"Trying to Get Through the Bad Weekends to Get to the Good Ones is Pretty Tough" | Grant Harlan Check-In 2

Privateer Grant Harlan visits about switching to Kawasakis, the struggles of being on the road in a van, Hawaii or Texas, and more.

The grind of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship is over halfway through. Many of the privateers have trekked across the country in their vans to do battle each week and these warriors do their best to find places to ride and work on their bikes in hopes of competing and earning a few points. And a few as well. Grant Harlan hasn’t had the season he’s hoped for, but he’s continuing to work at it. The Texan, or is it Hawaiian, chatted with us about the season, travel, and more.

For the full interview, check out the YouTube video right here. If you're interested in the condensed written version, scroll down just a bit further.


Jamie Guida – Vital MX: How do you feel about your season so far? You’re 25th overall.

Grant Harlan: It's been tough since the first round of supercross, and I feel like I've been in an uphill battle since then. I haven't gotten close to the top of the hill yet. So just trying to keep plugging along with it and, you know, trust the process, as they say. But I feel like we made an improvement, at least in my riding at Washougal. So hopefully we can keep that up and have another good one at Unadilla.

Vital MX: What stands out that has caused you to not have the season you wanted? Is there any one thing?

Grant: I'm not sure because I feel like I had a good off season at ClubMX for supercross. But the season didn't go that well for me. I wasn't really riding like myself. And then obviously I got hurt before outdoors getting ready for St Louis, which kind of set me back a little bit. And then limited time on the bike before Pala and being on the road has kind of limited the training on and off the bike. Being on the road, it's hard to get a lot of that in. So, I feel like I made improvements throughout the first three races and then I feel like I took a step back. We’re trying to progress and sometimes you go the wrong way. Just struggling to find the time. I think that’s the hardest part.

Vital MX: You're doing it out of a van as a full privateer. Talk about the people helping you out.

Grant: Starting the outdoor season I was trying to put together my own program and it's honestly the worst time of the year to do it. Everyone's got their budgets, everyone's tapped out on product and all that. But I found a couple of guys like Riding on the Edge Racing who helped me get two motorcycles and then Paul Perebijnos with Renthal stepped up. Also, Blud Lubricants and Brad Behrens with FXR stepped up. And a bunch of guys like that really, really stepped up to make this happen

Vital MX: You switched from Hondas to Kawasakis between Supercross and outdoors. Is that a difficult transition for you mid-season?

Grant: Like I said, the difficult part of it was finding the time. I've worked with Merge in the past with Yamahas. And obviously they've worked with guys like John Short, Rider Floyd and Alex Martin. I have a lot of trust in those guys and with going green. It was really just a cost and a contingency thing. As well as getting parts. And one issue I did run into was the Merge guys didn't have a whole lot of experience getting a Kawi set up. So, everything I've done up until this point has been learning with them what works and what doesn't work. And like I said, you know, after the first couple of rounds, I was able to come back to Texas. And I think we made a couple wrong choices, just trying to do things quickly where we didn't have the time in between each race to test a couple of things. We figured out what works and what doesn't, and then go apply it. On race day, it was kind of like, “Oh, you felt this, let's try this”. And then I have three or four races in a row where if it's not good, it just is what it is. The Kawasaki is a great bike. It's just that I haven't been able to find a great setting due to time.

Vital MX: Can you generally find a place to ride during the week?

Grant: It's mostly travel. There haven’t been many times I've rode during the week on those back-to-back weekends. I think it's been four races, a break, four races, break, four races. I think the only times I've ridden was between the first couple, which was Hangtown and Pala. It’s been difficult. Especially, coming back from an injury and on a new bike, not being able to ride and put in the laps has been difficult.

Vital MX: What is one thing that you feel like you need to change on race day to get better? 

Grant: I feel like my race day routine is pretty good. You know, you wake up, get a cup of coffee, get to the track, eat breakfast, do practice, make lunch, then race. I feel like I've got a pretty good system down for race days. As you know, this is my third-year racing professionally. So, you kind of get a routine, a system down. But I think going into next year and even these last couple rounds, trying to get better during the week to make the weekend easier. Get the fitness up a little bit more and then try to get some laps in.


Vital MX: Do you have people on the road with you to help? Do you have a full-time mechanic?

Grant: My dad has done all of them for me but Millville. And then he's going to do Budd’s Creek and Ironman and I have a buddy helping me out for Unadilla. All the driving has been me. And my mom's come to two. 

Vital MX: You’re 21 years old and living the dream.

Grant: Yeah. I mean, it's tough, though, you know? There's a lot of times when I'm like, “man, do I want to keep doing this?”. And then I ride well and I'm like, “Well, I got it, so let's do it”. Trying to get through the bad weekends to get to the good ones is pretty tough. But, you know, we're making it happen.

Vital MX: At Washougal you had a couple of crashes and came from 30th to 18th. Tell us about that day.

Grant: The first moto there was a little pile up on the inside and I didn't get the greatest jump, but I felt like I came out of the gate okay. And I had Marchbanks to my ride and Hartranft to my left and they just pinched me off. Going into that first corner Brandon tipped over in front of me. I kind of ran him over a little bit. A bike flipped over on top of me. I had to get up, get going. I think I crossed the finish line in 37th or 38th and made it back up to 18th. Finishing 18th is okay, but just the fact that I rode good the whole race is kind of what made me happy about the weekend. Even in the second moto getting 17th, I was like, “man, I came from last in the first moto and started up front in the second moto and I only got one spot better”. I think just riding well, no matter what the result is, getting a good feeling on the motorcycles was a good step for me that weekend.

Vital MX: What are your goals for Unadilla and on?

Grant: I'd like to be in the points for both motos again at Unadilla. I think that's a reasonable goal. I know there's a couple of guys coming back, so it'll make it a little bit more challenging, I think for that 17 to 22 group, they’ve been close this year. But I feel like if I have that feeling that I had at Washougal, I should be in the top 20 in both motos. That's the goal for me there and then to carry that on to Budd's Creek and Ironman.

Vital MX: Last question. Let's settle this. Hawaii or Texas man. Where do you consider yourself from?

Grant: That's a tough one. I was born in Hawaii. I've technically been in Texas longer. And I don't really have a good concept or understanding of Hawaiian culture. So, I would say I'm Texan. But I also feel like I have to represent the island voice. I’m a mix. 

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