Former top pro MXer makes a buck at FMX shows these days,
decides to take another shot at the sport he owned – Step Up!
CORONA, CA – July 28, 2011 – (Motor Sports Newswire) – You gotta hand it to the X Games – they’ve tried some pretty crazy stuff over the years. From modified shovel racing to sky surfing, they haven’t been afraid to throw stuff up against the wall and see what sticks.
More than a decade ago, back in 2000, somebody came up with the idea to, more or less, high jump on motorcycles. A vertical dirt take-off ramp was carved into the face of a massive dirt pile landing area and makeshift upright tower structures were arranged on either side of the take-off – with a bar set across the top, spanning the entire width of the jump and able to be raised to some impressive heights. X Games would call the then new event “Step Up” after the MX and FMX-style jump on tracks or, more accurately, occurring in natural MX freeriding settings at places like Ocotillo Wells (Calif.), Beaumont (Texas) and Cainville (Utah).
During that first year a former pro motocrosser-turned-FMXer, Tommy “Tom Cat” Clowers, stood out amongst the rest of the field in Step Up’s inaugural run at the X Games. The San Diegan would ‘step up’ and dominate the sport for the next four years, winning three consecutive times from 2000 to ’02 and again in ’05. Compact in stature and explosive as a grenade, Clowers parlayed his formidable pro motocross skills into volatile starts off the line and styled whips at the peak of his flight – the result of which in that first year in 2000 was a jump of 35 feet, straight up, a record that still stands to this day.
Approaching his 39th birthday and admittedly well beyond his productive racing years, Clowers formed TNT Action Sports with fellow MX/FMXer Jeff “Full Tilt” Tilton a decade ago and have been producing and starring in freestyle shows, the most recent running for a month at the California State Fairgrounds in Sacramento.
Clowers recently got the itch to see if you could still sail a dirt bike some 40 feet off an arena floor, again – straight up – in a comeback of sorts at X Games 17. Clowers contacted Monster Energy and the dirt bike-friendly beverage company was quick to come on board with Clowers’ Step Up program for X17. Check it out.
Monster Energy: Yeah, Tommy. Great to see your name back associated with the X Games. Get the Monster Army caught up on what you’ve been up to lately.
Tommy Clowers: I’ve been doing some ramp-to-ramp shows for, shoot, like nine years now. We’re at the California State Fair right now in Sacramento, 18 days long and three shows a day – 3, 5 and 7 p.m. It’s one of the biggest fairs going so it’s pretty cool.
Monster Energy: Tilton still got the best whip in the business?
Tommy Clowers: Ah, he’s not riding anymore. Just on the other side of things I guess – the business side.
Monster Energy: Right on. What else have you been doing? We stalked you on your Facebook page and it looks like you’ve got a wife and kids and all that.
Tommy Clowers: I got married in 2005 to my wife Melissa and we’ve got two kids, our daughter Avery who’s four-years old and a son, Cole, who’s two-years old.
Monster Energy: You been riding much MX anymore … have to get a real job or anything?
Tommy Clowers: Not yet (laughing about the ‘real job’ comment). Still riding and running the shows. We’ve been doing a lot of stuff with the military, this safety project called Semper Ride. Kind of a cool little safety movie we put together. Doing some schools and ride days with the Marines, stuff like that. Spread the word of safety a bit for the guys that just came back and bought bikes. Doing some local motocross training, place where I’m at riding a bunch – Barona Oaks (Calif.).
Monster Energy: So what motivated you to get back into the X Games?
Tommy Clowers: I guess when you haven’t been in it for a couple years … I just got the itch to come back and see what I could do. And it’s a good opportunity to keep yourself relevant. So, yeah, it’s a big deal to get back in it nowadays. Before there was just a handful of riders and we kind of did everything. Now there’s so many riders that a lot don’t even get invited.
Monster Energy: People think of Step Up and they think of Tommy Clowers. That said, and given that you’ve been out of it for several years now, what’s different with the event since you first won in 2000 than what fans are going to see this Thursday night?
Tommy Clowers: There’s not a whole lot different, really. I think the heights are similar. But people do take it a lot more serious now than we did when it first started. Guys are gearing their bikes for Step Up, where before we’d get done with Freestyle and would be like ‘OK, let’s go do Step Up’ – and not do a thing to our bikes. But we were still getting the same heights, so I don’t know if all that mechanical set up is even working (laughter). I guess the biggest change is the advent of the 450s. They come off the line so strong – everybody this year will be on a 450.
Monster Energy: How is that for a two-stroke guy such as yourself?
Tommy Clowers: For me it’s a little tough, as well as for the guys that ride two-strokes all the time for ramp-to-ramp. I’m not that comfortable jumping on a 450 for Step Up, but I think you’ve got to be on one to compete.
Monster Energy: You still ride a two-stroke for motocross?
Tommy Clowers: Yeah, I do. That’s what I’m on most of the time and, to be honest, I like two-strokes a lot. You have to ride ‘em and you get a good workout on them. Four-strokes you can get a bit lazy on them. They’re fun to ride, and they’re definitely better on tracks where you can go faster, but I mean anymore I’m out there to get a workout and I’m not trying to set the fastest times anymore.
Monster Energy: What do you think it was, Tommy, that made you so untouchable in the sport from 2000 to 2005?
Tommy Clowers: I honestly think it was my motocross background more than anything. There were a few guys that had some pro level motocross experience, but most of the guys didn’t. So just coming off the line and being able to come off smooth – on a two-stroke – that’s what it was all about. A 450 coming off the line is not nearly as difficult as a two-stroke – you just crack it and ride away. Not getting wheel spin, getting a good drive and being able to control the bike – and land from 30 feet in the air on a two-stroke was key. My days of riding motocross, and riding spots like Palm Avenue (famous SoCal cliff jumping spot) – places like that where I rode for fun as a kid growing up is similar to what you’d do on the X Games Step Up.
Monster Energy: Have you done anything to prepare for this Thursday at the Staples Center … carved out a step up jump anywhere, started doing push-ups, things like that?
Tommy Clowers: Pala (Raceway, Calif.) had one built and I hit that a bit, see how the 450 felt. But I’ve been up here (Sacramento) for the last three weeks and haven’t been able practice step up at all. Obligations!
Monster Energy: Yeah, buddy. Gotta make the doughnuts.
Tommy Clowers: Yeah, for sure. It’s kind of a bummer that everything falls on the same month, but that’s just how it is and I’ll do the best I can with it.
Monster Energy: Mat Buyten broke up your lock on the X Games gold in 2004, then you came back and won again in 2005 – with 2008 being the last year you competed. Buyten and Renner have been the guys to beat more recently. Do you feel those two are the guys you’re going to have to go through in order to snare a medal?
Tommy Clowers: Definitely. They’re both really good at it. Also, don’t overlook Myles Richmond. He’s got the potential to be in there as well, along with Todd Potter and (Brian) Deegan – both of those guys are hit-or-miss. Bottom line is I think everyone in there has the potential to win and that’s what’s cool about it. It’s definitely not one of those events where you know the outcome before the event starts.
Monster Energy: What height do you think will put you in the medals?
Tommy Clowers: I’m hoping we can get over 35 feet – the record I set in 2000. I know we can for sure jump higher than that, I mean we saw that with (Ricky) Carmichael. But even getting to that height you’ve still got to get over that pole. So it’s not a matter of getting the height sometimes as much as it is just finessing it over that pole, and how the lip forms. A good lip that packs in hard and doesn’t deteriorate will make for a good contest.
Monster Energy: As an athlete you’ve got a bitchin’ go anywhere, do anything – watch anything X Games credential. Outside Step Up what other sports do you like to check out at X?
Tommy Clowers: All the moto stuff, obviously. I also like the BMX Park stuff a lot. To me that stuff’s amazing how their timing is, how they take off on the lips – steep take-offs and landings. Very technical what they pull in the air, and to land so smoothly is pretty amazing.
Monster Energy: Right on. Good to have you on board with the Monster Army for X 17, Tommy!
Tommy Clowers: Yeah, I’m stoked to be able represent Monster at this. They’ve become a great brand over the years and I’m pumped to be rockin’ the ‘M’ for X Games!
About Monster Energy
Monster Energy is an undisputed leader in action sports. Unlike most companies who rely on spending their money on various forms of advertisement, Monster lets its athletes, fans, and tremendous support from the entire industry do the talking. The passion from these individuals, and Monster’s commitment to the entire action sports community, provides more than any ad in a magazine, on the radio, or on TV ever could.
Action sports are all about progression, and the X Games is the stage where that progression is on full display for the entire world to see. With some of the most prolific riders and drivers to ever step foot into competition, the Monster Army is ready to attack eight events across the motorcycle and rally disciplines. Monster Energy will not only makes its presence felt on the X Games podium, it will bring global recognition to the most innovative and fearless athletes on the planet.
In short, Monster Energy is taking X Games by storm, leaving no stone unturned in establishing itself as the premier energy drink of the new generation. Monster talks the walk, and walks the walk and there won’t be any doubt once the festivities are over.