Rick Huseman Interview

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Monster Truck Driving Man: 5 Minutes with Rick Huseman
By Eric Johnson

In a throaty, beastly sonic wall of sound that can only be conjured up by 9,000 horsepower, The Traxxas TORC Series presented by AMSOIL came to life in Crandon, Wisconsin in the form of a land rush start reminiscent of The Great Oklahoma Land Rush of 1893 (when over 100,000 people scrambled for their own piece of homestead). Rounds five and six of the 2009 AMSOIL 4x4 series, 24,000 slack jawed fans watched on in awe as Rick Huseman and his brutish 900-horsepower, 4,000-pound Monster Energy-fueled Toyota Tundra had their way with the classic, teeth rattling 1.5-mile Midwestern circuit all weekend. After coming from behind to convincingly win both races on both Saturday and Sunday, the Californian made it five of six wins thus far in '09 and opened up his point lead in the eight-stop Trans-American tour to 29 marks over closest adversary Kyle LeDuc. Still feeling the afterglow after guiding his big-rig to such a dominant performance in America's Dairyland, we caught up with Rick while he made the 2,000-mile white line fever trek back to his home in Riverside, California.

Rick, what are you up to today?

I'm actually just driving home.

Driving all the way from Wisconsin?

Yeah, I'm driving home from Wisconsin. We’re in Wyoming right now.

Man, you made the slog all the way back there and are now coming back?

Oh yeah. We left last night right after the Forrest County Cup race and have been driving ever since.

When exactly was the last time you raced at Crandon?

The two previous seasons we didn't race there, so I guess it's been almost three seasons. All in all, we had two years of at Crandon. I enjoy racing there. It was a good track.

Was it cool to be back in that atmosphere? You know, 24,000 wildly enthusiastic fans in the upper Midwest ranting and raving about you guys and the racing.

Yeah, there was a huge crowd there. It's nice going back there because everyone is pretty laid back, you know? The fans really dig the racing out there. To a lot of them it's like going to a NASCAR race. All those people that live around there, they wait for those races at Crandon.

You won both races, so I'd assume you have to be pretty happy with how things shook out in Wisconsin?

Yeah, I'm very happy. This is my fifth year in Pro 4x4, so this would be my third year racing at Crandon at Pro 4x4 and this was the first win I've gotten there in Pro 4x4. So to get back-to-back wins in the Pro 4 made me very ecstatic.

You've won five out of six Pro 4x4 races so far this season. Dumb question, but why are things going so good?

Honestly, the truck we're driving right now, it's our fourth season on this truck. It's pretty well figured out. We've got all the bugs worked out of it. Sometimes you build a new truck and you have a good year to figure the truck out and make it work how you want it to. We've always had a fast truck, but now Toyota set us up with the new push-rod motor and that has given us a bunch more horsepower. That was something we were lacking against the other Pro 4s a little bit, but now that we have the engine we can run up all there with all those guys.

Johnny Greaves and his Monster Energy-backed Pro 4 team have strong factory support from Toyota, correct? Do you get similar support?

Yeah, we're on the same deal with Toyota. We get the full motor package and whatever they got, they give us. They're there at the track helping us and making sure everything is good for us. They always have plenty of motors for us and whatever we need. They've been really good to us.

In your words and recollections, how would you describe how the races at Crandon on Saturday and Sunday went for you?

Obviously, they went perfect (laughter). You know being that the sport was inverted, we were sixth away from the pole because we're leading in the points we didn't get that great of starts either day. And Crandon is a track where a good start means a lot because there's not really a lot of places on the track; it's just a really fast, haul-ass course. You don't get too many opportunities to pass, so we took every advantage we could of everyone's mistake or we just made sure of being in the right place at the right time to pass people. I think in both races we were in sixth or seventh position at the start and worked our way up to the front. It was very gratifying to do all that all that on such a tough course to pass on.

With the exception of round three at Perris Auto Speedway in California, you've won every single race in 2009.

Yeah, we are very ecstatic. In the one race where we did not do as well, we had a mechanical issue. We are just ecstatic. To win this many races is jaw dropping, you know? There's still a smile on my face right now.

The next two races will take place at Bark River International Raceway in Michigan on Jull 11-12. Have you raced there before?

Yeah, we've raced there before. That tracks is also a tough track to pass on, but there supposed to be making some changes to it. The TORC Series is trying to work with them to make some changes to make it so there is more passing and to make it more fun to watch for the fans. It's a good, fast track, too.

What do you think of the new TORC Series? Are you happy with it so far?

Yeah, so far it's been great. They're trying to do what the drivers want and they're trying to make it succeed, you know? I think the CORR series, they were doing all the right stuff to try and make it go off, but it was just bad timing with all the economy and stuff. I think it almost took off, but unfortunately it didn't. I think TORC is learning from those mistakes that CORR made and trying to grow off of that.

We're already creeping up on the halfway mark of the season. Are you feeling pretty good about everything?

It's definitely too soon to not race for the championship. People ask me if I'm going to slow it down a little bit and try and get this championship. I'm like, It's not even halfway over with yet. I still have to drive as hard as I can to get as many wins as possible. It's too early in the season to try and kick back if you know what I am saying. I still have to fight for every win.
 
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