SALT LAKE CITY STOKED:
Back in March when the Monster Energy Supercross series was still proceeding as regularly scheduled, Logan Leitzel made his professional debut at Daytona International Speedway for the tenth round of action, competing in the 250SX East class. The Pennsylvania native went into the race with relatively no expectations and the mindset to use it as a learning experience, but he still managed to qualify for the night show and put himself on the gate with some of the best SX racers in the country. Unfortunately, the season came to an abrupt halt and so did Leitzel’s training program as he was diagnosed with the Epstein-Barr virus, forcing him to take about a month off of riding. Fortunately, that gave him some free time to focus on his skills in MX Simulator but it definitely wasn’t optimal in terms of being prepared as possible to race in Salt Lake City. It was hurriedly announced that Monster Energy Supercross would be returning to complete the final seven rounds of the season at the location of the originally scheduled finale, Rice-Eccles Stadium. He got the call, loaded up with his dad and they made the cross-country trek to Utah to take on the remaining rounds of racing in what has become a historic and unprecedented season of Monster Energy Supercross. We got on the phone with Logan from his hotel in downtown Salt Lake City to give us the scoop on what it was like racing the first of seven rounds and what he’s expecting for the next six.
You made your professional debut back at Daytona which seems like forever ago at this punt, but looking back - what was that whole experience like for you?
Yeah, it's definitely been a strange situation. But dude, racing Daytona was unbelievable. It was so surreal that all the hard work finally paid off and to finally be out there with those guys. Obviously making the night show my first try, that was pretty awesome! It was just an experience I'll never forget but now it's just about grinding and trying to better my results and just keep movin' forward.
Was it cool to make your pro debut at a venue where you've raced as an amateur many times?
Yeah, it was honestly pretty rad 'cause I've always kind of done good at Daytona so it kind of worked out for me. Especially for me, I've never really even ridden real supercross until like Salt Lake 1, so for me at Daytona it was actually a really good race to kind of learn the atmosphere, the fans, and the competitors and everything. I think it was perfect for me to make my debut there and learn.
After Daytona you had a significant amount of time off the bike during the break, talk a little bit about what was going on there.
So basically after Daytona, I was at South of the Border training and was just grinding, putting the work in, and getting ready for outdoors. I don't know, I was definitely workin' really hard and I wasn't allowing my body to recover good enough. It was my fault at the end of the day and I ended up getting Epstein-Barr and that kind of took me down for a little over a month. So for that whole month, I was off the bike doin' nothing and then I got the call to race Salt Lake. I basically got cleared the day of the race, I rode a little bit before the race. We loaded up, me and my dad drove across the country and now we're out here in Utah.
When you were laid up and not riding, did that give you a good amount of time to focus on finishing out the MX Sim season?
(laughs) Why did I know this was gonna come up? Oh my goodness. I definitely did, yeah. I actually got really, really good at Sim and I kind of got my speed back up again but I took two or three weeks off to start getting my body ready to go for Supercross again and now I'm back to square one.
What was the process like of getting to Salt Lake City early for the coronavirus testing?
Yeah, me and my dad left on Monday from Pennsylvania and we just drove and drove forever. We actually got to Utah by Wednesday-ish and we rode at Bobby Fitch's house, so I rode at his house in Colorado and did some SX and we ended up getting out to Utah by like Wednesday afternoon. I've basically been here since last week just getting accustomed to the elevation and everything, so it was good.
What's the elevation been like for you?
It's been a little tough on me especially with the whole Epstein-Barr virus thing. I know after the heat race or maybe qualifying, I couldn't breathe for like fifteen minutes after. My lungs were so tight and my chest felt like somebody was just holding a brick on it. So it's been a little tough but it is what it is. I know what my prep was coming into it and I know what I was dealing with, so I'm not gonna make excuses about it. We're just goin' to push through and make the best of it.
How has it been with all of the scheduling changes and social distancing parameters that have been put in place?
Yeah, it's been really weird. Obviously, we showed up on Wednesday and we had to go take a COVID-19 test so we had to do that first. Everything's weird. We're all in masks, we're all really separated. You don't really see anybody talkin' to each other or over at other people's pit. We don't even get to do a track walk like you just get to sit in the stands and look at the track from all around the stadium while everyone is spread out. It's kind of weird with no fans - to be honest with you, it kind of feels like a local race at a local track with no one there. It's really weird, especially a Sunday race. It's 3 pm in the afternoon, the track is baked and pretty dry and we're racin' with nobody around and twenty-two of the fastest dudes in the USA are racing each other. What in the world is happening? It is really, really weird but we're back racing so let's just make the most of it.
What was it like having the 250 LCQ right after the 250 heat races? That was a pretty quick turn around.
It was weird. I actually didn't even realize they were doin' that until right before. I had no idea that they had pushed it up but it was definitely a quick turn around. I was hurtin' goin' up to the line for the LCQ. I was able to push through; I actually ripped like a pretty good start and my LCQ went pretty well. But it was a quick turn around and I think everyone kind of felt the effects, especially if you were in Heat 2 since you just went right back into it. Everyone's kind of feeling the effects of the elevation and being off the bike, so we're all just gettin' used to it and I think by this Sunday everyone will kind of be up to speed.
How're you feeling? Ready to get back to racing tomorrow?
Oh yeah, I'm ready to go. I'm a little sore but I'm about as ready as I can be at this time. I'm just gonna keep learning and keep building. Just baby steps really, I'm just gonna keep learning. Salt Lake City was my second day ever on an SX track and my first time ever hitting whoops so I was definitely underprepared to say the least, probably compared to everyone else.
What were your thoughts on the track and the somewhat unique dirt compound out there? It was definitely more hardpack than we're used to seeing in SX.
The track just got really, really dry towards the end of the day but in the morning it was actually pretty muddy, but it definitely tacked up. I think the biggest thing for me is just how the jumps were - I never hit jumps that were so peaked before like the finish line jump was a huck on a 250. It was kind of crazy and surreal to see how big everything was on a real SX track and even with things a little mellowed down I was like "Dang, I gotta hit these things even bigger?" But no, I'm excited and I just can't wait for the next round honestly.
Well, you don't have to wait too long! Where are you staying in Salt Lake City? Are you anywhere close to some of the protests and riots that have been happening in the city?
It's actually been pretty crazy. You know, it's bad enough - we're already racing without fans and then everything with COVID and now we've got riots going on in downtown Salt Lake. It is pretty wild, I'm actually in a hotel in downtown Salt Lake and there are people screaming and running by our hotel tryin' to find ways to get to safety. Yeah, it's definitely not the best atmosphere for us racers. We have no idea really what's goin' on and it's just crazy! Us racers are all kind of coming together as a family and workin' together to keep racing and not get caught in the protests, so it's been pretty crazy.
Did you see there's going to be a Pro National at Loretta Lynn's this year?
Oh my goodness, yeah. I don't really know what my opinion is about that. I've never had good luck there and honestly, I'm not a huge fan of the track. But we all have to race the same track so I guess I'll just have to get myself ready.
What do you think they'll do with the track?
If I had to guess, I'd think they're going to have to build it up a little bit. Right now the track is really easy.
As far as the Pro Motocross series goes, Ironman has been announced as the series opener on July 18th. What're your plans for the outdoor series?
Yeah, I think my plans for outdoors are just to privateer it as much as I can and as long as the bank account doesn't run dry, just keep doin' as much as I can to keep racing as long as I can for outdoors. I really have no set plan for what class or what bike or what team. Right now it's just kind of my own effort and the backing of my sponsors, everybody I have in my corner, and I'm just gonna do as much as I can and we'll go from there.