For Mica’s AMA Flat Track professional motorcycle rider Joe Kopp, his last race seems like an eternity. Having won in Daytona in March, Kopp has not run an event since and is itching to get back on track this weekend in Springfield, Ill.
As the racing cliché goes, you’re only as good as your last race. For Kopp, heading to the Midwest with a win under his belt is a great feeling.
“This (schedule of two months off between races) has been that way for me for years,” Kopp said. “I treated Springfield like a season-opener but not so much this year. During this two-month break, I’ve been working to keep my confidence up because of the big gap between the Daytona win and now.”
Part of that focus is as much mental as it is physical preparation, Kopp said.
To be in his best state mentally, Kopp has taken up running and recently competed in a half-marathon in addition to a rigorous bicycling schedule. The workouts help the 40-year-old keep an edge on his much younger competition.
“It gets harder to keep up with the younger competition as you get older and I believe you have to act young to be as young (as fellow competitors), so try new things is what I say.”
Bike riding and running the Palouse can bring moments of solace for Kopp, but getting the opportunity to share stories about the beauty of the Inland Northwest with fans and competitors is a great source of pride for the AMA champ.
“I have a lot of pride in sharing this area with people,” he said. “I get asked all the time where Mica is, because it’s so rare for anyone from this region to even be out there flat-track racing like I am. I have a lot of fans from across the country and it sometimes seems like it’s more than I have right here at home.”
Kopp’s biggest fans are at his Mica homestead.
Wife DeeDee, sons Garrett and Kody, and new daughter Karly are big supporters of his racing career and tag along on occasion during road trips.
“We’re going to do a three- or four-week vacation this year in the motorhome and that’ll help with some of my travel costs, because I won’t be flying back and forth as much and we’ll get to all spend some time together,” he said.
Bringing the family can add a level of distraction on race weekend.
“I love my wife and kids (being at the track), but it can be distracting so I do travel a bit more by myself then I did in the past,” Kopp said.
Once Kopp steps down from the circuit, the future may rest on his one child who has taken a liking to motorcycle racing.
“I have to figure out how to corral my 4-year-old, Kody, because he seems to be the racer,” he said. “We drive by things along side the road and he’s already talking about how cool it would be to jump off them (on his motorcycle).
Seeing young Kody racing flat tracks may be a challenge, because Kopp’s youngster keeps his eye on the better-known riders in the Supercross circuit.
“His heroes are (James) Stewart and Ricky Carmichael,” Kopp said. “For young people to get into this sport, you have to drag them to the track because it doesn’t get the exposure (Supercross) gets. I tell people our style of racing is great because of the family atmosphere and the elbow-to-elbow racing, but I know that if you see kids at our races you know they’re already hooked.
Fans of Kopp can follow along on his quest for another championship, just like friends and family do each week, by going to www.joekoppracing.com.
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