I recently had the joy and pleasure of speaking with Joe Roberts, the American Moto2 racer. He is a racer to watch in 2018 as he will be racing the entire 2018 Moto2 season for RW Racing.
His presence in the circuit brings the excitement of an American racer back to the paddock and will certainly lead to a stronger fan base at races in America and abroad. This up and coming racer is an extremely positive and likable person and I will enjoying cheering for his success in the 2018 season.
Joe Roberts started riding all things two wheeled at a young age, first a bicycle at just one and a half years old and progressing to a 50cc motorcycle at age three. His formative years were spent in the Hollywood Hills riding with his father, a big influence and support to him and his love of two wheeled adventures. As his skills progressed and as time went on, he began competing in races at five to six years old, along the way trying many different disciplines before landing on mini road racing. This is where a true connection was made – the flow and speed really worked for him and the door opened to a long-term racing career. His father was, and still is, a huge part of his racing always willing to make sacrifices and encourage him in his journey. He states that his entire family has all been incredibly patient and committed to helping him in his racing career. To this day his father attends all of his races, assists in training, and works in his management.
As with any other athletic discipline, a big part of a racer's life is spent training and preparing for the actual race day. What does this look like in the daily life of a motorcycle grand prix racer? For Joe, training entails different areas of focus: physical training, time spent on a motorcycle honing his riding skills, and mental attentiveness. Physically, as with many other grand prix racers a lot of Joe’s physical training takes place on a bicycle. This means he spends some time on a road bike planned wisely to avoid the hazards of Los Angeles traffic but more often he rides a mountain bike. Mountain biking can be found within close proximity of his home which makes it an enjoyable training tool. In addition to time in the saddle, there is gym time focusing on strength but not bulk. Bulking up would not be a good idea for a racer taller than most of his competition. So, this work really is done smarter not harder. His training on a motorcycle consists of time spent practicing different disciplines of motor sports: one motocross training day, one flat track day and one super moto day within each week of training. As for mental training, you can get a sense of how focused and positive Joe is when talking about this piece of his regimen. He adopts a very consistent approach to this training always aiming to meet his previous lap times or to meet a consistent objective every time around the track. He mentioned that it is important not to weigh your position in any particular race or your time in any particular race too heavily but rather look at the big picture – always reminding yourself you can improve, work hard and attain your goals.
Early inspiration came to Joe from his hero the late Nicky Hayden, fellow American and Moto GP champion in 2006. But his current inspiration comes from his results in the five races he did 2017 placing tenth in Brno, his debut race. Fellow racer Franco Morbedelli’s career has a positive influence as well; since he came up from European Superstock 600 in 2013 and over the course of the next years he went on to win the 2017 Moto2 World Championship. Franco Morbedelli aptly illustrates that a change of disciplines can be an extremely wise move for a racer and spending time learning and perfecting techniques can result in a big payoff.
When asked how it felt to be the only American in the motorcycle grand prix racing right now and how he is treated as an American in a sport somewhat underrepresented in America, he states that on the track and within the racing community this doesn’t affect him much. With other racers it is more a matter of talent – who is fast, who might get in the way, and who has a strong presence on the track. Your racing roots are not so important in comparison to these factors. His origin did attract the attention of the commentators and media, though. He received heaps of media attention over the course of his five races in Europe in 2017. As for the future of the sport in the American community, he believes plenty of talent and promising athletes exist in America and many could advance but it takes a lot of sacrifice and work to succeed long-term in racing.
When asked about his travels as a racer he acknowledges there are times where his experiences are dictated by the expectations of the team and the schedule of the races, but he does try to have unique encounters every place he travels. He prioritizes striking out on his own to soak up local atmosphere, culture and scenery.
Outside of racing Moto 2 bikes professionally he does not ride a motorcycle on the streets of Los Angeles for leisure but keeps the option open for some time in the future. At this point, his life is busy with racing and training which does not leave much time to explore the option of riding a motorcycle for just for fun. Finally, when not racing Joe enjoys the music of many genres and eras citing that music also inspires and engages him. He regularly attends live music close to his home in California which has a brilliant and diverse music scene.
Speaking with Joe Roberts was a real treat for me and I am looking forward to following him in the 2018 season. He is an athlete to keep an eye on as he undoubtedly will progress through the category and achieve success in his racing career. I am looking forward to it.