Cami Samples hasn’t raced as frequently as she’d have liked to since the beginning of the 2019 season due to a couple of concussions, but she’s more than made up for her absence the few times that she has lined up on the gate. She finished on the podium in the Girls Sr. class at the JS7 Spring Championship last season and won the final moto of the Girls (11-16) class at Loretta’s, subsequently earning 3rd place on the overall podium. Samples was forced to miss The Motoplayground Race at Ponca City and Mini Os last season as she wanted to take the necessary time to come back fully healthy and mentally fit, but the break actually came as a welcome change of pace for her. She’s feeling rejuvenated this year as we’re preparing to get back to racing and she’s been training hard at Millsaps Training Facility eager to take on the upcoming Super Regionals and resume the road to Loretta’s. We had a quick chat with Cami to talk about her move to MTF last year, working on her mental game, and her plans for moving up onto the 125.
What have you been up to the last couple of months during the quarantine?
I've been actually training at MTF. We didn't have to make too much of a break because Grady County let us ride with like ten people at a time. So I rode probably like three or four days a week and we worked out in the gym two times a day so it really hasn't been that boring for me. I've been pretty busy.
When things first got postponed, did you take a little bit of time off the bike?
I took about a week off 'cause I was in Texas. I wasn't planning on racing Freestone but I was just visiting my sister because I had a few concussions and I've been trying to get back to where I need to be for racing. I didn't want to push myself and get hurt, so I just wanted to be healthy.
How much time did you take off from the concussions?
So my first concussion happened in May of last year and I had to take time off before Regionals and then I got another concussion in October, so I had to take off basically until the New Year and then I didn't get to race Mini Os. I wasn't getting much better with my head so we took a little more time off and now I think that paid off 'cause I actually needed the time off. Now I ride every day really good so I'm really happy about that.
What was it like to come back to riding after taking an extended period of time off like that?
I feel like the break I had was good because I felt burnt out and I was struggling a lot with riding so when I got back I still struggled a little bit with finishing training days but I've worked up to finishing four days a week and I've been doing really good. I've been making a lot of progress, so I'm really happy about that and I'm looking forward to Regionals.
What were you doing during all of the downtime you had when you were healing up? Did you do anything away from dirt bikes for fun?
Dirt bikes are probably pretty much my whole life 'cause I live at MTF. Basically, the only thing I did when I had my concussions was watch people (ride) and I did concussion therapy down in Tallahassee with Dr. Orsillo.
Even when you were off, you were still living at MTF?
Yeah, we moved to Georgia for MTF on April 1st of 2019. We actually came here in January of 2019 to see if Colleen would let me come train and she liked what I showed her, so we came out in April and trained for Loretta's and we just decided to stay here for another year.
What's the last year training at MTF been like for you?
It's been so awesome. I love Colleen and Little Bryan, they help me so much and they can tell everyone what they did wrong. If there is like a group of twenty, they really pay attention and help everyone. We do long motos and we do section days. They're always giving their best so it makes you wanna put in your best. Also, the gym training is really good and Big B and B-Rad always keep the track awesome and work really hard to prep the track even when it's rainy or whatever. It's awesome here!
Another thing about being a part of a facility like MTF is also the presence that they have at the races. What was it like being able to take advantage of those facilities at Loretta's this past year for the first time?
It was really awesome. I went on the spin bike before and after my races and stretched and rolled. You could go over there and talk to Colleen when you needed to ask her about the track, they'd make your food, and it was just really awesome.
Speaking of Loretta's, you had a pretty good year there last year with a moto win and 3rd place overall in the Girls (11-16) class. How'd the week go from your perspective?
It was pretty good. I was disappointed in my first two races but the last race just made everything worth it and I feel like I've worked on my performance anxiety so I'm a lot more ready for Loretta's this year, but last year was a great learning experience for me.
Would you struggle with that more at bigger races where there is more pressure and expectations?
Yeah, I had to work on my confidence getting back on the bike and I didn't have confidence last year 'cause of my concussions. I've been really workin' on that and I feel a lot better for this year.
Do you still have the giant bear that you won at The Motoplayground Race at Ponca City a few years ago?
(laughs) Yeah, it's in storage in Texas. It was funny 'cause at the beginning of the weekend at Ponca I saw that bear and I was like "Dang, I really want that but it'll probably go to a 50 rider," and then I was on the podium when I got the overall and I see this bear coming towards me and I was just like "Daaaang"!
Obviously you took some time off with the concussions and then this whole coronavirus thing hit, but were you able to get any gate drops in this season?
I raced at Gatorbak for the Loretta's Qualifier but that's pretty much it. It went pretty good. I won in the Girls class but I didn't do good in my Supermini motos, but I've been working on that, riding with the boys here and battling with them so hopefully that'll be better when I go to Regionals.
Do you feel like working on your confidence will help you more in that class as well? The intensity is very high in the Supermini class this year.
Yeah, I'm really lucky 'cause being at MTF I basically race the boys every day, I mean it's training but we're constantly battling and that's really helped me with my confidence. We bang bars here and take each other out sometimes (laughs), so it makes me way better when I race with the boys.
Other girls that race in the boy's classes have mentioned that sometimes you have to deal with them racing you a little bit different 'cause they especially don't want you to beat them. Have you had to deal with that at all?
Yeah, I've definitely noticed that at races but at MTF all the boys here are so nice. When I beat them they tell me good job and when I beat them I tell them good job. They're just very supportive and I'm really lucky to be able to train with such good people.
As far as Loretta's goes this year, what're your thoughts on the Super Regionals coming up?
I think it's gonna be fun. I hope there are a lot more people there' cause I think it's fun when you have a lot more girls to race. I kind of don't like Area Qualifiers anyways so I'm kind of excited that I don't have to do that. There aren't very many girls there so it's kind of like racing yourself.
What's your mindset like heading to the Ranch this year?
I really want to win and I want to be consistent and get on the podium every moto. I think that'll really help my overall and also starts which I've been working on that. I have everything together unlike last year so I'm really excited for Loretta's.
Is this your last year on minibikes? Do you know what your plans are for next season yet?
So this is my last season on the supermini so I'll move up to 125s for the Women's class next year, maybe after Loretta's or after Mini Os.