A True Privateer – Turning Wrenches and Laps with Mike Morgan

Mike Morgan is a unique individual in the world of motorcycle road racing. He is the owner/rider of the RIM Racing Autolite Suzuki GSXR-600 Daytona Sportbike team. Mike is one of the few riders on the AMA tour who handles all aspects of the race team from tuning the bike to paying off expenses. This is not something you normally see at the expert level classes of AMA racing.  I was privileged to have the opportunity to sit down with Mike at the 2012 AMA Subway Doubleheader at Road America.

Mecca of Speed: How did you get into motorcycle racing?

Mike Morgan: I started with dirt bikes when I was young and my interest grew after attending track days at various events. At seventeen I made the jump from dirt bikes to road racing. By then I knew I was bitten by the bug and turned pro eight years ago.

Mecca of Speed: Would racing be considered more than a hobby for you?

Mike Morgan: When people call what I do a hobby, it does turn my screws a little bit.  The reason it is not a hobby is that I get paid to do this. When I picked up a sponsor that completed my transition to becoming a pro. If this was solely a hobby I could do it whenever I felt the need or desire. I could pick and choose what events I would do.

Mecca of Speed: How did you develop the mechanical knowledge to tune and maintain your own race bike?

Mike Morgan: Part of it is just working on your own equipment and learning from your mistakes. I have always been mechanically inclined and have been pretty successful using manuals and asking others for guidance when needed. Lately, I have not been doing any suspension set-up and rely on the suspension guys. Trying to do everything can be a bit overwhelming.

Mecca of Speed: What is your favorite track to race on?

Mike Morgan: I would have to say Virginia International because of the results that I have had there. My favorite tracks on the AMA schedule are Mid-Ohio and Barber Motorsports Park. Barber has a wow factor about it due to the many elevation changes and is a very technical track.

Mecca of Speed: How well do you know the other riders on the circuit?

Mike Morgan: I would say pretty well. You see many of the people in the series week in and week out. I equate this to a traveling circus due to everyone driving to the tracks, setting up, racing, and then packing up and going to the next location.

Mecca of Speed: What advice do you have for younger riders interested in getting into this sport?

Mike Morgan: It definitely helps to have assistance. Trying to do this on your own is a huge undertaking. A lot of the people who end up being successful have either parental help or aunts and uncles who are willing to help them out. People who are willing to put up money is a great help as it takes money to be in this type of sport. You need longevity as you can’t make a career being a one hit wonder.

Mecca of Speed: How would you describe the mental toughness needed for racing?

Mike Morgan: There is the mentality that you are going to fall off the horse and you need to get back on again. Sometimes you can’t explain why you crashed and those are the worst, because you don’t know what happened. You have to be willing to put the past behind you and move forward. This sport is not for the meek of heart. At some point you will crash, or something will happen to you and you need to be prepared for it.

Mecca of Speed: What do you like about Road America?

Mike Morgan: The people are really nice. The atmosphere is really, really good and the venue is amazing with great scenery around the track. It is a very fast track so having a fast bike makes it a lot of fun to race at. Without a fast bike it can be a challenge to ride.

Content credit Mike Morgan and Randy Erdman. Photo credit Randy Erdman.