Rider Spotlight: Tyler O'Hara
NEWS August 16, 2012
Photo by Brian J Nelson
AMAP: Where are you from?
TO: I’m from Petaluma, CA. It’s in northern California. I was born and raised there.
AMAP: How’d you get into riding motorcycles?
TO: My dad, brothers and sisters all rode. I was pretty much riding before I knew it. I started riding at four years old and racing at Lodi Cycle Bowl on flat track mini bikes. I worked my way up through that to motocross and supermoto. Afterwards, I made the transition from supermoto to road racing, about four years ago.
AMAP: You’ve raced both GoPro Daytona SportBike and Vance & Hines XR1200 in 2011 and this year. Talk about your double duty on the event weekends.
TO: I raced both Daytona SportBike and the XR1200 series last year, but this year, I wanted to focus on the championship and one thing. The XR1200 series is my realistic goal, so I made the decision to focus on it. I raced the Daytona SportBike race at Laguna Seca because it wasn’t conflicting. I put together some really solid laps and feel like I’ve learned a lot from the Harley-Davidson after getting back on the 600.
AMAP: What are your thoughts on competing in the Vance & Hines XR1200 Series?
TO: I think it’s great. It’s like racing on a level playing field with the spec tires, fuel and is rider based. I feel like I have a little bit of time on the Harley-Davidson XR1200 this year, and I’ve got good people like JCR, Scrubberblade and K-Tech that help get the bike working the way I want it to. Being able to make the changes to the bike and setup are the main goal to feeling comfortable.
AMAP: We’re headed to Indianapolis Motor Speedway this weekend. What did it feel like getting your first win at the famous speedway on the world stage?
TO: Last year was pretty much all or nothing, really. It was the defining moment if I was going to keep going or not. I ended up getting the win, which was 18 years in the making. It felt really good and like I got over the hump. Afterwards, I felt like I was the guy to beat every weekend. I still feel like that, and now I’ve got to keep moving forward to this weekend with our package and have fun. We’ve definitely been making a lot of sacrifices and working harder, so I expect to do well and win races.
AMAP: What are your thoughts on the XR Showdown beginning this weekend at Indy?
TO: I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing. Just staying up front and not changing anything in my program is what I plan to do. It’s just another race weekend and preparation will be the same. I’m going to go out, focus on the process, stay in the moment and let the results speak for themselves.
AMAP: What are your expectations for the remainder of the season?
TO: Be upfront every weekend, lead laps and win races. I want to be the champion at the end of the chase.
What obstacles do you see ahead that you will have to overcome?
TO: In races, there are always obstacles and things that will set you back. It’s just about making adjustments when I get there, roll with the punches and keep moving forward. I want to be there every weekend.
AMAP:What are your thoughts on the last two tracks on the 2012 season schedule (NOLA Motorsports Park and Homestead-Miami Speedway)?
TO: We rode both the Homestead and NOLA tests. They’re great tracks and facilities. I’m glad we’ve got two new tracks on the circuit. It’s going to be the Big Kahunas, and I love those events, because they have a good turnout of spectators. I did well at Road Atlanta, so I’m definitely excited to go to more Big Kahuna tracks.
AMAP: What draws you to the sport? The thrill, competition or the speed?
TO: The thrill of motorcycle racing. It’s being able to put my helmet on, have everything on me, knowing I’m the one on the bike that can make it happen, going fast and getting sideways. I love the fans and the whole sport.
AMAP: Who is your racing hero?
TO: I have a lot of heroes growing up. I’ve picked up a little bit from everyone of them. Whether it’s their style, the way they talk, do interviews, ride their bike, etc. I’ve got a pretty long list. Doug Chandler, Ben Bostrom, Eric Bostrom, Mat Mladin, Ben Spies… and the list goes on. I could keep rattling them off.. laughs. I’m a big fan of the sport myself. I think it’s one of the things that keeps me fresh and into it week in and week out.