We caught up with back-to-back defending AMSOIL Arenacross champion Gavin Faith to see what the Iowa native has been up to this summer. Gavin claimed the 250AX Class championship with 9 main event wins out of 17 races. He also scored 8 wins in the RMATV MC Head 2 Head Challenge.

AX: Hey, Gavin. How’s your summer going?

GF: I’ve been taking it easy with dirtbikes but have been working quite a bit. I work on flipping properties to rent with my dad in Fort Dodge, so I’ve been doing that and just having fun. I went to X Games. I went to Millville, so it’s been a pretty fun summer just kind of taking it easy.

AX: Congratulations on your back-to-back championships. It’s safe to say things went as planned for you last year?

GF: It went fairly to plan. The main goal was to win a championship and I got that done, so that was awesome. As far as during the season, it was kind of rough there in the beginning. It took me awhile to get the ball rolling; I was pretty consistent on the podium but I wasn’t winning as much as I’d like to. I had a couple nagging injuries throughout the season also, so it took me awhile to get going. Luckily, once the points reset, I got myself together and it was pretty consistent from there on out.

AX: Your roommate and training partner Jace Owen went undefeated for a few rounds. Did his consistent top finishes surprise you?

GF: Yeah, I’d say so. In 2016, he was solid but he got 5th overall for the season, so I was kind of surprised for him to come out in 2017 and start winning like that. There for a while, I was trying to figure out how to beat him; he was riding really well. It kind of elevated all of our games. I had to step up my game to try to figure a way to beat him, so it was good. It pushed us all to the next level I feel like. Me, Jace and (Chris) Blose were all pretty tight there toward the end, and the championship was pretty close when it came down to Vegas.

AX: You and Jace stayed close all year – he finished in second 10 points behind. How did you handle that pressure, especially traveling with him week in and week out?

GF: It’s tough being in the race for the championship and living at the same house and training together the whole time, but I kind of left it to the best man wins. We’re not going to do anything dirty to each other or clean each other out or do anything like that. It’s just good, clean racing and let the better man win. We had a pretty good agreement there, and it ended up working pretty smooth.

AX: You finally pulled it together in Baltimore, going 1-1. How relieved were you after that victory?

GF: Yeah, definitely. Jace won the first six main events, so I definitely wanted to beat him. I was on the podium, I think, at the first three rounds, so I wasn’t mad, but I definitely wanted to get back to the top spot. Once I got that done there, it kind of got the ball rolling for me a little bit. Jace was just on point with his starts, and he was riding really well, too, so he was a tough guy to beat. I’m just fortunate that it kind of turned around for the second half with the points reset.

AX: How’s your Kawasaki and that whole support system?

GF: This is my second year with Team Babbitt’s Monster Energy AMSOIL Kawasaki, and it’s been great. I moved over to the Babbitt’s team last year, and I won the first year with them, so it was awesome. They have a good bike, solid program. Me as a rider, it’s awesome. You just show up to the races and your bike’s ready, gear is there, and everything’s handled. You just show up and ride. It takes a lot of stress off the rider, and it helps us focus on what we need to focus on the weekends. It’s been awesome and hopefully we can continue our winning streak with those guys.

AX: How about your mechanic?

GF: They call him Big Nasty. His name is Eric. I didn’t really know him until last year, but we’re pretty similar. He’s pretty low key. He doesn’t really get worked up if stuff's going wrong. It’s kind of nice to have a guy that’s chill and relaxed like I am. If it comes down to it and we need to change something, he’s not going to get overexcited and make a mistake or whatever. He’s a relaxed guy and calm. We work pretty well together. He kind of just lets me do what I know how to do, and then he does what he has to do. If I have a bad ride, he’s not going to be all up in my grill telling me stuff. He just kind of lets it go. It’s been pretty good.

AX: We’ve heard you love Arenacross and are staying put? What do you like about the atmosphere at Arenacross versus Supercross?

GF: I like Arenacross just because of the chill environment. Everybody’s super friendly. There’s just not as much stress as there is at Supercross. Everybody’s low key and there for a good time. We take it serious, obviously, too, but nobody has as much ego as they do in the Supercross world. It’s a lot more laid back and relaxed, and I think we all have a good time doing our jobs. It makes it enjoyable to go to the races every weekend. Not saying I don’t like Supercross or anything, but there’s a lot of guys with egos and stuck up, not all of them, but it’s a real small industry in Arenacross and everybody’s like family kind of. Everybody knows everybody.

AX: What was the most memorable head-to-head challenge from this season?

GF: I’d have to say probably the last one in Las Vegas. It kind of set the tone for the night to win the championship. There was five points between Blose and I, and I really wanted to win that. It was really high intensity because I knew he was going to be going for broke also, so to get that one was pretty cool.

AX: What do you think makes the head-to-head challenges so exciting for the fans?

GF: It’s cool for the fans because there’s two riders on the track, and when you’re in a race, you can’t race super defensive and mess around with the other guy with block passes because you’re going to lose time to people in front of you, and you’re going to lose time to people behind you, so it’s just a completely different type of racing. It’s just one-on-one. You don’t have to worry about people in front of you getting away. You don’t have to worry about people catching you. All you have to worry about is block passing the guy and having the other guy on the other side of you, so it’s pretty cool. It’s cool for the riders and it’s really cool for the fans. There’s usually a lot of good action in that.

AX: When do you start training again at the Goat Farm?

GF: I’m actually going to Australia in the fall and then once I get back, I’ll head back to the Farm and start training for Arenacross, usually at the end of November to December.

AX: Is there anything you think you could work on for next season?

GF: Yeah, I feel like there’s always things you can work on. Being a racer, there’s always somebody out there that seems like they're faster than you or better than you. I won the last two years, and this year it kind of showed; Jace came in swinging and he was the guy to beat. Obviously with Arenacross, the starts are really important, so that’s really important for me is to work on my starts to put myself in good position. There’s a few things we can work on. We’re always working to be better and faster and stronger – the whole nine.

AX: You have a pretty large audience on Instagram. How important is staying connected?

GF: Yeah, social media is cool these days. It’s awesome for the riders. It’s good for the sponsors. It’s an added bonus instead of just mentioning them on the podium. Fans can go onto your account and see you wearing their gear or using their products. It’s pretty cool for the sponsors and everybody.

AX: How about your parents’ role? Do they help you with your racing?

GF: They come to the races and they watch, but it’s pretty much my deal. I work on it every day, and they know that I know what to do. They’re not too involved; obviously as an amateur, we went racing almost every weekend, but now that I’m pro, I’m down at the Farm training all winter long. They’re not too involved with the training side but they’re definitely there for support.

AX: What are you looking forward to next year?

GF: I’m looking forward to winning another championship, obviously, but just being back and seeing all the guys at the races and having a good time.

AX: What’s the best advice you could give to the amateurs looking up to you? How do you stay motivated?

GF: As far as amateurs go, an amateur career is important - I wouldn’t say it’s not important - but you could still not be the best amateur and still come out to be a good pro. I won a couple titles but not at Loretta’s or anything. I never really did outstanding as an amateur to get that factory ride. Just as long as you keep working and are determined and motivated, I think you can surprise yourself sometimes.

AX: Who would you like to thank?

GF: Team Babbitts, Monster Energy, AMSOIL, Kawasaki, AP Design, Pro Circuit, Moose, Shoei, N-Style, Dunlop, Vortex, Wiseco, 100%, VP Fuel, DID, Alpinestars, Cycra, Dubya, Works Connection, Rekluse, Galfer, Ride Eng, CV4, Motion Pro