Talking Supercross With Legend David Bailey

Multi-time SX and MX champion

David Bailey
David BaileyDirt Rider Archives

We understand that not all of you guys were watching supercross and motocross in the '80s, and if you were, then David Bailey needs no introduction. But if you weren't born yet, then you missed out watching one of the greats of our sport. Bailey won multiple championships and led Team USA to many Motocross de Nations victories over his career. Unfortunately, that career was cut short by a practice crash before the 1987 SX season damaging his spinal cord. He still follows the sport and has done a lot of handcycling, including the RAAM (Race Across America) with fellow racing superstars Doug Henry, Micky Dymond, and Jeff Ward.

We grabbed a few minutes of Bailey's time and he was the one who actually brought up supercross. He told us he recently came across a video of himself riding the last full works bike he ever rode in the Supercross of Japan in 1986. It stirred up some excitement and long-forgotten feelings that he shared, and that's where these questions start.

Just as you talked about watching that video, what's it like for these supercross riders right now getting so close to the first race?
This part of the season is what usually determines the podium guys in the first couple rounds. It's an exciting time because it's right there in your grasp, but you have to really reach for speed and then find just the right balance to maintain it while processing all the information that gets dumped in your lap. It's stressful, but it's great!

David Bailey
David BaileyDirt Rider Archives

How you think Ken Roczen will do?
If his arm/elbow/wrist/hand doesn't hold him back somehow, I think he will be close to where was, only hungrier and ready to prove to himself and anyone else that if you are still able to ride and don't give up, amazing things can happen. I'd like to see him win Anaheim! That would really be something.

Who you are excited to see in the 450s?
Roczen's return! Marvin Musquin as the KTM team leader with momentum and in a position to really fight for the title. Eli Tomac at his best with a sense of urgency and basically a blueprint on how to win the title. Cooper Webb to bust out that speed we've seen before but on the 450 and Zach Osborne coming in hot! I believe Jason Anderson, Cole Seely, Blake Baggett, Dean Wilson, Broc Tickle, and company will be in there, and I am just hoping (as a fan) that all these guys ride well and make it exciting! And if Chad Reed pulled one of his signature clever veteran rides to the box, that would be great too.

Who you are excited to see in the 250s?
I just heard Austin Forkner got hurt so I'm bummed. Aside from him I don't even know who is racing the 250 class except Shane McElrath, but actually I don't think there should even be a 250 class. Trim the show, make it high quality, good for TV, toss in a couple good in-depth features to get to know these guys, and if you're good enough, you ride the 450 class! I always hear "stacked," but it's not. It would be if it were one class like it used to be! Save the 250s for a shootout wherever it fits best as an exclusive preview of who's coming up and to tease the outdoor season, but SX in my opinion should simply be the best of the best!

David Bailey
David BaileyDirt Rider Archives

What do you think of the new format of the night show?
I don't know what the new format is! If it highlights the winners more, which is what I assume, then maybe that's good for the fans, but extra pressure to roll the dice for a win on a semi-scary SX track might not be a good position to put the riders in—in hindsight. It's hard enough, so rewarding riders to take extra chances could come back and bite.

What bike are you the most interested in?
I've always loved the Hondas, but I'm happy to see Husky making a statement. Anderson, Wilson, and Osborne are a solid lineup.

Who is the biggest underdog?
Roczen with all he's been through!

Who could make the season boring by winning everything?
Tomac or Musquin. Anyone, especially Roczen, would be a welcome and refreshing sight.