Blake Baggett | An Outlook Like None Other
“I’ve stayed on the property for an entire month without leaving,” boasted Blake Baggett of his secluded spot in central Florida. Located about an hour away from the theme park madness of Orlando, Baggett’s massive plot of land feels like it’s in the middle of nowhere, which is exactly what he intended when he bought it and built it up with all of the necessities that a high-level racer could ask for, including a steel building that serves as the race shop, gym, and apartment, multiple practice tracks, and enough heavy equipment to make mountains out of the flat land. “When we came here from California, this was a bare field. We started from scratch and had the guys come in to get the well dug for water and the electricity,” he explained in more detail. “We lived off a generator for a year and a half and it was rough, living in a fifth wheel. We did all of the work ourselves and had guys come in to build the tracks, so it’s a little project that has turned into a big project.”
Maintaining the property has become a lifestyle of sorts for Baggett, to the point that some elements his training for his full-time job as a rider for the Rocky Mountain ATV-MC/WPS/KTM team are intertwined into his daily chores. “I do a lot of ranch work and am on my feet all day long, always in the weather and the heat. If you’re someone that just sits in the air conditioning all day but goes out to do your training, it takes a different toll on your body,” he shared. “What I have going on works for me, sometimes we’re up front and other times we’re not, but I think that’s because I’m in the wrong place at the right time [Laughs].” To say that Blake Baggett does things his own way would be an understatement, especially as he enters the latter stages of his professional career. There’s no trainer or coach on the payroll. Instead, Baggett has developed an even closer relationship with Team Manager Michael Byrne and mechanic Austin Kent, and he puts the responsibility of getting the work done on himself. “I’ve been doing this for a while and am one of the older guys, but not the oldest. You learn what works for you. I have had trainers and all of that stuff, but as you learn your body and get older, everything changes. Goals change, life changes.”
Oh, that’s right. At 28 years old, Blake Baggett is one of the older guys in 450 Class and he has been at this a while. His career has gone through some ups (factory rides, 250 champion, race wins in the 450 Class) and some downs (eye injury, major damage to his wrists and thumb), but for Baggett, that stuff pales in comparison the personal accomplishments he’s had in the last decade, particularly the start of a family with wife, Keleigh. “With having a little boy, Braeker is now the priority, but I have to get the job done. If I go out now at almost 30 years old and try to do what I did when I was 17, it’s not going to work. You have to change with that and adapt. Everyone is different and can get away with different things. Some guys can train like crazy and some can show up to go fast.”
That’s not to say that racing isn’t important to Baggett. Showing up and being his best every Saturday is still the goal, yet he’s no longer one that lives and dies by the result sheet. It used to be that way, especially when he was in contention for championships (why else would a guy basically glue his busted thumb to the grip?), but he’s gradually changed his outlook towards the sport to something a little more laissez-faire than the other guys on the starting line.
“There is more to it than just racing. Life goes on after that and I think that some people just get stuck in the moment, that’s all they have and all they can focus on, so they aren’t worried about what happens after it,” he explained of his competition and even his old self. “For me, I have a plan of what I am going to do, and I think I’ll be successful at achieving that goal. I’m having fun and enjoying racing and doing the best that I can, which is what the sponsors are paying for, but at the same time I’ll straight up say that it’s not all there is to in life and I have other goals.” What’s that plan? Baggett isn’t afraid to state that he’s in the closing stages of his professional racing career (his current contract runs through 2021 and it’s very unlikely that he voluntarily signs an extension), so his current plan is to be his best at every opportunity, put the bike on the stand after the last race, and return to California to run his family’s steel fabrication company.
But for now, the focus is to be one of the best riders on the track, which is something that Baggett is certainly capable of being. He claimed his first Supercross Main Event win in the 450 Class last year, has nabbed numerous moto wins outdoors, and can be one of the quickest riders on any given weekend. Doing that every weekend has been the biggest challenge, though, and it’s something even he’s not able to explain when it happens. “It’s more like, ‘Oh, that’s cool. I’m a bad dude today [Laughs].’ It’s one of those things,” he shared. “Some weekends I am the fastest guy indoors or outdoors, I have it and it’s there and don’t know what brought it. It’s an awesome feeling for sure, but the times that it doesn’t come, there’s no reason to force it or make it happen. You might not have it that weekend, but it could come the next.”
It’s something that the Rocky Mountain ATV-MC/WPS/KTM certainly understands because they’ve stuck by Baggett in the good times (his 450 Main Event win at the 2019 Glendale Supercross was a first for the rider and team) and the bad (an energy-draining illness that forced him to pull out of the 2019 Nationals). “Everyone wants to be on the bandwagon when you are at the front and no many want to when you aren’t, so it’s important to find the group of people that will support you no matter what,” explained Baggett of his relationship with the KTM-backed team. “Those are the people you want to roll with and have in your inner circle, the ones that will support you during the next thing in life. I realized that and I have a circle of good people right now. The team I’m part of is there and doing it, but if things on my end don’t happen, they don’t force it. We just move on the next week.
“Of course, I want to be the guy to win a 450 championship, either indoors or outdoors,” he continued. “I feel like I have the speed and if I could show up every day and be my best, I think that it’s enough to be the best of the best. But it’s tough to have those good days every day.” The seven-day span between this year’s San Diego Supercross and the Tampa Supercross is a perfect example of Baggett’s up and down results. Fast throughout the day in Southern California, Baggett nabbed his lone podium results thus far and looked poised to make things interesting when the series went East. Instead, a Heat Race crash in Tampa with two other riders left him with a sore and stiff body, to the point that he had to bench himself from the night’s Main Event. “The emotion roller coaster is tough, to go from being on the podium one weekend to not even being able to line up for the Main Event the next weekend. Ideally, I want to be there. I have shown up to Glen Helen a few days after surgery on my collarbone, the worst track on the circuit, and still gave it my best. To say, ‘No, I can’t do it and ride the Main Event,’ that’s tough. It eats at you all week because you wonder if you were able to do it. But at the time I made the decision, I knew that I couldn’t grind it out or have one of my finest results, so the risk wasn’t worth the reward. I just regrouped and went to the next weekend.”
There’s not much left for Blake Baggett to prove at this point in his life. Everyone knows what he’s capable of, but the opportunities to do so are dwindling and it’s very likely he’ll retire without a 450 title to his credit. But there’s a reason he continues to leave the property every Friday for another race: that maybe he could be The Guy that weekend. “I guess it would be that I know I have what it takes to win. Winning is the greatest feeling. If there was no possibility of that, or there was never a win before, I don’t know if it would be considered fun. But for me winning is so much fun when you can do it and knowing you can do it. If you can get it done that night, that’s why you go. That unknown factor drives the motivation.”