Caden Braswell is one of the newest additions to the RM Army as he has been tasked with leading their resurgence through the amateur ranks this year. The Florida native has jumped around from one brand to the other throughout the last couple major nationals -- riding a Yamaha at Loretta’s, a Husqvarna at Mini-O’s, and a Suzuki at Daytona and Freestone. Braswell has proved himself as one of the main contenders on the national stage by finishing second at the Ranch two years in a row and the Suzuki rider has carried that exceptional form into the new year after coming away from the 45th annual Thor Winter Olympics with a third place overall outdoors. Although he hasn’t been able to replicate his results so far this year, the young Floridian has shown the speed on the Suzuki that he’s possessed in year’s prior. He was leading his Mini Sr. 1 moto at the Daytona RCSX and unfortunately experienced a mechanical issue that forced him out of the race. At Freestone, Braswell struggled with starts and little mistakes throughout the week, but he managed to turn it around in his last race of the event where he pulled the holeshot and battled hard to a second place finish. The more time he’s able to put on the Suzuki at South of the Border throughout the summer, the more worried his competitors should be when he lines up on the gate at Loretta’s later this year, because he undoubtedly has the speed to run with the best of ‘em. We caught up with Caden to chat about his transition to the yellow bike, what caused him to miss some of his motos at Daytona, and his love for fishing.
You were on Yamaha last year, then jumped back on a Husky for Mini-Os, and now you’re a part of the RM Army for 2017. How’s it been racing on three different brands throughout the last couple major nationals that you’ve raced?
It’s definitely been different. I never knew I’d go to three different brands like that. It’s different with how each bike is unique; they ride more or less the same, but different at the same time.
Are there any big differences with the Suzuki or things that you really like about it now that you’ve got a good amount of racing experience with the bike?
The suspension on it’s great. It’s narrow and long like the Husky, so it’s good through the corners and going through some of the chop. The starts on it are kinda hard, but we’ll come around on that. The speed factor’s there though; it’s up to par with all the other bikes even though they haven’t changed much in the past years.
Are the starts something you’ve been really working on? It seemed like they improved quite a bit throughout the week at Freestone.
Yeah, we were only on the bike for so long (before spring nationals.) We were mainly working on starts and we knew could basically get the rest of the racin’ in, but we were just slowly workin’ on starts.
2017 hasn’t been exactly what you would’ve hoped for to start the year off, but you’ve definitely showed your speed so far. You were running up front in the first Mini Sr. 1 Moto at Daytona and ended up dropping back, what happened?
I was winnin’ the race...I was lappin’ second and my back shock broke. So, the back tire started grindin’ on the back fender and if it would’ve been the white flag, I would’ve kept going, but I didn’t wanna get hurt or break my bike to where I couldn’t race anymore.
So, what caused you to miss the rest of your motos at Daytona?
Well, they said we were gonna be right after the 50’s after practice -- we showed up around practice time, we weren’t in no hurry to do practice, and my dad turns on the radio goin’ through the Daytona tunnel, and they’re announcing my race! So, we get geared up and stuff for the LCQ, and of course they’re not announcing it so we’re asking people. We head up there thinkin’ we’re early anyways and they’re doin’ another LCQ; they’re not even close to ours! So, I’m like “Dang, we missed that one, too!” So, at that point my Dad was like “Well, we haven’t made a race this far, so why chance it on this last one?”
Did you get a chance to hang out before and after — watch the SX, hang out on the beach, do some fishing?
Yeah, I caught about a three pound bass the first day, and a four pound bass the second -- they kept gettin’ bigger. We hung out right there on the speedway (for the SX) and it was sick! We had these guys next to us that they had these wooden things to where the speedway didn’t hurt their ankles, and the entire time we were cursin’ ourselves out for not bringin ‘em. The cool part was that we were right next to the section where Dungey passed Seely on the last lap and everybody was goin’ crazy!
I know you’re quite a big fisherman though. Is that something you’ve been interested in your whole life?
Basically, yeah. I didn’t get into fresh water until two years ago, but before MX it was boats and trucks.
What’s the biggest fish you’ve ever caught?
I’ve got a couple -- I mean, it’s hard to pick. My biggest fish was probably a sailfish I caught off of the boat and I think it was like fifty pounds, and it was as big as I was at the time!
What do you do to prepare for Daytona and Freestone? They’re two pretty different events as far as the soil, track layout, etc…
Well, we go to South of the Border and we hit the grind there, and they’ve got all kinds of good dirt there. They’ve got sand, red clay, farm dirt, I mean -- all the stuff to get you ready. The dirt at the Border is really similar to Freestone and Daytona in sections; they’ve got a little bit of everything.
Do you have to make a lot of bike changes between both of those races to get ready for Texas?
We basically just changed tires and tweaked on suspension a little bit -- that’s about it, and we did a lot more starts.
How’d the racing go for you at Freestone? You came away with two top five overalls and had a really good final Mini Sr. 2 moto where you pulled the holeshot.
It was alright. I mean, probably one of my best but there’s still a lot of room for improvement down there at Freestone. That last one we finally got a start and were able to stay up there -- I woulda been happier with a win, but at least I didn’t crash. I’m happy, but we’ve still got a lot more improving to do. We’ll be ready going into Loretta’s, gunslingin’.
What’re your plans for the rest of the year now that spring nationals are wrapped up?
We’ll be doing the local area at Monster Mountain and then the closest regional that there is at the time, Gatorback, and then we’ll be hittin’ the grind for the summer.
What’re your goals and expectations for yourself for the rest of the year and Loretta’s?
Well, I mean I’ve gotten second the past two years so it’d be nice to get a win. That’s definitely what we’re shootin’ for -- a win or a podium.
What's it like to be a part of Team D?
Team D is Amazing! The tires are hands down the best. Rob Fox and the entire program with Dunlop is seriously second to none.
Who would you like to thank for helping you out this year?
Suzuki, Dunlop. FMF, Nihilo, Mika Metals, ODI, Hinson, Powerband, Works Connection, Troy Lee, Oakley, SOBMX