to you.
Always my pleasure