Mike Walker 7-8-08
A Conversation with Mike Walker of ATP Racing Engines
July 13, 2008
There are a few Engine Builders whose names inspire fear in the sport of ATV Motocross. Many riders have experienced that sinking feeling when they line up next to a motor with (Curtis) Sparks, TC (Tom Carlson), (Mark) Baldwin, DASA (Dan Lamy), or Rage (Dee Manchek) stamped on the side. More often than not, it means that the racer next to you, will be in front of you in the first turn. We’re pretty sure there’s a new name ready to join that exclusive “Fear Inspiring” club; ATP (Mike Walker).
Mike Walker is the new kid in the arena, and he’s not afraid to call a spade a spade. The Floridian has been putting up strong results with several top Pro Am riders, and has tested the waters in the deep end with Pro rider Jeremy Lawson (2007).
What caught our attention was Walker’s seemingly tireless work ethic, and repeated trips to the starting gate at a recent MX National. Every time we looked he was either packing a gate, cleaning the grooves in his rider’s tires, or waving a pit board. We decided to track him down shortly after the High Point GNC for a few questions.
Mike, we’ve noticed you running around like a maniac during the Pro Am races at the ATV MX Nationals. How many Pro Am riders are you wrenching for these days?
LOL, yeah it seems when the action gets started at the nationals or even at our local SSQSA series, you can only catch a quick streak of me on the fly with people pointing in the direction that I had gone. I guess that’s not a bad thing being so busy.
We started this business to help people and no matter if the customer is riding our products or not, we do our best to make sure that every rider makes it to the gate.
ATP is exclusively building engines, sponsoring and tuning on the Suzuki LTR450’s for several Pro Am riders. The Media All-stars #18 Cody Grant, and #74 Aaron Meyer.
The Media All-stars is a new sponsorship for us for the 2008 season and hopefully a long term relationship to help grow some amazing up and coming amateur and future pro class riders. ATP continues to sponsor and support our local riders #7 Devin Heimes and #6 Chris Bowen. We have been working with these two Florida based riders for several years now, and had the opportunity to help them grow as well as grow our business with them. We are also working with a few riders in Production A and Production B as well.
You seem pretty excited every time the gate drops; how are your guys fairing on the starts?
At High Point, excited was an understatement. I was very proud of our riders, when the gate dropped, Cody Grant not only took the holeshot, but we had a total of four out of the top five riders turn the corner after Horse Power Hill, as it has been called, out in front. On Saturday's Pro Am Unlimited second moto we had a pretty bad gate pic with Devin, but he managed to put it together and pull the holeshot and ride on to a moto win which gave him a second overall for the weekend in Pro Am Unlimited. What a feeling to be part of all that! Between all of our Pro Am riders, we have taken a good number of the Pro Am holeshots and moto wins this season with our Suzuki LTR450 riders. (Editor’s Note: Cody Grant won the Muddy Creek Pro Am Unlimited Class shortly after we conducted this interview).
The Pro Am classes are getting ridiculously stacked these days, it seems like there are easily fifteen guys that can win at any given moment. Getting to the first turn first is obviously a huge advantage, how satisfying is it to see your guys leading the pack?
We are very happy to get to be a part of these rider’s careers. The competition this year is amazing. With the riders and builders stepping it up this year, its any ones game from race to race. ATP has been pitted against arguably the best ATV engine builders and their riders in the world. Going to the gate with competition like Mark Baldwin, Curtis Sparks and DASA, we definitely have our work cut out for us. To be able to go up against these guys and come out in front is humbling to say the least. However, we couldn’t do it without the talented riders that we have.