Dropping In: Charlie Mullins - Dirt Rider Magazine

Charlie Mullins started the 2010 season as a privateer and finished it off as one of the hottest properties in off-road racing. The Ohio-born speedster, nicknamed "Hotrod" by his dad, dominated this year's Rekluse/AMA National Enduro Series, finishing the year with six wins and the national title. Mullins was a player in the GNCC series, as well, sitting second in the standings with three wins at press time.We talked to Charlie at the final round of the enduro series to get his take on the year.Dirt Rider: You basically ended up riding this year's GNCC and enduro series as a privateer when Suzuki didn't renew your contract for 2010. How did that affect the way you approached this season?Hotrod: I found out around Thanksgiving that things with Suzuki weren't going to work out the way we planned. No hard feelings against them, it was just one of those things. I just started searching around and I finally got a call from Keith Obermeyer, who is pretty good friends with Jason Raines. I started talking to him and luckily he and Randy (Hawkins) and Donnie Luce were able to work out a deal for me. It was basically just for the GNCC series, but there were two national enduros at the start of the year that I was going to use as a warm up. I did pretty well in those races and Randy asked me if I would like to ride the rest of the enduro series. I like riding both series so it worked out well for me.DR: You said at the start of the year that you were literally riding for a paycheck at each race. Did that give you extra incentive?Hotrod: Well, I've been smart with my money, so I'm okay financially. It was just more or less I wanted to do well this year to prove myself. The contingency money is always nice, but I just wanted to do it for myself and to show everybody I'm a top contender in GNCC and enduros.DR: What was the turning point of the year?Hotrod: I DNFed at the Alligator Enduro, which was the third round in Florida, but I worked hard to get through that and I was able to bounce back. Being able to come back and win gave me some confidence at the enduro series. In the GNCC series, it's been kind of a roller-coaster ride this year. I've had some good moments and then I would have a bad race. Overall, it's been a tough year, but hopefully it works out for next year.DR: You've been racing the GNCC series for several years now, but this was your first year with the enduro series. Usually, when GNCC guys ride an enduro they're overwhelmed by how tight the courses are. However, you seemed to take to the tight trail right away.Hotrod: Yeah, I grew up riding tight trail and I almost prefer that over the wide-open, fast, dusty stuff. But I've adapted to both series and it is what it is. I just ride the best I can in any situation I come up against and I'm fortunate enough that I'm competitive in both series.DR: There's quite a bit of difference between the two types of racing.Hotrod: Yeah, it's kind of hard in the beginning to go in and out of race pace at the enduros, because you sprint through a test and then you coast through the transfer areas and I kind of struggle with that just trying to stay in race mode for the entire day. But I've kind of got that figured out where I'm able to stay focused the whole day and be strong for the last test. I know there were a few enduros at the start of the year were I was real strong in the first tests and then dropped off in the last few tests. But I've worked on that and now I feel I'm strong in all six tests.DR: You elected to ride a 2009 YZ450F all year when you had the opportunity to ride the 2010.Hotrod: Yeah, when we started the season we looked at the 2010 YZ and IMS didn't have a big tank ready to go for it. I knew the '09 was a proven bike for off-road and I knew it was reliable, so we started the year with that. Once I got the setup the way I wanted it I just thought there was no reason to jump to the '10 in the middle of the year when everything was working so well with the '09.DR: How much does your GNCC bike differ from what you're riding in the enduro series?Hotrod: I just set my bike up the way I like it and then I ride it that way in both series. I'm actually running a WR transmission in my YZ for GNCCs now, so my GNCC bike and my National Enduro bike are identical. That way I'm comfortable with the bike at both types of races.DR: What do you like best about the GNCC series and what do you like about the enduro series?

Hotrod: The enduros are pretty low-key. It's a big mental game and you kind of race against yourself. Being out there riding on your own minute, trying to figure out what is a fast pace, I kind of enjoy that. I like the format where you just check in and check out. I really like the new format they have now.For the GNCCs, I like just lining up against 30 guys and going into the first turn. I really like the competitiveness of that. The two series are pretty much opposites, but I really like them both.HR: As far as training, you do a lot of different things to stay active and maintain your fitness, like racing mountain bikes.Hotrod: I started racing mountain bikes as a hobby, but I've been racing a mountain bike league on a regular basis now and I think it helps me stay in good shape. I race my mountain bike every chance I get. I'm also a big fan of stand-up Jet Skiing. I have two of those so me and a buddy go out and train on those. I like to keep it fun, but during the winter when it's cold and miserable out, that's kind of my gym time. I really bust it hard in the gym during the winter. But in the summer when the racing is going on you have to keep it fun to keep yourself motivated.DR: What do you get out of racing?Hotrod: You know, I love the adrenalin you get lining up on the line. I've been doing this professionally for five years and I'm nowhere near burned out. I just love riding my dirt bike and racing other people to see who the best person is.