Brad “The Bullet” Baker is a young man, who at 22 years of age, has accomplished so much as a Flat Track racer already, including the AMA PRO RACING Grand National Championship number 1 plate in 2013, numerous other pro and amateur championships and races. He currently races for the “Screamin’ Eagle Harley-Davidson Flat Track team and will be gunning for gold at the inaugural Harley-Davidson Flat-Track Racing at ESPN’s X Games in Austin, Texas on June 4th, riding his XR 750 130MPH Harley.
I caught up with him on Tuesday for a chat and was left with the distinct impression of a man who has a very mature head on young shoulders, someone who knows about and values the rich history of motorcycle racing, from GP to Flat Track, Motocross to Speedway and is very focused in his pursuit of excellence in his chosen sport.
TM: Good afternoon, Brad, thank you for taking time to chat with Torqued Mag.
June 4th, X Games on the Harley XR 750, that’s a great series for Flat Track to be in, a great series for you, racing on a great name in motorcycling; Harley-Davidson. Apart from what it means for flat track, what does it mean to Brad Baker, to be taking part?
BB: Hi Neil, good to be talking with you and thank you for doing this to bring attention to the Harley-Davidson Flat Track at the ESPN X Games Austin. It means a lot to me to be taking part, being teamed with Harley, being able to represent such a famous brand on a World stage. The X Games is next after the Olympics for the prestige of winning a gold medal and I will have my chance at doing that; it is going to be a rough road with the injuries I have had, but I will certainly be giving it my all and I definitely know I want that gold medal.
TM: Apart from yourself, who do you think will be the top runners there and do you know the track at Austin at all?
BB: There are a lot of riders who can take the honors – most of the current Flat Track field are capable of winning in Austin, Jared Mees, Bryan Smith, Kenny Coolbeth, pretty much anyone – none of us know the track at all, everyone is in the same boat, nobody knows what to expect at the moment, so we are pretty much starting out with a level playing field. There are some invited International riders that are to be confirmed also and they will certainly provide some stiff competition.
TM: Last year was tough for you after the offseason injury, how does 2015 look in comparison?
BB: Well, I had surgery again on the elbow at the start of the year, I messed it up last season and had to have it replaced, so this year is pretty much a recovery season, just racing and collecting as many points as I can. Getting points in Daytona only 6 weeks after the surgery was a great accomplishment and I am sure things will get better as the season goes on. I am feeling good and the speed is right back there, I am working on building up my stamina again and of course, some tracks are going to be easier than others for me and on the injuries. In training, I am doing 200 to 300 laps at a time and that is really helping.
TM: Which bike do you prefer riding, the single or the twin
BB: Definitely the XR 750 Harley Davidson twin, it’s got twice the torque and horsepower, it is more challenging to ride than the 450 Honda, harder to ride, but it makes me feel that I have achieved much more when I do well in races on it. The difference between the 450 and 750 is like the difference between a Moto2 bike and a MotoGP bike, it’s huge.
TM: You’re only 22 right now and you have many years of riding ahead of you, do you have any desire to follow in the footsteps of those 2 great Flat Trackers who moved into road racing and very successful World Championship GP careers; Kenny Roberts and Wayne Rainey?
BB: I may try, although at the moment, my focus and attention is all on Flat Track. I am really looking to help raise public awareness and interest in it, to get it popular and up there competing for motorsport fans’ attention, to have more people coming to events and to attract a lot more people into the sport.
Kenny Roberts and Wayne Rainey were pioneers in GP, they revolutionized the way GP bikes were ridden, they introduced Flat Track styles of riding that have shaped the way the racers of today ride, Marc Marquez is a great example of that, the way he runs into the bend on his front wheel and drags the bike through it by powering the back wheel through and sliding as much as the tires allow.
TM: When did you start racing, Brad, 7, 8 years of age?
BB: Actually, I have been racing 17 years, so I was 5 when I started. Racing has given me a great life, I have a great career doing what I love, it provides a lot for me and my family, but after such a long time, I may have to start choosing a bit more carefully what and when I race, to avoid the crashes and injuries, so that I can keep racing for as long as possible.
TM: What do you do to keep busy offseason?
BB: The offseason is pretty short, only really 2 months, December and January, but I do a lot of indoor Flat Track, some Motocross and sometimes I head to the lakes in the Midwest to do some Ice Racing. Last year I took part in the Superprestigio in Barcelona, Spain along with Marc Marquez, Bradley Smith and a bunch of other GP road racers. I am planning on also doing the Troy Bayliss Classic in Taree, Australia.
TM: Any motorsport heroes?
BB: Not so much heroes, but definitely a lot of riders across all forms of motorcycle sport that I admire, Marc Marquez, we are 1 day apart in birthdays, he is a day older than me and he has accomplished so much. Valentino Rossi, he’s a legend, he’s 36, still incredibly fast and still winning races, you can’t argue about that. Travis Pastrana, he has won everything there is to win, including X Games gold medals and along with Carey Hart has done so much to get Freestyle MX to where it is today. Scotty Parker, the winningest rider ever in the history of U.S.A. Flat Track and then there is Ryan Villopoto, he has a great chance of bringing back a World MX GP Title to America this year and that would be so awesome after such a long time with no world champion. The one thing I enjoy is that I had a lot of childhood heroes in the racing world and I have managed to outdo some of them, that makes me very proud.
TM: Brad, thank you so much for your time, it has been great chatting with you. Where can people follow you and your progress in the AMA PRO Grand National Championship and for the X Games?
Thanks so much, Neil. Everyone can follow me on Facebook at facebook.com/pages/Brad-The-Bullet-Baker, on Twitter @BradtheBullet, on Instagram instagram.com/Bradthebullet/ on my website bradthebulletbaker.com/ The X Games can be followed on harley-davidson.com and xgames.espn.go.com/