Recently, I caught up with Wil Hahn after a nasty crash in midweek testing left him on the bench for the rest of the outdoors. Check out the full story here: https://vurbmoto.com/blogs/tough-nails-wil-hahn/25266/
Wil Hahn | “It’s what I want, it’s what the team wants..”
Week after week in the 2015 outdoor season, Wil Hahn showed up. He’s been putting in the work to deliver for the Monster Energy Kawasaki team and just as the results started to show, a crash in testing left him sidelined for the season. We caught up with the venerable hard-charger while taking some time to rehab in Louisiana. We’d like to envision him doing this interview in a lawn chair and a straw hat…mint julep in hand (although we didn’t ask).
Without further ado… Here’s Wil Hahn…
Hey Wil, bummer to hear about the setback. What’s the latest?
Right now I’m down in Louisiana, I’ve been getting myself gathered and back together, I had a crash a couple of weeks ago out testing. I went down and ended up hitting my head pretty good, breaking a couple of ribs and collapsing a lung. What the doctors tell me is take some time for myself to heal up, give my head rest and that’s what I’m trying to do. I can push certain things, but the head isn’t one of them.
You were starting to hit your stride outdoors, how hard is it to be sit out rest of the season?
It’s frustrating, like you said I was building and everything was getting better and better every weekend. At Red Bud I qualified 6th, my speed was getting better, I didn’t put together the motos by any means but I was taking that next step forward and starting to feel like myself. The team has been great getting me comfortable and helping me adapting to this bike. They’ve done such a good job making that transition as easy as possible, I’m really thankful to be in that environment. I’m hard on myself when I’m not delivering what they deserve; they are putting the time in and to not get good results, it’s hard not to deliver.
At least you are setup with some time for proper Supercross prep. At the stage, what’s the gameplan and the goal moving forward?
I think right now the main focus is to get healthy and get comfortable on the 2016. By the time I get going for Supercross we’ll be on that, they’ve made a lot of changes on the 16 Kawasaki so I’m excited to ride it. They made it quite a bit lighter, made a bunch of engine changes and chassis changes, I’m looking forward to seeing how it stands against the old model which was really good too. I’m lucky to have a lot of good people guiding me over there, it’s nice to see how they operate as a team and has they handle things. There’s never a point in your career, whether your Ryan Dungey or whoever, where you aren’t learning. You’re always learning something and for me, it’s nice to go into a new team and be a sponge.
My goal is to keep building like we were in outdoors. In 2014 I was getting better every weekend, got a Top 5 and was starting to qualify Top 3 every weekend. In the big picture that’s the goal and that’s where I belong. It’s what I want, it’s what the team wants, and we’ll be using the off season to make sure we’re ready.
Despite setbacks and injuries, you keep a positive outlook and always seem to come back hungrier than you left off. What keeps you motivated to keep pushing through the ups and downs of racing?
I’ve always had a drive for it. It’s the way I was raised; seeing what my parents sacrificed to see me achieve this dream of being a professional motocross racer. That’s all-motivating in itself…what they did to get me here, it’s easy to get up and go to work.
With Loretta Lynn’s just wrapping up, what advice would you have to the next generation of groms coming up?
I was just at Loretta’s a few days ago. My only regret maybe from my amateur career looking back is I didn’t enjoy some of the last couple years with my family. There was a lot of pressure on me getting a ride and securing that part…it’s necessary and looking back, it all worked out fine. But that’s also your spring break and you only get to go to Loretta’s one time every year, so you have to enjoy those moments when the whole family is together. Once you move onto a team it gets pretty serious from there on out…you go to work. Nothing wrong with it but that’s the reality of it.
I saw a lot of really fast kids last week. I haven’t been around an amateur race in a while so there were a lot of unfamiliar faces, but I saw guys like Austin Forker, Tristan Charboneau, those guys were riding really well…across the board these guys are so young and going so fast. Even watching the 50 class, Deegan’s kid’s doubling through all the 10 Commandments where I struggled to do that on a 60! It’s funny seeing the evolution of everything.
How did it feel going back after nearly a decade?
At the point that I’m at in my career and my age I guess, you have a different appreciation for it going back. Looking at the track, the facility and the track was really good. New sections, good passing and good racing, it’s crazy how focused these kids are at such a young age now. It was starting to get that way on my way out of amateurs, but you see all these kids on 80’s on on their road bike or whatever…when I was on an 80 was probably eating funnel cakes and just being a kid! It’s cool to see the evolution but at the same time, you still want to see a kid being a kid.
To someone who might not understand, what does it take to be a racer at your caliber and compete at the highest level? Can you do it on good luck and natural ability?
It’s a lot of sacrifice and dedication, that’s the bottom line. To be any professional athlete, whether it’s football or basketball or motocross or whatever your discipline is, you’re still going to be sacrificing some things. You aren’t going to be going out on Friday nights with your friends or whatever, there’s just little bits here and there that are different. Growing up in that environment though, it’s really not a big deal; it just comes with the territory, it’s part of the deal and you just know that. But, it’s just a lot of focus. Tom Brady, whoever you are, there’s going to be an amount of focus you have to put onto your game if you want to show the kind of results and achieve the goals that you’ve set out for. It’s that simple,
What’s on the calendar that you’re looking forward to?
I’m looking forward to riding in general right now – as long as I’m on my dirtbike at this point, I couldn’t be complaining!