Photography By: Andrea Wilson
Daytona is only 12 weeks away. The World Superbike Championship begins in nine weeks. And Ben Bostrom doesn't have a ride yet.
Bostrom says he found out late that he wasn't going to be re-signed by the Michael Jordan Motorsports team to rejoin Roger Lee Hayden. Instead the team signed Danny Eslick in a deal that was announced on Monday.
You won't find a racer in the paddock more calm and collected than Bostrom, but his features were ruffled a bit because he incorrectly assumed that he was going to be asked back to the team.
"It just sucks for riders when you find out that late and most of the rides are gone," Bostrom said today from his home in Malibu, California. "There's not a lot out there and unfortunately that's just the way it is. I still love motorcycles."
Bostrom ended up sixth in the 2012 AMA Superbike Championship, starting the season slowly but building momentum toward the end. He finished second twice - at New Jersey Motorsports Park and NOLA Motorsports Park - and had one other podium finish with his third-place effort at Miami-Homestead Speedway.
"I wish I didn't waste two years at my last home [the Jordan Motorsports team]," Bostrom said. "That's the only thing I can say. It wasn't very good. It was a waste of time developing a bike and... they had a different motor that didn't work and when I switched back to it we were quite fast now and then when the thing didn't break down. It's been a really disappointing two years. It's a bummer, but it happens. Most of the time that leaves you with a bad taste in your mouth and you want to just be over this racing, but fortunately I still love things with two wheels - like motorcycles and bicycles."
Bostrom still has the desire to race motorcycles - even after just completing his 22nd year as a professional.
"I still like it," the 37-year-old said. "I was racing [cycle] cross this last weekend at the Greek and it's a total road-race track on a bicycle. It's so fun to slide and drift the tires. It's really enjoyable and it motivated me every lap and I almost got a second place. It's the same on the motorcycle - when the bike is working good and you have a shot at it. Unfortunately, nobody has a shot in it in AMA."
Bostrom thinks beating the factory Yamaha R1 with Josh Hayes in the saddle is a longshot at best. No matter who you are or what you're riding.
"Josh Hayes is going to win every race next year and that's just the way it is," Bostrom said. "It's not really fun racing for second place, I'll be honest. It's enjoyable when you get to second with a fight, but running around in second by yourself is quite boring. That's the way history goes. Yosh had the best bike for several years and they had great riders and were unbeatable. Now Yamaha has a bike that's extremely unbeatable and they have a great rider. There's nobody out there with the smarts or the budget to catch ‘em right now."
Bostrom said he wouldn't hesitate on make a return to World Superbike racing - a series he last raced in in 2005.
"I would definitely go over there," Bostrom said. "I think the racing is better over there than over here. As far as competitive and fun, it's definitely a better situation over there. Why would you want to get your teeth kicked in by that Yamaha here? Sad to say."
The fact that he and his wife now have an infant at home doesn't deter him from the travel. In fact, the family man would relish it.
"I'd do it in a heartbeat. I think all kids should have to be kicked out of their little bubble in America for a few years anyway - to learn some culture and language. Even if I don't go race over there, I plan on spending some time over there as the little one grows up to teach her that. I know how important it is. There are great things out there. Or you realize you don't like it there and you love it at home, so it works both ways. Then you learn to appreciate how good you have it here."
Bostrom also knows the chances of landing with a team in World Superbike is a difficult proposition.
"You have to make one [a team] or help with one that's just barely on its feet to do it. It's the same situation."
Having more notice on getting dropped from the Jordan team might have helped his cause, Bostrom says.
"I just needed a little further notice than what I had," Bostrom said. "I expected with the way the team had sort of failed the first part of the season with the strange motor and then all the motor failures I had... I just figured I'd be riding for them again. I just figured things were fine and dandy. Honestly, I think when they swapped motors back I got beat my Rog [Hayden] at Mid-Ohio legitimately because I couldn't keep tires under the bike. He won a race at Miami and the team looks at that.
"I wasn't super enthused about it anyway, but I thought at least with a third year it should be smoother with the bikes. In the beginning I was debating over two different jobs and I had too many people telling me, ‘Don't go to the Jordan ride. There's something wrong there. Too many good riders have failed on that bike.' You kind of have to be a gladiator like a [Aaron] Yates. I think it's a good ride for [Danny] Eslick. It's a good place for him and he's a rider they've wanted to put on there for the last couple of years. It's a good home for him. He's the kind of rider they like. And I say I've developed a pretty good bike for him."
If Bostrom doesn't get a ride in 2013, he has the comfort of having factory deal in place to race bicycles for Specialized.
"It's not the end of the world, not to ride a bike," Bostrom said. "There's so much cool stuff out there. Hopefully, I'll be doing some TV shows and stuff and enjoying motorcycles in a whole different way. I can always compete on the bike [bicycle]. The only contract I have right now is that I'm lucky enough to have a factory Specialized contract. Maybe that's the only contract I need for next year. I have other aspirations as far as things in life. There are more things out there than motorcycles, but thank God for motorcycles. I don't want to see them go anywhere because I love ‘em."