MXA INTERVIEW | MITCHELL HARRISON TALKS ABOUT MAKING IT ON THE PODUIM
Missing the early rounds of the 2018 Lucas Oil 250 Motocross series was a huge setback for Rockstar Energy Husqvarna’s Mitchell Harrison. As this is a critical point in the 20 year old’s pro career’ as its contract time. Althought it may have taken Mitchell a few rounds to play catch up, his late season finishes of third overall at Unadilla, and fourth overall at Budd’s Creek have to show his capabiity to be consistent podium guy. Originally from Michigan, we reached out to Mitchell to learn more about his summer.
By Jim Kimball
MITCHELL, LETS HEAR ABOUT YOUR FIRST EVER OVERALL PODIUM AT UNADILLA. In a couple of words, “life-changing” are the words that come to mind. It was something that I worked for my whole life, although it took a few years to get it, which I honestly thought I would get a lot sooner. But these guys are so fast, and the class is so stacked that it took a while. It is definitely an amazing accomplishment to have, and I hope that I can move forward and continue to go up the ladder.
TALK ABOUT BUDDS CREEK. The day started out a bit rocky and I didn’t qualify that well. But I re-grouped with a new attitude after talking to my dad, and my teammate Zach Osborne who was there. I rode well in both moto’s, and it was the best that I have felt on the bike in a long time! People often consider doing well at a mud race like Unadilla as a fluke, so I was happy to prove that I am a podium contender without the mud–and I plan on staying a podium contender!
I thought that right when I got back I would be more of a contender, but it just did not happen like that. It was extremely frustrating for me. I work my butt off. I doubted myself there for a while, but I kept my head hung high and just worked as hard as I could to get back to where I thought I should be.
AND LAST YEAR AT RED BUD YOU PROVED THAT CERTAINLY YOU WERE CAPABLE OF BEING UP FRONT. Yes, I thought that I was ready then, especially after that podium. I was fast enough to almost win the moto, which would have gotten me on the podium, but it just did not happen for me last year. And then this year I was heading into outdoors this year really confident, but unfortunately, I had the injury that set me back. It has taken me a while to get back, and up to speed. I still do not feel like I am fully to my ability where I thought I was, but we are gradually getting there.
YOU MISSED THE FIRST FOUR ROUNDS. I BET ITS DIFFICULT TO GET BACK INTO RACE SHAPE? Yes definitely, four rounds are a lot to miss. basically, I was off the bike for four weeks, so not only is everybody else getting stronger, they are also getting better with racing. I thought that right when I got back I would be more of a contender, but it just did not happen like that. It was extremely frustrating for me. I work my butt off. I doubted myself there for a while, but I kept my head hung high and just worked as hard as I could to get back to where I thought I should be.
I REMEMBER TALKING TO YOU AFTER YOU RETURNED TO OUTDOORS THIS SUMMER AFTER A RACE. YOU HAD DONE PRETTY WELL, BUT YOU WERE DOWN ON YOURSELF.
In this stage of my career, it was a rough time that weekend, and I just did not think that is where I should have been. I was definitely fast enough that day to be on the podium, but I just do not think that I was mentally prepared enough to be.
An Austrian bike compared to a Japanese bike is completely different and it took me a while to get used to it in Supercross. Unfortunately, I am not a fan of just hopping on a bike, and going right into Supercross, but that is what happened.
I TALKED TO YOUR TEAM OWNER, TEAM OWNER/MANAGER, BOBBY HEWITT, SOMETIME AGO, AND HE SAID THAT HE FEELS IT OFTEN TAKES ABOUT THREE YEARS WITH A TEAM TO TRULY DEVELOP. I BET THEY WERE HAPPY WITH YOU AFTER UNADILLA, AND AFTER BUDDS CREEK. Definitely after these past two weekends they are happy. Bobby Hewitt is a very understanding guy; actually, the whole team is, and it is just a great atmosphere over there. when you do bad, like I did in the first couple of races, they just try to help you. There is no pushing you away and getting down on you. They just try to help, and want you do the best you can. they know that it takes progression. They look at a rider like me and they see progression. They are taking a lot of risks still, but they see talent in me and I believe in myself, so with those two combinations, especially with how great the team is, I mean the limits could be like you have seen it with Jason Anderson. The sky is the limit, basically.
I WOULD IMAGINE THAT THE CHANGE FROM MONSTER ENERGY/STAR YAMAHA/YAMALUBE TEAM TO ROCKSTAR HUSQVARNA WAS SIGNIFICANT IN MANY WAYS. Yes, it is definitely significant. An Austrian bike compared to a Japanese bike is completely different and it took me a while to get used to it in Supercross. Unfortunately, I am not a fan of just hopping on a bike, and going right into Supercross, but that is what happened. A one-year deal is kind of a short time to prove yourself, and it has taken a while. So, what I did this weekend is definitely going to help me, and I just need to continue doing it the last two rounds. They are a great team. Fortunately, they still believe in me, and we will see what we can come up with in the next few weeks. I would love to stay on that team. I love that team.
LAST SEASON IN YOUR SECOND YEAR AS A PRO YOU DID PRETTY WELL. It was good, but it was still not what the team wants, especially that team. They want winning guys, and guys continually on the podium. Outdoors, I really never proved myself. I never got a podium, which I definitely thought I was capable of, especially after Red Bud, but it did not happen. The class is super stacked. You just never know what is going to happen, but I am just trying to get to the point where I am confident enough to be on the podium every weekend, and I know that this will happen for me in time.
AND AT UNADILLA YOU WERE LEADING THE MOTO UNTIL YOU RAN INTO A LAPPED RIDER. With the mud in the first moto, I was running well the entire time. You know it was a mud moto. Everybody can say it is just a mud moto, or whatever, and everybody can get lucky, but the second moto was really the mud moto and I was holding my own. I was confident, and thought I was going to win that moto. I believed in myself enough. Unfortunately, the lapper did not really understand where we were. I went into the rut and then he entered it, and I was half way in which caused me to go down. It was unfortunate, and it is racing. It did suck, but I still go the podium and I rode well. It is just progress, and something I can be proud of.
CLEARLY THE LAPPED RIDER BLOCKED YOU, BUT ON THE PODIUM, YOU DIDN’T DO ANY COMPLAINING, THAT WAS PRETTY COOL. I understand we are racing dirt bikes, and that those guys in the back are still trying to race. I am pretty sure they were in a battle too. I wish he was more aware of his surroundings, and the blue flag. But like I said, it was a racing incident, and I can’t get too mad it happened. I could get mad, flip him off but ultimately it is not going to benefit me in any way. It would probably be going to leave me with a bad image. That guy is trying, riding his heart out there. It is a very tough sport. I give credit to him for making it out there. It is a stacked class all around. At the end of the day, it is just a sport. We are all having fun. For me, it is a career and I am trying to make money and win titles, but yeah at the end of the day, we are just kids having fun.
YOU ARE FROM MICHIGAN, WHICH DOES GET RAIN AND MUD AT TIMES, BUT I DON’T THINK YOU HAVE LIVED IN MICHIGAN FOR QUITE SOME TIME. SO, I DON’T THINK THAT YOU HAD ANT HUGE ADVANTAGE. I THINK IT WAS YOUR GOOD STARTS THAT HELPED.
The starts were definitely a key factor that day. But actually, I did not have the greatest of starts. The first moto, I was barely third or something and the second moto, I was fortunate enough for other people to go down and I just snuck through. It is unfortunate for them, especially my teammate, Michael Mosiman who would probably have had the holeshot in the second moto if it was not for guys on the inside hitting him. I got lucky the second start and I was third again, so at that point, I kind of was like this is my day, God is paving a path for me, so I am very blessed right now, and just enjoying it.
I LIKE YOUR ATTITUDE. It sucks, I wanted to win that moto, but I know I will have another opportunity at it is not the end of the world for me. I know that I have talent to do so, so I am not going to dwell on the past.
SO, YOU FEEL PRETTY GOOD WHERE YOU ARE AT? No, I am not satisfied. I think I can be riding a little better, and I feel better every day. but I am not going to be too satisfied until I am on the podium every weekend. This is what we want to do and what we are working so hard for, so that podium looked good. I feel positive. That helped me, and I have been riding good, so I have no doubt somebody will look at me, and say “hey, you got it.” I am young and, I just feel like 2019 will be a great year for me, especially if I stay on the same team.
I HAVE BEEN GOING TO A LOT OF RACES FOR A LOT OF YEARS, AND I THINK THE ONE YEAR DEAL IS TOO SHORT. Yes, I agree, but you have to take what you can get. There are a lot of fast guys, so you just have to prove yourself, and that is what I am doing. I am pretty happy with the team, so I hope they re-sign me.