Two years ago, off-road racer Bobby Bonds was standing on top of the world after having won the 2008 World Off-Road Championship Series (WORCS), one of the most prestigious off-road series in the country. Later this month, however, Bonds will be showing up at the opening round of the 2010 WORCS series in his own truck with his own private bike in the back, just like how most of us would. Surprisingly, this just isn't how you'd expect to see a former champ show up at the track, especially for someone who, just a few months ago, was in the WORCS Championship contention, which he was for most of the 2009 season.
Yes, for 2010, Bonds, who rode for the Valli Motorsports team last year, will compete in the WORCS series as a full-on privateer, riding a self-sponsored Kawasaki. Despite his success in 2008 and 2009, no one came calling during the off-season, leaving Bonds with no choice but to try and win the championship again just like he did two years ago - as a privateer.
"Thing went down kind of wrong at the end of last season - team-wise - and I got injured in Washington," says Bonds who we spoke with just yesterday afternoon. "After Washington, I didn't finish out the WORCS series really well. I went from one point out of the lead to DNFing the last four races. It was tough. I fell to fifth in the series and people kind of forgot out me.
"So this year we're doing a super privateer effort, I'm pretty much paying for everything and that's really it. My family, we're all pulling together, kind of old-school. And there are some local people that are trying to help out. We bought three bikes and we're just going to go for it. We're going to do it from the back of the truck. I think we're going to pit under the Maxxis rig, but, yeah, I'll be driving my own truck to the races, paying for my own fuel and doing my whole deal pretty much myself. Maxxis stepped up and helped a bunch, and I have a bunch of little sponsors. We're just going for it.
"It's been tough to swallow; I don't know how people keep forgetting about me," says Bonds of not getting a "factory" ride for 2010. "But it gives me a lot of motivation. I'll go out there and do it on my own dime and basically kick their ass."
Part of that motivation has been put into his training regimen. Bonds, who has struggled with his weight for much of his racing career but trimmed down quite a bit last year, lost even more pounds over the 2009-2010 break.
"I have been training a lot," Bonds says. "I have a lot of motivation this year; I'm down to 180 (pounds)."
Bonds, as you might now cut his racing teeth racing motocross and Supercross and was once a member of the powerful Pro Circuit Kawasaki team, will be returning to his roots very soon. Bonds says he's going to race Supercross again this year.
"My main focus is the WORCS series, of course, but it looks like I'll be racing some Supercrosses this year and most of the outdoors series, too. The Supercross deal is kind of awkward, my dad has been kind of pushing it the last two months and I finally agreed to it on the first [of January]. We're trying to get a bike together and I'm going to ride three or four times on a Supercross track and go for it. San Diego is going to be the first one."
Bonds never left motocross completely. He's ridden selected outdoor Nationals after making his transition to the off-road scene a number of years ago. Bonds rode three Nationals last year.
"This year we're hoping to double and triple that," Bonds says. "I'm kind of doing the Supercross thing for fun and hope to make a little bit of money. If it goes well, we'll try to hit more Supercrosses. For a salary, I have to race as much as possible."
Bonds says that if San Diego goes well he will consider getting back into Supercross full time.
"I'll tell you after San Diego about that," he says. "If I can go out there and feel comfortable, then I'd have no problem, but if I feel like I belong in off-road, then that's where I'm going to stay. I haven't ridden Supercross in seven years. 2003 in San Diego is the last (Supercross) race I rode. We'll have to see how it goes and I'll decide from there."
Bonds says that getting ready for Supercross won't be too tough for him.
"I never really train off-road-wise. When I train, I pretty much ride motocross anyways, nothing like that has changed. As soon as we put a Supercross bike together, I'll start doing a little of that, too."
One way or another, Bonds wants to win, whether it's WORCS or motocross, and he's probably more motivated than ever to do so.
"Like I said, I'm going to kick their ass on my own dime and then hopefully someone will acknowledge that."