Photo by Paul Buckley
This photo captures Bradshaw in his last year racing motocross and supercross, 1997, at one of the Los Angeles races (there were 2 that year). He finished 9th at the first race and 16th at the second and ended the supercross championship in 8th.
THE SEASON: “At the tail end of the ‘96 season, I was told by Keith McCarthy at Yamaha that they were going to renew my contract, and if I was good with the way my contract was they would get things written up and we’d resign and I’d be on Yamahas in ‘97. And right after Washougal, which was one of my best rides – I came from way back in the pack both motos, I was still passing guys on the last lap to end up third overall, which was one of my stronger finishes and I was really excited about it – well I got home from Washougal and Keith called me and he said, ‘Hey, I don’t know why or what the reason is, but they’ve decided not to renew your contract.’ It caught me totally off guard because he’d just told me they were going to. And man, I’d been with that company forever, and those guys were as much family as… [almost as much] as my parents because I’d spent so much time with them. So I had a lot of trust in them, obviously. So it was pretty much cut and dried. I got off the phone and was highly pissed off, I was like, ‘What did I do?’ and, ‘Why is this not?’ I probably sat there for twenty minutes, and then I called Bob Hannah. At the time we did a fair amount of flying together. I was already living in Idaho and talked to him a little bit, and then got off the phone with him, and the next phone call was Jim Hale, and that’s how the whole Manchester Honda thing came about. We just put our heads together, and obviously with a ton of Jim’s help, we made that team come together… It was probably one of my most fun years racing, [like] my early years at Yamaha when results were awesome, and how everybody smiled and had fun, it was very similar on this team that I put together with Jim Hale and AXO and Manchester Honda. And Jim made the comment, ‘We don’t really care how you do, we just want to have fun and we’re glad that you’re here and we’re a part of it.’ I mean, what can make a guy feel better than that? And later on that year we had some decent results and won Mt. Morris that year… I’ve been asked the question a lot by fans and still today people ask me in regards to motocross or supercross [and which I like better]. I really enjoyed both and it was cool because back then, or in the earlier days, we would switch back and forth. You would do a couple supercrosses and then you would go to the outdoors, which was tough. And then later on, you’d do outdoors, and then you’re ready for supercross; you’re ready for a change. And I liked that. I liked to split it up and I felt like I was as equally good at both, maybe just had a little bit better luck in supercross, but I enjoyed both of ‘em and didn’t prefer one over the other.”
THE BIKE: “Nobody wanted to ride the ‘97 Honda. I mean, the ‘96 Honda was a phenomenal bike, and had been for several years. When they made this change [to the first year of the aluminum frame] it was very tough. I think that was the year Jeremy didn’t want to ride and he went to Suzuki or something, but it was one of those things that really motivated me. I was like, ‘Perfect. Nobody wants to ride it? I’m gonna ride it, I’m gonna show Honda and show these people that don’t want to ride it that we can make it work in some way. It may not be the best bike, but I’m gonna make it work somehow or another. And I think things started off okay at Anaheim. I don’t think they turned out so well, and I don’t remember, honestly, what place I got; and it was a different motorcycle and we were a privateer team, but Honda was helping us tremendously with the bike, because they were trying to do research, and everything to make it good. The frame was a total different deal, there wasn’t a whole lot of flex in the frame, and just the geometry of it compared to the ‘96 Honda was totally different.”
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, then check out some of his major sponsors Monster Energy www.monsterenergy.com, WPS/Fly Racing www.flyracing.com, Alpinestars www.alpinestars.com, 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