Rider Spotlight: Stephen Vanderkuur

NEWS September 27, 2012

Rider Spotlight: Stephen Vanderkuur

Photo by Dave Hoenig

AMAP: Where are you from?
SV: I am from Davison, Michigan, which is east of Flint and north of Detroit. I was born in North Carolina, but moved up to Michigan when I was very young.

AMAP: Do you get to do any racing when you’re not at an AMA Pro Flat Track event?
SV: Yeah, District 14 is a pretty good district that has a good program. We have half-mile, TTs and short tracks that we can ride around here.

AMAP: How did you get into riding motorcycles?
SV: My grandmother and grandfather were into the Flint Motorcycle Club back in the day. My dad pushed me into motorcycle riding when I was about five or six years old on a PW50. I ended up being pretty good at it, so I kept with it and moved up through the ranks up to the 450s.

AMAP: For 2012, you’ve really stepped up your level of competition in the AMA Pro Motorcycle-Superstore.com Pro Singles class..
SV: Yeah, this year has been a big improvement for me on car tracks and TTs. I feel like I still have work to do on TT tracks and other technical tracks, as I think I’m better on half-mile and mile tracks. When I was younger, I was better at the cushion tracks, miles and half-miles, but this year, I’ve been able to hold my own on the TTs and car tracks too.

AMAP: Why flat track and not motocross, hillclimb, supermoto or road racing?
SV:  I tried gokart racing, believe it or not, and supermoto, but my heart has always been in flat track, so I stuck with it.

AMAP: Tell us about your relationship with Parkinson Brothers Racing and how this year has shaped up to where it is for you..
SV: Craig Parkinson let me borrow his bike for a race, and I thought it was great. Then Hagerstown came around, and he asked me if I would like to ride his bike again. I accepted and kept riding his bikes from there. A little ways in, we said to ourselves, we have a shot at winning the championship, so we’re going to go for it! We’ve had some struggles, though. We’ve had some races that didn’t go the way they should’ve, but we’ve persevered.

AMAP: What’s it like to race against the competition in the AMA Pro Motorcycle-Superstore.com Pro Singles class?
SV: It’s pretty stiff competition. Everyone’s pretty close and no one seems to run away with it every weekend. It’s going to be very close down to the end. I think the last race will be close down to both the points and the finish.

AMAP: With the series headed back to the Santa Rosa Mile after a 42 year hiatus, is there something you’re looking forward to this weekend?
SV: We’ve been testing out different bikes, and I’m riding the Parkinson Brothers Racing Honda which is fuel-injected. I think we’ve got it pretty dialed in for this weekend. I’ve heard it’s supposed to be a lot like Sacramento … I’m not too sure, but we got 2nd in Sacramento, so I’m feeling pretty good.

AMAP: With less than a handful of races remaining, what are your expectations for the remainder of the season?
SV: Well, the rest of the season is one mile track and two half-miles. This year, I’ve been pretty good at both. My goal is to be not on top of the box every race, but definitely be on the box every race.. I want to win the championship.

AMAP: You’re in college, correct?
SV: Yes. I’m 20 years old and attending college to go into the medical field. This is my third year. I’m just now getting my undergrad. There are so many various jobs in the medical field, and I don’t know exactly which one to go into yet, but I want to specialize in something. Not a general practitioner.

AMAP: Do you see flat track racing fitting into your future?
SV: I think flat track is in my future for sure. I definitely want to stick to my priority being school, but flat track is in my future. You’ll definitely see me in the years to come.

AMAP: How does AMA Pro Flat Track on the weekend mix with college class on the weekdays?
SV: It works pretty well, except for the West Coast stuff, because I have to fly out every weekend and make it back Monday for school. I have to thank the Parkinson Brothers a lot, because they have everything ready for me when I get to the track. You can’t ask for much more than that!

AMAP: Who’s your racing hero?
SV: We come from a good area here in Flint; With Scotty Parker and Jay Springsteen with others from the ‘Michigan Mafia.’ There are a ton of guys I look up to and wonder how they did it. I aspire to be as good as they were.

AMAP: Who would you like to thank?
SV: Parkinson Brothers Racing, Performance Cycle & Dyno, MDR, Brent Armbruster, Wazee, H&N Wind, D&D Exhaust, SSR, Durelle, G2 Ergonomics, Legue, Fluidyne, CP Pistons, Carrillo

Click here to view photos of Stephen on AMA Pro Flat Track's Facebook page.

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