BACK TO THE BASICS:
Levi Newby spent the majority of the 2019 racing season contesting the B class, showing up at most of the prominent races across the country throughout the first half of the year leading up to Loretta’s. The Montana native started things off on a solid note with a title in the 450 B class at Spring A Ding Ding as well as a few additional overall podium finishes. He was able to demonstrate the same speed at Loretta’s in August, narrowly missing out on a title in the 450 B class with an impressive 2nd place overall result. Newby decided to step up to the A class, making the transition to the big leagues for The Motoplayground Race at Ponca City. He recorded solid results within the top five and closed out the season on a fairly high note, carrying some momentum with him into Supercross Futures at the beginning of the 2020 season. The Fly Racing backed rider was able to collect his points and was training hard down in Texas in preparation for the regular spring events when racing and the world came to a screeching halt. Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, Newby has been back in his home state of Montana, earning a weekly paycheck and riding as much as possible in preparation for a return to racing. We had a chat with Levi to see what he’s been up to during the last couple of months, switching from Husqvarna to Honda, and what he plans to do for the remainder of the year.
What have you been up to the last couple of months with nothing really going on?
Yeah, you know, I came home to Montana - where I'm originally from - and I came home to see what was going to unfold. I got a job guttering houses and I've been training as much as I possibly can while having a full-time job. I've almost got my CDL and I'm gonna start truckin' with my dad and make some money while all of this stuff is postponed and hopefully come back full swing.
Where were you based before you went back to Montana?
I was in Benton, Texas training with (Shannon) Niday so we were riding at Compound 77, Masterpool's, and some local tracks.
What's the riding situation been like for you back home?
Yeah, motocross is very small in Montana, you know. There's not much like for tracks or anything so basically, the place I've been riding a lot is Keith Sayers' - a freestyle guy that puts on shows and works with Feld, he's done some Monster Jam stuff and all the freestyle shows for them. He's got an insane place that's probably about forty-five minutes from my house and we've just been putting in motos down there. He's got a supercross track and then he's got all the ramps set up, a motocross track, and then some booters out in the hills. That's kind of what I've been up to. It's honestly been super fun riding; I'm still putting in the motos and everything but at the same time, I get to go out and I get to go hit freestyle jumps, throw whips, and kind of have fun with riding. Not quite so serious but at the same time still putting down motos and being serious with it. Kind of like back to the beginning of riding when I just went out with friends.
When you first got back to Montana, did you take a little bit of time off riding?
In a way, yeah. There are some weekends where I'm out boating or some stuff like that, but I'm still riding during the week. My boss is super cool 'cause he used to race and everything, so he lets me get off at like 1 or 2 'o'clock so I just go riding after that and lick off some motos. I've got this little place between where I work and my house - just a little BLM property and there's a little manmade motocross track out there, rollers and that kind of stuff, no jumps or anything out there. So I go out and put some corner track motos in after work and that kind of stuff.
So you load up your bike in the morning on the way to work and then hit the track on the way home? That's the privateer life in a nutshell right there.
Yeah, exactly. For sure.
You just switched over to Honda recently. What made you decide to start riding red?
Basically, my 450 Husky was gettin' worn out, I was beatin' that thing up, you know - that many hours on a bike and that hard of riding, they start to wear out. I went out to go riding one day and my friend came out riding on a Honda, I hopped on it and I loved it! Everything was feeling good and Keith Sayers was watching me ride it and he told me "Hey man, if you get your Husqvarna sold, I'll help you get a Honda." So that's kind of how it came together, he's a super good guy and he wanted to help me out. I got the Husqvarna sold and he helped get the Honda 450 and I love that thing. I mean, it kind of sounds weird but the way it whips is absolutely insane. Honestly, I hopped on the ramp and my third hit off the ramp was so much bigger than the Huskies and after that he was like "Holy crap!" I still haven't got the suspension done or anything like that; it's still stock, but on the tracks I'm training on every day, I love it! I just feel more comfortable even jumping it which means scrubbing harder and I just feel a lot better on the bike.
How was it to have some racing back this past weekend? First round of SX in Salt Lake City and it was definitely a little strange.
Yeah, it was weird but it was cool, you know. It was a Sunday in the middle of the day and I'm on the couch watching Supercross. It was definitely weird but still good to see it comin' back. Nobody really knew where this was gonna go and at least we're back to racing.
Last year was your final season in the B class, ending things off at Loretta's with a top ten overall finish in 250 B and a 2nd overall in 450 B. How'd things go there from your perspective?
Yeah, you know. I can't complain about those finishes for sure. There were a couple of things that I wish I could've fixed. I had two really bad starts in the 250 class and those just put me way back. They watered before my moto and every single time off the gate I just spun; I had no grip or traction and I think both starts I was past 30th place and I couldn't make passes, you know. My first moto I got 5th and I can't complain at all about that one, I got a good start and ran up with the bad dudes and had a pretty solid finish. In the 450 class, I always pulled good starts but Matthew (LeBlanc) every single one of them was right in front of me and I could never really catch him. I think one lap in the second moto was either the same lap time or I was faster than him, but other than that he just held a better pace than me during the whole moto and obviously he came out and won it.
What was the transition into the A class like for you making your debut at The Motoplayground Race at Ponca City?
You now, it was super good and I was obviously pumped to move up with the big boys and race with some new people that I hadn't raced with. We went to Ponca feelin' pretty good. We switched to some different suspension and we were struggling with that quite a bit at Ponca, so my results weren't quite as good as I wished they could've been but I feel like for my first A class race, I got a pair of 4th overalls, so it's nothing to complain about. But we know what we can do better and we've just been grinding figuring out bike stuff, so I'm ready to show everybody what's up.
You did a couple of the Supercross Futures at the beginning of the season. How'd those go for you as a whole?
So I got my pro points but to be honest, I struggled with those for some reason. I wanted more track time basically. Practicing I only got four laps and you have whatever it was - forty people out on the track so I mean if you got the perfect spot there are still dudes rolling the doubles. You've got four laps and your first two you're still trying to figure out where the track is and it was so crowded with all the people there, there were times where I had to go into the race and all of a sudden just start hucking the triples and quads 'cause I didn't have time to do 'em in practice, you know. But I knew I had to hit 'em so it was one of those things where you're on the line in the second heat or somethin' and you're watching all these dudes and you're like "Okay, I guess that's the line!" With no track time and so many people on the track, I didn't feel like I did as well as I should've. I feel like I struggled. My lap times at the last one in Dallas felt a lot better and I had an absolutely dead last start - I have a picture, it's literally embarrassing. I was dead last going into the whoops section and I think I came back to 9th or 10th place in that one. But I actually felt better than all the other ones and felt like I put the track together faster and I had a better practice going where I jumped the triples in practice before I went out to race. I feel like that one was way better but all in all, I'm definitely happy to get my points and get out of there.
MX Sports announced the Regional schedule for Loretta's this year. What're your plans for that?
That's a good question honestly. Basically, I don't have the money right now to go race Regionals. So Loretta's this year for me is off, it's not gonna happen. I'm going to keep training in Montana and go work for my dad, basically just makin' money and puttin' it into an account and then try and get more sponsors to be able and go race hopefully Supercross '21 - hopefully the full series and maybe even this summer whenever motocross starts back up. Our plan is kind of to get my pro points in outdoors and just go hit as many of those as we can, learn, and just take it from there. Then try and have enough money for Supercross 2021 and see where that takes us. Hopefully, everything goes good and we keep racin' dirtbikes and make a career out of it, you know.