It’d be difficult to scan the ranks of mini-bike riders throughout the realm of amateur motocross and find anyone more dedicated, talented, and driven than Carson Mumford. The California native made a big splash between the 2015 and 2016 season a couple of years ago when he made the move from Team Green Kawasaki to the AMSOIL Factory Connection Honda team. It’s easy to pick him out in the Supermini class as he’s one of the only riders aboard a four-stroke, sporting Honda’s signature 150cc machine. His debut season for the FC Honda squad was cut short when he broke his femur in 2015, but he was able to redeem himself in the 2016 season by showing some incredible speed at Loretta Lynn’s, Monster Energy Cup, and Mini-O’s. Mumford was most impressive down in Florida at the forty-fifth annual Thor Winter Olympics where he grabbed four titles and a second place finish, providing him with an extreme amount of confidence heading into the new year. Unfortunately, he sustained a minor setback at Motofest in late February when he over jumped a triple and broke his arm, but the young Californian healed up just in time to make his return to racing in his home state at the Cal Classic. He ended up getting back into the swing of things with a couple of podium finishes as well as some moto wins, proving to all of the doubters that he’s right back where he belongs. We caught up with Carson to chat about the injury at Motofest, racing RC Cars, and riding with Ryan Dungey.
The Cal Classic just wrapped up a couple of weeks ago and that was your first race back after your injury from Atlanta. How’d it feel to be back out at a national?
Uh, it definitely felt great -- just from day one it really felt like I was in my happy place riding and training with all my buddies again. I’m definitely really pumped to just be back riding and racing; I have a great time doing this. Racing went good, my starts were really good. Um, I just built from the first gate drop -- I was pulling second or third the first couple motos and then after that I kinda just tried to pick up where I left off and got all the last moto wins.
Do you feel like everything’s all good with your arm and your fitness or were you kind of using the Cal Classic to work back into race shape?
Yeah, I feel like now I’m definitely back but I was definitely using the Cal Classic to just see where I was at and build off of that. We kinda didn’t know where we stood when we showed up, so we kinda just went from ground zero really, and it worked out good.
How much time did you have back on the bike before you raced there?
I had four days, so not that much time.
For people that don’t know, could you talk about what happened at Motofest in February with your injury?
Yeah, actually I got hurt the week before Motofest also. I kinda just bruised my wrist real bad and I got cleared to race, so we went to race. Everything was going really good; fastest in practice, won my heat race, and I was struggling with the whoops all day but I finally got those figured out in the main event. I pulled a really big holeshot in the main event and was leading, then I kinda got into some lapped traffic and over jumped the triple just a little bit, and my arm just kinda gave out, so I tipped over in the turn and ended up breaking my arm.
Despite the injury, what’d you think of the event considering it was the first time they had it there?
I think it was pretty cool, I’m really excited for the new Georgia Dome. I was super pumped that I got to ride in a cool stadium that has so much history. The event was really cool; I kinda like the Monster Cup event type thing -- it kinda gives us amateurs an opportunity to learn the pro scene a little more, we get a little bit more exposure, and just show everybody that the amateur kids are the real deal. It’s really awesome for us!
You got the invite to the Monster Energy Cup last year and ended up getting second in the Supermini class. What was that whole experience like?
Yeah, it was really good. I didn’t get to do Monster Cup the year before ‘cause of my broken femur, but I raced it in 2014 and ended up being fourth overall, but got third in a moto. I was the youngest kid ever to race, so I kinda had some high hopes goin’ into there. I definitely had a lot of fun gettin’ up there and battling with Seth (Hammaker). I never really got to race him much before then. I raced him only at Loretta’s and I didn’t have too much luck there, but I got to race and battle with him there. It kinda helped me going into Mini-O’s SX -- I kinda knew where I stood with him and we definitely had some good battles there, too.
What’d you think of the elevated start at Monster cup with the metal grit?
I think the elevated start was pretty cool. I think it was a little bit old school how you kinda dropped down and everything, so that was pretty sweet. I’m not a huge fan of the metal start, just because I feel like, y’know, I’ve worked really hard on my dirt or concrete starts, and I’ve got ‘em pretty dialed. But, it worked out really good there -- I ended up getting a holeshot and a second place start, so I think technique still does come into play, but um....I think it does take out a little bit of skill with the grit start, but it’s definitely gonna be a lot more of an even playing field. You can kind of line up anywhere and be alright. Some of those starts are comin’ from all the way outside and you normally don’t see that at a lot of the races.
Did you change much with your gearing or anything for that start?
Not too much; I kinda had to change my body position and sit a little more forward, and I still ended up gettin’ a little bit of a wheelie but was able to come out of it. But yeah, it was cool. I think we might’ve even changed a tire too, ‘cause that grit was super hard on everybody’s tires, so we did that between motos and it worked out.
You were at an incredibly high level last your at Mini-O’s; it seemed like you really figured out the 150 and you were really meshing with that SX track...
Yeah, for sure. The bike changes so much just ‘cause we’re making it better all the time, so sometimes I show up to a race and I’ve never even ridden the bike. So, we figured it out and we’ve got the bike really good right now; everything is dialed in and the suspension’s set up and everything. So, Loretta’s didn’t go too well but I learned a lot from there -- we learned like how to deal with the heat and everything. At Monster Cup we got even a little bit better and then we won a lot at Mini-O’s -- I ended up getting four championships and one second place, so we were pretty dominant there.
Getting signed by FC Honda team has provided you with some awesome opportunities to hang out and ride with some professional that are on the Geico team. How cool has that been?
It’s super cool. A lot of kids my age don’t really get to see the pro side of things; they think it’s just a, y’know, show up on the weekends and race kinda like amateurs. But, there’s a lot more that goes into it and it’s definitely gonna help me out in the long run, ‘cause even now I’m doing a lot of the stuff that the pros are doing, maybe just scaled down for me. It’s helping me get into a routine and seeing what it takes to be a champion. It helps a lot, I think, just seeing your vision and executing it -- you’ve got to do it week in and week out, no matter what. I think it’s cool for me just to see it and learn some things that are good and the things that are bad.
I also saw that you were doing some outdoor testing with Andrew Short at Zaca Station the other day, what was that like?
Oh, it was super sweet workin’ with Andrew. I’ve never met him before and he was a super nice guy. He definitely helped me a lot out there and gave me some insight on testing and everything. It was definitely a really cool weekend; I never got to ride a track that was super rough like that, ‘caue I think there were like six major teams out there. So, it was really awesome -- I got to ride with Ryan Dungey and Marvin Musquin who was the SX race winner that weekend. I got to ride with Christian Craig, Jo Shimoda, Cameron McAdoo -- a lot of top name riders and I was the only mini-bike kid out there. So, I’ve definitely got a little bit of an advantage comin’ into Loretta’s this year just knowing what my bike will do in really gnarly situations.
What’s it like just being out on the track with those guys that you watch over the weekend on TV and everything?
Yeah, it’s really awesome. You just kinda see how much goes into this -- they’re out there pinnin’ it and risking their lives everyday. Not a lot of people get to see the behind the scenes stuff, they kinda just see ‘em on the weekends up on the podium. It’s kinda cool to see like the amount they’re pushin’ it, even falling over in a turn -- you hardly ever see guys like Ryan Dungey tippin’ over in a turn. It’s pretty crazy that I got to ride with him a lot and I’m pretty pumped on how the weekend went. It was a great learning curve for me, the track was really gnarly, and it’s just crazy how much goes into this stuff.
You’ve been a part of the Team Dunlop Elite program for quite a while now. Could you talk a little bit about the support you get from the whole crew?
Team Dunlop’s definitely a life saver -- that’s pretty much the only way to put it. Rob Fox over there is super awesome. They supply me with any tire I need at any race, so it’s pretty awesome to have somebody trackside that also gets to watch you and tell you some stuff that you’d never even notice -- there might be a section of the track where you never noticed that you’re getting wheel spin and he’ll have the tire for ya there. It’s pretty awesome, they’ll always get you off to great starts. I think probably one hundred percent of the kids out there right now are runnin’ Dunlops, so it’s pretty awesome to be a part of the Elite team. It’s an eye opener for kids to try to do good and make it on the team. Dunlop’s definitely helped the sport out and they’re just makin’ it that much more fun.
Aside from motorcycles, you also like to rip around some Traxxas RC Cars.
Yeah, I probably spend more time with that sometimes than I do racing. It’s definitely a great thing to get into; it’s a lot of fun. There’s so many different varieties of cars no matter where you live -- you can get one just for street, one for dirt, or one for both, and you can get one that’s pretty much as big as me, so it’s pretty crazy. I set up the ramps, get all my buddies over, and make some cool videos. It’s pretty sweet, they’ve definitely been stepping up their game with some cool cars and I think we’ll be seeing ‘em out at some races soon, so it should be cool.
Have you ever done any racing with them or drove them on some purpose built tracks?
Yeah, it’s funny you ask -- I actually got pretty into and got all the modifications that Traxxas provides and have gone to some local tracks. I’ve actually put down some good laps and beat some guys that do it seriously; they get pretty mad that a kid that goes out there with a pretty much stock Traxxas RC Car, and they’ve got like a couple grand into their cars, and it hangs with them. So y’know, when my car takes a tumble it gets right back up and their car is in pieces. It’s definitely pretty awesome and I have a lot of fun doin’ that stuff. It’s really competitive; I get the same butterflies in my stomach (as moto) before the siren goes off to start the race. It’s definitely something to do in your down time and there’s no risk which is pretty cool sometimes if you drive it into a wall, haha!
It’s funny you say that ‘cause Joey Crown mentioned that he gets more nervous before an RC Car race than he will before a national.
Yeah, I’ve noticed the same thing. I feel like I’m in my comfort zone most of the time on a dirt bike, so it’s pretty sweet just to see some different types of racing. Those guys are serious out there. They’ll get into heated battles and sometimes neither of the cars come out in one piece.
Obviously you’ve got to keep your diet clean and everything, but what’s your one go-to food when you’re able to cheat your diet?
Pretty much anything that has grams of sugar on the label. However I can get it in my system, I guess. I definitely try to keep my diet clean and get myself in a routine -- that way it’s not such an abrupt transition to being pro, but sometimes Krispy Kreme donuts just might….hahaha!
What sort of goals/expectations do you have for yourself moving into Loretta’s and the rest of the year?
Pretty much for the rest of the year we’re definitely just gonna try to stay healthy. I think the whole team, as well as me, pretty much shows up to win no matter what. We kinda just go there and try to get that Honda up on the top step. Loretta’s was a disappointment last year -- I think I came out of there with a third and a fifth which wasn’t terrible for my moto scores, we kinda didn’t have the best time there. It rained I think every night and a California kid isn’t normally exposed to that kinda stuff. I think showin’ up to Loretta’s this year we’ll be a lot more prepared. I think I might try to make a trip out to Florida; it depends on the schedule and everything, but yeah...I’m definitely going there with high hopes this year. As long as I stay healthy, I’m goin’ for the win.
Who would you like to thank for helping you out?
Amsoil Factory Connection Honda, Yoshimura, X Dubai, Dunlop, Alias, 100 Percent, Leatt, DC, 6D, Traxxas, GoPro, Ethika, Pro Taper, Alpinestar, Asterisk, Matrix
Words / Kilpatrick
Images / Kilpatrick / TenHagen