Photo by Paul Buckley
This photo shows Bradshaw at Southwick in 1989 on a YZ125, where he got 4th overall behind Donny Schmidt, Guy Cooper and George Holland, and finished second in the championship to Keidrowski. This was his first full year racing. And he only raced the 125 class for one year.
THE EVENT: “I did ride a few races, like four, in ‘88 but this was my full year… I liked Southwick because I kind of grew up riding sand. When I was on mini bikes we’d always go to Florida for the Winter AM series and all of those tracks were in the sand. Southwick was one of those places that was a more natural type of track than the ‘manmade everything’ type. It got rough so you had to select lines, but there sill was a learning process [in 1989] just because of the guys that I was racing against… I did prefer it to get a little rougher because it would separate guys and it was more about picking lines, and I felt like that was an advantage for me. I remember they would have amateur day and there would be 500 or 600 entries and they would leave it. They would knock down the berms so we could re-form berms, but all of the straightaways still had the whoops in them, and you basically would sit down for a quick second in the turn and then you were back on the pegs. I liked the racetrack. I’ve heard now that things are way different, which I think is – it’s supposed to be outdoor racing it’s not supposed to be outdoor supercross.”
THE BIKE: “That I can remember it was a great bike. I know just through testing the 125s, all of them had a tendency to do a bit of bogging. We called it the 125 bog, but I know that same year Honda’s 125 was very, very good, and I had a good bike. I don’t know if the Honda was a great advantage, but I know those guys had their stuff together. I think there were times over those [later] few years where I knew my bike wasn’t the best bike. But at that time that’s what I had to ride and Yamaha had me for a reason. It kind of motivated me to a certain extent, to know that my bike wasn’t the best, because I knew Honda’s bikes were very good then. It motivated me even that much more to win because I knew when I beat them I was beating them on something that maybe wasn’t quite as good as theirs… Yamaha was notorious for continual, continual work. Even if, and there were years on the 250 where we had the best bike or one of the best bikes and I couldn’t have been happier with the bike, but they continued to test and continued to test to make it better and better, and it was no different that year. I mean, we tested from well before the season started, and I rode that bike in supercross, and you know it was a little bit different for outdoor but that particular year was definitely one of the better ones. Even though I rode it [only] one year, I got back on the 125 for a [Motocross des Nations] Trophy race later on, and when I did that it was horrible. We didn’t, I don’t think at the time had a rider on a 125 so we hadn’t been testing. So when it was time to go to the Trophy race we had to all of the sudden start trying to put things together. And my bike was so far behind that it was, it was impossible for me to even try to race with the guys. I was racing with guys in the back of the pack, and it was sand and I literally would come out of corners and guys would – it was really bad and it was obviously noticeable for the people, too. I ended up getting hurt in one of the motos and ended up in the hospital. Somebody jumped on top of me, I couldn’t even clear the jumps that everyone else was clearing. I came up short and the guy ended up landing on top of me. [re: moving to the 250 class after one year in the 125 class] I felt that I was a better big bike rider, because I had already been riding 250s as an amateur. I was riding 125/250 at Loretta Lynn’s and places like that, and I really think Yamaha felt I was ready to go because I think at the tail end of even that year in ‘89 I had gotten on a 250 a few times, whether it was testing or whether it was supercrosses later on in that year. And I was excited to go, because I did want off of a 125. It was kind of a mutual agreement, and that’s why I moved on… Even back then the 125 class was very, very, very tough. I didn’t really think of [the 250 class] as you do now as the premier class, because if you think about it back then there were guys who rode 125s for a long time. It wasn’t really like it was a stepping stone, it was more of ‘whatever you were best at,’ it seemed to me. You had guys that rode 125s forever and never even moved to a big bike.”
TODAY: “I’m very busy with Monster Jam now and I drive the Monster Energy Monster Jam truck, which has been a blessing for me because I drove the U.S. Air Force truck for five years, which was really cool. I met a lot of neat people and being a part of the Air Force was kind of a special place for me just for the simple fact that I am a pilot. Monster Jam is where I spend my time lately, whether in the United States or Europe and now Mexico doing events. Monster Energy is my primary sponsor with that. I still ride [motorcycles]. I rode more last year than I have in the last several years, I did a few races. This year I’ve just been a little busier and don’t have near as much time to ride the motorcycle but I still love it. It’s kind of a bummer because I still feel that I have the speed but your body’s not really strong enough because you haven’t been riding. That was really hard last year, it was a good two or three months, it seemed, to get back into shape to where I was more happy to go riding. Because I would go out, and I could go fast, but then I would tell myself that I wasn’t really strong enough to go, not necessarily the length of time, but the way I was riding; it’s physical strength that you lose and then you go out there riding and all the sudden you end up on your head, and I didn’t want to do that. I took my time and got back into shape. I’ve done a few vintage races, I was at Supercross finals with my Monster Energy Monster Jam truck and I will be at the Monster Cup [on October 20th in Las Vegas].” To read more about what Bradshaw’s up to today, check out www.damonbradshaw.com, and go to www.monsterjam.com for information of where he’ll be next, and check out some of his major sponsors www.alpinestars.com, www.liquidimageco.com, and H Motorsports (HJC).
PHOTOGRAPHER PAUL BUCKLEY’S SHOT: To order prints of many of Paul Buckley’s classic motocross photos (more are being added all the time), check out www.buckleyphotos.com