Name: Blake Baggett
Hometown: Grand Terrace, Calif.
Major sponsors: Monster Energy, Kawasaki, Leatt, Pro Circuit, Traxxas, Scott, Thor, Specialized, SRAM components, and SoCal Supertrucks.
How long racing: Since I was 4.
If you weren’t racing, you’d be: The first choice would be another form of racing, and if I wasn’t doing that I would hope to be a professional snowboarder.
(Interview has been edited for clarity.)
It was a winning season for Blake Baggett.
His victory at Lake Elsinore Motorsports Park not only earned him the title of 250 class champion, it came packed with goodies for Baggett’s team and sponsors. The headline-grabbing win was the 100th Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship win for Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki and the 10th title for Pro Circuit.
Proving that there’s no rest for the winners, Baggett had to switch gears to get prepped for his second time racing the Motocross of Nations for Team USA. With only a week to train, he, Ryan Dungey and Justin Barcia headed over to the notorious sandpit at the Lommel circuit in Belgium. The team ended up taking third place, with Germany landing the championship and Belgium finishing second.
We talked with Baggett about his favorite racer, his championship season and his thoughts on safety precautions.
Leatt: Where did you get the nickname El Chupacabra?
Baggett: I’ve heard a couple different stories about where this came from. One is that David Pingree made a bet with Jason Weigandt that he couldn’t use the word Chupacabra during a race commentary. Another is there’s a rumor that Pingree, Weigandt and Ricky Carmichael have a bet each week, where one of them comes up with a crazy word and each person has to use that week during the commentary. Somehow, Chupacabra was one of the words and Weigandt just threw it out there and it took off.
Leatt: It’s been a heckuva MX season for you with the 250 class championship. Besides the obvious, what were some of the major high points of this season?
Baggett: Moto 1 at Hangtown definitely. Jumping into the Texas 12 pack [at Freestone] and jumping LaRocco’s Leap at Redbud was sick. But winning at Elsinore was the highlight.
Leatt: The sandy track at the 2012 Motocross of Nations looked pretty gnarly. What were some of the highlights and lowlights of that trip?
Baggett: Highlights would be representing team USA. It was a major honor, especially having the opportunity to represent our country two years in a row. One of the lowlights was going in as the most dominant team, and not winning. Being third on the podium was hard to swallow.
Leatt: Representing the American flag at an international race like that (your second time) has got to be huge. How does that honor/responsibility weigh on you?
Baggett: It definitely puts a lot of pressure on us. At the same time, we don’t have the chance to train for six months for this race. Our season ends and we have a week to train for it. We want to represent our country with a win, so when it didn’t happen it was a bummer. It feels like we let down our fans. Not only the fans in the states, but the fans from other countries who were rooting for us.
Leatt: How long have you been wearing a Leatt brace?
Baggett: I was the first one to wear a kid’s Leatt, ha! So, a long time ago.
Leatt: Did you ever have any issues with fitment with your Leatt brace?
Baggett: No. Never.
Leatt: What are your thoughts on safety precautions? Do you have any tips for younger riders to help them avoid injuries?
Baggett: It’s not the safest sport in the world, so I would push every precaution there is, but in the end it’s all rider preference.
Leatt: Before going pro you had a good, long amateur racing career. Are there any practices or disciplines you developed during those years that you believe have given you an edge in the pros?
Baggett: Actually to me, they are two completely separate careers, and I really do things completely different in pros than I did amateurs.
Leatt: Who are some of your favorite racers right now and why?
Baggett: One of my favorite racers is Jessy Nelson. He is super fun to race against and he’s proven that he’s going to be some major competition. He came in without all the hype, super mellow and he killed it. Definitely gave me a run for my money with those starts he had.