THE HUNTER: MARK FINEIS
Things started to pick up for Mark Fineis in the final stages of the 2019 season at quite a rapid pace -- the Indiana native landed on the cover of our November issue of the magazine just in time for him to announce his official move to the Orange Brigade KTM team. He was coming into Mini Os with a little bit more attention than normal and was eager to end his campaign in the 85cc class on a high note, unfortunately he suffered a scary crash in supercross practice that somewhat derailed his plans for the week. Fineis scrubbed a tabletop a little bit too hard and ended up becoming separated from his motorcycle, eventually breaking his humerus when he hit the ground. It wasn't a complete break so he made the decision along with the team to continue racing throughout the week and deal with the injury afterward. He was able to salvage a pair of number one plates on the outdoor track making it a successful final outing in the 85cc class as he moves onto the supermini full time in 2020. We caught up with Mark to get the lowdown on how he's been spending his time during the coronavirus pandemic, the depth of talent in the Supermini class, and what it's like racing with a broken humerus.
What have you been doing to keep yourself busy with the coronavirus pandemic in full swing?
Well, I just got done with a road bike ride but it just started pouring rain and it dropped about thirty degrees, so it got cut a little short. We had to turn around. I've been doing a lot of fishing and swimming on the weekends, everyone here (at Club 57) has been doing a lot of fishing.
How long have you been training down at WW Ranch at Club 57?
Well, I started training with Brad (Jeronimiski) -- he was the first trainer I ever went to and I was on 65s, but I didn't like it. (laughs) So I went to Club MX and then I showed up at Bostwick in 2018 and then went back to Club training for Loretta's, then we came here after Loretta's and we've just been here since. Then we had that injury (at Mini Os) and now we're back here.
Do you like being down in Florida? It seems like that's the direction things are moving with lots of professionals and amateurs training there.
Yeah, it's good. You get to train more often, up north you have to take some days off in the winter and fall because it's too cold. It's rideable year 'round here and it doesn't get too cold, I mean some days it does but you can still train. This is the hotspot.
How much has this whole coronavirus pandemic affected what you do down there in terms of your riding and training?
Yeah, it's normal. There are no shaking hands and at lunch we have to sit six feet apart and we wipe things down with disinfectant and all that stuff. We have a gym and we don't really do our workouts in there anymore because of the confined space and lots of people. We usually do road bike rides now and we workout outside, but we're still training! We just can't really go to Walmart and all that stuff, we can go but we prefer not to. So we order all of our food online and get it delivered here.
What's your setup down there? Are you living on the property in a motorhome?
We brought our motorhome down and we're just living here for now, trying to wait this thing out.
What sort of fishing are you doing there?
We catch bass and bluegill. There are some catfish in there, some big ones, but we don't really go fishin' for 'em. There's some big bass in there! Two years ago, a kid caught like an eight-pound bass and I've been fishing with a ten-pound line on and something takes it and then it just snaps my line. So there's something big in there, yeah.
What else have you been doing to keep yourself entertained? Are you a videogame guy or more of an outdoor guy?
Yeah, I'm not a big gamer. At my house, I'll play MX vs ATV: All Out or like Fortnite Mobile but when I'm training I don't really play video games. I hang out outside, go fishing, and hang out with my friends.
What's your opinion on the way the current schedules are looking and the state of the sport address that MX Sports did?
Well, if they do like a two-week Loretta's thing where they'd have a bunch of heats and qualifiers there -- I hope they don't do that, that would just be a mess. Hopefully, we'll just be able to do the super Regional option, I think that'd be the best. I don't think this is just going to die down and we're going to have a normal Loretta's, I don't think that'll happen.
Do you think they'll be able to fit everything in on the pro side of things?
I hope they do, I don't want everything to just get canceled because of this.
Has it been strange for you not to have supercross to watch on Saturdays?
Yeah, I look forward to that. I like supercross; it's fun. Everyone was freaking out because there's no supercross!
Who were you rooting for this year in the 450 class and who do you think is going to win the title?
(Eli) Tomac, he's the fast guy right now but if he doesn't get a start it's hard for him to come back through the pack, but if he gets a start he wins. (Ken) Roczen, he always gets good starts and they're both very even. Roczen gets good starts, but Tomac's faster and he doesn't get good starts. I would want Roczen or Adam Cianciarulo to win because I like both of those guys. They're cool dudes.
Tell everyone about what you went through last year at Mini Os and moving up to the Supermini class this season.
Mini Os was my last race on the 85 and I wanted to go out with a bang, but in supercross practice I had a crash on the two tabletops after the start. I scrubbed the first one too hard and my foot caught the face of the jump and I landed off the bike, but my hands were still on the handlebars. I launched into the face of the next jump and I broke my humerus, spent the night in the hospital. I came back and we were trying to decide if we were going to ride or not, it wasn't broken in half like it was just cracked. We were deciding whether or not to ride and I missed all the Heats, so I had to do all the LCQs and line up on the very outside. It was rough riding with a broken humerus...
But you still managed some pretty good results on the outdoor track.
Yeah, I got two titles. All I ride is motocross, I don't really train on supercross so that's all I've known. In practice I felt pretty good and I was the fastest in Supermini and 85. I had gotten a concussion in that crash and the gate would drop but my reaction time was off, so I'd get like dead last starts every time. The humerus hurt but I just had to push through it because I wanted to ride; that was my last race on the 85. I was going for the Bronze Boot again but once I broke my humerus I knew that wasn't really going to happen, so I was okay with it.
How much was your humerus bothering you on that rough outdoor track? Or does adrenaline kind of take over?
I could feel it, it was still there but the adrenaline definitely helps. Once I came off the track and the adrenaline went away, it definitely hurt.
How'd you feel about your results this year at Spring A Ding Ding? The Supermini class is pretty stacked this year.
Underground was my first race back after the injury, so I'd ridden a week before that. The Supermini class is definitely stacked -- you've got (Gavin) Towers, Evan Ferry, (Ryder) DiFrancesco, Dax(ton Bennick), all those guys are really fast. Underground is a good track, we did well there. I was just trying to get some laps in and get back to my normal speed.
Evan Ferry was saying he feels like you guys are at the point where you're going so fast into some of the corners that you're pushing the superminis past their limits.
Yeah, you come in with so much speed it's hard to hang on to the thing. (laughs)
Did you plan on doing another year in the Supermini classes next year regardless of what happens this year?
No, after Loretta's I'm probably going to be done (on the supermini.) We might do Mini Os, maybe, but right now I'm training on the 125 just in case they cancel Loretta's or it doesn't happen. I don't want another year like all these guys that are doing Supermini for like four or five years.