The Watercraft Journal: Braden, thanks for taking time away from your classes to talk with us. Can you tell us how you first get into jet skiing and then, eventually into racing?
Braden Bishop: Both my parents raced before I was born, not on the Pro tour, just local Texas races. We have had jet skis my whole life; I can’t remember a summer that was not spent on the lake riding. My parents always shared stories of their race days and how much fun it was. So from very early on I knew I wanted to get out there and try. Every summer I would beg my parents to sign me up for a race, but due to other commitments my brother and I had, time just would not allow it.
It was not until my senior year in high school that I was able to devote the time needed to travel to area races. I got in touch with Brian Smith with [Region 5] and he invited me out to practice with him and his group. I then signed up for my first R5 race. I knew on the first ban snap I was hooked. I have always loved to ride but now racing was going to be my main focus.
I enjoy everything that goes along with racing: the travel, the competition, and the people you meet along the way. I also enjoy talking with the legends and hearing the stories about passed races. Most all the veterans of this sport are willing to help and support the younger generation of racers. I love how on race day how most everyone is helping everyone even their own opponents. A true racer wants to race the best; it is the only way to know where you stand. So if that means helping your competition make it to the line, that is what is done.
WCJ: You had a pretty whirlwind year of racing. How did 2014 go for you?
BB: Yeah, 2014 was crazy and fun. When I found out there was not going to be any races in my region I was frustrated, wondering just how many races on the Pro Watercross Tour I would be able to make. Little did I know my dad was going to buy an enclosed trailer that would carry all our skis, and when we pulled our skis out we could convert it into a place to sleep by hooking up the AC and flipping down the beds. I was blessed to make all the tour stops except one, and compete in a Nauti Water race in Kansas.
The first race in Pensacola was a hard way to start. I went from never ridding in the surf, to now facing 8-10 feet waves in race conditions. This was a great lesson for me and I was ready for the next week in Panama City. Then Panama was ready to give me another lesson in breakdowns! The rest of the tour was pretty smooth and I was able to gain ground in the standings and finish in second on tour in the Amateur Ski Lite class.
WCJ: And it was very well deserved! Tell us about your experience racing at your first IJSBA World Finals. How did it go?
BB: The 2014 World Finals was amazing, just being there would have been enough, but getting to race was a privilege. This was my first time at the World Finals and I did not do as well as I had hoped. It was a learning experience and an eye opener. I was faced with some difficulties I had a hard time overcoming like the water conditions, fatigue and just plain amazing competition. The best of the best are out there and everyone wants what you want and that is a win. I felt like I started out well but with every lap just lost steam. I thought I was in shape and had put in enough work, until I got there. WOW! I now know that it is not just skill that gets you to the finish line it is endurance, drive, heart and when you have given all that you have, you have to dig deeper and finish strong.
I raced in the Amateur Ski Lite on my Kawasaki SR-X 800 but I was also given the opportunity to ride and race a Kawasaki 1200 built by Rogue Racing. I had only been on the 1200 maybe 15 minutes before race day and it gave me a workout for sure. When I look back on that week I get excited, I can only get better at the sport that I thought I had all figured out. I developed a new found respect for it. It is like being the new kid on the block; it’s nerve racking at first than you find out everyone is there because they have the same dream you do and at the end of the day they put their wetsuit on the same way you do.
WCJ: What kind of ski are you building/riding this year? Can you tell us more about your relationship with Rogue Racing?
BB: I am in the middle of stripping down, patching up and painting my Kawasaki 800 all by myself; this is a first for me so wish me luck. I am also grateful to be working with Ron of Rogue Racing. He is teaching me a great deal about what goes into building a 1200 [triple]. We have rebuilt the practice boat. He is also working on something huge for the 2015 race season. Ron and his wife, Denise are just amazing with their support, which also goes beyond the race season. Rogue Racing is about becoming part of a family, and I am beyond blessing to be giving the chance to work with and ride for this group.
WCJ: That’s great news! So that leaves us wondering what your plans are for 2015?
BB: I will be working hard to get in race ready shape – both physically and mentally. I hope to hit all the stops on the Pro Watercross tour along with some races on the Nauti Water Racing Tour. I will be riding my Kawasaki 800 Stock boat in the Novice Ski Lite Class and in the Novice Ski Open class I will be on a Rogue Racing boat.
WCJ: Good stuff! What longterm goals do you have for your jet ski racing career?
BB: I hope in five years I will have worked my way up to the Pro level and to have obtained sponsorship to fund all my races. I want to be a racer that the younger generation will look up to, but most of all I hope my younger brother Brice is racing right by my side.
WCJ: Outstanding! OK, here’s your chance to make some gratuitous shout-outs; who would you like to thank for helping you get this far?
BB: I want to first say “Thank You” Don and Kristi Bishop who are my Dad and Mom without their continued support none of this would be possible for me. My dad for his countless hours spent in the garage working on my ski and being at every race fixing my stuff when it breaks giving me insight on what he sees that I am doing right or wrong. My mom who most of the time stays home because of my brother is still in high school and has had baseball commitments. But I know she is my number 1 fan and she never forgets to send words of encouragement via text before each race.
I want to thank Ron and Denise with Rogue Racing for their support and giving the chance to prove myself, I am looking forward to a great race season and finding some gold. To my best friends Chuckie Dobbs and Ryan Norris, both who have taken time away from their busy lives to travel to races no matter how far. Thank you Michael Sparks and Kyle Araiza for becoming part of my jet ski family your advice and support is amazing. Thank you to Brian Smith for getting me involved in your practices a few years ago.
Last but not least, a huge shout out to my younger brother Brice Bishop who will be joining me this year on tour and racing in one of the same classes as me. He called me after every race and always shoots straight with me, he holds me accountable for every move I make at on the course. He wants to know why I was so tired or why I let someone past me. He pushes me to be the best I can be because I know he will be right on my heels this next year. Glad to be finally getting to racing alongside him, this will be a great year for us both.