Hunter Roempke Interview

Dec 30, 2016

Interview continued......

Q: Did you have success right away or was it kind of a gradual thing?

A: Once I actually started racing and taking it seriously it didn't take me very long to figure it out and come up through the ranks. My family and I were addicted to racing and went all over the West Coast racing on the weekends and taking home a lot of hardware.

Q: And then you moved to MTF in 2014. That was a long way to come across country huh?

A: Yeah, for sure. I moved to MTF mainly because once I started racing big bikes in the B class things started falling apart and got difficult. I've always been a top guy at local races but once I moved to B class I started crashing. It started wearing on my parents and it took the fun out of it. My parents have always known how much I love racing and how much it meant to me so they started brainstorming and researching places to train at and they came across MTF. They gave me a choice, to go to MTF and see if they can help my riding and make it fun again or we quit racing and get into something else.

Q: How have your results been since moving here?

A: Well, my best result so far as an amateur was an 8th place in 450 B mod at freestone in 2015. That might not seem so big to some people but for me it was huge to finally get a top 10 at an amateur national.

Q: You've had a lot of issues with concussions right? Can you kind of give us the story there?

A: Oh man, I don't even know where to begin with the concussion problems I've been having. It started at my regional for Loretta's in 2015. My first regional I missed it by 3 spots from silly crashes so I had to go to my next regional and was in qualifying position for multiple classes. It started raining in my last motos and I ended up missing it by 1 spot. At this point I was mentally falling apart. I knew I was fast enough but I was over-thinking everything.

I came into my last regional frustrated at myself and I put too much pressure on myself. My second moto of the day I got off to a great start and don't remember anything after that other than waking up in a hospital bed. My mechanic watched the whole thing. He told me I was in 3rd, passing for 2nd. The guy lost control, crashed into me and I got run over multiple times and was knocked out. I ended up getting life flighted to the hospital. I got a terrible concussion and multiple bleeds on my brain. I was mentally, physically and emotionally destroyed.

I went home and took a long break to reevaluate everything and take a break from dirt bikes. Two months later, my family and I decided to go back to Georgia to see Dr. Burkhart at TOC (Tallahassee Orthopedic Center) and get my bikes and motorhome. I'd seen a few doctors at home and none of them really knew how to handle my head injuries. I saw Dr. Burkhart and he did a baseline test on me, tested my balance and vision and I passed all of his tests so there really was no reason he couldn't release me.

We got my bikes and drove our motorhome back home to Washington. I slowly got back on the bike and started riding my local tracks. It was great to go back to where I started and make it fun again with my friends back home. After about a month of riding back home I decided I'm not giving up and wanted to go back to MTF. We flew my mechanic to my house and we got in my motorhome and decided to go ride in California for a few weeks on our way back to Georgia. California was sweet; we hung out with a few friends that live there. Then we made our long journey down to MTF and started getting back into my daily routine.

I remember I was having problems with my practice bike so I made a few changes and I went out. I was midway through a moto on the amateur supercross when my bike hit neutral off a face of a jump and I landed right on my head. I knocked myself out and had to take an ambulance ride to the hospital, stayed the night there so they could watch me overnight. I had another concussion and a bruised liver. At this point I had a lot of time to think and I was honestly lost. I had no idea what to do or what to think.

I got released and went to see Dr. Burkhart. He did tests on me and I failed just about every one of them. My balance was terrible, my eyes were messed up and I had headaches all the time.

Q: Concussions are not always well understood even in the medical community but it sounds like you were able to get the proper evaluation and treatment. How are you now?

A: So he (Dr. Burkhart) gave me exercises to get my balance and vision back to normal and after time my head started feeling better each day so now I'm back to 100%. I've learned that concussions are a serious and scary thing. Concussions have been a hard injury for me to recover from and continue to haunt me to this day.

Q: Washington State is like, far from Cairo, Georgia. How do you handle being away for long periods?

A:I love training down South but, yeah, I miss being home a lot. I am a home-boy and WA is a place I can't live without.

Q: What about Supercross? Is that a format you like because it seems nowadays that is what teams want riders to be doing?

A: I have done very little supercross riding. Honestly, right now I don't really like it but I'm always willing to learn. I know it will take a while for me to learn to ride supercross but all of us at MTF have been doing a little supercross from time to time to kind of get us used to it early. They want us ready to go if a team does need a rider.

Q: Obviously this is a big year for you. What are your goals for 2017?

A: My goals for 2017 are to have fun and try to put good results together. All the things that have happened to me and pushed me towards quitting have made this sport not fun for me anymore. I believe if I have fun and don't beat myself up over the little things I should be able to do well at the races I enter in my 2017 season.

Q: What are the biggest areas of improvement you need to make?

A: I need to improve my mental side on riding. I've always known that I am my own worst enemy. Mentally, I hold myself back. I just need to focus on not thinking too much and just ride.

What is good though is my fitness, although it could always be better. While being home I have been working out every day to keep myself in shape so when I start riding again I won't be so far behind fitness-wise. Tony in the gym (at MTF) knows what's best when it comes to workouts and physical fitness. I know my fitness can also help me mentally be more confident as well.

So Hunter we’d all like to wish you great success in 2017 and hoping you can keep it fun right?

OK thanks I plan to!

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