Dropping In On: Damon Bradshaw

We talk to the Beast From The East

Damon Bradshaw
Damon Bradshaw took time out from his busy Monster Truck schedule to ride the recent Full Gas Sprint Enduro in North Carolina.Photo By Shan Moore

Since retiring from Supercross/Motocross at the end of the 1997 season, Damon Bradshaw has been busy making a name for himself in the Monster Jam series where he drives the Monster Energy Monster Jam truck. During his career, Damon accumulated 25 SX main event wins and even ran his own Arenacross team for two years near the end of his career. We ran into the “The Beast From the East” in Hickory, North Carolina, where he was competing in the Kenda Full Gas Sprint Enduro Series.

Q: What brings you back to motorcycle racing?

A: It’s more or less just for fun. I was back in town with my brother who lives in the Carolinas and we borrowed a bike and just did some riding. When I get to ride now it’s mostly off-road, so we were just talking and he told me about this new off-road event. He was talking about the Full Gas Sprint Enduro series. I thought it sounded like a lot of fun. So long story short, he kind of got the ball rolling and Al Lane motorsports gave us a bike. So we kind of threw it together and we’ve just been pretty much been trying to ride every day. I don’t know if there’s anything such as throwing yourself into shape in three weeks, but I’ve tried. We’ve had a lot of fun. I love this type of racing and the Cross Course is awesome. It’s just like real old-school motocross, which is what I like to ride.

Q: Do you feel any of those skills coming back to you?

A: I’m definitely rusty. The biggest thing I noticed right off the bat is just that I’m not physically strong enough. And my endurance as well is not there, but just the physical strength of getting the bike really bent out of shape and being able to correct it. And that’s where I have to be careful and ride a little bit differently, because that takes months and months to get that strength back. I wasn’t in bad physical shape when I started riding. I’m sure my body is still in good shape, at least at this point anyway. So if I had months to put in, then it would probably be more fun to me. But I enjoy riding the woods and the rocks and that kind of stuff.

Q: Let’s talk about monster truck thing a little bit. How did you get into that and how much of moto transfers over into that?

A: Quite a bit, actually. Just reading the faces of ramps and understanding dirt has a lot to do with driving the truck. The hardest thing about driving a truck was learning to drive with the rear of the truck. Not just the power but also the rear steer. Roy Jansen, who was an AMA official back when I was riding worked for Live Nation, helped me get into monster trucks. I never really thought that I would be driving one, much less already almost doing eleven years. And I’m still learning. Every day I get in the truck I’m still learning. So I have to give a lot of that to Roy Jansen. He helped me put the deal together. It took us probably a year and a half. I really enjoy it. We have a huge fan base. It’s impressive to me to be able to go into a building with 50-60,000 people, and them be really into it. It’s a good feeling.

Q: So when you’re racing motocross you go out to a practice track and you do laps. How do you practice driving a monster truck?

A: Just in the last four years we actually have a practice facility for that. So if I want to try something new or if I want to try something different on my truck I can go there. We set up the dates and they transport my truck from Florida. Right now it’s outside of Chicago, in Paxton, Illinois. We go there and we can do testing. That’s where they test a lot of new drivers. They’re bringing in a lot of new kids and teaching them how to drive. It’s pretty cool. When I first started basically your practice was at a show, during a show. But now we can go out and practice, just like we want to. And now before all of our big stadium events we practice on Friday before our events. I’ve been saying since I started that we needed to be able to do that. I said it would make all aspects of the show better. So finally we’ve been doing it and it’s made our shows better, made the drivers better. It’s very competitive now and it’s fan judged. Sometimes you win when you shouldn’t and sometimes you lose when you should win. That’s just the nature of the beast.

Q: Moto people know how much abuse your body takes racing motocross. How much abuse do you take in those trucks?

A: Quite a bit. I always wonder what the long-term effects are going to be. My body stays still, but my limbs are able to move around, but you wonder what your insides are doing and what your brain’s doing and all of that stuff. Our safety with the inside of our trucks is impeccable. But when I haven’t been in the truck for months and I get in, I’m sore the next day. I always refer to it as I crashed a YZ490. That’s what it feels like. But then there are times I can go through the gnarliest freestyle I’ve ever been through and the next day I’m totally fine. So it just all depends on the course, how the truck’s working, and if you’ve been in the truck. Your body gets used to it.

Q: Are you enjoying the monster truck stuff as much as you did your motocross career?

A: At this point in my life, yes. I wouldn’t change anything, wishing that I was doing that before my motocross because a lot that I learned there has transferred over into the truck. My body is safer. My limbs are safer for sure. You still take a beating but at this point in my life it’s a great place for me to be and to make a living and still have freedom and be able to be home a fair amount.