MXA INTERVIEW: BENNY BLOSS TALKS ON RIVAL/FRIEND JUSTIN BOGLE & SWITCHING TEAMS MID 2020 SUPERCROSS SEASON
After the 2019 race season ended, the Rocky Mountain ATV/MC KTM/WPS team had to face the difficult decision of choosing either Benny Bloss or Justin Bogle to race alongside team leader Blake Baggett in 2020. Ultimately Justin Bogle earned the spot and Benny Bloss would then begin 2020 with the privateer Rock River Yamaha team. Later, when Justin Bogle was sidelined with a concussion, Benny Bloss was called and asked to replace him. With Benny now in his fifth year as a Pro, his expectations are rising. Still, we need to keep in mind that he never really had the opportunity to spend much time in the 250 class to get his feet wet in Pro racing. He almost immediately transitioned from amateur to Pro 450 class rider. We recently had the chance to call the 2015 AMA horizon award winner, and the tallest competetitor in motocross to learn about his transition from Rocky Mountain KTM, to privateer rider and back to KTM.
By Jim Kimball
YOUR SEASON HAS BEEN ESPECIALLY CRAZY. AFTER STARTING THE SEASON ON A ROCK RIVER YAMAHA, YOU’RE NOW BACK WITH THE ROCKY MOUNTAIN KTM WPS TEAM. Yes, it was already going crazy before all of this change in the world happened. Like you said, I got back on Rocky Mountain KTM which was awesome. I really, really like that bike, and as soon as I began riding the KTM things started to turn around for me. I started getting better, was actually having pretty good finishes, and riding like myself. I was feeling good again, and then as soon as that happened, the Supercross season got postponed. It has been a crazy couple of months, that is for sure.
YOU TOOK YOUR BEST FINISH AT DAYTONA AFTER RIDING THE KTM; THAT HAS TO FEEL GOOD. That was my first race back on the bike, I raced Atlanta on the Yamaha and then I was able to ride Tuesday, and Thursday on the KTM, then race Daytona. As a whole, everything about the day was my best day of the year so far. I qualified in the top ten and was in the top ten for all of the practices. It just felt better. I think I fit the bike a little bit better. Being a taller guy, the KTM is somewhat set up for a taller guy more. During the night show, I felt really good. I struggled in the main and ended up crashing, but still having my best finish was very, very good. I was pretty happy with that.
ROCK RIVER YAMAHA MAY NOT BE A FACTORY TEAM, BUT THEY ARE A LEGITIMATE TEAM RIGHT? Yes, definitely they are a solid team, and we had a good program going. When I took the Rocky Mountain ride, it was a situation that I felt that I could not pass up. At Rock River, it was me and my mechanic, working together during the week and on the weekends. We had a little less people to help with things throughout race days when compared to with Rocky Mountain. Here you have so many guys that are there for you to help you and be there for you throughout the day. It just helps to have more resources. Like I said, I was really, really happy with how things were going with Rock River and I can’t thank those guys enough for what they helped me do at the beginning of the year.
WHAT IS YOUR STATUS WITH THE ROCKY MOUNTAIN TEAM? WILL YOU FINISH THE SEASON WITH THEM? Basically, I am a fill-in rider for Justin Bogle and pretty much just filling in until he gets back. I am not sure when that is going to be, I am basically just riding the bike while I can and trying to use the resources the best I can to train and be ready. If he is not ready to come back by the time we do start racing, obviously I would like to be able to ride that bike, and hopefully that is something we can make happen. I am not really sure where he is at with his recovery process, like when he would come back, so we will just be filling in until he comes back.
EXPAND ON YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH JUSTIN BOGLE. I BELIEVE YOU ARE GREAT FRIENDS, BUT ALSO RIVALS FOR THE SAME RIDE? We truly are super good friends. I was actually at his house a couple of days ago and we were talking about how weird it is. Last year, I got hurt and he filled in for me, and now this year, the roles are flipped.
THAT MUST BE A WEIRD SITUATION. Obviously, I don’t like to see my friend get hurt. It is a strange situation for sure. One of the things we both wanted to make sure was of whoever ended up getting the ride was that our relationship did not really get affected. When he got the 2020 ride last fall, there were so many people on social media that were saying “you probably hate him now right?” But realistically, the only person I can be made at is myself. I lost my job. Somebody did better than me. It is a weird situation and I can only be mad at myself. If I had gone out and done better, maybe I would not have lost my job. I cannot be mad at him for it.
EVERY PRO RIDER HAS SUFFERED INJURIES RACING MOTOCROSS, AS YOU HAVE. CAN YOU DO ANYTHING TO REDUCE THESE INJURIES? That is really a hard question to answer. With my injury last year, I did my knee in the stupidest crash ever. I slid out in a corner and I just twisted my knee wrong. I feel like there is a lot of stuff that you cannot prevent. I am trying to do everything I can to make it better for me when I do crash. I am doing a lot of strength work in the gym, just trying to get stronger, that way if I do crash, I am a little better for when I do hit the ground.
WHEN I THINK ABOUT YOUR CAREER, I OFTEN GO BACK TO 2016 UNADILLA. I BELIEVE YOU HAD RECENTLY RETURNED FROM INJURY, AND THE SEMI TRUCK BURNED DOWN OVERNIGHT – YET YOU RODE SO WELL. I remember that race like it was yesterday. It was a really crazy weekend. On Friday night, our semi burned down. It was difficult to sleep, as I had no idea if we were going to be able to race. But then to wake up in the morning, find out how many people got together, and were able to get the bikes ready was amazing. I had a pretty good first moto that day with finishing 6th. The second moto was my first race where I got a good look at what I could do. I got a pretty good start and ran 2nd for a pretty good bit of the race. Then I ended up getting passed by Tomac and Musquin, but still ended up fourth. They brought me up onto the podium which was my first time up there. It was life changing for me because it was just an experience that I never felt before, and honestly there are not a whole lot of things in the world that are like it. People are chanting your name and it is just a really awesome feeling. I don’t think that I will ever forget that race for the rest of my life.
YOU ARE STILL RELATIVELY A NEWCOMER RIGHT NOW, AND BASICALLY SKIPPED THE 250 CLASS STRAIGHT TO THE 450 CLASS. CAN YOU IMPROVE WITH MORE EXPERIENCE? Definitely, I would agree with that. But I think this is my fifth year as Pro, so it is hard to make that excuse for me right now. I feel I need to work on my consistency. I feel like I can run up front and can do it consistently, I just need to do it! I was somewhat there in outdoors 2016, and pretty good in outdoors 2018 as well, but there is always room for improvement. Honestly with everything going on right now and the races getting canceled, I feel like that is almost a blessing in disguise for me because I am able to focus more, and work on what I needed to work on before.
IT’S PROBABLY NICE TO HIT THE RESET BUTTON, RIGHT? As you know, I came into the season not super prepared. I had a lot of stuff going on, small injuries here and there throughout the season. As soon as I got healthy that is when the season got postponed. So, now I am able to take the time that I need and fully prepare myself for the outdoors. I am really looking forward to the races this year when we do get to race again. I think people will see me up front a little more.
LET’S WRAP UP WITH WHAT YOU ARE DOING WHILE WE ARE SIDELINED WITH COVID-19. I am in Oklahoma training with Robbie Reynard. We have Austin Forkner here as well as some other guys. I obviously cannot go to the gym, because they are closed, but I have a home gym here. So, I do all my workouts here, and then I road bike. Honestly, not a whole lot has changed as I was not really a person who was out in public all the time anyway. For me, it is pretty much training as usual, as in the off season. Like I said earlier, I think it can be a good thing for me, just getting some more time to prepare. I will be ready by the time they say we are ready to go racing.