BAKERSFIELD TO BAKER'S FACTORY:
The 2020 season has been representative of a fresh start for Stilez Robertson as the Bakersfield native made some massive changes to his program late last year. The 2019 Loretta Lynn Amateur National Motocross Championship marked his last race with Team Green Kawasaki after a successful eight years spent together winning championships across the country. Robertson was in fine form last year in Hurricane Mills as he took the overall victory in the 250 B class to claim his first number one plate at the Ranch since 2014, simultaneously closing the door on a new chapter as he opened another. He was in talks with the Rockstar Husqvarna team throughout the week at Loretta’s and had a strong idea that’s where he would end up, allowing him to race and compete with minimal pressure. Additionally, the California native has moved from one side of the country to the other as he’s currently training at Baker’s Factory in Clermont, Florida with some of the sport’s brightest stars. Unfortunately, an injury at the Glendale Supercross Futures sidelined Robertson for the better part of the spring and the recent coronavirus pandemic means he hasn’t really had a gate drop since January. We caught a call with Stilez to discuss his desire to get back to racing, adapting from the west coast to the east coast, and living with the Hampshires.
What have you been doing during the quarantine lately?
Well, I'm back here in Florida at the Baker's Factory and at first we chilled for a little bit, but honestly now we're back in the routine of everything and I've just kind of been training.
Yeah, Nate Thrasher mentioned the biggest adjustment with him moving to there was the mentality of taking no days off.
It's a grind but I honestly really like it back here. The day-to-day grind is really fun and Florida is honestly growing on me and Baker's Factory is unreal; it's probably the nicest facility I've ever been to.
What's it been like for you as a west coast native adapting to the east coast life?
Yeah, moving from Cali to Florida has been a little bit of a change. I honestly like it though, it's more my style, more laid back. My drive to the track is only like fifteen minutes which is nice and it's a lot easier here 'cause you know what you're doing every day. I can be a little lazy in the morning and still get there early. (laughs) You don't have to fight traffic or you don't know what track you're going to, so I think it's been a big positive being here. Being at Baker's Factory is unreal, everything there is awesome.
What's it been like for you to be around that professional environment and soak up as much from the pro riders as you can?
Yeah, being at the Baker's Factory has been the best thing for me I think. Watching Coop(er Webb) and Zach O(sborne) and everybody, just learning every day from Aldon (Baker), Seth (Rarick), or Mike (Brown). It's been amazing; the facility is amazing, the tracks are good, and I get to ride a lot with Nate. It's been really good and just being here -- honestly, the confidence knowing that I belong here helps. I know it sounds weird but it's true. Being here with the best athletes in the world and getting to watch them and learn from them is a big help.
It was cool that you kind of took that to the next level and you were living with RJ Hampshire and his family.
Yeah, it was super cool living with RJ, Ashley, and Ivy. I actually moved out like two weeks ago just to let them have some space. But it was amazing learning from him every day and just listening to the wisdom that he could give me and teach me. He's kind of helped me through everything and guided me down the right path. That's the thing with being here, everybody is guiding you in the right direction, you know? Whether it’s Zach, Coop, Aldon, even the mechanics and everybody. It's just a good vibe to be around and I think you can do a lot of learning here.
You mentioned that you've been picking up the pace again with training at the Baker's Factory. Are you guys kind of in a boot camp to get prepared for the return to racing now?
Yeah, I think we're kind of in a boot camp but I'm not for sure. Luckily, the Florida heat hasn't been too bad yet and I haven't had to experience that. Honestly, we're just having fun right now, you know? We're still training hard and everything, but it's good right now.
Another adaptation that you've had to make is with the tracks you're riding compared to Southern California, how's that been for you?
Being back here in the Florida sand has been a little bit different for me. It took me a little bit to get used to, but now I'm pretty used to it. I just had to adapt a little bit and Mike Brown helped me a lot with that. I've just been getting used to it every day more and more; the tracks have been pretty good, they've been getting rough and rutted. The conditions are unreal, but it was a big change. I'm used to Milestone on a Wednesday, nice and hard-packed. (laughs) But the sand's good and it gets gnarlier here quicker for sure.
Last year you ended an eight-year partnership with Team Green Kawasaki at Loretta's and did so by winning your first title there since 2014. That must've been a pretty special one for you.
Yeah, goin' into it I knew a little bit about possibly going to Husky and then I talked to them at Loretta's and kind of knew. It was good to get a win at Loretta's with Kawi and I honestly just enjoyed the week a lot. I had a lot of stress off of me comin' into it 'cause I knew I was prepared and ready, and I knew what was comin' up for me in the future I guess. So it was a pretty good week and it was honestly a little sad though 'cause I was with Kawi for so long. Those guys are like family -- I mean, they still are. I still talk to them quite often and it was a change, but I really love this bike and the team's amazing so I'm really stoked!
How has the transition from the Kawi to the Husky been for you in addition to moving up to the A class? You swept both A classes in your first outing at AZ Open, so you seemed to adapt rather quickly.
Yeah, going from the Kawi to the Husky wasn't that big of a change, but I think it was a better change for me. The frame suits me quite a bit better and I just felt comfortable right away on it. I didn't make any changes from the bike they gave me really. We went to the AZ Open and it obviously went pretty good and then we went to the (SX) Futures; Anaheim went good and Phoenix I had a big crash and I took some time off after that. But the bike is unreal, the team is unreal, and it's crazy being with a team of this caliber. It's something you dream of.
With the AZ Open being your first race in the A Class, did you surprise yourself a little bit with your performance there?
Going into the AZ Open I knew I was pretty fit 'cause I had started with Aldon and I saw the weight shedding off -- chubby Stilez was startin' to go away. (laughs) I knew I was pretty good comin' in, but I didn't know I'd be that good honestly. After the first moto, I was like "Dang, alright." I kind of surprised myself, but after that it was awesome. It was pretty good, everyone was there but I was bummed I couldn't race after Phoenix. I was gonna go to Daytona but just didn't have enough time on the bike and nobody with the team was going to Underground, so I wasn't going to go by myself. Then I made the call -- Friday night I had a flight to Freestone and I was like "Man, I don't know. I'm feeling good training right now and I feel like it's gonna be canceled." I ended up canceling my flight and luckily it got canceled 'cause if it didn't I was going to be super mad, so it worked out for me.
So you started on Aldon's program when you were out west before you started basing your training out of Florida?
Yeah, I think I started with Aldon in the middle of October and I came out here (to Florida) on February 18th, but I didn't start riding for about two weeks after that 'cause I ended up getting hurt at Phoenix in that crash. I've been with him for a while now and this is for sure the best shape I've ever been in. I just feel strong on the bike, I feel like my endurance is really good. I'm just gonna keep my head down with him and keep workin'.
What was it like for you earlier this year just kind of being a fly on the wall in the Rockstar Husky pit at some of the Monster Energy Supercross rounds?
Yeah, I went to both Anaheims, Phoenix, and then went to Daytona. Honestly, just being a fly on the wall helps. I'm one that can learn so much from just listening, so I've been trying to listen and soak up as much as I can. You know, watch film with the guys and see what they're saying and just being around the team getting to know them a little more. I've gotten super close with Scuba (Steve Westfall) and just the whole team really. I think it's gonna be good with them for sure.
Hopefully, we can get back to some racing soon here.
Yeah, I think we all wanna go racing.
What're your thoughts on the Super Regional format with Loretta's and what might end up happening with that this year?
Honestly, I want it to happen just to go there and see where I'm at. But the other part of me is like "Ahh, I don't know if it's going to happen in August, you know." It might get pushed back, but if the Pro Nationals are before it then I might try and do one or two of those just to get some racing in before if the team and everybody are okay with it. I've been kind of wanting to with that new amateur rule and then after Loretta's hopefully I'd do the last three or whatever it ends up being. I want Loretta's to happen but I don't know if I can see it happening with the coronavirus and everything.
Do you know what your timeline is as of now for making the jump to the professional ranks full-time? Have you talked with the team about making that move in 2021?
Yeah, I think that's kind of the plan right now. Still talking with the team trying to figure it out and trying to figure out with Aldon and everybody. I don't want to rush it, I want to be ready 'cause you only get one shot at it. I don't want to rush it and not be good, but I think if I'm ready I'm for sure going to do it.