Colin Edwards at Mugello
Colin Edwards, a Houston native nicknamed “The Texas Tornado,” will offer candid insight about his performance, competitors and life in the exciting world of MotoGP motorcycle racing before every event in 2010 in “Tornado Warning.” It’s the third consecutive season in which Edwards will offer this exclusive insight for www.indianapolismotorspeedway.com.
Two-time World Superbike champion Edwards, 36, is in his eighth year of MotoGP competition, riding this season for Monster Yamaha Tech 3. Edwards and the rest of the MotoGP riders will continue the season June 20 at the Grand Prix of Great Britain (8 a.m. ET, June 20, SPEED).
The colorful Edwards will compete in the third annual Red Bull Indianapolis GP on Aug. 27-29 at IMS along with fellow American MotoGP stars Nicky Hayden and Ben Spies, and MotoGP superstars Casey Stoner, Dani Pedrosa and Jorge Lorenzo. This interview was conducted June 10.
Weird weekend at Mugello for you. You started strong Friday and Saturday, and Sunday was rough. What happened Sunday?
Well, I wouldn’t say I started out strong. I would say we actually fixed the bike. We got the bike back to last year’s spec. Seating position, foot pegs, handlebars, you know, all that kind of stuff. Felt really comfortable. When I say I felt really comfortable, I had good front-end feeling, good confidence. The only problem was I did about four laps on Friday, four flying laps. I came in and my arm was locked up. My right arm was like steel. It was just fricking so pumped up. Problems grabbing the front brake. I come in, and I don’t know what the hell is going on, but man, this is crazy. So the bike just feels like it weighs a ton. It feels like you’re driving a train with damn bicycle handlebars just trying to steer the thing. Mugello is typical to be a little more physically demanding. You’ve got chicane after chicane, fast, and your gyro effect counts for a lot. So we didn’t really mess with the bike too much. It felt really good. The qualifying was good. The bike was really good … for about three or four laps. I was just kind of holding in the back of my mind that: “Ah, in the race, it will be different. Get out there, get the adrenaline flowing, and it will be fine. It would all be good.” Well, it didn’t work out that way.
Have you ever had arm pump before?
I’ve only had arm pump whenever I was climbing a lot, like in 2000, 2001. When we were doing a lot of rock climbing, then I started getting some arm pump. And naturally, I stopped climbing. I don’t need that. I don’t know. I never get arm pump on a road-racing bike. Even on a motocross bike, I don’t get arm pump. It’s a bit strange. Man, once we got into the race, it always happens: You get in the race, and you start losing a bit of your mojo. You dig deep, you bring it back up, you push for another few more laps, you start feeling a little drained, you dig deeper. You always find that little bit extra. Whereas there was just nothing there. I dug deep. I was feeling like I was about to pass out on the bike. I just couldn’t get any air. That was the main thing: I wasn’t getting any oxygen.
Was that because of the arm pump? It was killing you so bad?
Once, I had some injections, some anti-inflammatories. They call it mezotheraphy. It’s little pinpricks into your arm that kind of inject some anti-inflammatories. The arm wasn’t that much of a problem in the race. It was just lack of oxygen. I couldn’t dig down. I couldn’t grab anything. I went to grab some more and get going, and it was just going slower and slower. Come out of the last chicane, and I’ve passed out before in a MiG (jeft) flight before, and I knew what it feels like. Coming out of that last chicane after about seven or eight laps, and everything kind of tunneled up and it got kind of a little gray on the outside, and I thought, “Nuh-uh.” I ran it a little bit wide, and after that I was like: “Y’all just go on. I don’t really need to pass out while I’m doing 200 mile an hour.”
What’s going on?
Not to leave you hanging, but the doctor said “Well, you might be going into an adult form of mild asthma, which obviously would explain the lack of oxygen and not getting any air. Do you cough when you get in the cold air? Yeah. Do you cough if you overexert yourself? Yeah. But I think everybody kind of does that. He’s thinking it might be a mild form of asthma, and I’m not getting enough oxygen into my blood. But then he kind of got thinking again, and he goes, “Maybe you fly so much that you might have a blood clot up around your lung,” which is not good to have a blood clot for anything. So he immediately sent me over to the CAT scan. Did a full CAT scan on my chest. They injected the dye into me to make sure that the blood was flowing right, no major blood clots. I still don’t know the results of any of it, but they wouldn’t have released me if I had a blood clot. They did come back and say: “You’re free to go. The doctor will get back with you.” It’s weird. I feel good; I just feel short of breath. I don’t know what the hell is going on.
You look at Valentino’s situation. He knows what’s wrong with him – a bone was sticking through his leg. With you, it’s a mystery of “What the hell is going on here?”
Dude, there’s nobody more curious than me. Hell, it’s something I’ve never had to deal with. I’ve always been fit. I got blessed with some good genes and never really had to work too hard to keep weight down. I’ve always been in good shape. I don’t know. Roles have kind of reversed a little bit. When I’m home, I’m working. You got the kids, running around, getting the boat ready, bringing the kids to school, taking my boy out to ride, getting gas. I’m always doing something. Then when I come to the race, I get to the track, and it’s like, “Whew.” I lay on the couch in the motorhome for 16 hours per day. It’s just kind of download and relax. It’s weird. It’s just kind of like role reversal.
What was the buzz around the paddock at Mugello when everyone learned Valentino was seriously hurt?
Definitely a lot of people talking about it. What is this going to the championship? What is this going to do to the attendance? Immediately, the first thing you heard is ticket sales are down already for Silverstone, camping sites for Germany, whatever. I don’t know if people make sh*t up or if they’ve got real physical proof of what’s going on. Obviously, Valentino is the biggest draw for our championship. Can the championship survive without him? Sure. Of course it can. It always has. It’s gone on for eons and eons, and somebody has got hurt. In Valentino’s case, racing a motorcycle is ticking time bomb. It really is. Sooner or later, you’re going to get hurt. We all know that. We all put up with the risk. Valentino, fortunately, through his entire career seems to have had really amazing luck with that. He hasn’t spent any down time hurt. He’s had to ride through some aches and pains and bruises and all that stuff. Hell, what did he have 200-something starts …
Yeah, I don’t think he’s ever missed a race, has he?
I don’t think he has since (his) 125 (career) started, or something ridiculous. You look at everybody on the grid: We’ve all been there. I had to sit out pretty much all of ’97, being broke up. Everybody’s been there at one point or another, except him. I’m not saying he was due or not due. But this is the sh*t that happens. This is motorcycle racing.
Now that Vale isn’t going to be on the grid for a few races, do you think Dani Pedrosa can catch Jorge Lorenzo, or is Jorge too far gone?
It will be interesting. I think Jorge, he feeds and thrives a lot off having a rivalry in his own team. Hell, at Jerez and Le Mans, he pretty much showed how dominant he was, chasing Valentino down and passing him both races, pulling away. The more interesting thing will be how’s Jorge going to be. Pedrosa, he wants to beat Jorge worse than anything. It doesn’t matter if Valentino is there or not. But I think it will be curious to see how Jorge reacts.
The $1 million question: Who’s going to get that factory ride of Valentino’s?
They can run these next two races, Silverstone and Assen. The contract the teams have with Dorna and all that, they can leave that spot vacant for two races. Since he actually entered and rode at Mugello, that doesn’t count as one. He actually was an entry. So then you’ve got these next two races, they can leave that spot vacant. But then at Barcelona, they’re going to have to have somebody on the bike. Through my team, with Herve (Poncharal), he came to talk to me about it. There’s a lot of buzz going around that if somebody was to replace Valentino, they’d want me to come over and ride on that team. At the same time, my thoughts are kind of, “Why would I want to do that?” I’ve got a good team. I like my crew chief. I like the Team Texas thing we have going on. We have a good relationship, all our sponsors, DeWalt, Monster, all of those guys we have a good relationship with. I don’t really want to feel like I’m turning my back on them to go ride this factory bike for a few races. Because at the end of the day, when Valentino is ready, it’s probably not even a thank you. It’s like, “OK, f*ck off and get back on the other team.”
Do you have a choice in the situation?
At the moment, Herve, myself and everybody involved in the team, we do as much as we can for Yamaha. We always have. Even though at the moment, I’m paid by Herve. I’m not paid by Yamaha anymore, we always do what we can to help out Yamaha. If it’s explained at the end of the day, “Hey, this is what we REALLY got to have you, there’s no other option, we can’t do it,” well, then we’re going to have to do something. Until then, I’m just going with my first instinct is I like where I’m at. I’m having a good time doing what I do. First and foremost, I need to figure out that I’m good, that it was just maybe a Mugello fluke, a little virus or dehydration or whatever the hell it was. We need to make sure that it was just a Mugello thing and nothing else.
Did you ever race at Silverstone in World Superbike?
Yeah. I think I’m the only guy that’s ever raced there.
But the track has changed.
Yeah, it’s changed. Over half of it is what it used to be. That last little part they’ve obviously changed. I definitely feel like I’m going in there knowing a little bit more where I’m going than the next guy.