We sat down for dinner with 2002 125 Western Region Supercross Champion and Team Factory Connection Honda rider Travis Preston, to see what was shaken after his knee injury. So how exactly did you injure your knee?I was doing some outdoor testing at Glen Helen, and it was really stupid, because it was at the end of the day when we were almost finished testing and the mechanics asked me to try (Nathan) Ramsey’s bike because it had a different motor then mine, so they could see if I liked it! I hopped on his bike and it had different suspension then my bike and it kicked me sideways going into a corner and I washed out. When I stuck my leg out, I felt it pop and I ended up tearing my ACL!Did you crash?Yeah, I just tipped over, not even going that fast!How bad did it hurt?It didn’t hurt bad, I just kind of heard a little pop, but it was one of those pops where I got kind of nauseous. I was thinking that this isn’t good right now, but it didn’t hurt to bad though.How bad was your injury? Did you just tear your ACL, or was there more damage?Well, I guess that it was bad enough that the doctor figured that it was best to take out my ACL and put somebody else’s in, so it had to be pretty bad. I also tore my MCL, but they told me that it gets enough blood supply, that it would heal itself!So who fixed you up?Dr. Murphy.Is he a well-known doctor in the sport?I guess so! He is in San Diego and he did LaRocco’s shoulder and worked on McGrath. I think he works on a lot of guys. It’s been 3-4 weeks since you went under the knife, how’s the recovery coming?It feels good, just my leg is a little weak right now, so I am working hard to get my strength back.What are you doing for rehabilitation?I go to a physical therapist 3 days a week and I go to the gym. I do a bunch of one legged squats and stuff like that and then I do my normal upper bodywork out! I have also started doing a little bit of mountain biking, but nothing to serious, as I don’t want to crash a re-injure my knee.When can you start riding your dirt bike again?They say like 2 months from the time of my surgery, so I guess in a month or so, but I want to play it safe and not re-injure myself. I’m not going to ride until I feel comfortable.What is your plan for the rest of the season?You know, just partying, drinking beer! Just Kidding! I bought a new motor home for the nationals, but I was thinking that I should start living in that thing and sell my house. It’s really plush with pop outs and stuff.Do you race the new motor home around town now that you have a bunch of free time on your hands?No, the motor home is parked right now, but what I really miss is driving my water truck! That was the one thing that really brought me joy in my life! I’m to the point right now, that if anyone with a construction company calls, I would drive my water truck for free around the construction site.Maybe I could come out and ride by your house and you could water the track for me?Dude, I’m so desperate to drive my water truck, that I have a friend that rides horses and stuff and it gets real dusty, so I take my truck and water the whole place down, I flood it out. If you want, I will hook it up and water my supercross track for you. You can see if you can hurt yourself out there.What else are you doing in your spare time?I do a lot of yard work.Is the yard looking pretty good?It is, I’ve got the front yard done, but with all of the rain we got, I got a bunch of weeds, so I had to break out the Hula Hoe.I bet you’re getting pretty good with the old Hula Hoe?Yeah, I’m getting real good with the Hula Hoe. It helps to keep my hands tough and I don’t wear any gloves.Are you going to try and make the last few nationals this year? Maybe Washougal on?Yeah, that’s the plan, but maybe not Washougal, because there is a break after Washougal and that will give me more time to heal.Will you be taking your motor home back east with you?That was the plan until this happened, but actually it is good, because it gives me a chance to fix all of the little things that go wrong on a new motor home. I also have to get a tow package put on it, so I can tow my van back with me. I plan to have it dialed in for the next season, but in the mean time I am going to take it to the river and stuff. I already got a spot for it in Laughlin this month, because I need to leave it there for tax’s, you know so I can cheat California out of the tax’s. Laughs.Do you want me to put that in the article?Definitely, I try to weasel my way out of paying taxes. Laughs.So what are your plans for next year?Other then trying to rip off the government? Laughs I mean for racing?Oh, oh yeah. Well, I’m not really sure yet. I know that I’m riding Honda, I know that I’m riding for Factory Connection.Do you have a contract right now?Yeah, I have a contract right now with Honda through next year. It’s with Honda, not Factory Connection, so it could go either way.So Honda could move you over to the Factory race team?Yeah they could, depending on what they want. I love riding for Factory Connection, so if I could ride the CRF 450 all year, then that would be good, but riding for Team Honda on a 450 would be great also, because then I could get my own clothing deal and that would mean more money. That would be my top choice, ride for Team Honda, get my own clothing deal and ride a 450, but we all like to dream.I heard that you might also be riding the 125 class next year? What’s up with that, I thought that you pointed out of that class this year?Yeah, everyone thinks that I have pointed out, but actually last year and this year were the only 2 years that I scored over 100 points. The year I rode for Husky I scored 90 something points, so I am still eligible. Even the guys at Honda thought that I had pointed out, so I should have just said that I did and then I would have no choice but to ride the 250 class. I actually have a thing in my contract saying that if I win another 125 championship this year, then I get to ride in the 250 class no matter what.If you do end up riding the 125 class in 2004, what bike will you ride?If I ride the 125 class, I will for sure ride the 4-stroke.Have you ridden the new CRF 250 yet?No, I haven’t ridden one yet, but I heard that they are going to have one in a few weeks. I heard that it is really good.Would you ride the 250F outdoors also?I don’t really know. Honda has been really good as far as letting me do what suits me best and not worrying so much about what suits them best. I think it just comes down like it did this year, with me being too heavy for a 125. They said ok, since you did decent on the 450 on the east coast, then we’ll let you ride the 450 outdoors. I’m sure that I would do well on the 250F, but I’m not real sure if it will pull me around good outdoors, plus I feel that with my knee injury, I kind of missed my opportunity to ride the 450 outdoors and I think that I would do good. I would probably like to ride the 250F on the west coast and win the championship and then ride the east coast on the 450 and ride the 450 outdoors.Is that your ultimate choice, or would you rather ride the 450 fulltime?The 450 fulltime is my first choice, but my second choice is what I just said and that wouldn’t be to bad either.So now that you are a big factory super star, what are you doing with all of the money? Are you saving it? You don’t seem to be flossin too much in your box stock V6 Ford van.Saving it, heck no. No actually I’ve been investing quite a bit, but I’m getting scared of investing, because you kind of just give it to some company and It’s like gone. I guess I’m a bit paranoid that when I actually need that money, their going to say oh well you, you know, like I invested $500 and they’re going to say that there’s only this much and I’m going to ask them where the rest is and they’re going to say um I don’t know. The people assure me that that is not going to happen, so we’ll just have to wait and see. I bought the motor home and stuff, and that was a big chunk of change, but it is also a right off. It’s also going to make racing a lot more comfortable.So when are you going to throw some Dubs on the van or by a Benz?I don’t need fancy cars and all of that stuff. That stuff is just a waste of money. Besides, I live in Hesperia and some white trash guy is going to park his 1986 Camaro next to it a fling his door right into it, so why have something nice. I could see maybe if I live in Beverly Hills.Speaking of living in Hesperia, why don’t you have a mullet?I actually do get a mullet sometimes when I let my hair grow long, but I don’t go out in public. I should have a mullet and I bet if I did, everyone would accept it. They would say, oh he’s from Hesperia, so it’s ok. You know, Hesperia is white trash, so I am white trash.Are you still having fun racing?Yeah, I see myself being like LaRocco and racing until I’m 40. I’m only 25 and I find myself learning something new every time I ride, and how can something get old when you haven’t perfected it. Maybe if I was like Ricky and winning every single moto, than maybe I would get bored.It seems like you have been around for a long time now. What has it been, like 10 years since you turned pro? Yeah, my first pro race was at the end of 1994.It seems like every year you get just a little bit faster!Yeah, I’m a really slow learner, that’s the way I was in school. You see, I figure that by the time I’m 30 I’ll probably have a couple of 250 championships and I’ll be like Ricky, but I will be 30.So you are going to wear out all of the young kids coming up and wait for Stewart to retire and battle with guys like Millsap’s for the championships.No, no, Alessi. Tell those Alessi kids to watch out, they’re going to have to deal with me. I’ll be in my prime, yeah I’ll be an old man, but I’ll be in my prime though. Laughs. Larry Ward will probably be getting in my way still.Do you think that Larry Ward will ever retire?I don’t know, I really like guys like Larry Ward and LaRocco. They still have fun with it.You mean LaRocco has fun?He doesn’t look like it, but he does. Laughs.So Chris Gossalers uncle is Mark Paul Gossaler from Saved by the Bell and NYPD Blue. Does he ever bring any of those chicks from the shows by the semi?No, I’ve been really disappointed with him. I’ve been waiting for Tiffany Amber Theasen to stop by. Goose told me that he is married. I usually only see him at the Anaheim races and he usually just stops by to say hi to Chris and then they probably escort him to the VIP section and that’s the last we see of him.How old were you when you first started racing?Man, I don’t even remember. I was riding a Honda 60 at DeAnza. So 1986 was my first race. How has your pro career gone? I believe your first pro race was at Perris Raceway against Jeremy McGrath, were you holeshot him in both motos.It was, wasn’t it? Yeah, I was on Yamaha’s and that shit was fast.Didn’t you hold Jeremy off for a few laps?I think you are just trying to spice up the story. Actually the first half of my career sucked. I think that kids grow up so fast today. I mean, I went to this school the other day to sign autographs and these kids were like 15-16 years old and I felt like I was on their level and I’m 25. Maybe I haven’t grown up or something, but kids today just seem like they grow up faster. So you have kids like Bubba that take racing seriously at an early age. My problem was that back in 1994 I wasn’t taking it that seriously. I mean I took it seriously, but you really have to give it all that you have.When did your career actually hit rock bottom?1997 with Chaparral. I got a couple of top 10′s on the west coast and didn’t qualify for a few races. At that point they gave me a couple of chances to prove myself, but after Hangtown National they let me go. I sucked and got like 19th and they sent me packing after that. That was my last race in 1997.So what happened after that?Well, I got the boot, but I still had to pay the bills. I don’t think that I was living at home at the time. Where were you living?I was living with a girl; lets just leave it at that. Next question. Laughs. So I had to get a job and my friends dad worked at this company that built oil tanks and he was a foreman there and they had a guy quit and I got the job.What were you doing for them?They had so many welders, welding these tanks that they would start these welding fires and I had to watch for the fires and run around with a fire hose and put the fires out. So I was kind of like a fire fighter. I pulled a lot of chicks, because I was a fire fighter. Laughs.Is that how you met your girlfriend Hannah?Yeah, that’s how I met Hannah. She loves fire fighters!Didn’t you have a long commute to work?Hell yeah, it was down in Long Beach, so I drove from Hesperia to the LBC everyday. I got up everyday at 3:30AM and worked 10-hour shifts and wouldn’t get home until 7:00 at night and I would just go straight to sleep. I would get up and do it all over again and I did that for 3 weeks straight. I only worked Monday thru Thursday, but it didn’t matter because I was ruined for the rest of the week. I did that for 3 weeks, but then I came into some money.Didn’t you win the lottery or something like that?Yeah, it was real stupid. I went into 7-Eleven and got a scrattcher ticket. That’s how bad off I was, that I was playing the lottery. Hey, there’s nothing wrong with the Lottery Travis, I play it every week. Laughs. I ended up matching up the things on the ticket right and I took the cash value. I think it was like 25 grand, so I ended up getting around 16 grand from it. So I had money now to pay my bills for a while. I did some work to the old box van and I had a 1996 RM 250 in my parent’s garage, so I got some parts and got it running. At least I had some money to live on. Once I started riding again, I called F&S Suzuki and got bikes and parts and with the money that was left, I bought gas and paid expenses and started the 1998 season. I sucked in 1998 and then I hooked up with Moto XXX in 1999 and I did decent that year.That’s is when you and your mechanic Shawn got together?Yeah, Shawnee makes me work hard, that’s why I did well that year. In 200 I sucked again, that’s when we went to DeMarrini. So that sucked, then I went to Husky in 2001.What turned things around for you at Husky?Everyone kept laughing at me because I was riding a Husky. It made me ride hard, but it wasn’t really the best place to be.You got your first win with them?Yeah, but I just kind of accepted the fact that I was riding a miserable bike and I rode it the best that I could and did the best I could with a bad situation. I think that people really noticed that. Most of the guys on the team had trouble just finishing motos and I finished every moto outdoors and in supercross. Honda saw that and they pretty much picked me up off the fact that I worked hard. That’s it; I don’t think they even cared about my results so much, as they just cared about how hard I worked.So Honda picked you up and assigned you to the Factory Connection team?When I was a kid growing up, Team Honda was the team to be on. Being on Factory Connection is pretty much like being on Team Honda, because we have the same bikes and stuff, so I was pretty happy and started working even harder. What are your goals in racing?These are some really serious questions. This is starting to get deep. Everyone always talks about winning, and I mean I love to win, it’s great, but it’s like you’re on two wheels, so you’re bound to crash. I just figure that I’m going to go out and ride the best that I can and if I crash oh well, but as long as I ride my hardest then that is cool, because usually when I ride my hardest I win or do really well. So that is pretty much my goal. If I ride the 125 class next year, of course I want to win. If I ride the 250 class I’d like to get a few top three’s and ride the best I can. Usually when I do that it works out pretty good.So when are you going to get married?That’s a good question. Seeing how I like to date younger women and everything and I have the mentality of a 15 year old, I think that I need to mature, Hannah needs to mature and that’s my status on marriage.What are your final thoughts Travis? Is there anyone that you would like to thank?My final thoughts are don’t fly drive. Lets try and bankrupt the airline industry, because I hate flying and they treat us like crap. So if you want to go to the Phoenix Supercross, just drive. If you want to go to Utah, just drive. Take the family and drive. It’s a good time. Besides, with flying you have SARS to worry about now too. I guess that’s the only thing that I am mad about now.You’re not going to have road rage when we leave here are you?No, no I’m fine. Well, in the van I might, but in the motor home no. I’m worried about crashing the motor home, but the van is only worth $10,000, so if I roll that bitch off the freeway it’s no big deal.What about the $100,000.00 motocross bike in the back of the van?Honda would probably be mad, but it’s built Honda tuff.What else should we know about you Travis?I think that I should go into politics. I think that I should be the governor of California. I think that would be a good job. I don’t understand how the Democrats don’t want to lower taxes and they say that it is only for the rich people. Well poor people pay taxes too don’t they? When I make $50,000 a year, I still have to pay taxes. Wouldn’t you like to see less money coming out of your paycheck? Also, isn’t it the Democrats that are trying to shut down all of our riding areas? I would hope that motocrossers aren’t Democrats. That’s my stand on politics.What do you think of today’s tracks?I think that they are terrible. Somebody got the idea of grading the tracks way to deep. You go to a national and they disc it and disc it, to where the track is 3 feet deep, which forces everyone in practice to take the same line. They don’t really block lines with hay bails, well maybe in one or two corners and that is it. Like a race at Glen Helen. You have a few good lines down a straight, but they all come down to one main line in the corner and if you want to rail the outside, you can’t, because the outside of the corner is like 80 feet out. When we ride practice on Saturdays, the track is totally different from Sunday’s, as they have it graded nice for the amateurs. When you come into a corner on Saturday you have a bunch of lines, because it’s not so deep out there. They also seem to over water a bit and they have been racing at the same tracks way to long. Like I used to hate tracks like Unadilla, but now I think it’s the best track ever and I don’t care how many rocks are out there, because it’s a natural track. They let the track widen out because it is fully natural, so it makes more lines to pass. Everyone thinks that a track like Washougal is the best track in America, but it’s actually one of the worst to race on. I mean it’s a fun track to ride if you are by yourself, but you can’t race on the track, because the track is dug into the ground, so it can only be so wide. I think that they need to go back to racing like it was in the 70′s when it was on natural tracks. I mean you can through in a double here or there, but don’t try and make these tight S’s.What do you think of today’s Supercross tracks?I don’t know, I’m kind of a perfectionist when it comes to the tracks and I know that those guys do a lot of tracks, but it seems like sometimes they get a bit hurried and don’t finish the jumps as clean as they could. I’m actually pretty satisfied with the Supercross tracks.Do you think that the Supercross tracks could be made a bit mellower to equalize the competition? You know, like mellowing out the whoops or rhythm sections.I think it would make for better racing, but seeing how the whoops are where I pass everybody, it would suck for me. The whoops are tough. I don’t understand how the guys without factory bikes can get through the whoops. I’m surprised at how they even jump the jumps.How about the money in the sport these days?It’s just ridiculous and it’s funny that you ask that. I was at physical therapy and there was a professional baseball player there that was injured. I don’t even watch baseball because it is so boring, but anyway he told me that he just got moved up from Triple A or something like that and he said that he is making $300,000 to start per year. He said that he has only played one game and sat out five. I mean it’s just a bat and a ball. How hard can it be to learn how to hit a ball? I sure as hell could catch it and throw it. These guys are making a lot of money and then here I am, braking, gassing, shifting, turning, jumping and dealing with everyone else. I’m training my ass off everyday and that dude says that he has like 3 months off a year. I get 1 month off and the rest of the year is totally hardcore.Do you feel like the promoters and the AMA should kick down more money to the riders? You guys are still paying your own entry fees and you are the show.Oh god, that is really stupid. Someone is making a lot of money. We are the show, but we have to pay to get into the show. I even heard that the stadium gives the AMA all of the riders seating section seats and then the AMA turns around and sells them to the riders and the rider’s family. Where does all of that money go anyway, plus our entry money and membership money?What does a win in the 125 class pay these days?A whopping $2,250.00 for a win. Another thing that pisses me off, is that when I went to the Dallas Supercorss this year, they wanted me to pay parking at the stadium for my rental car. They wanted me to pay $10.00 to park, so I told the guy to go F@#% himself and if they didn’t like it they could tow my car. Of course I came back later that night and my car was gone. Laughs. It’s just stupid, because I’m sure that the guys that play football there don’t have to pay to park. And get this, at Houston the football players were actually there training and these big 500 pound guys were coming up and talking to us and telling us that they watch us and how hard or sport is and how much harder our sport is then there’s. But those guys are making millions more, so it is just really stupid.If you could develop your own series, what would you change and what would you like to be different?Probably not as many races. I mean Supercross seems to be the big money maker, so maybe that shouldn’t change, but what is really retarded is that one week they will have a race in California and then the next week they will make you drive all the way to the east coast and then make you drive half way back across the country for the next race. I guess that I would do less of both series, so we could have a weekend off here or there. I mean, we went 10 weeks in a row in Supercross before we got our first weekend off, so it is hard to recover from any injuries and things like that.Would you change the race format at all?No, I think the race format is fine; I would just change the tracks. I think the series should just follow a tour and hit all of the states or cities in a row, rather then leap frogging all over the country week in and week out. I kind of understand with the stadiums, because you have other events going on there that we have to schedule around, but for the outdoors it could be a little tighter. I mean what outdoor track isn’t going to let you come have a national there anytime. Why should we have to bounce back and forth across the country? There is no reason why the series should go from New York one week and then all the way to Washington and then all the way back to New York. What it comes down to is that it’s a business and everyone wants to make money at the rider’s expense.Thanks for your time Travis and we hope that your recovery goes well.Thanks.