Rider Spotlight: Gerit Callies
NEWS May 3, 2012
Photo by Dave Hoenig
AMAP: Where are you from?
GC: I’m from Hartford, SD. I was born in Sioux Falls, SD, which is about eight miles from where I live now. But, I’ve lived in this area for pretty much my entire life.
AMAP: South Dakota has to have some harsh winters.. Do you get to ride on the ice like some of the other AMA Pro Flat Track riders?
GC: Yeah, we usually get to do a little bit of ice riding out here. We have a few big lakes that my buddies and I go out and tear around on. We do have a little series for our local track that races on the ice, but I only do a few here and there. This winter’s been weird actually, as we didn’t get that much ice. We do get hard winters, and I like to get out on the ice and ride as much as I can.
AMAP: How did you get into riding motorcycles?
GC: When I was about twelve years old, my brother got a 1999 Honda CR-250 two-stroke dirtbike, and ever since then, I wanted to ride. We’ve always had this Yamaha big-wheel, so I kind of started off on that. I moved up to a 2002 Yamaha YZ-85 and started riding at my local track. I rode motocross for a little bit until I got stuck in a huge mud puddle. I told my dad I wanted to ride dirt track, so we ran dirt track on motocross suspension and tires for a while until we knew what the series was all about. From there, I grew into flat track and have loved it ever since!
AMAP: Tell us about your progression through riding flat track.
GC: I feel that I’ve progressed pretty well. I started riding riding flat track on an 85cc bike, and I’ve moved up to a larger size motorcycle every year. I hold every record at my local track. I won nine straight championships there. From there, we moved on to AMA Pro Flat Track to compete in the Motorcycle-Superstore.com Pro Singles class to see what we could do in it and how I’d finish out. We ended up doing the entire circuit last year and placed third in the championship.
AMAP: You made a statement about the championship chase at Daytona Flat Track. Talk about your time at Daytona this year..
GC: It was good. Last year, we went in confident and came out with a win the first night and a second place finish the next night. This year, we rode the same bike and went in feeling really good. I won the first night, but going into the second night, I don’t know what was going on.. The bike was working good through qualifying and practices, but I didn’t make through the heats or the semis. I was bummed, and couldn’t figure out what was wrong, but I can’t let it get me down. There are still a lot of races ahead of us.
AMAP: Are there different layouts of tracks that you think you perform better at than other ones?
GC: Definitely. I really like the TTs. The Springfield TT is one of my favorites. I’m also a fan of short tracks. The mile and half-mile tracks seem to get me, at best, top-five finishes. I’ve had bad luck for the past three years at the Springfield Mile, but I’m going to put it behind me, go there with an open mind and hope for the best. That weekend will put things into perspective where we’re at for the rest of the year for sure.
AMAP: You’ve ridden a Honda CRF450 in past events, but rode the KTM 450SX at Daytona Flat Track. What bike will you be riding for the rest of the season?
GC: If my two KTMs are done before Springfield, I will be hauling two KTMs to compete the rest of the season on, and have the Honda as a backup bike. I really like riding the KTM. It's very smooth and the hydraulic clutch is a big plus. When I first started riding it at Daytona, I really liked it’s smoothness and power. I’m excited to see how it can do on the Springfield Mile.
AMAP: What expectations are you setting for yourself for the rest of the season? Any personal goals?
GC: I’d like to take the championship, as there are many other riders that would like to do the same. As for personal goals, I’d like to get a couple wins on a mile or half-mile track. There are quite a few tracks that I’ve had some bad luck on. I lost my brake on one, broke a chain, had a flat tire on another and crashed in the Springfield Mile. I hope all the bad luck is out of me and the KTM will hold up for us!
AMAP: Do you see any issues or obstacles that you’ll have to overcome to take the #1?
GC: The only issue that I think I’m going to have to overcome is the Springfield Mile. It’s a nerve racking event for me. Three of the four times I’ve been there, I’ve crashed and ended up dirt sampling instead of winning.
AMAP: What do you enjoy most about the sport? The thrill, competition or the speed?
GC: What gets me going is the firing up of the bikes on the line. It just sends chills through your spine. Your hearts racing, you’re nervous with your gut wrenching… People say flat track is easy, but it’s really not. It’s a mixture of everything. The thrill and speed just do it!
AMAP: Who would you consider your racing hero?
GC: Many people probably say it, but Chris Carr. I rode with him at American Super Camp, spoke with him a lot and he’s my family’s favorite. If there’s ever a question I need answered, I’ll go over and ask him, and he always answers me with a smile on his face. With that said, I definitely look up to him the most.