Cullin Park made a big splash in the pool of amateur motocross at the end of last year with a total of five championships at Mini Os to celebrate his graduation from the B class. The rider out of Florida thrived in his home state as he continued to build his speed and confidence throughout the week, stacking number one plates one after another until the event came to a close. Park gained plenty of momentum moving into the 2020 season but was slightly derailed in late December when he had a bike issue while training on supercross, causing him to case a triple and shatter his wrist. He worked with extreme diligence and focus throughout the winter to rehab his wrist all on his own and was able to return to racing much earlier than expected, getting his feet wet at a couple of the Supercross Futures rounds in February. Park exceeded his own expectations and began to rediscover his comfort and poise on the motorcycle in preparation for the Daytona RCSX, coming out with a 2nd place overall finish in Open A and a 1st place overall in the 250 A category. The Yamaha rider has kept his head down throughout the last few months, putting some extra effort into his off the bike training in the hope of gaining an advantage on his competitors when we get back to racing. We got on the phone with Cullin while he drove home from a morning riding session to get the scoop on his injury at the end of last year, the transition to the A class, and potentially racing J Law at Loretta’s.
How's the quarantine been for you lately and how has it affected your riding situation?
Actually, when the whole coronavirus thing started I drove out to Freestone and it got shut down and I actually didn't ride for like two weeks. My parents didn't really want me to ride 'cause they were sayin' the hospitals were filled up, so God forbid I were to crash and get hurt or whatever; they didn't want me to risk it and go to the hospital. So I took two weeks off, then I got back riding like three weeks ago, and honestly I've only been ridin' like twice a week just because I had no races to get ready for, but now everything is starting to happen so quick with everything gettin' going. I went and raced Silver Dollar this past weekend (May 17th) which was fun and now I'm starting to get back to hitting it hard. MX Sports just came out with the Regional plans, so I'm excited that Loretta's is still happening, so there's a lot to look forward to now.
Have you ramped your training up at all lately?
Yeah, the last couple of weeks I've just been riding like twice a week but the good thing is that I've actually been riding with Tyler Bowers and before Supercross got announced I was also riding with Dean Wilson and Jason Anderson at this sand track near my house that my buddy Cody Russell owns, so that's been a lot of fun to ride with some faster people. Now I'm just getting back into it, hitting it hard, this week I'm riding three times and next week probably four. Now we have something to look forward to and focus on which makes training a lot easier.
How was it to be back at the races at Silver Dollar?
Yeah, it was so much fun honestly. When you got there you felt the energy, everyone's been cooped up and no one's been racing, so everyone was feeling good and ready to get back on the gate. It was fun! The competition there was really stiff; I got beat and I'm not takin' it too well. I got that taste of winning at Daytona, at Mini Os so anything short of a win now does not feel good. It makes you feel a little worthless, but I think it was good for me to get beat honestly. It motivated me and put a little fire back underneath me and I actually just got done working at the track with Ricky Renner today. He's helpin' me out a little bit and I'm just trying to find anything I can right now. I think gettin' beat every once in awhile is good for you and I'm fired up, so I'm just focusing on the Regionals and getting ready for that and then Loretta's.
What did you do back in March/April when you took some time off the bike during all of your downtime?
Honestly, I absolutely hated it 'cause I was suffering. Even though I wasn't riding, I was just hammering out training and I was just trying to build a base for myself to get ready for the summer. I was doin' a lot of miles on my bicycle and lots of gym work, so honestly I didn't like it all. Even though we had time off, the pro guys were saying it was kind of like our off-season, but the thing is that you couldn't do anything. Everything was shut down, you couldn't even go out to eat for dinner, so I just put my head down and focused on myself and just training my tail off on my bicycle and in the gym so I'd be more fit and have a stronger base when I got back to riding.
Back when we interviewed you following Mini Os last year, you mentioned that you had plans to go out to California at the beginning of the year. How'd that go?
So actually, I'm a little bitter about that. I ended up going out to A1 but not many people know -- I kept it really quiet -- but a couple of weeks after Mini Os, like the 21st of December, I was riding supercross. Things were going great and I had a bike malfunction on the lip of a triple that caused me to case it and it just completely shattered my wrist. I ended up having to get surgery and the doctor originally told me it was a pretty severe injury and I was looking at three or four months. I looked at him like "No way, I can't let that happen." This is my A class year and I need to be ready for the beginning of the season so I was just in denial about it. I tried to just focus on me during that time and I did a lot of physical therapy all on my own, I didn't go see anyone, and I actually ended up getting back on the bike about three or four weeks before Daytona. I didn't post anything about breaking my wrist, I just didn't want anyone to know. It was a little bit embarrassing comin' off five championships after Mini Os and then I broke my wrist. I didn't really know where I stood and then I went to Daytona and got a 1st and 2nd, so I was really excited goin' to Freestone and then that got shut down. Anyways, I went to California and just kept it quiet that I broke my wrist so I still went out there for A1 but I was never able to ride. Then my plans shifted that I would drive out to California after Freestone, but then the pandemic happened so I wasn't able to do that. Right now me and California aren't having good luck together, but I'm trying to get out there at some point.
You did a couple of Supercross Futures back in February. Were those a bit of a struggle for you coming off your injury?
For sure, that was a big struggle. I went into Tampa with about a week on the bike and everyone's like lookin' at me sayin "Oh he just came off five championships," and I knew in the back of my mind it was just gonna be a struggle. I went out there and I honestly had no expectations, I was just trying to show up and get as many points as I could for my license. I ended up comin' out with a 5th so that felt like a win to me. Not many people knew what I was goin' through obviously and me and my parents were hoping to even make the Main when I showed up, so to come out with a 5th felt really good. I had a lot of nerves at Tampa, not knowing how I was gonna feel and I was riding really tight. I ended up goin' to Dallas the next weekend and I felt better there, ended up 3rd so that gave me a little confidence goin' into Daytona. Honestly, I was really happy I was able to hit those 'cause had I gone into Daytona with no racing at all I think the outcome wouldn't have been as good. Everything happens for a reason but I enjoyed racing those two Supercross Futures races, but like I said Tampa was super nerve-wracking for me just goin' into it not knowing how I was gonna do. My wrist was still sore while I was riding so I was happy to walk away with a 5th.
What was it like for you getting the title at Daytona and battling up front with the guy (Seth Hammaker) that won both A classes there last year?
It felt good, you know. I gotta say I'm still kinda running that underdog vibe, I guess you could say. I'm kind of the only guy contending for wins in the A class right now without a ride. A class this year is stacked. Goin' in I think everyone kind of threw their eggs in the basket for Hammaker and I came out with a championship in 250 A. Goin' into that 450 moto, I really wanted to win that one against him. I think I led like ten laps in the Main Event and he ended up gettin' around me and that one was a tough pill to swallow. After he got around me, I just made a bunch of stupid little mental mistakes that I think he needed to be a little stronger about. But I can't take anything away from Seth, he was riding really good and he's goin' fast right now. Even just leading laps was good for me, it just gives you that much more confidence and I've got a lot of confidence in my bike and myself this year. Believe it or not, when you don't lead laps for a long time you kind of forget how it feels. There's a big difference between chasing someone and leading the whole race and I kind of struggle when I'm leading to be honest. I always ride tighter so I'm trying to get more comfortable leading laps so Daytona was just a huge step in the right direction for me. I was looking forward to Freestone, but obviously that got canceled so that was a bummer.
MX Sports put out their schedule for Regionals this year. What do you think of the Super Regional format?
At this point, I'm perfectly okay with anything and I'm just glad to be back racing. I'm just excited and I'm just glad Loretta's is back. I love Loretta's; I know a lot of people don't like it but I love that track and I always tend to feel really good there, so I'm looking forward to that race this year and that's really what I've put my focus on. It's kind of weird with the Super Regional that they put the A class with the Vets, so I'm hoping that they don't keep the track smooth and they still let it get it rough but like I said, I'll take any type of racing I can get at this point.
Yeah, that is strange but most likely so guys that are racing either of the A classes and maybe Junior 25+ don't have to go to multiple races. Did you see that Jason Lawrence registered to race?
Oooh snap, if I gotta race that legend...oh man.
That'd be pretty cool.
No kidding. I hope I don't get a wheel to the face.
What's your mentality like going to Loretta's this year considering it's your first year as an A rider?
Like I said, I've made a lot of good steps in the past six months and I feel like I've kind of reached that step where I'm at that breakthrough point. If I can reach that next step, that's when I'll be sitting really good and I'll be confident going into Loretta's. I'm goin' there not worrying about anyone else. I just need to go in and focus on myself and I know when I get there I'll put in the work. I'm really trying to get out there, lead some laps, and show my speed and show my potential, you know. I'm kind of the guy up in the A class with no ride so I'm trying to show that I deserve that opportunity and that's the main goal. I want to show some good speed at Loretta's and get some starts 'cause those are key especially in the A class this year; we've got a stacked field. So get some starts, lead some laps, win some motos. I know that's everyone's goal and I know everyone wants to win championships and everyone says it, but that's obviously my goal. I'm just tryin' to go and show 'em who I really am and I guess that's all I can ask for.