SOONER THAN LATER:
Chandler Baker made a jump up to the A class for the 2020 season with the backing of the EBR Performance Yamaha team. The Oklahoma native keeps his work close to home as he conducts his riding and training program at Reynard’s Training Complex in Lincoln County, working closely with professional riders such as Austin Forkner and Benny Bloss. Baker went out with a bang in the B class last year at Mini Os as he finished many of his motos in the top three, subsequently collecting a pair of overall podium finishes between both supercross and motocross. The Yamaha rider hasn’t slowed down since making the jump to the A class as he immediately ran towards the front of the pack at Spring A Ding Ding, proving that he has the speed to run with some of the best in the business. We were able to get on the phone with Chandler as he attempted to stay out of the rain on a dreary day in Oklahoma to see what he’s been up to since the quarantine started and what he’s got planned for the rest of the season.
What have you been doing to keep yourself active and busy during the coronavirus pandemic?
Really we've just been beating ourselves down a lot here (at Reynard's Training Facility), so when it gets hot here we'll be more ready for it. We're just trying to get ready for what races are going to come next.
How much has this affected your usual program with riding and training?
Not a whole lot. It's just a big question on when we're gonna be racing next but hopefully we'll be extremely ready. It's been the same program, if not a little harder than it was before. We're more ready than anyone else.
Talk a little bit about your training program down there in Oklahoma.
I train with Robbie Reynard and ride with guys like Austin Forkner, Benny Bloss, and they're getting ready for outdoors if they even have outdoors, so it's been good to be able to ride with them lately. Usually, I only get to ride with 'em during the outdoor season so it's been pretty good to judge my pace off of them and try to push myself to chase 'em. It's pretty gnarly, the tracks have been pretty rough lately. He hasn't touched 'em much and we've just been doing long thirty-five-minute motos and whatnot.
What's it like for you to have those professional riders you named as training partners on a daily basis? Especially now that you've made the jump up to the A class.
It's awesome. I'm just really tryin' to see if I'm making progress and if I'm getting closer to those guys so I can get where I need to be in the next two years to go pro. It's cool to get to hang out with 'em, go to the gym with 'em, and basically chase them doing everything. Trying to beat 'em and be better than them at stuff that doesn't have to do with riding like in the gym or on a bike ride or somethin'.
What was your mentality like moving up to the A class this year?
I was gonna stay B this year, because of my age I should've been able to stay but there's an AMA rule that we didn't know about and they ended up making' me go A which I'm really glad that I did. It's been good for me. It really lit a fire in me and I've just been training my butt off, trying to get where I need to be and havin' fun with it. I went to Motoplayground's Spring A Ding Ding and that was really good, I had a lot of fun and had some pretty good rides.
Expand on your weekend there a little bit. There was some pretty good competition in the A class and you guys had some decent battles.
Yeah, it was good. The first moto of the week, I crashed in the first turn and got ran over. I got up and came from last to like 5th or something but that moto was the most fun I've had in a long time, comin' back from that. I think I got a 2nd in my next moto and it was fun, I did better than I expected myself to do but compared to where I was at Mini Os, I wasn't really feelin' it. But it was really fun, it was a good week and I had some good results.
What do you think about the track layout at Underground?
Yeah, it's my favorite track out of all the big amateur races throughout the year. Every year it's awesome; it gets nice and rough, it's got a lot of fun jumps, and it has lots of technical corners that separate everyone.
Last year at Spring A Ding Ding, you were one of the few riders in the B class to jump the big triple wall jump on the back straightaway. What do you remember about that?
Yeah, that jump was fun! The first time I hit it -- Levi Newby was behind me and he was hitting the hip jump before it, but I didn't know that you could hit it. He would close right up on me in that section so I thought he was hitting that, so I was like "Oh, god." I came around after he caught me there so I just hit it, didn't think about it, didn't lift off of it. I had to duck from some tree branches up there and somebody got some pretty sick pictures of me duckin' from the tree branches. That was fun and I didn't think those superminis could hit it, that was crazy! I wouldn't have done that on a supermini.
So you've been with the EBR Performance Yamaha team for a couple of years now. How has it been working with those guys?
Well, they've been helping me since early 2017 and I started riding for them on a Yamaha supermini. Within the first month, I got too big for it and they built me a 125 and I went to Loretta's on it that year and it's just kind of built from there. The next year I rode for them on 125s, then I went to B class and now we're here in the A class and they've been helping me a lot. The bikes are great, they're fast and they handle awesome.
What're your thoughts on the potential plans MX Sports laid out for Loretta Lynn's this year?
I was thinking' just doing the Super Regionals would be good. Having a two week Loretta's where anyone can show up -- that'd be pretty fun to watch, but I don't think it'd be fun to race in. I don't know.
How has it been being around the pro riders at Reynard's and seeing how they're dealing with the hiatus from racing and schedule changes?
It's honestly pretty crazy to see all of this stuff goin' down, like this has never happened before. The economy's goin' bad, I don't know. Supercross without any fans would be pretty crazy to see. I heard they're talking about doing the top twenty in points playing the Supercross game on Xbox and televising it. That would be pretty cool to watch, some of those guys probably don't play Xbox much. (laughs) If they do that, I must say I think Benny Bloss might get the win on that one.
Oh yeah? He's got some skills on the sticks?
We've been playing with him a lot lately and that dude is crazy good on the game. He puts in some time.
What're your plans for the rest of the year? Have you talked with the team about that at all?
Well, with being an amateur A rider you can do three Outdoor Nationals so I was thinking of doing one or two of 'em this year and then stay A next year. Then after Loretta's next year, hopefully go full pro and start racing the outdoors and supercross and stuff.
Were there any particular outdoor tracks you had your eyes on?
I wanted to do Thunder Valley but that got canceled 'cause that one's pretty close to home, I think it's eight hours away maybe. I think I'll end up doing Ironman and maybe Budds Creek or something before that.