An exclusive interview with two-time AMA Superbike champion Cameron Beaubier on his route through the racing ranks, being Marc Marquez's team-mate and aims for World Superbikes
Cameron sounds Scottish whereas Beaubier sounds French, where does the name come from?
Cameron Beaubier:
I honestly don't know a huge amount about family history but I do know that my great grandfather was French and it was him who established our family here in America. As for Cameron, I don't think it was chosen for its Scottish connection.
So coming from the US I'm guessing that you started on dirt tracks and flat tracking?
Cameron Beaubier:
Yes exactly. I started riding when I was four-years-old and got straight into Motocross because my dad raced a lot of Motocross along with some road racing so I kind of followed him into it.

I actually started racing when I was five-years-old and we would travel around doing that. As we went along we slowly transitioned into Supermotard.
That's some on road and some off road in the same race right?
Cameron Beaubier:
Exactly, It's about 60/70% pavement and the rest dirt and man, I really took a liking to the paved part.

During those races I showed some talent for the paved part and we just kind of went with that. I actually won a couple of titles in Supermotard but we gradually transitioned to doing some sort of mini road races on those bikes on go-cart tracks and winning a couple of those lead us naturally into road racing.

We started out with one of those RS125's in a kind of mini road race series and then moved into the main American 125 GP series.

My helmet sponsor at the time then told us about the Red Bull Rookies cup having just got started and I went to the tryout where they accepted me.
I noticed that you did pretty well there getting some wins and also beating a certain Johann Zarco?
Cameron Beaubier:
Yeah, we raced that year there and it was fun. I crashed a lot but also got a few podiums but I was only 14 at the time and I was just having a great time.

After that Alberto Puig promoted me to the Red Bull Academy and I raced in it for that year but man it was so up and down. There was some heavy-duty opposition there too like Danny Kent and Jonas Folger and I would often stay at Jonas' house when I was in Europe.

In 2008 I stayed there racing in a couple of the Mediterranean championships and in 2009 raced as Marc Marquez's team-mate but I struggled quite badly that year and only scored a couple of points - we had a lot of crashes and bike failures and it was the same on Marc's side. I think he only got 1 podium that year but went on to win eight or nine the next year on the Derbi.

I remember trying that bike, it was a rocket ship and I went a second faster immediately than I had tested on mine and I remember sitting at home thinking what I could do to beat something like that.

Overall though it was a great experience and I got to travel all round the world as a 16-year-old racing motorcycles and few young guys get to do that
Most people performing at that level would have moved into MotoGP, why didn't you?
Cameron Beaubier:
Even though it was fun, it was just kind of tough at times because after a while I started to feel a little bit lost. I had no family there with me and I was feeling a little lonely. Maybe if the results had been different I might have felt better.

It was hard because back home my parents have both got full time jobs and couldn't be with me no matter how much they wanted to be. They just couldn't afford to take time off to come and stay with me and they also had to look after my little brother who was growing up at the time.

I was staying at various peoples places like Jonas or Casey Stoner so I did have friends there but they were doing their own thing trying to race and I had to respect that.

Sometimes making it in racing isn't just about what goes on at the races, it's also about that emotional support. Though I have to say that if I hadn't gone through that scenario I wouldn't know what I needed to do if I went back there.

In the end the motivation for coming back to the US was a mix of things. I was searching for various other opportunities at KTM when I was there but they weren't going to have a 125 team.

There were also chances to buy a ride but we weren't in a position to do that and it seems to me that once you get stuck in the position of buying a ride you never get out of it. So I was young, feeling a bit lost without a decent opportunity there and just felt like coming home. I decided to scratch around in AMA to see what I could find.
That was before AMA became MotoAmerica?
Cameron Beaubier:
Yes, exactly.
Was it seen as a prestigious championship at the time?
Cameron Beaubier:
I have to say that it wasn't at the time. It went from a high, high in the mid 2000's to slowly tailing off and in 2010 it was struggling pretty bad and that's when I went in there.

I started in a team running R6's. Unfortunately I hadn't ridden many of the American tracks and the 4 stroke 600 was so different to the 125's I was used to so it took me some while to get into my stride. An injury from Motocross riding also didn't help.
Are the tracks you ride on in MotoAmerica good bike tracks?
Cameron Beaubier:
Most of them are, there are some really fun ones like Miller but there also some real oddball ones like Road America. You look at it and think it's a total car track but once you get on it it's one of the most fun tracks you've ever ridden. Some of them perhaps need to get a little safer but in general they're good.
...and coming back to your career progression.
Cameron Beaubier:
After that learning year we scratched together everything we could get from my parents, Red Bull and some sponsors to run in the premier 600 class and I started to at last get some results.

We were running against some really good opposition and we could see some hope - it was actually a fun year. We were living hand to mouth and it was tough with our engines and bikes being built in our garage but with everybody helping out it was a year I have as a happy memory. I think we got five podiums against some supported teams.

At the end of the year Chuck Graves and Keith McCarty showed interest in me and when they told me they wanted to sign me up for two years on the 600 I was over the moon. It was really a big thing.

After a rough first year I came back and won seven or eight races and from then on I was set to the extent that I won 12 out of 13 of the races in 2013 and that meant they then put me on the Superbike.
What state would you say MotoAmerica is in at the moment?
Cameron Beaubier:
It's really getting a lot better. I think this year virtually every round has had an increase in attendance of about 30% so it is on the rise. Obviously at Laguna we shared the track with WorldSBK but the crowd there was impressive, it was good to see.

Wayne Rainey and his guys are doing a great job promoting it so I would say it's on the rise for sure. It's really night and day different from when I came back from Europe to what it is now and it's getting bigger with them having added a couple of new rounds in California and Pittsburgh.
What is the technical level of the bikes as regards suspension and electronics?
Cameron Beaubier:
We have to run stock fork outers but we can use Ohlins fork internals and we use a normal Ohlins rear shock.

As regards electronics I think there's a cap on the package cost but we're running Magnetti Marelli electronics for engine control.

When you compare it to the bike I ran in my WSBK wildcard ride I noticed that their bike was running a different swingarm, oversize forks and a newer version of Magnetti Marelli. But apparently next year we will also be able to run the oversize forks and kit swingarm so the level should be similar.

We also run a spec Dunlop tyre as opposed to the WSBK Pirelli. When I did the wildcard round I noticed that the Pirelli had a lot of grip right off the bat, especially the front, it had more grip and feel compared with the Dunlop.

The Dunlop has good grip but it's more steady, with the rear Pirelli you start off and you have a crazy amount of grip for the first five laps but it then takes a big drop and stays there. The Dunlop doesn't have that grip at the beginning but has a more steady decline.

Dunlop did a lap analysis of our race compared to the WorldSBK race for the Yamahas and the Pirellis were 1.5 seconds faster at the beginning of the race but were going slower than us at the end and we met in the middle somewhere.

They're not the same Dunlops as those used in Moto2 in Europe, I think they're made in Buffalo.
What is the depth of technical level on the grid, how many factory teams are there?
Cameron Beaubier:
There are a lot of factory supported teams like HSBK Aprilia, Graves Yamaha, Yoshimua Suzuki and M4 Suzuki and I know that there's been talk about some other factories making an entrance and it'd be great if factories like Kawasaki and Honda can enter to get it back to how it was.
Is it easy making a living in MotoAmerica, what proportion of the grid are making a decent wage?
Cameron Beaubier:
I would say that perhaps the top four in Supersport and maybe the top five in Superbike are making a good living though it's hard to be specific because it's not talked about too much.
'Good living' meaning tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands or millions?
Cameron Beaubier:
I would say in the hundreds of thousands range.
Where can I watch MotoAmerica?
Cameron Beaubier:
That's on beinsports.
And your contract is directly with Yamaha?
Cameron Beaubier:
That's correct right now it's a two-year deal but we'll see how it goes.
So who's idea was the wildcard race at Donington?
Cameron Beaubier:
Yamaha's really but also my manager Bob Moore, they kind of put their heads together to sort out the project. I mean that is the goal in general, to get me over to Europe and into WorldSBK sometime in the future. Obviously it didn't work for next season though, I'm staying here.

It was a pretty cool deal but I was a little bit nervous at first because I had to learn a new track, bike and team and just go in there blind. Also there's always the name Ben Spies hanging around in the air there.

It actually ended up being OK, I hoped my end result would be better but I didn't disgrace myself. I wish I hadn't had that crash in the first race because if I hadn't put pressure on myself with that I might have done quite a lot better than I did.

I was happy with how I qualified; I just wanted to keep going forward. In the first race I had a bunch of confidence and was feeling good and decided to go for it but paid with a crash. In the second race I was pretty much the only Yamaha out there and I felt I had to bring it home.

The nerves from the crash meant that I wasn't quite flowing with the bike but gradually build up to 10th. I really, really didn't want to crash their bike though.

Overall I qualified a bike in 8th that a world champion had got a best result of third on so it could have been worse.

I felt like the bike was a little down on power but it's the first year with that bike for team so it's only going to get better.

Also from the point of view of electronics I noticed they were focusing on torque maps to make the bike easier to ride but they don't have wheelie control whereas we don't use torque maps and just run it one to one. The feel of the bike was so different and given some time it would have been far better.

I really enjoyed racing against some of the guys there that I've looked up to for my whole life though.
Were you feeling the pressure as being the next American hope?
Cameron Beaubier:
Actually the second race was the first time I'd felt pressure all weekend just because I was the only viable Yamaha on track and all the sponsors were there but overall I feel it was a good experience. I've heard some horror stories about how wil card rides have gone in the past so overall it was really cool. The fact that my crew chief and manager came over with me also helped.

Luckily the vibe in the paddock was really cool with everyone being so friendly also knowing a decent number of people there already definitely helped to keep me relaxed.
And your aim is definitely one of the world series?
Cameron Beaubier:
Yeah, I'd love to go over there and race on the world stage, it's just a question of finding the right opportunity. It's also got to be better than what I've got here where I get paid well and am able to go home after every race, it's very comfortable here and I don't want to leave here for anything that doesn't give me a 100% positive feeling.

Also if possible when I go over there I would love to be on a Yamaha - I've had such a good relationship with them.
There are many ways of getting onto WorldSBK or MotoGP such as WorldSSP, BSB or Moto2...
Cameron Beaubier:
No, honestly, especially with some of the European guys who have come here that I can compare myself with, I feel that my level is pretty strong.

I feel the level here is high enough that I'd say that I'm far enough along in my career to not want to race in another domestic series, I feel that I'm already ready for WorldSBK itself. I'm not saying that those riders are not up to par, I'm sure that those guys in BSB are every bit as fast as us, but I'm just at a stage in my career where I need to go straight there.

I'm just biding my time and waiting for the right opportunity to come along.

As regards to MotoGP, I feel that there are a couple of things I'd have to do first to get there so my aim is definitely WorldSBK. I don't think there's any reason why I shouldn't go over there and be competitive on the right equipment.

What would be cool for me, without wishing ill to any other rider, would be to have some further wildcard rides next season.
It's fair to say that your name often comes up in the WorldSBK paddock as a new American hope so there was a lot of anticipation and interest when you got the wildcard ride.
Cameron Beaubier:
Really? That's great. For me at the beginning it was kind of a mess of a trip. When Jake and I flew over we lost our luggage which contained a lot of stuff we needed for the race.

They said they would deliver it to the hotel the next day but the next day came with no luggage in sight.

Anyway on Saturday we found that it had all been sent to Texas, they said that something had happened in the plane lavatory and it had leaked all over our stuff.

For the weekend it was just a matter of borrowing shirts from the team and flipping our undies inside out and maybe that panic helped keep my mind off the pressure. That made me feel at the beginning that it was going to be one of those weekends but it turned out just fine.
Thanks for taking time out to talk to us Cameron.
Cameron Beaubier:
All right man, have a good day!



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