Back in January at the Grand Rapids AX we touched base with Josh Woods, Michigan native, former Loretta Lynn’s Champion and AMA top 100 Pro Rider. After a few more rounds the now team owner of the GPF/ Babbitt's, Monster Energy, MMCR Kawasaki team sat down and talked with us about the season, his riders, and some advice for local Michigan riders.
Josh on the National circuit during his pro career. Now watching his riders to help them achieve success.
Josh, Tell us about your Team and your AX season so far.
-The GPF AX team was started back in 2007 by my father, Ray Woods. I wasn't too involved as I was still racing myself. That was the year AMA started moving towards a pro licensing process so we wanted a way to help GPF riders make that step. The team was backed by Babbitt's from the get go and as our relationship with them grew so did our team. I stopped racing at the end of 2007 due to some injuries and started to put more time and effort into GPF and the AX team. I worked with the riders and traveled with them. Our equipment got better each year. We always focused on the Lites class as a grooming process for our riders. From 2008 to 2010 we won 4 Lites championships. The only problem was the more time and effort I put into the team took away from GPF and the amateur riders here and we just didn't have the budget to hire mechanics, etc. to keep chasing the series. We made the decision to put the AX team on hold but we kept in touch with sponsors and told them we would be interested in going back to AX once my father retired from GM and moved to GPF to help run things here.
My father retired about a year ago and Denny Bartz from the Monster Babbitt's team made us an offer to return to AX with a Lites team. The deal was we would receive all of their 2016 race bikes, practice bikes, spare motors, and parts. There was also some other sponsorship support that came along with it so with a championship package like that it made the decision to return much easier.
At that point we made plans to purchase a new race hauler and the GPF AX team was back.
The next step was to lock down some riders. Jacob Williamson was an obvious choice as we share a mutual sponsor/supporter out of Michigan, Vaughn Smith. Vaughn owns a concrete crushing company and loves Moto and helping guys so we had Jacob locked down early. We also picked a GPF rider to ride East Lites alongside Jacob named Cody Williams. I studied results from 2016 to pick a west rider and Ryan Breece stuck out to me. After negotiating over the phone for a month or so we were able to lock down Breece as our West rider.
How about Jacob Williamson? Another Michigan boy He started off 2-8-2-2-1 for the Season in AX Lites East.
-Jacob had only been to GPF a few times for short stays in the past cause he was attending High School in Michigan. This has been the first winter Jacob has really been on a training schedule on and off the bike and I think it shows. He's in great shape now. The only thing Jacob has been lacking is race craft and making good decisions on the track. He's thrown away a couple wins this season but that's part of the learning process and he's a better racer now because of it.
I think Jacob could be a SX contender but to do that you really need to be on a team so it's a process to get there. One thing Jacob would have to do is prove himself outdoors but he's close. There is a buzz about Jacob and his talent. He just has to put it all together.
Josh (center) with Riders Cody Williams (left) and MI native Jacob Williamson (right)
What does it mean to GPF and you personally to achieve success this year?
-Being a former racer you always want to win but I know the wins will come with hard work and preparation. My personal goal is for our riders to move onto bigger and better teams where they can potentially make a living riding dirt bikes.
What is next for the GPF team?
-No plans to move into SX or MX but we would like to continue with our AX effort in the future. The hurdle for us in funding. We invested a lot of money this year to go racing with some help from sponsors but a going into the season with a little budget to work with would help a ton.
Loretta Lynn Qualifying season is just getting started, for most Michigan riders that means they haven’t ridden much in the winter, what’s your advice to those riders?
-Well I was in the same boat myself growing up in Michigan and not riding all winter. The best advise I can give is hard work pays off. Simple as that. Ride every lap at 100%. Even if you only get to ride once or twice a week make every lap count. When things don't go your way you have to keep grinding. One of my favorite quotes I've seen lately is "Hold the vision, trust the process." Getting faster and more fit is a process and doesn't happen over night so even through the tough times you have to keep grinding.
We do hold a 4 week boot camp every year in July to help riders prep for Loretta's. Luckily we have very similar hot and humid conditions to Loretta's in the summer so just the acclimation process alone is huge. It's a very structured program on and off the bike where we build up to doing long motos. The goal is for our riders to not be overwhelmed by the heat, track conditions, and atmosphere that a race like Loretta's has.
Thanks Josh and good luck in the rest of 2017
Thank you and would like to thank the team sponsors: GPF / Babbitt's / Monster / MMCR / Decal Works / Moose / Factory Connection / Moto E / K&N / Dunlop / Scott / Rekluse / GET / Wiseco / Pro Circuit / Vortex / SDG / Tamer / Works Connection / Live It Extreme / DP Brakes / Amsoil / Shoei / Alpinestars
For more info about the 2017 Loretta Lynn’s camp please contact
Georgia Practice Facility
891 Bold Springs Rd.
Cairo, GA 39828