Rider Spotlight: Ben Bostrom
NEWS December 15, 2011
Photo by Brian J. Nelson
AMAPro: How’s your off-season going so far?
BB: The off season has been really good. Somehow it’s been a really busy! We ended our season and went testing which went really well. I had marathon championships on a mountain bike, and state championships on a mountain bike, and now here I am. It’s crazy because it’s December and I have no break! I’m really pumped for next season. We have a really good bike and we’re going to be testing at Homestead next week. In February, we plan on testing the bike again and then, in March, watch out because we’re bringing it!
AMAPro: Where are you from?
BB: I’m from Norcal, but I live in Socal now. I live near both my brothers, so that’s really nice.
AMAPro: What was your first motorcycle?
BB: First bike was a Honda Z-50. It was actually too big for me. I got it when I was four and half years old. The first bike that I actually “legitimately rode well” was a Suzuki JR-50.
AMAPro: How did you get into motorcycle racing?
BB:My dad raced bikes back in the day, so it came naturally. My mom bought her first motorcycle off my dad. As a kid, we were given mini bikes to start riding. With two brothers, I was pretty lucky, because we didn’t race competitively as kids but we’d race against each other. When the time came to race against others, it wasn’t anything strange and we were prepared.
AMAPro: Out of all the bikes you’ve ridden, which one stood out the most?
BB: The top of the list… If it’s for performance, it’s the current bike, because each model keeps getting better. The first road racing bike I ever rode was a Harley-Davidson 883 and I thought ‘This isn’t that bad.’ It wasn’t until I got on a 600 when I realized, ‘Man, wait a minute!’ Then I rode a SuperBike, and was like ‘Wow!’ But now you look at a SuperBike today compared to the first one I rode, even in stock trim… you can go buy a GSX-R, put a shock on it, change a couple things and go race. They’re much more fun.
AMAPro: How was it to ride a MotoGP bike at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca?
BB: I thought it was going to be a lot better, but it turns out the bike had the wrong fuel map in it the whole weekend. It had a “wet map” in it, so it had no acceleration. We didn’t get the right map in it until the race. To be honest, the bike didn’t have any front brakes. I was breaking way sooner than I was used to, even on my SuperBike with stock brakes. It wasn’t that enjoyable to ride, except for the tires, they were incredible when they got the bike set up for my weight. It was set up for a lighter rider originally, so the back end was lazy and I needed a lot more support. Then when the race came, we had a new map, new suspension settings and I was riding a second faster lap times when cruising around, but I couldn’t stop the thing. It wasn’t as enjoyable as everybody thinks it should’ve been. With the proper fuel map and suspension settings from the beginning of the weekend, it wouldn’t have been that hard to run towards the front. It kind of wore me out riding both the MotoGP bike and then riding for Jordan Motorsports SuperBike. I learned my lesson that weekend. I’m 37 years old, but still learning!
AMAPro: What’s your favorite racetrack?
BB: I used to like the tracks where I did well, like Laguna, but that’s not the case anymore. Now it’s the ones where I struggle the most and where my results are crap. That’s where the challenge is the biggest. I actually get this question a lot. It used to be the track where I was the fastest, or slid the bike the most. But now, I like tracks where I don’t do well, because it’s a challenge for me to improve and succeed at them.
AMAPro: What draws you to the sport? The thrill, competition or the speed?
BB: Competition. You can’t tell the difference in speed if everyone else around you is going just as fast. I live for racing somebody else on equal equipment, and not knowing who’s going to win. There are so many things I think about when the race is almost done, like: ‘Are his tires wearing down, or is he wearing down? What setup does he have to benefit him? What tricks does he still have in his pocket?’ You start running all these things through your mind as you plan on setting up the right time to pass him, and it becomes the ultimate board game. It’s what I live for. Just like riding a bicycle in a race, there are so many things going on as the race is winding down, but you have to make it look like one thing is going on when you are doing something completely different.
AMAPro: How big a factor does riding bicycles play into your life when not racing motorcycles?
BB: It’s 50% right now, but the bike does two things for you. Mentally, it makes you strong. The bike teaches you that your pain level is another step away, and then another step away. Then, it makes you physically fit. I wouldn’t ride my bike as much if I didn’t have others to compete against though. Whether it’s riding bikes, Words with Friends… I live to compete. It’s very strange, but I see so many racers try to occupy themselves until they can compete.
AMAPro: What’s a typical day like for you?
BB:Haha. When I wake up, I have everything ready to go. I have the water heating up Ella’s baby bottle which is in the fridge. I have the espresso machine ready to go, which is already packed, so the minute I hear the door open from downstairs, BOOM.... baby bottle is heating up, coffee going, espresso making all at once. Afterwards, I go through all my emails, hop on the computer and plan out a bike ride. It depends if I’m racing on my SuperBike, or just going out riding with friends, I plan out a segment that I can improve on and beat. Whether I’m racing against someone, or myself, I measure out my results, take into consideration what I ate before, what I did physically… and I do it all while waiting for March! That’s the only thing going through my mind. You’re just occupying yourself while waiting for March, because that’s all you want to do is get on your bike and beat all these guys. Like a little kid before Christmas, I’m entertaining myself by keeping busy, but I can’t wait for March to roll around. I used to have many things planned out, but now I’d spread myself thin trying to do so many things, hangout with so many people, go out, etc. Now I’ve honed myself in on what I want, and leaned myself out.
AMAPro: What are your expectations going into next year?
BB: Be at the front each and every race. I have a great bike with a great team. I feel that I shouldn’t let the other guy win. We’re not playing catch up anymore. The bike is ready, the rider feels good. I’m ready, and there’s no point in going out to race if you hope to get third. If the other guy beat you fair and square, that’s one thing, but if you’re out there tooling around in third, and the leader runs away with it, that’s not what you do. As a racer, you always want to win. If you don’t, you lay in bed at night, scratching your head, thinking what you did wrong. We have such a good package for next year, so I know we won’t be scratching our heads.
AMAPro: Who's your racing hero?
BB: There are a lot of them, but I think it’s always been Steve McQueen. He had another life, but he loved to compete. Back in the day, I really liked Malcolm Smith. He was a good guy, and had a Superbowl of talent. Then in each discipline, each series had its own stars. You are envious of everything they can do, and you look to them to try to replicate what they can do. I lost a great hero this year, Gary Nixon. He was one of my idols, as well as Roger Reiman. They’re what we look up to as legends in the sport and we need to keep them there. I know the saying, “No one knows what Simoncelli would’ve done a 1000, and never will know.” I live to watch people like that race a bike. It’s inspiring.
What's your take?
Who do you think had the coolest looking leathers in 2011 - Martin Cardenas, Ben Bostrom, or Josh Herrin?
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