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Kenny Day looking for redemption at the ranch!

Traders Racing Yamaha’s Kenny Day talks Loretta Lynn’s and more

Kenny Day looking for redemption at the ranch!

For some it’s a fun summer adventure, for others it’s the biggest race of the year where big pro contracts and endorsement deals are on the line but a significant number of riders return to the Holy grail of American motocross for personal reasons. One of them is Traders Racing Yamaha team manager Kenny Day. 

Before I sit down with Kenny I wonder if he could be the world's fastest team manager. Although I’m not sure how stacked that class would actually be! For many different reasons. One of them being that team managers tend to be older and that any role on a race team is so time consuming that it’s hard to put the hours in that allow you to go fast on a motorcycle for more than two laps. Admittedly many former pro riders are not keen on any competitive racing once their done riding at the highest level.

Typical Kenny Day trackside pose!

However Day is probably not your typical team manager and Traders Racing is not exactly your traditional team. Over the last five years the team of owner Gary Luckett has made huge steps forward. It’s a fun-loving, hard-working bunch that’s more than familiar with the hustle and bustle that comes with Rocky Mountain ATV/MC AMA Amateur National Motocross Championship. Kenny is joined under the Traders Racing Yamaha awning by the team’s support riders Justin Rodbell and Jazzmyn Canfield. Each of them will chase Loretta Lynn’s glory in their own classes! Day won his area qualifiers and made the podium twice in his regional qualifiers. He will combine the Junior 25+ and Vet 30+ classes this week.

I heard that your physical programme changed quite a bit to prepare for Loretta’s?
Kenny Day: “That’s correct! I do quite a bit of running normally, that’s my easement for the day after I’m done working. When I decided to take this thing on one of our mechanics, Tony Archer created a little bootcamp for me. I got into eating better, doing high intensity workouts, that type of stuff. Honestly, I feel like I’m in the best shape of my life now! And I’m probably riding better than ever too!”

At the age of 30 Kenny is riding better than ever!
Tell us about your pro career as a racer.
Day: “I turned pro in ’09, I did the best I could with what I had at my disposable but it was quite a struggle to combine racing with a regular job and the help I had was limited. So after that I decided to step away little bit and got a regular job. I still did selected races here and there. The last time I tried to qualify for a National was at Budds Creek in ’13. One year later I started to get involved with the Traders Racing Team and I actually wrenched for Tony Archer. My pro career was bitter sweet actually because I never qualified for a National. I was always the guy that about half a second off of qualifying. Every single time. I’m not even kidding, every single time I showed up it was like that! ”

You kept on riding all the time you were mechanic yourself and later on team manager? 
Day: “Not so much really, just a little bit here and there. I think what helps me now is that you get to spend quality time with a higher calibre of rider, you see them ride almost every single day. You learn so many things from observation and being around those guys. When I did my area qualifier in Dade City it had been a long, long time since I had raced! Just packing my gate, my nerves were going through the roof so much that I thought I was going to pass out. But it was a good experience and I never raced again until I did my regional. Ideally I’d like to had more races under my belt before coming here but once the gate drops you become a different person and you go into race mode!” 

Jumping back on a motorcycle and experiencing what his riders feel on the bike has given Kenny a new understanding.

You decided to race a 250F, why?
Day: “Yeah, I know it sounds weird! There’s two reasons. One, I’m actually riding a complete race bike, exactly the same that Luke Renzland and Nick Gaines are riding. It will be the same, suspension and everything. After doing some testing I thought, I don’t think I’ll need anything more. The 450 is an advantage in the start but the track at Loretta’s is extremely tight. The last time I raced here was on a 450, and I remember hating it! I just had the feeling it was way too much bike for the track. So the start might be a bit of an issue, but I’m normally quite good at coming through the pack. Even in my regional it was tough to get a start. Skip (ed. Norfolk) and the guys have build an amazing engine package. It’s a rocket!”

Day will race the same level of machinery that Luke Renzland uses.

The 25+ class is really deep and 30+ is no joke either. What’s your objective at Loretta’s?
Day: “I don’t want anything less than a podium, I feel I can get there. Like you said 25+ is definitely stacked. You got guys like Mike Brown in it who won last year. I raced him in my regional, I have no doubt that he can still show up and put in a top-10 in a National. So that’s going to be very, very competitive. The 30+ class will be competitive too but not so deep I feel. I just need good starts, I know that’s what anyone is going to say… But like I said I feel more prepared coming into this even than when I was racing. That’s also why I did it. I saw an opportunity with our outdoor season being limited. I’m not getting any younger so let’s go for it!”

It’s cool to see that the team has been taking your little adventure very serious. Just like any other SX or National. Do you feel any pressure that comes with that?
Day: “I do! Skip and Tony put in just the same kind of work they do when they build a bike for Luke (ed. Renzland) or Nick (ed. Gaines). We did suspension testing, everything really to get me comfortable on the bike. That’s been a great and fun process to go through, regardless of the results. Luckily I’m not the only who’s flying the flag for Traders Racing Yamaha. We have Justin Rodbell and Jazzmyn Canfield there. Jazzmyn has won Loretta titles before and we expect great things from her again. It’s only quite recently she has joined the team but we rode quite a lot together and she’s exceptional. There’s days that she can turn it up and she was right there with me. I expect a lot from Justin as well, he’s riding exceptionally well. We’re showing up in a full-semi with factory race bikes, so we can’t hide!”

Keep an eye on Justin Rodbell in 250A and Open Pro Sport.

How did your last Loretta’s go?
Day:
“The last time I was there was 2013 and I raced the 25+ class. I felt like I had the worst luck in the world! That’s what Loretta’s can do to you, chew you and spit you out. I was a couple of motos running top-5, top-6 and riding comfortable and than I would have a big crash. When everything was said and done I came 15th overall I think. Extremely unhappy with do do it feels good to get a kind of redemption!”

Riding yourself like you did over the last few months, your age and being out at the track every single practice session makes you a different -very hands-on kind of team manager.
Day: “Yeah exactly, from day one it’s been like that. I’ve been hands-on with everything from driver, to mechanic to manager. With time I stepped back and started delegating as well but I take pride in being very involved. I live where the shop is and spending a lot of time with the riders at the track makes it easier to get to know them and what makes them happy. Frankly, the process of me preparing for Loretta’s has been insightful as well. By riding the bike often and testing I learned more about the level of where these guys are and the things they’re feeling on the track I’m able to relate a lot more to that now.”

Emotional day: Kenny Day looks on as Luke Renzland climbs the podium in Indy.

How do you look back on Supercross season for the team. On one hand you had the breakthrough of Luke Renzland who made his first podium and finished 5th overall in 250SX East. On the other hand bad luck with Jayce Pennington and Nick Gaines wasn’t able to show his potential.
Day:
“It’s been an amazing season! We always believed in all of our guys, we always knew that Luke could be on the podium. We always knew that Nick could be a top-10 guy and with Jayce it was more a matter of figuring out how to calm him down so that he could show what he’s capable of. Even when out outdoor season has been limited and we had those ups and downs overall it’s been awesome. What we achieved as a team was pretty exceptional. To look back and to think that we got a podium as a privateer team -which hasn’t been done in a long time- has been phenomenal. I’m extremely grateful for what we have been able to accomplish. This year and the years prior. Every year we learn more as a team, we learn more about each other, we learn more about the bikes and that’s how we can provide a great package to the riders. As a group we’re very connected, more like a family. Although we’re having a lot of fun together there’s also pressure because we want the guys to perform obviously."

Your riders will be watching you closely this week! 
Day:
"That's fine. Like I said, just the whole experience has been super interesting.  I feel it has helped us as a team as well in this period. And it's kind of a cool story, to have a team manager who's racing! In the back of my mind I still have one racing dream and that's to line up at Budds Creek for the National. That's the home track for our team because where from Maryland. It's also my own home track. I feel that with my current form I could give it another try to qualify there. It would be unbelievable, but I first need to have a word with our owner about that!"

For once someone else will be watching the stopwatch for Kenny this week.

Good luck with the racing Kenny!
Day:
"Thanks and thank you for the interview."

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