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Shots of Sunday's last race at MotoGP Catalunya

KB41 meets MotoGP

Jun 192018

Professional racer Kurt Busch isn’t just used to a life at speed, it’s in his blood. In addition to his 29 wins, and 24 pole positions in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series the 39 year old from Las Vegas, Nevada, is a former Daytona 500 winner, and also a second-generation NASCAR driver. His father Tom Busch won several races, and Kurt’s brother - Kyle - currently also competes in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship.

Last weekend however, Kurt took a quick break from NASCAR’s intense 39-race schedule, to check out the action at the seventh MotoGP race of the season on the sundrenched blacktop at the Circuit de Barcelona Cataluña.

We figured there was no better way to intro the two-wheel world to KB41, than to throw him on the back of a bike with former motorcycle Grand Prix racer, and MotoGP Legends Hall of Fame inductee Randy Mamola, for a hot lap of the Spanish circuit. Happily Kurt came back to the paddock in one piece, and after a cold can to re-hydrate, we grabbed his thoughts…

"To have that experience was just insane. The front tyre was lifting off the ground in fifth gear going down the pit straight."

How was the lap with Randy [Mamola] on the two-seater race bike?

It was just incredible. To trust your life to somebody like that, plus having never been above 100mph before on a bike; I just went straight to the top [emotionally]. To have that experience was just insane. The front tyre was lifting off the ground in fifth gear going down the pit straight. I just didn’t know if he was showing-off, or if that’s what happens all the time. There was so much to digest; I was at information overload for the first half of the lap. I always know the tracks and corners that I race on, but because I’d never been around the circuit here in Barcelona before I was lost out there as well. It was an incredible experience and a privilege to experience just what these riders – who are some of the most physically fit athletes in the world – do at every event.

What fascinates you about MotoGP?

Seeing it here in person – it’s the raw speed to be honest. On TV you get to see the riders counter-steer under breaking, but coming from a four-wheel racing background; I find it almost impossible to fathom how the riders are doing it all just using the front tyre, versus what I do using four tyres! I’m able to appreciate their craft so much more as well. My dad spooked me from motorcycles when I was a kid. He wrecked a streetbike right around the time I was born, and I remember him being in the hospital. So when he steered me away from two wheels to four I can really see why. It’s a respect you have to have for the bike, and it’s a respect I want to show to the riders.

"If I could have the chance to rewind time, and have one of the greats teach me how to race a bike, I would do it."

You’re not planning a two-wheel switch anytime soon?

If I could have the chance to rewind time, and have one of the greats teach me how to race a bike, I would do it. But at 40 years old, this old dog can’t learn this new trick! It’s funny we joke around with the Supercross guys in the Monster fraternity back home in the US that ‘with age you get a cage’! What they mean is as they get older they can’t wait to get off the bikes and have a rollcage (in a car and feel that safety aspect!)

What can you learn from MotoGP to take home and apply to your own racing, and what’s the hardest part of being an athlete for you?

The biggest thing I can think of is the discipline. The workout regimen, the nutrition, and the level that these guys have taken their game to. That’s something that inspires me. It really is inspirational to see these great riders doing what they do best, and it makes me want to go and work harder at my craft. The strictest part for me as an athlete is the nutrition; that’s year round. In terms of the workouts, in the off-season the focus is on strength training and muscle building. And the workouts during the season are more cardiovascular with running and biking. I live near a lake so I get out and go kayaking for upper body strength. NASCAR drivers are a little more like marathon runners. When you’re in that car for four hours, you have to keep your breathing under control as well as be able to fight the heat in the cockpit. The temperatures in the car – which we have to endure for 3-4 hours is probably the biggest thing that we have to go up against. Nutrition and hydration play a huge part in this, I go big with drinking a lot of fluids on Thursday and Friday before a race weekend – a minimum of 100 ounces (2.8 liters) – on top of my normal intake. I drink tons of water during that race of course, and then afterwards, you have to rebuild and start again straight away.

To quickly help out the European fans – why should they check out NASCAR?

The excitement of our oval races is very different to the circuit style racing you get in Europe. At a small venue like Bristol Motor Speedway (in Tennessee) you can get a feel for how close all the action is and how intense everything is. The cars are literally side-by-side, nose-to-tail, and it’s almost an art just to watch and keep track of what’s going down on the track. It blows people away how fast we really do go, and how close we are for the entire race.

"So when you win a race at a place that you have a lot of history with, it gives you a boost."

Good luck at Sonoma – what’s the plan there?

It’s probably my favourite race of the season. It’s a beautiful part of the country in northern California. And that track - Sonoma - sentimentally is what put me on the map. So when you win a race at a place that you have a lot of history with, it gives you a boost. Of course I want to push for the win again!

Lastly, tell us a little about your Ford GT on the GoldRush rally?

I’ve been one of the privileged ones to be on the list to get a Ford GT; and as a part of that I promised Ford that I would drive the heck out of it. I haven’t had it long, but I’ve already put a thousand miles on it. We wrapped it in an awesome Monster paint scheme, and jumped on the GoldRush rally. The money raised from the rally goes to a charitable donation. It’s going to be a pretty fun time. I’ve got to have a couple of my buddies drive the first stages for me because of my NASCAR commitments. The rally starts in Boston, but I’ll be all the way over in San Francisco. So after the weekend I’ll meet up with the rally in the mid-west to drive during the week. I was told we’d be the only Ford GT on the rally going up against Bugattis, Lamborghinis and Ferraris. So it’s great to have that domestic pride flying the flag for Ford!