Q&A WITH JOE HAAVISTO, KAWASAKI ATV RIDER
Kawasaki’s ATV Rider Joe Haavisto had a target on his back after winning both the Pro and Pro-Am championships in 2008 in the New England ATV racing series. He returned in 2009 and proved he was worthy of the titles by earning back to back ATV racing championships in both classes. With a few weeks to unwind, Haavisto talks about his final ATV race of the season, the championships, and what he’s doing to keep busy in the off-season.
Q: Does it feel more rewarding to back up the ATV championships that you earned last year?
Joe Haavisto: Every year the New England riders get better and better, and as the ATV sport continues to grow, the series becomes more challenging. There were quite a few strong riders that were new to the series this year. This made for some tough competition in the 2009 season that I didn’t necessarily have in 2008. So it definitely feels more rewarding to back up the ATV championships.
Q: What was your strategy going into the last few rounds?
Joe Haavisto: Going into the last few rounds I had a comfortable points lead. With the competition getting tougher throughout the season, the end of the year proved to have stiffer competition and it made the ATV races more challenging. Still, my strategy at the last few rounds was like every other round. I wanted to go out and win.
Q: Talk about the final ATV race at Jolly Roger MX in Lempster, N.H.
Joe Haavisto: Well I consider Jolly Roger my home track since I live less than an hour away. A lot of family and friends came out to support me. I had already wrapped up the Pro championship two weeks before and just needed to finish a moto in the Pro-Am class to clinch that championship.
In the Pro ATV class, I didn’t get a great start in the first moto and finished fifth, but got a good jump in the second moto and was able to take the moto win and finish second overall. The ATV Pro Am first moto started like the Pro and I wasn’t able to do much passing with the track conditions. I finished fourth. In the second moto, I was third going around the first turn and eventually made it to second for second overall.
Q: What are your plans for next year?
Joe Haavisto: I am not exactly sure about next year, but I am hoping that Kawasaki will continue their support of the growing NEATV series. My goal is to have a very similar program to this year and defend my Pro and Pro-Am championships riding a Kawasaki KFX450R ATV in 2010.
Q: What have you been doing in the off-season?
Joe Haavisto: I am in the process of purchasing my first house. I made sure that it had a big garage. I also am playing on an old-timer’s hockey team with a lot of family and friends. The final fun and exciting plans we have for spring is expecting our second child in March. The doctors tell us it’s a girl.
Congratulations Joe and the whole family!