Catching Up with…Brock Leitner
By Billy Rainford
Although Brock Leitner‘s 2015 summer went through more downs than ups, the family was able to turn it all around once the indoor season started. They committed themselves to Arenacross over the winter and Brock even came away with a Pro Lites title along the way. They then loaded up to try their luck at Supercross at San Diego 2. We caught up with the busy 18-year-old after he’d finally made it home from a very long time living on the road.
Direct Motocross: Hello, Brock, how are you?
Brock Leitner: Oh, good. Just tearing a bike apart right now, getting ready to take it back to the dealer. I’m back in Summerland, now. We hammered out the drive back. We left Sunday after Supercross and went to Las Vegas for a night and me and a buddy just hung out and walked around my parents went out. Now, I’m finally home. It’s nice to sleep in my own bed. I’ve got to go back up to Grand Prairie tomorrow.
For those reading this who may not be all that familiar with your story, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I grew up in a small town called Beaver Lodge, Alberta. I grew up in a small town and just last March we ended up moving to Summerland, BC, so now I’m just living here and living the dream of racing dirt bikes.
What brought us here was the warm weather and my parents used to have an oil field rental business and ended up getting bought out. They sold the company and they’re semi-retired now were sick and tired of bragging about how cold our winters were up there, so they said “Screw it, let’s move down to the Okanogan!” Now we’re down here in the heat by the lake and it’s awesome. It’s beautiful here.
How did you get into riding and racing dirt bikes, in the first place?
It’s kind of funny – my mom used to race when she was younger. She was the only girl that raced in the Peace Motocross Association. That’s up in Grand Prairie, Dawson Creek, Fort Saint John, and Chetwin. It’s a bit of a small circuit but a lot of good talent comes out of there. It’s a great series.
We went down to a local race in Beaver Lodge and there was a small PW50 and as soon as we walked through the gate I wanted to take it home. By the end of the day my parents bought it for me and then I just started tearing up the lawn. Soon, we went to a track and it just all worked out from there. I’ve been having a blast doing it. It’s finally starting to become a dream come true.
You had a very busy few months but let’s talk about last summer and the Rockstar MX Nationals. How did your summer go?
My outdoor nationals series last year didn’t go worth a crap for me, really. All the hard work and preparation I put into it to come into round one and I ended up tearing a bunch of ligaments in my left ankle so that was right in the first qualifier. It was a bummer and I ended up…I was able to put in a lap before I did that and so I was able to make it in with a super-crappy gate pick. I wasn’t even going to race but I ended up getting a friend to tape up my ankle. I could barely even walk up to the line.
I looked at my dad after the hot lap and told him my ankle definitely wasn’t up to par so I thought I’d just try to get a start and maybe the adrenaline would take over. I ended up getting a crappy start and I ended up pulling off. So, I missed the first two rounds.
Calgary I was just getting back into the swing of things and then Regina I was able to go 16-13 for 13th overall. I was excited on that finish. Then we headed East and I ended up blowing my ankle out again at Gopher Dunes. I just put my head down after that and tried to block out the pain for all the remaining rounds.
Then at round 8 in Moncton, I was sitting great in 12th and I could see the top 10 and I felt that was my moto to finally lay down a top 10. Then, I think it was on the 4th lap, I came down into the valley and cross-rutted and the way I tucked my shoulder I ended up breaking my collarbone and the impact went on to break my scapula and a rib too, so that ended my summer for me.
I was pretty butt-hurt about it. All the hard work I’d put in to be sidelined for most of the series. I ended up doing 4 1/2 rounds and I ended up getting national #45 for next year. I definitely wanted to be a top 10 contender last year.
I went on to do the Arenacross stuff this winter and have been on the bike lots. I’ve been training a lot so I’m really looking forward to getting things set here to head down to California on the 26th of February and just start laying it down and hope for some good finishes this year.
Ok, OK, don’t get ahead of me! Let’s talk about the Arenacross racing this past fall. How did that all go for you?
Ya, it was awesome. For the people that don’t know, I haven’t done Arenacross since I was 10 or 11 years old so it was a long time off. I just figured we may as well get riding and racing now since I didn’t really have much of a summer. We took on the first round of the Future West Arenacross series and it felt good. I definitely wasn’t were some of the other guys were. They’ve been doing it indoors quite a bit longer so it took me a bit to get my feet wet.
Then we came into Penticton and I was starting to feel a bit better. We went on to Calgary and that was where I got my first podium finish so I was super-pumped for that. Right after, my mom and dad said that since they weren’t doing anything let’s head down south? I said “Yes!” so me and dad loaded up the truck and we went down to Kentucky.
After that race we came back home for Christmas and then flew down New Year’s Day and have been on the road ever since. I’m sick and tired of living in hotels, that’s for sure. It’s nice for the first bit but when you stay in one every night it definitely gets old. I can sustain it on weekends but, man, I definitely couldn’t live in a hotel like some of the riders do. It gets crowded in a hurry.
So, you didn’t only just line up at those Arenacross Tour races, didn’t you win the Pro Lites class?!
Ya, I actually didn’t even know until I think it was 2 days ago. My dad showed me his phone and the results said that I won the Lites class! I thought that was pretty sick. I wasn’t even worried about points all year and then just at the last two rounds we looked at the points and realized we were up there. I wasn’t worried going into the last two rounds. My goal was to just be on the podium every weekend.
I made a few mistakes, here and there so I wasn’t able to be on the podium every weekend but as the season progressed I definitely felt that I improved and the results showed. I ended up with a couple 3rd, a 2nd, and a heat race win, so I was super-pumped on that.
Going into the last round in Tunica, there was definitely some good dudes there. The main guys were there such as Heath Harrison, and Josh Cartright was at a few. Then, Tyler Medaglia showed up so it was definitely a tough one. You have to just put your head down and block that stuff out and do your own race. I didn’t have the finishes I wanted there, but I had a blast and felt I had some momentum going into San Diego.
Ya, so then we see you’ve headed west and signed up for the San Diego 2 Supercross. When did you decide you were going to do that?
Um, my initial plan for the winter was to go south to California and do the whole west rounds but as soon as I broke my collarbone and had some time off the bike, I told my mom and dad that I don’t feel this year is the year because I didn’t want to rush it and I wanted to do some Arenacross races to feel the tight tracks and have the suspension and everything worked out. I didn’t want to go from always racing outdoors to all of a sudden racing Supercross where it’s a totally different feel and different bike setups.
I already had my license so I figured we may as well hit one round since I got the license. We went and tested our luck in San Diego and it was a blast.
Ya, because Canadians and Internationals with a Pro license can enter Supercross.
Ya, it’s a long paper trail. I think Cole (Thompson) probably got his license the same way I did.
Take us through your experience in San Diego. You park, you go for track walk with all the top riders, what’s your mindset heading into it?
We got there the first day and had a lot of bike work to do. The whole setup with how they do things there is spot on time. We definitely had to be following the schedule well, even the day before, to make sure we got into sound check and everything. The morning of the race, I think my mom and dad were more nervous than I was. I was just mainly trying to stay calm the whole time.
We ended up getting told to park right beside the Husqvarna Factory racing rig so it was kind of crazy looking right outside and seeing the big factory teams that all the top dudes in the world are pitted under. I didn’t let that bother me. I’ve raced a couple of the outdoor AMA nationals. I’ve been around that stuff before. I just wanted to focus on myself.
I went and did the tech inspection and once track walk came, the track was looking good. A lot of the team managers were saying how that track was actually the crappiest layout so far this year. I thought they must have some pretty sweet layouts because I thought it was pretty cool. I walked the track with my dad.
My track trainer was out there as well so he gave me some tips here and there. I was just waiting to see the whoops because what I was practicing on all week, I knew it wouldn’t be exactly the same as that. A lot of the team guys were talking about the first set of whoops because they were like a mountain in a way – they went up and then they went back down. The middle ones were definitely deep.
As soon as I saw the whoops I kind of got a little bit nervous. I wasn’t nervous about the rhythm sections and I know that the triples are the easiest part of the track. The rhythm sections and the whoops are definitely the hardest parts so I was pumped with myself. When you’re used to just Arenacross whoops, it’s hard to get used to that.
The first set was pretty easy but the second set after the triple…in the first qualifying session, I blitzed them one lap and then just ended up jumping through them trying to keep a consistent lap going. The first time I got through them, by the end my bike was kind of lugging because I didn’t have the entry speed I wanted. The second time, at the 3rd whoop, it bucked me and I dropped the front end and went over the bars. I kind of ended up pulling a muscle a little bit in my arm so that was a bit of a bummer because I felt the lap I was putting in was going to be good enough for a qualifying time.
Regardless, if I qualified or not we didn’t go with any expectations. We went for the experience and to have a blast. My trainers said that I didn’t look out of place in my practice. That was good because I didn’t want to be the one looking out of place. For the first one, I’m happy with it. It was a great experience and ll I can say is that I’m looking forward to next year.
Did you hang around in the Industry Seats and watch all the night show?
Ya, we did. They make it look so easy, but when you’re on the track it doesn’t look that easy. I was surprised…I didn’t pump up in my qualifying times or anything but in Arenacross I would pump up at certain times. At the end of the year I wasn’t pumping up but I was sure that my first day of Supercross I would but I didn’t. I was fine and was really happy with my fitness.
I’m going to head up to Grand Prairie and get some bikes and I’m looking forward to riding the new Kawis. This year, I’ll be riding for the same people as last year the Redline Powercraft Kawasaki Canada so I’m super-pumped. It’s a great crew over there. They hook me up phat. This year, I’m going to be training on a 450 and then racing the 250 to save on some motor mods and everything.
And your summer plans will be to travel with your folks again?
Ya, the summer plans are the same as they have been to travel with my mom and dad doing the whole circuit and then we’re going to start off the year at Hangtown and Glen Helen again so I’m looking forward to that. I hope to qualify for those and build up some momentum heading into the Canadian nationals.
Thanks for the talk today, Brock. Good luck the rest of the winter and next summer. Who would you like to thank?
Thank you very much. I really appreciate this. It’s going to be a good year. [In San Diego] the smiles on my mom and dad’s faces was something I’ll never forget. They put their hearts and souls into getting me to where I am today. I’m looking forward to some new changes and hopefully we can continue these relationships along for some more year.
I’d like to thank Red-line Powercraft, Kawasaki Canada, ROQ Power Tongs, Brocko Rentals, Regulators Oilfield Hauling, Bonnets Energy, Savage Oilfield, VIRUS Action Sports Performance, Lory’s Oilfield, T-Ram Canada Inc, Mika Metals, DT1 Filters, Temecula Motorsports, GP Chrysler, FMF, Gaerne Boots, Evans Coolant, Fly Racing, Dragon Goggles, Hinson, C4MX, Fusion Graphix, True Northern Industries, MyPakage, Graeme Brough Suspension, FXR Gear and Fuel Clothing, Hinson Clutch components, C4MX and of course MOM and DAD.