Mitch Payton’s Pro Circuit Kawasaki has had a dry spell on 250 championships. Justin Hill was the last P.C. rider to win back in 2017. The 2023 roster has contenders including Austin Forkner, Jo Shimoda, and Cameron McAdoo. McAdoo is in his seventh season as a professional and plans on picking up where he was in 2022 before an injury cut his season short.
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: I want to start by reminding everyone you had an AC separation at the end of Supercross last season, and I wonder how many people forget you were keeping Jett Lawrence honest at the time. You were right there with fantastic results. I think you went third, first, third, and a second before the injury.
Cameron McAdoo: Yeah. I mean, obviously the injury was a super bummer. It always is for all of us. But sure, I had good momentum. I had kind of closed that gap. He had a little bit on me at the beginning of the season, speed wise and such. But we were closing the gap and the points were very close. And things were looking like they could turn out good. And then just one little deal, something very, very dumb on Press Day took me out of it. Which was frustrating and still is talking about it now. But I'm really looking forward to capitalizing on the gains that we've made each year and also the improvements that I've made just in this off season.
Vital MX: You said you've been making some improvements. What specifically have you been working on?
Cameron: I don't really know if I could say specifically. Just all my weaknesses, you know. That's really what you have to work on each year. And working on my strengths also. I think that's something that might get forgotten a little bit when the goal is always to work on your weaknesses. But we have our strengths for a reason, so we might as well make the very best of them. I think that my weaknesses, I've shrunk them, and I've fixed some things with my riding and my all-around program the last few years. And it's shown. I just want to continue to improve and be better each time and each year.
Vital MX: Literally one of the last questions I was going to ask you tonight is, “what is your weakness”? So, give me an idea of what a couple of those things are that you know you have to improve on.
Cameron: I think one of the biggest things is trying too hard at times and where I placed my effort because I'm so determined at times. I guess I want it so bad, just like everyone else does. But, you know, sometimes it can be counterproductive for me. So, yeah, just toning some things back with what I'm doing and riding technique, studying what's working the best for racing.
Vital MX: I don't want to make this about Jett Lawrence, but we hear the discussion of should a team put their best riders on a different coast than him for a better chance at a championship. I would think a rider would want to race the best. What are your thoughts?
Cameron: I think there's a lot of limelight shined on some specific riders, obviously due to results, but I don't think it's only result related. I think that it's pretty easy to see there's some superstars in our sport and that happens. I just want to go race; you know what I mean? I want to race whoever at their best. And do my very best each time. I don't really care who's where and what's going on because at the end of the day there's a lot of fast guys. I think there's 8 to 10 really, really fast guys who all want to win and expect to win just as much. My best version of me isn’t affected by who I’m on the racetrack with.
Vital MX: Being in SoCal with Pro Circuit, you sometimes get stuck riding at the team test track. Do you feel it would be a benefit to be able to go east and train at multiple tracks, ride different places, ride with different people?
Cameron: Honestly, I'm very fortunate that Kawasaki has invested in multiple tracks for us. We have four different private tracks, all in different locations, different dirt, different everything. And Pro Circuit has two tracks at Glen Helen provided for us. So, we have access to a lot of different tracks. And then there's also 2 to 3 public tracks that we can go ride if we want to mix it up with different riders or whatever. I really like the program that I have, and I think it's the best version of being on the on the West Coast. And with going east, I think it works for some guys and there's benefit to it in some areas. Even the guys that are at these facilities only have a couple of tracks. But we are fortunate enough to have a lot of access to a lot of good tracks.
Vital MX: At the test track there's a fast line and there's a groove. And pretty much everybody sticks in those lines. I wonder how difficult it is to get any real race craft from that. What do you do to work on race craft, making yourself uncomfortable? Do you take lines that aren't the good lines at times and force yourself to look for different things so when it comes time to race you are comfortable with being uncomfortable, as they say?
Cameron: Yeah, totally. I mean, it's all about adaption, right? Tracks always change, especially at the races, but even at the practice track. Over the last couple of years, we've linked up with the factory guys as well and are riding with the 450 guys pretty much every day. So, most days I've got five teammates with Ryder DiFrancesco and all those guys. And then (Ivan) Tedesco will be testing and then we'll have Adam (Cianciarulo) and Jason (Anderson). So, we have a lot of bikes on the track, and it really breaks down pretty well to simulate race conditions. And the way you prep the track or the way that we water it, that all changes things. So yeah, we definitely do our best to really simulate the best and closest race conditions we can.
Vital MX: How much time do you take to sit and talk with a guy like Jason Anderson or Adam that's been around for quite a while? Listen to what advice they have, their experience?
Cameron: I don't really talk to Jason a whole lot. I mean, we just say, “What's up”? We don't train together or anything. I spend some more time around Adam, but honestly, Nick Wey is my trainer, and he has so much knowledge and so much experience with our sport. He's such a great asset for me, you know, not only as a trainer or a coach, but just life in general. He's a good dude. So, he's really where I feel that I get most of my information and knowledge and learning race craft.
Vital MX: Yeah, he's a fun dude to talk to. I love listening to him break things down. How do you feel you are as a tester? What things have you changed this season to find improvements? Are you really in tune with suspension and engine stuff so you can figure out what you need to be better?
Cameron: I've definitely improved over the years. It's a hard thing, especially when I first started racing pro because the way my amateur career went, there was no such thing as testing. I just sent some suspension to a company, and they sent me back stuff valved for my weight and that was just the way it was. It was a pretty steep learning curve and sometimes you feel like you need to have an answer, or you need to have what you like better or not. But to answer your question, I've gotten a lot better at it, and I do feel that I can set my bike up for myself fairly well. But I also have really good technicians around me that are working with me and are able to actually use what I have to say and know what I'm feeling or looking for. I think it takes a lot of work from both ends. It's not just the rider that tells them, “Do this to my bike”. I'm like, “This is how I feel”. I don't really know exactly what the change needs to be, but that's their job and they're really good at relaying that information. Or I can relay my information to them, and they can make the change accordingly.
Vital MX: We're deep into the off-season. I don't know if you’re East Coast or West Coast, but in the next month, how much better can you get on the bike? How much better can you get the bike? Are we just maintaining or are we still improving?
Cameron: I don't ever really feel like I'm just maintaining because I think with that mindset you can get complacent. I'm always improving. That's why I wake up and work my butt off every single day, because I want to improve. Unless you feel like you could win every dirt bike race that we go to every time, then you always have to improve. But it's very minimal improvements each time. And if you can just give a little bit each day or each week, we get to a pretty high level and we're not taking seconds off.
Vital MX: Recently the off-season races all happened. The Aussie series, Paris, and World Supercross. If the opportunity was there, would you want to go do a few of those to get some gate drops? Seems like that would be better practice to get in some race situations.
Cameron: I actually did a lot of those offseason races in 2018 and going into 2019 off-season because I didn't have a ride anywhere. I was able to do whatever whenever and I really enjoyed it. I like going to the other countries, I like racing other tracks and the experience was awesome. It felt like it was great prep to feel those nerves and do gate drops and just do the actual racing. That was really cool. They don't really like us to do any off-season races outside of the US, outside of our series at Kawasaki. A lot of it is obviously to protect their investment with what the main focus is, which is AMA Supercross and Pro Motocross. So, that's very understandable. But yeah, I do think those are fun races. And, you know, I think that eventually in the future I'll definitely do some.
Vital MX: Looking back on your career, your rookie year in 2017 was with MotoConcepts, then a fill in at GEICO Honda where you stayed a couple of years, then moved on to TLD in the middle of the season. You were bouncing around a little bit, finding rides, finding your place. Now, you've been at Pro Circuit a couple of years. How do you feel your career path has gone? When you look back on it, what do you think of.
Cameron: It's been very eventful for sure. But, you know, pre-2017, the trajectory of where it was going to, it didn't even really seem like a possibility because of the way that the sport is, it usually starts very young. And I definitely did not start very young. I didn't even really start training until I was 16. I went to public school, and it was just an awesome hobby for us and my family. If you told me in 2015 or ‘16 that I'd be in the position I'm in now, I'd have been like, “sign me up right now”. But as you evolve your expectations get higher and you work for that, and it's been fun. I think I've learned a lot and at the end of the day it's just helped me a lot as a person. I've learned how to work, how to work with people, you know, how business works. But I'm really, really fortunate in the position I'm in right now to be solid on a team. I've been at Pro Circuit for three years going on four now, so I have great relationships with everyone here. I feel like I belong. At the beginning of my pro career I filled in a lot. I just kind of jumped around. I didn't have a whole lot of results to speak for themselves. It's tough to feel like you really belong or to be so sure yourself. It's good to have confidence and know that I've earned the position I'm in.
Vital MX: It's been fun to watch you progress, man. I don't think you're even remotely close to pointing out, but what are your thoughts on any 450 opportunities? Are you thinking about that at all, or are you pretty happy? I know you want a championship.
Cameron: Obviously the main goal for sure as a racer is to be at the top level of the 450 class. That's where it's the very best and the most lucrative, financially and just everything. That's the top of our sport. So, that's what I work for and that's where my goals are. But yeah, I just want to focus on the task at hand right now. And right now, I want to be the best for my team currently and do my best as a 250 rider. I've got two more years here right now and we're going to work our butts off to try and put a couple more plates on Mitch's door.
Vital MX: I was thinking about this the other day, about professional motocrossers and how their amateur careers are. The family is very consumed usually by this amateur career. Sometimes siblings take a backseat. You have a sister, but I found an article that said at one point your sister was actually better than you. So, talk about your childhood racing and your sister MacKenzie being pretty fast at one time.
Cameron: Yeah, honestly, for us we started racing young. Our neighbors had dirt bikes and we got dirt bikes and we just all loved it as a family. There was no focus on just me. I think my parents just did their best to raise their kids the very best they could and create a ton of experiences and good times. And that was what racing was for us. That was our vacation. We didn't take family vacations. We would go down south to race because I grew up in Iowa. There was never even really a thought to do it professionally. We went to school, and we were just a normal family that loved to do it. And then later on, my sister was four and a half years older than me, I started taking it more seriously, and it's gotten me here. But my sister, she's in the US Navy. She's been gone since I was like 13 or 14. She supports my career so big; she loves it. She's super proud of where it's brought me and I'm super proud of where she's at. But yeah, she always beat me up growing up and was faster than me up until I was probably on 85s or Supermini’s. That was when she was pretty much done racing. But she would go to Loretta’s and was a top ten in the women's class. And in those days in the women's class there was a lot more women racing. She kind of got hurt quite often. When she crashed, she'd break a collarbone super easy, and she was over getting hurt because she didn't want to have any issues. Her dream growing up was to be a Marine or in the military of some sort. So, she didn't want to not be able to go in the military because of it. So that was why she quit racing.
Vital MX: You recently got married. Maddie is now Maddie McAdoo. Congratulations. How has that been?
Cameron: It's been awesome. You know, not a ton has really changed, which I think is a good thing. But yeah, it's been cool. It's a huge commitment and it's an exciting time in our lives and we're enjoying it for sure.