Broc Tickle interview - His Story

Posted on August 01, 2020

Our American friend Eric Johnson was again kind enough to send over this cool interview with Yamaha signing Broc Tickle. A great interview from a great guy.

So, check this arithmetic out. With the help of a website called Calendar-12.com and via typing in the dates Saturday, July 1, 2017 through Saturday, August 15, 2020, this here writer learned that a 450cc-motivatted professional motocross racer named Broc Tickle will not have competed in a round of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship in exactly 1,141 days (that adds up to three years, 1 month and 14 days).

Yes, 163 weeks ago Tickle raced his Suzuki RM-Z450 to a seventeenth place finish at the RedBud circuit in Michigan. Out of action immediately thereafter due to injury, Tickle would enter the 2018 season a KTM rider, come out charging as a top-10 competitor and then watch it all come to an absolute screeching halt when the native of Holly, Michigan tested positive for a banned substance a few hours after placing fourth in the Seattle Supercross. For all intents and purposes banned from the sport for two years, Tickle final found his way back to racing when the JGRMX/Yoshimura Suzuki outfit, looking to replace their two injured racers Fredrik Noren and Joey Savatgy in the 2020 Monster Energy Supercross season.

The veteran’s first race back came inside Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida in February and with that team he has remained until fielding a phone call last week from the Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing team. Looking to replace recently injured team rider Aaron Plessinger, the organization and its principals sought Broc Tickle out, found out he could, in fact, exit his current JGRMX deal and be ready, willing and able to race at the season-opening 2020 AMA Pro Racing National set for Hurricane Mills, Tennessee in a few weeks’ time, and out a contract before him. Absolutely a remarkable series of highs-and-lows for Tickle in a pretty damn abbreviate period of time, we tracked down Tickle this morning to get a read on his current lot in life. Driving around So. Cal and attending to a few moto errands, Tickle was relaxed, relieved and straight-up stoked to get back to the great outdoors.

“I’m actually heading to drop off Pirelli tires over at BarX Suzuki and their amateur Suzuki team right now,” said Tickle from inside a truck cruising around the Inland Empire. “So yeah, I’m getting all the Suzuki stuff organized and out of my garage. I’m dropping these tires off to them and then I have to ship some motors and some suspension back to JGR.”

“Cleaning house before hitting the road for Tennessee, eh?” asked this ever-observant author.

“Yes, sir,” he answered. “Yeah, I mean 2020 has kind of been a strange year for me, as well. Obviously, I was able to race in Tampa, which was my first race back where I was free to race again. I raced in Tampa and did well, but then I broke my hand at my second race back at Arlington, so I probably would have probably missed all of 2020 supercross but COVID-19 came in, which  was a shock for everybody to be honest. All of it actually helped me out in the long run because I got to finish off supercross at Salt Lake. Then again, when I did first get to Salt Lake I broke my other hand in the first practice there. At that point, the JGR thing that I had for 2020 outdoors was the best deal I had on the table, but they were supplying me with just the bike and I had to figure out a mechanic and pay the mechanic and pay for all of our travel ad pay the entry fees and all of the above, so I was kind of getting to a point where I was stressed out and then a door would open to where it would free me up.”

Through the support and top shelf works equipment the Monster Energy Yamaha team will supply Tickle, he believes he can launch from behind the starting gate and be at world class race speed very quickly.

“Obviously, I know where I can be,” he pointed out. “Yeah, I was out for so long that the second guessing comes into it just because you feel like you’ve been away for so long, but I think at this level and as long as you stay up on your fitness and stay a little bit relevant, you can get close. For me, it’s all kind of been good to see that and do it, actually. I was out for a while and had to find some things to do in those two years to fill the gap. If you’re in the 450 class at this level, you’re committed to a full year, so I basically helped a couple kids training-wise and I also continued to train and that’s what kept me relevant.

“I was out there that day Aaron crashed and got hurt,” furthered Tickle on just how he wound up in contact with the guys in blue “I know how it works at that level for a team like that and  knew that they needed a fill-in guy for fulfill all their sponsor obligations and contract agreement numbers. So I actually texted one of the guys from the team and mentioned, ‘Hey, are you guys going to fill that spot?’ I was just asking the question, to be honest. I wasn’t really searching and they texted me back and told me they didn’t know what they were going to do at that point. I think that opened the door for me because I think they thought I was completely locked in with JGR.

About a week and a half later, they were at the track with [Ryan] Villopoto testing, I got a call that Thursday night about 5:45 from Jim Roach at Yamaha that just said, ‘Hey, we wanted to know if you’re available. We really don’t know your situation, but you’re the first guy on our list and if it is something you’d consider, we’d like you to come ride the bike tomorrow.’ I called J-Bone [Jeremy Albrecht] and basically told him the situation and he said to me, ‘If the deal is better and you like the bike, you have to do it. It’s still a comeback year for you. If it looks better and is better for you, then you need to do it.’ For me, after riding the bike, I was comfortable pretty quickly and basically made a decision then.

“The bike was a concern of mine, to be honest with you,” continued Tickle, speaking to the performance of the factory YZ450. “I was concerned that maybe the package wasn’t going to be the best package, or better than the package that I was on before, or vice-versa. Honestly, though, within a couple sessions I was surprised. I really got comfortable quick. I’ve ridden four days now and we’ve made progress from there. It’s been a good experience and I think to top that off, a lot of the guys on the team I’ve been around as well. I’ve been around the guys that are working within the team, so it’s kind of been a smooth transition. That was also good for me.”

Understandably, Tickle is thrilled to get back out and about and make a run on the natural terrain racetracks that make the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship the roughest, toughest and most competitive on Planet Earth.

“Yeah, I’m excited just because for how the cards have been dealt to me, and with all that adversity that I’ve dealt with just in general over the last two and a half years, it has all been a lot,” said Tickle. “I feel like it’s all given me a little bit extra motivation to be better than what I was. And that’s why I’m doing this. I’m not ready to be done and I believe that I can accomplish some things that I haven’t yet. That’s why I’m here and that’s why I’m racing and I’m excited.”

And does he have any sort of masterplan sketched out in his head on what he hopes and plans to achieve during the next few months?

“Without racing for so long, I just want to start off strong and I would say that would be two top 10 moto finishes at the first round and then I’ll build from there. I don’t want to expect too much too soon. The class is deep and there are a lot of good guys. The goal is to just start off strong and for myself that would be mean to be in the top 10 both motos. I want to put myself up front and I want to be in the mix. My starts have not always been the best, so I’m normally the guy that comes from the back  and then at the end of the race, I’m in the mix. I would rather go to these outdoor races, get the start and be up front and if my best effort is me going from the holeshot to eighth at moto I would rather do that to show that I’m changing those ways and I can get those finishes when the cards are dealt right. I’m excited. Yeah, it’s a lot of racing and the schedule is tight and I’m really excited for Loretta’s. As a child, that’s a place you go and enjoy it with your family and with your buddies. You’re a kid enjoying racing in the purest form and that’s what I think about Loretta’s. I’m glad we’re able to race. There are some people that can’t do what they love right now. I’m glad we get to line up behind the gate and actually give it a go.”