Mike Buman: If I had the equipment and the resources to go racing outside the United Kingdom… (interview)
Ten years ago, he was one of the hopes for the future of American speedway. Polish clubs were showing some interest in him, but Mike Buman has never signed a contract in our country. Why and what is he doing today? Join us in an interview with a Flat Track rider.
Konrad Cinkowski (twojportalzuzlowy.pl): You’re not a well-known rider in Poland. Before we begin, please tell us something about you.
Mike Buman: I currently ride speedway in the USA, mostly on the East Coast, in New York, where I currently reside. I also started racing flat track a couple of years after I returned from Europe, where I was representing the USA in the World Championship qualifiers. I am an expert in flat track, and I plan to get my professional license in the near future.
– Your dad was a speedway rider. Did it affect your decision to try it as well?
– Absolutely. My dad was an amateur in New York. He never pressured me into it, but we were always at all sorts of different race meetings and enjoying the racing.
– Do you remember your first meeting as a fan and as a rider? If so, please tell us something about it.
– I remember my dad taking me to championship speedway in New York. As soon as I have seen it, it was when I was around 8 years old, I fell in love with the sport. I knew speedway was something I had to pursue.
– 10 years ago you were one of the best young riders in the USA. Later on, your speedway career went a bit downhill. What do you think went wrong?
– Looking back I think I didn’t take it as serious as I should have, when I was staying in the United Kingdom. I didn’t train much, and didn’t do a lot of the things I should have been doing. I was also struggling with my equipment a lot, because of state of my funds. Many problems came up, because I didn’t enjoy living in Europe for the entire time and I missed being back home, in the USA.
– Do you think that it would be easier if you were born in Europe, for example in United Kingdom?
– Yes, I think being born overseas would help. In the United Kingdom there is the national league, lower divisions and junior meetings with many different tracks to race and train on. In New York, we have only one track where there aren’t much other riders. It changes only when California guys come for the US Open. We also don’t practise much in New York with the exception of one or two sessions before the start of the season. We basically get to train when we line up at the tapes during the meetings. We have only two or three meetings a month for three months out of the year because of the short summers we have in New York. Unlike New York, California has numerous tracks and organizes meetings three times a week and they also have practice tracks that they can ride on year round.
– Officially your career is not over yet because you are still competing in the USA. You consider it more like a hobby nowadays or do you still plan to compete as an professional?
– I consider it a hobby and just enjoy my speedway. I normally try to win as many meetings as I can during the season in New York, and when the California riders come, I try to make the finals, beat other guys, and still show that I am competitive against the best guys in the country. I truly enjoy the sport now, that I’m not taking it as serious as when I was in Europe. Number one goal right now is to recover from shattering both of my legs during motocross winter training in Florida and getting out of the wheelchair and walking again soon.
– In 2011 you were very close to signing a contract with a Polish club – from Lublin. After all, you didn’t sign the contract…
– During that time I was more interested in racing in the United Kingdom and was looking for opportunities there.
– Have you had any other contract offers in Poland all these years?
– I had one other club that reached out around the same time as Lublin, but I don’t remember the name of the club because it’s been so long ago.
– From the perspective of time, do you think that if you had managed to sign a contract in Poland then your career could have turned out a bit differently?
– I’m sure it could have been different since 2011. But during that time I didn’t have many connections or much equipment to go to Poland with. If I had the equipment and the resources to go racing outside the United Kingdom, I would have. It just didn’t make much sense and it was not possible at the time.
– Around that time, you were helped by a Pole – Marcin Kozdraś. How did your cooperation begin?
– Marcin contacted me and asked if I was interested in signing a contract with Lublin. As much as I wanted to race in Poland full time, it wasn’t possible financially then.
– You had an opportunity to ride in Canada. How do you remember your time there as a rider? What can you say about the organization of the meetings, track preparation etc.?
– I have raced in Canada for years as it wasn’t far from my home in New York. I have won a few meetings in Canada against good competition, but I always seemed to struggle with the tracks. The people and the organization have always been great, and I really enjoyed going to Canada regularly. Unfortunately, speedway does not exist much Canada anymore due to lack of riders.
– Is there any situation from your career that you especially remember?
– I just remember all the nice and supportive fans of mine and the sport and the sponsors that have helped me and still continue to help me. I recall racers I have had the pleasure of meeting and racing against and I have plenty of memories on and off the track.