BACK ON TRACK:
2020 has been a fairly slow year so far for Preston Kilroy as the Wyoming native has been spending some quality time back in his home state recovering from a shoulder surgery he had in mid-March. The Bar X Chaparral Suzuki Amateur rider was picking up some speed coming into the new season after recently making the jump to the A class after a strong pair of overall podium finishes at Loretta Lynn’s to end his B class campaign. Kilroy began to make incremental gains throughout The Motoplayground Race at Ponca City and the Arizona Open, but his dislocated shoulder and the current coronavirus pandemic have put that on pause. Nonetheless, Kilroy is enjoying the slower pace of being back at home in Wyoming, helping his dad around the property and working on his backyard track. We hopped on the phone with Preston to talk about staying with the Schwartz family out in California, leaving it all on the track last year at Loretta Lynn’s, and his potential pathway to the professional ranks.
So, you decided to have surgery on your shoulder in March. How's the recovery been and how're things feeling now?
I got out of surgery on March 16th and it's almost been two months now. I've been going to physical therapy two times a week, gettin' that all dialed in; I've been doing some acupuncture stuff. It's been healing well and hopefully, I can be back on the bike within a few weeks. The recovery process has been going quick so it's been good.
How do you like the acupuncture stuff?
Yeah, it works really well. At first, I was a little nervous 'cause I'm not a fan of needles, but once he does it a lot it makes my shoulder feel so much better.
It's been a bit more of an exaggerated quarantine for you since you've been on the mend. What've you been up to?
I came back home to Wyoming after all this went down and got surgery. I've just been helping my dad around here. We have a bunch of equipment so I help him with that and then in my free time I like to go fishin'. I love to catch fish -- that's pretty much it. I can't do much, so...
Do you have to go easy on your shoulder setting the hook?
No, I use like a Rapala and we have trout around here and when they bite, it's game over most of the time. I don't have to do much.
It's funny that so many motocross racers are into fishing and golf because it's the exact opposite in terms of speed and intensity.
I was on the high school golf team and I got 10th in our state golf tournament. I play golf a lot, too.
Did you get your surgery done back in Wyoming or in California? That would've been right around the time this whole coronavirus pandemic started blowing up in the US?
I was going back to Mesquite for an Area Qualifier and that morning when I was getting out of bed to go practice, I dislocated my shoulder. I had to go to the hospital and get it put back in and then I came back that week to my doctor and got an MRI. I found out I had a torn labrum, a torn rotator cuff, and a torn bicep muscle. They went in and fixed all that and it actually happened to be the perfect time, 'cause that's when all this started going down so it actually worked out really well considering the circumstances.
How did the initial injury to your shoulder happen?
So when I was in California, I was riding Hemet SX and I slid out in a corner, dislocating my shoulder. I went to the hospital and they put it back in and it was doing good. A couple of days later, it partially fell out when I was getting out of bed and when I went back to see my doctor he said I could keep going but it could get worse. I was going to try and baby it a little bit, so I went out to a qualifier at Hangtown and just kind of putted around and rode a couple of times that week. It was still bothering me but I could manage it and then we went to that Area Qualifier in Mesquite, we have a house in St. George, so we went up there. Like I said, I was getting out of bed and it dislocated, got an MRI, and all that stuff...
What have you been able to do in terms of exercises and physical therapy to keep yourself fit and ready to return to racing?
I've been doing lots of road biking. We have lots of country roads around here so I can just go for a long, long way. It's just nice -- the weather is nice out here, not too hot and not too cold. I do the spin bike a lot, too, so those are the two main things.
Have you been enjoying the time back home away from the daily grind in California?
Yeah, it's awesome. I love it out here. California is just so hectic and where I live I don't even have a stoplight, so it's nice for sure.
When you were out in California training with the Bar X Chaparral Suzuki team, what was your setup out there?
I was livin' with Dilan Schwartz, they had an extra room for me so I was stayin' there. Me and him would go and ride with J Whipple two or three days a week, then we'd go to the gym two to three days a week, and then we'd go mountain biking two to three days a week, or road biking or whatever. So we had a pretty busy time down there, but I enjoyed it. I like it down there, but I like to be home that's for sure.
Is it nice to train and ride with someone on the regular that's in your class where you guys can push each other to the next level?
Yeah, me and him would push each other hard, especially training with J. We'd always push each other really hard riding, even in the gym messin' with each other, or playing video games we'd even be super competitive. It was nice, me and him got along well. I love their family, so it was fun.
Last year at Loretta's, you were involved in one of the best battles of the week with Mason Gonzales in the 250 B Limited class. You left it all out there on the track. What's it like looking back at that race?
Yeah, we were both goin' for it that's for sure. He was going fast and I was going fast, it was fun. It was just a good race, I enjoyed it a lot. That whole week at Loretta's was just fun and I dunno...I just went out there and I rode and I didn't feel like it was Loretta's for some reason. I guess what happened happened and I couldn't be more excited; I wish I would've got the title but at the same time, it played out the way it did and there's nothing I can do now.
Did you not feel the same pressure you normally would there? Why didn't it feel like Loretta's?
Yeah, I felt like I was more prepared coming into this year. Right before, me and Dilan went to JGR and we spent about a month up in Charlotte, North Carolina with the whole team. So I felt a lot more prepared with myself, especially my equipment. I've never been on such a better bike for me than the Suzuki, it fits me really well I feel like. I didn't feel like I was pressured that much by anyone, everyone had the mindset that we were going there to ride and that's that.
What was it like hopping into the JGR program in the middle of the Pro Motocross season?
It was awesome. They taught us a lot, we trained with Buddy Antunez. We were riding with Freddie Noren and Jimmy Decotis every day, so it was awesome. Those guys are super cool and it was an amazing experience. We got to go into the JGR shop, we'd go on road bike rides with all the JGR guys, so it was cool to be able to experience all of that.
How's the transition to the A class been for you? You finished out the year with some solid finishes at The Motoplayground Race at Ponca City and the AZ Open.
Yeah, it was good. At that time, right after Loretta's, is when golf season started so I golfed for like three months straight. I wasn't on the bike very much at that time, so when I came into Ponca I didn't feel like I was as prepared as I needed to be. I was up there, but I definitely could've done a lot better. Same with AZ Open. Now that I've been training with Dilan and J Whipple, I feel a lot better on the bike this year versus last year moving up to the A class. It was kind of a rough start but hopefully I can get it turned back around.
As the current schedule stands for Loretta's, would you have time with your injury to get back on the bike and get qualified through the Super Regional format?
Yeah, when I first got surgery we were hoping that I'd be back on the bike on the 1st of June and I'm ahead of where they thought I should be. I should be getting back on the bike a couple of weeks before they start, depending on when they start. It actually worked out really well, so I should be able to do those. It was supposed to be a four to five month recovery process, but it's been like two. They're thinkin' I could be back on the bike really soon.
What're your thoughts on the Super Regional system that we're going to be tentatively running?
I think it's a good idea, especially with all of the stuff that's going on right now. That way you can just go get it done and especially up by me, Regionals are always in California and I'm hearing that there's going to be one in Utah which isn't very far from my house. It'll be like four or five hours instead of fifteen hours, so it actually worked out really well. I think that's a great idea.
When you get healed up and you're able to get back on the bike again, are you going to head back to California or are there local places in Wyoming where you're able to get your riding in?
Yeah, I got some places around me and the weather's nice up here. I've got a track behind my house that I've been working on, so I ride that quite a bit and there's another one like fifteen minutes away that a track builder came in and built. Idaho has a few, Utah has a few, and the people that run 'em do a pretty good job.
Have you talked with the team at all about what your plans would be at the end of this year after Loretta's moving into 2021?
I think the plan was to do the last three and then if I was ready then maybe I would do outdoors next year. If not, then I would do amateur A class again, but it just depends on how ready I was coming into those last three. I don't know if I'll still do those, I haven't really talked to 'em but that was the plan at the beginning of the year. If that all plays out then I'll do the last three and if I'm ready then I'll move up to pro, but if not then I'll do another year in the A class.