SX: AMA Arenacross Series Interview of the Week: Devon Pilkington
AMA Arenacross Series Interview of the Week
Virginia Native Devon Pilkington Heads Home for Hampton AX
Two rounds and four races down, the 2010 AMA Arenacross Series is quickly taking shape. Last weekend’s two night race format from Baltimore’s 1st Mariner Arena showed who the man to beat is in the premier AMA Arenacross class while the AMA Arenacross Lites Eastern Regional championship is tighter than ever as it approaches the halfway point.
As the AMA Arenacross Series heads to Hampton, Va. and the Hampton Coliseum for the first time since 2008, one rider in particular is looking forward to Friday and Saturday night. Virginia Beach native Devon Pilkington has waited for his chance to compete as a profession dirt-bike rider since he was a child. This season, his dream came true and now he has the coveted opportunity to race just minutes from his hometown in front of thousands of family and friends.
Moreover, Pilkington has quietly become a role player in the AMA Arenacross Lites Eastern Regional championship. Through four races, he has finished inside the top 10 each time, including three top fives highlighted by a podium finish of third. Now, as the series moves into his backyard, he sits in second place in the standings, just one point out of the lead. The opportunity presented to him this weekend is surreal, but it almost never came true. We caught up with Devon to talk about his season and what he’s had to overcome to reach the professional level.
Devon, what does it mean to be sitting second in the points right now, just one point out of first?
I think I’d rather have it this way than to be a point ahead because that can put pressure on some people. Hopefully that pressure is on Tyler (Bright) and maybe he will slip up or something. I’m really looking forward to taking the points (lead) and the Lites East Coast title. That’s what I’m racing for and I’ll do whatever it takes to get there.
This is your first full season competing on the professional level of any kind. It seems like you’ve adapted to arenacross pretty well already. What do you think has helped you do that?
You know, I’ve been practicing a lot and I’ve been training. I’ve actually got an awesome bike this year. Factory Tech Racing’s Chad Goodwin is helping me out with suspension and motor and stuff like that. The bike is running absolutely awesome and really I’ve just been trying to practice. Like you said, this is my first full season but yeah I feel like I’ve adapted really fast. I’m definitely enjoying it.
Are you familiar with racing in the AMA Arenacross Series? Did you grow up doing it or were you more of a motocross and outdoors kind of rider that has decided to give arenacross a shot?
I raced arenacross back when I was on a 65cc in the 7-9 class. I used to compete in those Friday and Saturday night races during the pro races. I grew up doing that and then it’s just been motocross for me. Last year I raced a couple supercrosses at Toronto and Jacksonville but really it’s been a really big step for me to come out and try and do this professional stuff (full time). It’s been a lot of fun.
The AMA Arenacross Series is known to be extremely tough because of the intimate track set up and technical obstacles. Now that you’ve had a chance to really be a part of it, do you feel the same way? How tough is it?
Yeah. I mean its real tough. You’re friends off the track but on the track you’re out there to make passes and sometimes those passes have got to be by banging some bars and things like that. I’m willing to do that because I want to make this my career. I’m not going to let anybody get in my way out there, keeping me from going to the top. But it’s a lot of fun out there. Its tight racing but it’s also good racing.
This is your hometown race coming from Virginia Beach. What does it mean to come back home, race in front of your hometown fans and have the chance to take the points lead in front of family and friends?
That’s an awesome feeling. I don’t want to disappoint them or anything like that so I’m going out there with my head held high and hope for the best. It’s nice to be back in my hometown. You get that hometown “warmth” as in your welcome and people are behind you, backing you. I love the support that they show and we got a lot of family coming in so it’s going to be a good weekend.
Talk a little bit about your back story. You’ve overcome some serious hurdles in your life. For those who aren’t really familiar with you, explain a little about what you’ve overcome to get where you are today.
My life has had ups and downs you know? One of the biggest things though was a condition I had called Wolf-Parkinson-White Syndrome and ventricular tachycardia. I probably had it when I was about 10 years old and it’s where my heart, while I’m sitting down doing nothing, all of a sudden takes off and starts beating as fast as it would after I finished a race. It was tough because it would happen to me while I was racing too. I don’t even want to know what my heart beats were at per minute. Probably something ridiculous, but it put a big hurt on my career because the surgery I needed to get done was a serious one. They had to go in and burn the hole shut and if they burned too far and hit the node that pumps the blood, I’d need to have a pace maker. It had so much risk that it kind of set me back. I got the surgery done and my doctor was awesome and everything went great. Ever since I’ve been as healthy as I can be.
How long did it take after your surgery to come back and still pursue the dream of being a professional?
It took a while. It took probably three months to fully heal and on top of that a couple months before my surgery I was at the Lake Whitney National and got into a horrible crash that knocked me out for a long period of time and left me kind of numb, almost like paralyzed on my entire left side for about a month. That scared me as well because I realized I don’t want to end my life doing this. Those kinds of things run through your head when you get hurt. Luckily enough, I overcame it all and I’m back out here living the dream I’ve always wanted to live as a little kid riding a dirt bike.
Has overcoming all of those things inspired you to believe that nothing can hold you back if you’re dedicated and committed enough?
Oh yeah, definitely. I’m out there doing what it takes. You only get what you put in so I’m giving it 110% to get back 110% and so far it’s really showing. Whenever I’m out there on the track, I don’t even get winded or (arm) pump. With me speed and the timing of the race, I’m the same speed as where I began. This year I’ve definitely put a lot into it and as everybody can tell, I’m second in the points right now. It goes to show you that anything that may happen, I’m going to try an overcome it.
A limited number of Gold Circle seating is available for just $25. Kid’s seats just $9 (excluding Gold Circle). Tickets are available at the Hampton Coliseum box office, all Ticketmaster outlets, Ticketmaster.com and arenacross.com.
Fans in attendance also can take part in the Track Party on Saturday from 5-6 p.m. for the chance to meet the riders and get autographs. Simply recycle any MONSTER ENERGY can at the gate entrance for FREE admission. Must have valid Saturday event ticket to enter.