Gage Stine relentlessly built himself up to a front runner in the 125cc division throughout the course of the 2019 season, methodically raising his speed and confidence from the beginning of the year until the end. The Maryland native grabbed a couple of podiums to start things off and continued to gain momentum, eventually snagging a title in the Schoolboy 1 class at The Motoplayground Race at Ponca City. Stine was able to use his performance there as a confidence booster and keep the ball rolling into the 2020 season, starting out at the Daytona RCSX with multiple overall podium finishes. Stine got back to winning ways at Spring A Ding Ding with a 1st place overall in the Schoolboy 1 class in addition to another overall podium in the 125cc B/C class, finding the right blend of speed and consistency. His steady results and rapid pace have currently earned him the top spot in both of the Dirty 100 divisions, making him one of the main guys to beat this year at Loretta’s. Stine has been continuing his training throughout the lockdown with Dan Callahan up in Callahan’s MX School in New Jersey and is currently feeling the best he’s ever felt in terms of fitness. We caught up with Gage to discuss the 360° start at Daytona, moving up onto the 250, and his goal for Loretta’s this year.
How have you been keeping yourself busy and entertained during the quarantine lately?
Yeah man, I've pretty much been working out every day, eating great, and riding about three to four times a week at Callahan's up in Jersey. I've been there every week pretty much grindin' out for whenever we can get back to racing, man.
Well, GNCC racing is happening next weekend so maybe that's going to be sooner rather than later.
Yeah, man. I'm hoping! I hope we can get Loretta's in this year and hopefully we can get a title this year. I know I can do it, just gotta keep puttin' in the work like I have been and it should be no problem.
You've definitely shown the speed this year. How far is it from your home in Maryland to where you train in New Jersey?
He's about two and a half hours from my house. Usually, I go up there and stay Tuesday to Thursday, so I'll ride three days and then I'll talk to him on the phone each day about what he wants me to do for working out, eating wise, and all the stuff like that. I'm usually up there about three days a week.
So he helps you with your whole program from riding to nutrition and gym work...
Oh, 100% man! Dan is one of the best out there, I wouldn't choose anyone else besides him.
When you got home from Texas back in March, did you take a little bit of time off the bike with all of the racing being canceled?
I took maybe a week or a week and a half off 'cause everything was crazy then. Once this came to be an everyday thing, I started getting back on the bike and lately I've been riding more than I've ever been riding. I would say my fitness is probably as good as it's ever been, so that's kind of a good thing. Not much has been changing with my training program, I've just been on the grind still.
Everyone's had a little more downtime with no racing happening on the weekends. What have you been doing away from your riding and training?
Lately, it's not been much. Usually, my side hobby when we're not doing anything is snowboarding but it kinda sucks that I can't do that right now. One thing I do like to do is go road biking, I road bike a ton. That's something I love to do, not even for training, so that's something I'll go do if it's nice out 'cause the weather is always bi-polar here. If it's nice out then I'll go out on the bike, spin a couple of hours, and I'm happy with that.
How's the weather been up in Jersey where you're riding lately?
One day it'll be in the 60s or 70s and then one day it'll be about 50. It's just a variety of rain, sun -- just a mixture of different things there.
We saw you were out riding at the Bennick Compound in North Carolina. Was that your first time down there or is that a regular thing?
I went down twice; I went down with my mom and then I went once with Cody Groves. That place is unreal, man. Everyone down there is super nice and the facility is amazing. It was so much fun! I was just there and I didn't even get bored riding one bit.
Did you ride the main outdoor track?
Yeah, I rode the sand track and the main track in front of the shop. I was impressed!
Last year at Baja, you were racing there in the 125 class and that race seemed to have some of the most intense battles of the entire season for you guys.
Yeah, at the track we were all just wide open on the 125s. It's pretty sick! The last moto was super muddy and this one kid I had to beat, one of my buddies, I went off the track first lap 'cause I didn't take the sight lap so I went in this water hole. He was in front of me and I could not get around him the whole moto and that's why I ended up getting 2nd overall in that class. I was so bummed out, but no dude, we were all rollin'. Whoever got the holeshot, everyone was just like a train! It was so cool, that place is actually one of my favorite tracks; I love it. It gets so rough and whooped out.
You went on to The Motoplayground Race at Ponca City and you had a good week there, coming away with a title. How'd things go for you that weekend?
Yeah, dude. I was really impressed with Ponca. I felt great and the track was really rough; I love the rough tracks and deep ruts, so with that being said every moto I got a pretty good start and I was staying up front and catching those guys ahead. Ponca was definitely an improvement for me, so I was really pumped on that weekend.
Did you get a little bit of a confidence boost from that?
Yeah, for sure. After that weekend I knew where I was at, I definitely had more work to do but I saw that I could do it in that class so it for sure bumped the confidence up.
At the beginning of this season, did you do any Supercross Futures or Loretta Lynn Qualifiers?
No, we were going to do Massachusetts but since everything was canceled we didn't get to. But I did one Loretta Qualifier, I did the Southeast one in Elizabeth City.
You came away from the Daytona RCSX with two 2nd place overalls this year. How'd things go there for you from your perspective?
Dude, it was great! I definitely needed a holeshot that last race, but the first moto I got 2nd -- that was on me, I didn't make the pass. I could've been a little more aggressive, I know I had that one in the bag but that was just rider error there. The second moto I started off like 4th or 5th and came to 2nd. The last lap I was right behind Linville, so I was pumped on my riding especially in the second moto; I put on a charge so I was really pumped on that. I can't complain!
The track was definitely a little bit tighter than usual because of the throwback layout they had for Saturday night.
Yeah, the middle part of the track was the only thing that was the worst I would say. The outside and the ends of the track, I wasn't too bad with that but the middle was super tight.
Did you hang out during Saturday night and watch the Supercross?
Oh yeah, I watched it with my mom and dad. We watched the 450 race and that was just crazy! It was one of the sickest races I've ever watched.
Are you glad that you guys didn't do the 360° start?
Ehhhh, I dunno. I kind of think it would've been pretty cool to do it. I actually think it would've been better than the start we had 'cause the one we did was super tight. I almost would rather have done the 360°.
You went onto Spring A Ding Ding and ended up taking the title in the Schoolboy 1 class there. How'd the weekend go for you at Underground?
Yeah, that track is sick, man. But every year I get like a 6th, 7th place start every race there. It's something, I dunno...
Is it the light? (Underground MX uses a stoplight instead of a 30-second board)
It's somethin', man! It's something different and I struggle so much so I have to work my way up. The kid that's winning the race is getting the holeshot every time, so I catch up a little bit and then I just don't have the time. That weekend was alright, I definitely didn't ride the way I wanted to on Friday, but Saturday I definitely picked it up a little bit with my races. I turned the speed up a couple seconds a lap, too. Friday was tough; I think I got 6th one moto and 3rd in the other which was definitely not what I wanted. But I ended up coming away with the win and I think 2nd in the other class.
Were you taken by surprise winning the overall after finishing 6th place in the first moto?
I was definitely not expecting it. I was in 2nd and then unfortunately, Talon (Hawkins)' bike blew up right before that big triple. I was out front and it started raining and I legit had no more tear-offs so I couldn't see a thing. There were people behind me and I was goin' so slow, I could not see. Those last few corners were the hardest things ever, dude. I was like "oh my gosh," I could not see a thing!
What do you like about the track there?
Yeah, dude. That track is what I like to ride. Coming into corners, it had braking bumps and ruts coming down the straightaways. I think it's so fun to ride when the ruts are almost like a foot deep. It's so sick, I love that stuff! There's nothin' like it.
Yeah, it slows you guys down and makes things a little safer as well.
Exactly, you're not fourth gear wide open around a freakin' sweeper turn. It definitely slows it down and makes for better racing, too.
Do you enjoy mixing it up in the Schoolboy 2 class on your 125?
Actually, I walked in the house from Jersey last night and my dad just got me a 250 'cause he said he wanted to get me one. I was super pumped on that! I've been trying to get him to get me one so bad lately. He was asleep; I got home at like 11 pm from Jersey and it was sitting in the house where we keep the bikes and I was so pumped. But yeah, ridin' the 125 in the Schoolboy 2 class isn't that bad. I was riding the 150 in that class so I think the power is pretty close, just the bottom end of the 250s definitely gets me a little bit. But I've pulled starts on it so it rips!
What are your thoughts on the Super Regional format that MX Sports has in place as of now?
I don't think it's too bad, it might be a little crowded but once you get through the divisions I think it's honestly going to be the same people that would normally be at a Regional. I don't think it's going to be too many people but if this doesn't work and we have to go into the last plan -- I dunno how I'm feeling about that one. I'm fine with the Super Regionals, I think that'll work fine and it looks like it's gonna work.
Now that you've got a 250, what's your plan with that? Will you stay in both 125 classes through Loretta's?
That was the plan. I want to race Schoolboy 2 and 250 B this year, but I don't think it's gonna happen. It's still up in the air, we've still got plenty of time. My trainer was talking to my dad -- he just sent my suspension out and I think it's going to be back next Tuesday, so hopefully next week when I go back to Jersey that's what I'll be riding. If I'm really that much faster on it, I might talk him into 250 B and Schoolboy 2 but if I'm running the same speed then I might just run 125 and Schoolboy 1. But Loretta's will be my last race in the 125 classes, so depending on the schedule Baja would be my first race on the 250.
Will you be mixing your training up with some 250 stuff this summer then?
I'll definitely be riding it. I don't know about a ton of time, but I'll be training on it just to get used to it.
Are you excited to move up to the B class? It's pretty stacked at the moment.
Yeah, I know. I'm super pumped to move up, I've been ready. I was trying to move up last year after Loretta's but my dad was holding me back, but it is what it is. I'm super pumped and I can't wait. The first race on the 250 is probably going to be one of my favorite races, I'm so pumped to move up to the B class.
So if you decide to stay down in the 125 classes you're gunning for the title at Loretta's?
Oh, 100%. This year nothing less. All I'm going for this year is a win.