As one of of the most likeable and naturally talented riders in FMX, Kenny Bartram has been around since the sport's beginning. Seeing it all, Bartram has gone to battle at the now obsolete Gravity Games, been through X Games qualifiers, rode International Freestyle Motocross Association and was by Travis Pastrana's side when the very first "Nitro Circus" was filmed.
Now 12 years later, and a successful riding career of contests and traveling the world, Kenny Bartram is still hitting the same steel ramps he started, only now he is a businessman, dad and rider. ESPN caught up with Bartram to talk about his Steel Rodeo Tour and the growth of the Nitro Circus.
ESPN.com: Kenny Bartram, what is for dinner today?
Bartram: Not sure, I'm a pretty last-minute person. So at about 6 or 7 o'clock, I'll figure out what we're doing for dinner. But breakfast was a bowl of All Berries Cap'n Crunch and lunch was a ham and cheese sandwich on sweet Hawaiian bread and a handful of Ritz Air Crackers, followed up by a couple of fudge sticks. I eat like a true athlete.
The Fourth of July passed a few weeks back, how did Cowboy Kenny spend it?
We spent the afternoon at the pool with the kids, and then went to the town festival to watch the fireworks. Usually we get our own fireworks and have some Nitro Circus style fun, but we kept it pretty tame this year.
You do keep pretty low key these days, last time I saw you was at Kevin Windham's "Party in the Pasture." What have you been up to?
I do keep a pretty low profile but have been just as busy as ever. It's a lot more work than I thought it would be to run our own company; the Steel Rodeo Tour has events booked every weekend between July and October, and then we are constantly working on events beyond that. So, I've just been doing the business aspect of things as well as riding.
Is the tour going to be a part of the "Party in the Pasture" again?
I hope so, it's always a great time and fun to see our friends. Actually I'm glad you reminded me, I need to get in touch with Kevin and figure out the dates for this year, so we can make sure we're there.
You mentioned your Steel Rodeo Tour, last time I talked to Jarryd McNeil, it sounded like you had a pretty busy summer ahead. How are things shaping it up?
Jarryd is one of our riders we love to work with, he's a phenomenal rider as well as a very respectful and professional person. But, yeah, Jarryd is going to be busy with us for the next few months.
If the day ever comes when you are not jumping ramps anymore, do you think running an FMX tour or staying involved in the two-wheel community is a route you would want to go?
Well, that's kind of the long term idea behind the Steel Rodeo Tours. I do want to stay involved in the two-wheel industry and I feel like running our own FMX company is just the way to do that. I would also really like to get more involved in four wheels, I have dabbled in both rally and NASCAR … they are both incredibly fun, but incredibly expensive too.
You have been around since the sport's beginning. With X Games finishing up earlier this month, what do you think of the state of FMX?
Man, it is absolutely amazing what the sport has progressed to. The level of tricks is absolutely insane. I mean, I still remember being at the Gravity Games in 2000, when Carey [Hart] said he was going for a backflip and thinking he had a death wish.
Now guys are doing rock solid backflips and just about any body varial you can think of. It's like watching a video game, but in real life.
As for X Games, I would really like to see qualifiers come back to give everyone a fair chance to get in, and not just who has the biggest name. The same goes for judging, I think it needs to stay judged by industry people who know what they are looking for and take away the fan-voted comps where it again becomes a popularity contest and is not a true competition.
As long as we are talking about progression, as someone who was in the very first Nitro Circus, what do you think of the Nitro Circus today?
Nitro Circus has evolved a ton as well. It has gone from being a 45-minute moto video to being on MTV, a beach resort in Panama, and now a full length 3D Movie coming out in August. … It's pretty crazy what the Nitro Circus brand has become.