There’s nothing quite as inspiring as an underdog story in motocross, which is exactly the case for Mitchell Oldenburg. “Freckle” is about to enter his fifth year as a professional racer, and it’s shaping up to potentially be his best year to date. After several years of running his own privateer program, Oldenburg signed to TLD/Red Bull/GoPro/KTM as a fill-in rider, and has since made the transition into one of the team’s full-time riders. The Texas native has improved tremendously over the last year, as he even obtained several career best finishes in 2016. Be on the lookout for the number 28 come 2017 because Oldenburg is making moves.
Last time we checked in with you, you had just begun your Supercross preparations for 2017. How’s everything been going for you since then?
Everything’s been going good. Same stuff, different day! We’ve been busy putting in all of the motos and dialing in the bike. We’ve done quite a bit of testing this year, and everything is really paying off. I feel like we’re in a very good position right now with the bike and myself, and we still have a couple of weeks before Anaheim to improve even more.
With that said, will we be seeing you on the West Coast?
I honestly don’t know at this point, but either way I’m preparing for the West Coast rounds. Even if I’m told that I’m doing the East Coast championship I am completely fine with that because it gives me a little more time to perfect everything. Either way though, we’ll be ready for A1.
Heading to the East Coast wouldn’t be a problem for you, right? Since that’s where you hail from.
Yeah, I love doing the hometown races and Dallas is considered to be that race for me. However, it’s a West Coast round. Minneapolis is an East Coast round though, so I’d be looking forward to that one, as well. I grew up in Minnesota and lived in Texas, so I’m up for racing wherever.
Again, you’ve secured a spot on team TLD/Red Bull/GoPro/KTM for 2017. This was another huge weight lifted off your shoulders, right?
Yeah, absolutely. I feel like I can focus on racing and putting my laps together, now. I’m able to put all of my focus into my progression instead of stressing myself out if I have a bad weekend. I won’t be completely worked up trying to impress certain people, either. Now I can focus on being the best that I can possibly be, and everything else should fall into place.
Did you do anything fun for Thanksgiving?
I went back to Texas and visited with my family. My grandparents came down and we all had a good Thanksgiving dinner. My fiancé and I even shot our engagement photos! We have a bunch of wedding stuff to figure out, so we were a little busy doing that, as well.
You’ve got a new teammate in Alex Martin. Have you had the chance to spend much time with A-Mart?
Yeah, Alex and I actually grew up together in Minnesota. I raced a lot with his brother Jeremy when we were growing up. Since he came on board, it’s been myself, Shane (McElrath) and Alex every day in the gym, on the bike rides and doing motos. It’s been really great having him around, as he’s an extremely hard worker, so it’s good to have him on the team.
Hypothetically speaking, where do you see yourself at the end of the night if you do in fact end up racing the West Coast championship? Are you going to feel everyone out at the first round or are you going to dive right into it?
Honestly, I haven’t thought too much about that. Last year, I felt like I dove in attempting to win the first race, but instead I ended up on the ground. I need to focus on myself and my laps because I’ve already put in the work. I feel like I have what it takes to be a contender this year for some podiums and even wins. For me, it’s about getting in a good weekend and building from there. I don’t need to win the championship at the first round or anything like that. It’s a long series, so you have to pace yourself. I’ve been working with Tyla for a year now and I’m starting to see and feel huge benefits from our program. I feel as if my weaknesses are now my strengths, and we’re going to continue to build on that. If I do in fact end up at Anaheim, I think we’ll be able to fight for some wins.
It must be a crazy feeling to have that thought in your head; that you potentially have the ability to win races, now. That was a dream for you not that long ago, but you’ve put in the work and now that dream may very well come to fruition. What was it in your program with Tyla that got you to this point?
I think the biggest thing for me was having that structure and having the right people around me. Like you said, I’ve been doing the work and I’ve been seeing the benefits because everything is starting to click. I think if we keep plugging away with the things that we’ve been doing a win is inevitable. I’ve been in the 250 class for four years now, so it’s time to make it happen because if I don’t it’s time to find something else.