Did Mike Alessi and Jeff Campbell Just Announce a Professional Supercross Return!?
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Guys, we are already having a ton of fun. We’re here with Mike Alessi and Jeff Campbell. Welcome guys. Love to hear a little bit more about what we’ve got going on this season. My voice sounds odd as it’s an ai version due to a technical issue
Well, me and Mike, we uh, we just met at the arena cross races and kind of just started chatting and about some sponsorship stuff and, um, Then, uh, the team that he is was riding with was Red Line Oil, and Chuck has been a good friend of mine for a few years now, and they were supporting Mike through the General Tire Arena cross series.
And me and Mike, we, I kind of pitted under their tent with my, uh, son that rides in the 85 class. And so we just, me and Mike just kind of become buddies and, um, did a little bit of sponsorship with him on a brand that I was kind of building and making. And then as the season went, I’d see Mike at every, uh, race and, uh, we’d just chit chat and hang out and our families would kind of interact.
And then, uh, Mike would kind of gimme a little bit of advice here and there with my son and wouldn’t be any better of a coach than Michael Lessi. Uh, I always looked up to him. In the heirs of even being quite a bit older than him. I would watch him through his career and admire, you know, about everything that he would do with a dirt bike.
And I, my stepson did as well, even before we kind of met Mike at the track and at the races. And so we just kind of become friends. And then now we’ve done a couple motocross schools together or one, and we’re working on another one. And then we’re gonna go back into the General Arena Tire Cross series this year, uh, to try to catch that championship against Michael Hicks.
And we got a bunch of stuff lined up and we’re just kind of putting it in place. And I work hard on it every day to try to put it in a direction that Mike wants to foresee the rest of his career. And, um, so that’s kind of where we’re at right now. And then a lot of other things following that will leave the Arena Cross series into the, uh, Supercross series on the East Coast.
Mike, how did you meet Jeff?
Well, first and foremost, you know, when I met Jeff and Arena Cross with his son, Hayden, uh, you know, instantly we had a bond and we connected. And it was more than just, uh, you know, riding and, and, and watching his kid. It was like a friendship that we could tell that we like bonded and we, we connected. So, Um, it was cool and, and racing the general tire series was fun this year.
Finishing second, you know, behind Michael was, uh, was good. We want more. And that’s when we kind of, kind of started talking about maybe formulating our own little team and with, uh, Honda Ozarks helping us out with bikes and parts. Uh, just a little stuff like that so we can go racing for this next year in 24.
And just kind of putting all the pieces of the puzzle together. Now, where this last year, I put it together in two weeks because Jay, the, um, the series promoter kind of approached me is like, Hey, like let’s try to get you on the series. What do we gotta do? I know it’s only two weeks that the series starts, but like, let’s make this happen.
Where this year I want to come in a hundred percent prepared, the bike, the fitness, all of it. So we can be challenging Michael for that, that title. Cause he’s gonna be going for four in a row. And that’s, that’s pretty huge. So we’re gonna try our best to stop him.
Wow, What were the points?
I think it was like 50 points we lost by, he was basically had enough points that he didn’t have to race the last round. That’s why he bounced to Houston. Supercross, uh, right after the Friday night was over and, and we split the moto winds on Friday night. I got the two 50 main, he got the four 50 main, I had a fall.
I was right on his butt and, uh, lost the front end washed out. So it, you know, like I said, it was a good season. I won multiple races, uh, led multiple lap, got lots of hole shots, and when Jeff and I kind of sat down and approached this idea February into March, we were. Let’s make this happen where we can make our own team.
And we just been putting the puzzles to the pieces of the puzzle together the last two, two months really. And, uh, and here we are. And, uh, we’re gonna be getting the bikes in June and we’re gonna be, like I said, ready to start riding in October and ready to start trying to win in, uh, November when it starts November 3rd, fourth in Topeka, Kansas.
How important is it to be prepared, Mike?
Well, like you said, uh, being prepared is, is the hugest thing. You know, you don’t go into life, fail, uh, planning to fail. You fail to plan. And right now we have a good plan.
We’re gonna run this through Arena Cross, which goes November, basically November 1st to February 1st, and then that would transition with the possibility of going into Tampa, Supercross in February, Daytona in March, and then it would be Nashville and Atlanta in April. So that’s kind of our, uh, preliminary plan.
You know, like I said, the biggest thing is getting the bikes in June and then starting the, the work and getting the bike stripped. So we’re ready. You get a good fast motor in it. Suspension, wheels, foot pegs, exhaust, all the bike that everything it needs for the bike to go be competitive to win and take that to Arena Cross.
So we can see if we got something from Michael. And, and we know right now watching Michael, he’s a top 10 guy on the East coast. I mean, it’s playing his day. He got fourth in his heat race at Tampa in the heat race. And then last week at the, uh, Detroit Supercross, uh, he was, uh, ninth or 10th in the main event.
So we know that, uh, with good starts, which I’m a good starter and being up front, I should be, uh, I should be somewhere in that same group, if not better. And uh, first things first is gonna be arena cross and making sure the bike is turnkey. I feel comfortable on it and we know our speed’s good. And as long as we feel that everything is good to go,
we’ll go race.
Jeff, how ready are you and Mike?
We, he definitely is just a week away. At about any time where he’s ready to jump on a bike and get a podium, he stays fit. I, I talk to him just about every single day, sometimes three to 20 times a day about what he is doing. And he’s always on his road bike. He’s working out, uh, I, he sends me videos of him riding at his track and he’s just, he’s anytime could jump on a bike in place and we know he’ll get a start.
So that’s where he’s dangerous at any time is that he can get that start. He has that technique like no one else has. He can perfect that technique on, if any given main event. And then I know for a fact that he still is competitive and he’s never lost that drive. And watching him ride and race, he never gives up.
He stays in it to win it. He doesn’t back out. If he thinks that he’s getting beat, he stays right there. They have never took off and dropped him. He stayed right there with them and if not one, so the speed is always there. And he told me one time when he was just with me a couple weeks ago at my house sitting in my front room, he said, you never lose the speed, you just lose that endurance.
So you keep that endurance up cuz that speed is always sitting in your back pocket. You always have it. You just have to keep that longevity in your exercises and your, um, performance through like your workout and your nutrition. And he is got all that dialed in after 18 years of being pro. He knows what he needs to do, he knows when he needs to do it, and he knows when it counts.
So keeping that in mind, that’s why he’s dangerous and he is. He can come back, he can win. Um, he definitely podium and, and he can never be counted out.
What exactly do you see yourself working on to improve for optimal results, Mike?
Well, this last arena, cross series, I was on my dad’s two-stroke. And throughout the season, you know, we were kind of battling some problems with the engine. With, uh, second round we had an engine problem where the Kickstarter snapped off the shaft and it did some damage to the, uh, to the motor.
So we had to end up borrowing somebody’s bike. And then at the last round, the very last night of racing after practice, I heard a weird ticking noise in the engine. And I was like, This, don’t, this, this bike don’t seem safe to finish tonight. So I had basically two options, which was be done for the season and not race that night or go scavenge through the pits and find somebody’s keystroke that I could, I could ride.
Yeah. And luckily Travis Schaffer, super good guy, uh, an awesome friend now, um, let me ride his bike. And I went out there and pounded out two main events and got both mo main event wins and. And I told him after the race, I’m like, I think I, that was maybe the best. I rode all season on a borrowed bike and I told him, I’m like, it’s probably gonna need a new clutch, cuz I was wearing that clutch out and I was wearing those tires out.
So I told him he’s probably gonna need a new set of Hoosier tires for the rear. Cuz I was, I was burning that, that bike up. And like, he, like he said, he’s like, he’s like, that was the fastest I’ve ever seen my motorcycle go. He’s like, that was, that was a privilege.
What do you feel contributed to your success mike?
I feel like just the pressure was off, the championship was kind of over and at the end of the day it was like, okay, I had second already wrapped up in the championship. Let’s just go race and finish this out. And if I get a good start, which I did, and I, uh, was able to win both made events and I felt comfortable and confident on his bike.
I mean, literally didn’t touch anything on his bike As far as like levers, uh, foot break, like I’m talking like five minutes before opening ceremonies. I’m literally rolling up to do the opening ceremonies on this dude’s bike, and I hadn’t even ridden it all night long, and I just get on it right for opening ceremonies and they’re right into the heat race.
Were you guys setting sag while they sang the National anthem?
Yeah, we were. Oh, oh yeah. Oh yeah. National Anthem was going while we were like getting the bike off the stand and the only thing we had time to change was the front number plate. Yeah. We couldn’t change the side plates. We had to change just the front plate.
That’s why if you look at my Instagram or videos of that last night of racing, the only thing that is on my, on that bike that’s mine is the front number plate. That’s it. That’s all we had enough time to do was just take the bolt out, put my, put my front number plate and bolt it in and to the starting gate or to the opening.
You had, you had the, he, he literally went off the stand. I, I handed him the number plate. I went and got it off his bike, got the transponder. We, I was zip tying the transponder on and he was, he rode his bike from the pits in the underneath the stands where we were pitted and he rode it out and they called his name and he went right out on the track.
Yeah. Oh, literally. So there was no time to stop and buckle a boot even? It was time to go. Yeah.
Jeff, what do you feel contributed to Mikes success this year?
I think Mike, before the races, I think he had a pretty figured out they’d stay at a, uh, you know, they’d stay a hotel. Him and his wife, I think she came to just about all of them. And, um, I, his kids gotta come to some of them and yeah, they’re, we’re in the pits in Chuck’s trailer and I’m holding the kid while his wife’s taping his back or his arm or whatever.
The kids are running around. And then, Mike’s dad and racer. And so, you know, we’re, he’ll maybe go do activities, uh, before his races weren’t usually till the end of the day cuz they had amateurs before and then he wouldn’t come in till about five and practice. And I think him and his family got to do some stuff before the track.
Um, I think they enjoyed their family time before he had to go to work.
Anything you want to add
at the end of the day? Like, like you said, Jeff, I mean, I’m, I’m 35 years old, like, you know, I’m not a 16 year old kid anymore. Like, I don’t need, you know, mommy and daddy to tell me what to do and, and how to do it.
Like I know when I wake up in the morning, I gotta train, I gotta eat, right. Mm-hmm. And take care of my, my girls when I take them to school in the morning at seven 30, pick them up at noon. Like that’s, that’s my job like, I get it. And in between that situation with dropping her off and getting home, and then I do my training from nine to 12 and then I pick her up, and then after that, then it’s off to the track to do my laps and, and put in the work.
So, you know, I, I don’t have any time to play around no more. I’m a 35 year old man with two little girls and a wife. Like my life’s in, in, in, in complete order. You know, I know what I need to do and I just try to be a good role model for these kids. And when I go to the General Tire series, just to put on a good show, you know, we might not win and Michael might be better, whatever it is what it is.
But I know this year we’re gonna be coming in a lot more prepared and ready to, to try to win
strong. Yeah. We, we got good stuff this year, so it’s a lot more competitive. He’s gonna, it’ll be, uh, for the program that he had was good. There was good guys with him. The Red Line Oil team and, and the General Tire Arena Cross team.
We’re good to Mike. Yeah, Chuck, Chuck
David at Redline Oil were super accommodated. They helped me tremendously. And, uh, I just wanna say a big thanks again, obviously to those guys for having my back and working super hard, taking my bike from each race and working on it, and, uh, just being in my corner.
And obviously Jay Reynolds, the series promoter for having me and be a part of the
series. And Mike w he would fly into the races and, you know, he, he was relaxed. It was, it was semi-pro in his days. I mean, what he went through this time, he got to show up and his bike was there and prepared like it should be.
He deserves that. He put in his time, he put in his work, he’s put in his efforts. Um, he should show up, put his gear on, swing his leg over and go to work, clock in, do his job, and then go with his family. And he deserves that. So Chuck and them were really good about having everything prepared for him and clean.
Every, they cleaned his gear for him, his bike, oil, everything, and it was top notch. It wasn’t a joke. It was serious. And that’s the way that this has taken, even to bring it on to this year coming. It’s, uh, it’s bringing back Mike from few years ago where he needs to be and that’s where he wants to be.
Mike’s a racer. Mm-hmm. He likes it. He’s told me it’s in his blood. He loves it. And, um, we’re going forward to, uh, to win.
Mike, the narrative surronding age is changing. Would you agree?
I mean, you know, 10 years ago I was just starting out with Genova 2012, 2013, and we were battling Dungy in the outdoor series for the title.
And uh, you know, I had one of my best seasons in the super cross out six overall and, and second in the outdoors in 2012. So, you know, obviously. And then we had just gotten married, my wife and I in 2011, the year before. So, yeah, if you look back 10 years ago, things were, you know, a lot different. And as, as the years kind of progressed, 16, 17, I was.
I was pretty burned out. And then we had our first daughter in 2018 and it’s like, it’s kinda like resurrected me, like where I feel like the pressure’s off. I’m a dad now. And you know, it’s not necessarily all about winning, it’s about being a good person, being a good husband, and being a great father for our kids and our girls.
Like that’s, that’s number one for me. And, you know, racing for me is just the cherry on top and in my, my heart and soul. I just love riding a dirt bike and I just, um, I just love it. So. Yeah, absolutely. So our, our biggest thing right now is we’re just like, between Jeff and I, we’re just trying to find some good sponsors to make it worthwhile to go do the arena cross and then, uh, and have the sponsor money to, to progress from there into Supercross in.
Mike, you’ve avoided burnout for years now. This has ended the career of many racers before you. What’s been your secret?
I had two kids straight up. I mean, uh, they give me the motivation to give them a good house, put a roof over their head, put food on the table. And straight up, like I said, and, and uh, you know, like at 17 I was over it, I was burned out and um, yeah, I was just going through a tough time just because I had done it since oh four, oh oh yeah, oh four when I podium with Carmichael and Windham at 16 years old, two months, 16 years old, two months, like that’s the youngest, uh, a rider’s ever podium in the four 50 class in the outdoors.
And, um, traveling the world, it’s awesome. I get it. Uh, you know, you’re living out of a suitcase, you’re traveling and living in a hotel for three, four days, a rental car, then a back on the flight back home. It just kind of got monotonous and I just was over it by like 16, 17. I had just had enough of it and, uh, and I needed out.
I was, I was mentally burned out just, uh, with the sport and obviously the industry, you just. You just see the same people year in and year out and then, you know, you don’t see ’em for a couple months from the off season and you come back to Anaheim and everybody’s broing down and hugging each other, fist pumping.
And it’s just like, you know that these people really aren’t your friend, but you gotta play the game. Like you gotta play the play that game. And I just was sick of it. I was over it. I didn’t need to play the game no more. I was established with my rental houses and my properties that I had that I didn’t need to be doing Supercross no more.
So I basically gave, in a sense, everybody, the big fu. Like I didn’t, I I was over at See Ya and, and, uh, yeah, this, it’s been since 17, so 18, 19, 21, 2, 3. It’ll be almost seven years since I’ve been in a full series of racing Supercross. Uh, if we, if we can make things work and come back next year and, um, be almost 36 years old.
So, yeah. And like you alluded to Justin in Brighton, I mean, When he did that, he won that race, which was 2018. He was on my dad’s team, the smart top bullfrog motor concept team. And it just kind of de aligned everything. It was March 10th and his number was 10. It was just like all the, the signs aligned and obviously being 10 o’clock at night, the race.
And yeah, it was just a weird deal. And I remember just how excited, not just obviously JB was, but for the team to get that first ever Supercross win. It was a huge deal. And, and like you alluded to, I mean, who’s to say that that couldn’t happen again, right? And with all the right pieces of the puzzle? Um, why, why couldn’t that happen?
Why not me? And you know, like I said, having my two little girls that just, everything changed in 2018 when we had our first. And then obviously the pandemic and everything kind of shut the world down in 20 and 21. And then we had our second daughter in 22, and it was just like, you know what? I wanna come back.
I wanna come back to racing and, and, and maybe even make it to professional again because I still feel like I have that drive, that that will, the, the determination, the, the, the, the willingness to just go out there and just, you know, freaking scrap elbows and just get aggressive into the first turn and fight for that whole shot and see where it kind of leads.
And if it’s a, a good finish, awesome. If it’s a bad finish and it is what it is. I just, I feel like in my mind, because my mind is so clear and so good right now and, and being 35, I feel like my fitness is like really, really needs to be for my age. Like, I feel good and when I’m riding the bike, I feel good.
And you know what they say? A happy rider is a fast rider.
And at the end of the day, a lot of these riots are chasing the money. You chase the money, the money will run. You chase the passion, the money will always come. So you chase the passion. And the passion will always lead you to.
I feel like we’re in a, in a world where a lot of the kids coming up, they’re privileged, right?
They, they got the motorcycles, they, they have everything turnkey at their fingertips. Where if you look back, Carmichael, Stewart, me, myself, ESI, Millsaps, Villa Poto, we came from nothing. Like our parents didn’t, didn’t have good jobs. We were struggling like just to, just to go from race to race and just to be there, be competitive and.
That’s why Carmichael was so good. Stuart so good. RV was so good myself, Millsaps, we, we freaking hated each other because we knew we had to win to put food on the table the next week. And, uh, at the end of the day, when you’re living, you know, to, to make, to to pay rent, like you’re gonna win at all costs.
Where the kids these days, they don’t gotta worry about that. They just show up. The bike’s there, the gas is there, new tires, new chain, whatever. Like it’s, if they get first, awesome. If they get 15th, it’s like, okay, well who cares? Mom and dad’s got a job for you waiting when you’re 18, 19 years old at the construction business and your, your, your desk and your chair is sitting right here and all we gotta do is just dust off
the dust and show up.
You’re gonna work. Yeah. And then they, and then they’re jumping in their, uh, $300,000 motor homes and, um, you guys were jumping in. Uh, Regular truck and sleep in the back
seat. My first ever, my first ever truck was a 1988 Toyota stick shift. That’s what I learned to drive when I was 15 years old.
Jeff, what was your first car?
It was a 1968 Chevy longed that me and my dad Bill, uh, got it when I was 15 with my own lawn mowing money. We went to an auction and I bought it and my dad said, you sure you want that piece of crap? I said, yep. He said, okay, we’ll, uh, we’ll build it together. One year wet, sanded it, uh, for Christmas, he worked at a race car machine shop, so I got a good motor for Christmas.
We tore it down, tore everything out of it. We, uh, primed it. Gray, had big 10 inch tires on the back with a 3 27 motor, and, uh, he said, Um, you work on it. I work on it. You don’t work on it. I don’t work on it. So that gave me work ethic too. If you want something, you gotta do it. He wasn’t gonna go out there and do it for me.
That would’ve taught me nothing. I’ve had the same job for 31 years. I’ve never had another job. I’ve always done heating and plumbing, and I built a bunch of homes also. So it was my family’s business and I bought it and took over from them in 2002. So I’ve, I’ve never done another job. I’ve always had motocross as a passion.
When I was a kid, I rode, we couldn’t afford a, a good bike. I rode junk. And then I remember when I sold my first house that I built in 2004, I went and with cash and bought a brand new, uh, Suzuki 1 25. And then I wrote, And then I would go ride on the weekends with all my buddies and, um, we’d just enjoy riding and racing dirt bikes.
I never was at the level even could touch what, unless he does. I was a BC rider vet 30, uh, weekend warrior racing dirt bikes with all my friends. Uh, my daughter lived with me and um, and I was always busy working. And then meeting Mike is like, um, when I met him it’s like kinda like a, a son. I’m a lot older than him and it’s like, uh, he had that passion for the bike and to put in the work like I did when I worked and was taught because it was like, here’s the job, go do it.
And you figured it out. You couldn’t call someone. There was not a cell phone, so you figured it out. You didn’t have someone that would come and do it for you or get the job done for you. You done it. Mm-hmm. Mike goes and does it. He did it himself. No one else was on that bike and twisted that throttle for him.
He did that himself. He’s earned every single bit of everything he has. He’s put in the time I’ve put in my time, 31 years at the same job. It’s kind of apple to apple, different, you know, different thing all around about between construction or dirt bike. But it’s the same ethic. And he has that and he, he’ll never lose it because he ha he had nothing.
And when he got what he, when he got what he has, he understands what it took to get it. That’s why it’s important to him. That’s why he doesn’t quit or give up because he never was taught to give up. He was always taught to chase it and make it happen. And he. And that’s why he’s sitting right there where he is at with all them trophies and still doing it.
And he always will. That’s the thing. He always will. I mean, we’re going to, I mean, he’s getting ready to go to two stroke nationals in a couple weeks. I mean, he’s going to Brazil to race. I mean he’s, uh, he’s got a calendar right there somewhere that’s full, you know, froze.
And right now talking with a team for World Supercross too.
So that’s, uh, kind of in the works. I mean, it’s kind of spilling the beans a little bit here on Jeff. I haven’t really told him, but, uh, yeah, I got a phone call yesterday from, uh, world Supercross team. So that’s, uh, definitely a possibility and I would say, yeah,
What about your childhood and upbringing shaped you into the man you are today?
I’ll be i’ll, I’ll be completely honest to your question. Like, we didn’t come up with anything. My mom and dad worked at a, a, a trash company.
Right. And. And my dad would drive us in the morning and, and this is early, like four or five in the morning, and we would sleep in the back seat of the car until my mom got there and, and then she would be able to take us and then we would go riding and on Tuesdays and Thursdays at Glen Helen and go ride to do our training and go, go, go do it.
Right. And um, yeah, it was tough. Like we made it work and I like kind of reiterating what you said like about the kids these days, you know, kind of, it’s all kind of hand given to ’em. They’re a little bit soft and that’s why guys like myself and rv, like we’re just, we were gritty dudes and, and we didn’t take no s h i t like we just, we just worked hard and we knew we had to get the results.
For me, I’m still doing it to this day. I, I, I’ll be honest, like one of my favorite things to do every day is getting on my road bike and going for 20, 30 mile bike ride. And it’s just the peace, the wind in my face and just listening to my mind and, and the thoughts that I have going through and the things that I want, the goals that I want to achieve, and what I need to get there.
Right? Nothing’s gonna stop you. It’s the only thing that’s gonna stop you is what’s between your what? It’s between your ears, right? At the end of the day, if you have the right mindset and you strive to get results and you work hard, good things will come. You don’t, and I live by these three things, don’t lie, don’t cheat and don’t steal, and good things will always happen to you.
I love it.
Jeff, what are your thoughts?
Yourself. Well, I think that like when Mike. Whenever I met him. And we, when we were, we’re getting back to that other while ago. I was gonna finish that question.
When we went to Tulsa to do a motocross school, and me and Mike and my, uh, son Hayden, we um, we rented these little scooter birds to go down through town. And, and, and Mike wasn’t standing on the corner yelling, Hey, I’m Mike. You know, look at me or whatever. I mean, we had this guy, New Jersey guy just happened to be in town.
They had a, they had a big wrestling tournament at the B O K center and, and Tulsa. And this guy just walks out of a, uh, kind of a little cutout in a building and kind of walks out and something with motocross got brought up. And that guy, the monster, the monster hat, that’s what it was. Yeah. The monster hat.
Yeah. And the guy said, um, what about that? And Mike and I said, Michael Lui and that guy’s like, no, it’s not. And he said some other words, but he is like, take off your hat, you’re not Mike. And then he took it off and then he kind of hit Mike in the arm and he is like, oh my God, I watched you. And it’s like, people still value him in the sport because he is, and he achieves so much and, and, and these people that were around, even a guy at the airport when I picked him up, there was a young kid and I was messing around.
I made this little plate with an 800 on it when he come walking off the terminal and this kid seen that plate. And he’s like, do you know Michael Lusi? And I said, look, I said, actually, I’m picking him up in a minute. And he is like, you think you’d take a picture with me? I said, absolutely. I said, he’s a good guy.
Follow me. So when Mike got off the airplane, there was a kid there that was, that waited, even missed his Uber so he could stay and wait to get a picture with Mike. So. You know, holding a, a, a valuer in values in someone. It’s like, you know, I value myself, like to offer Mike, like, uh, hey, um, I’m, I’m, I want to do this.
I’m in my life where I can and I want to, and I want to, I want to help him. And, and it’s not like, like, uh, like he needs me. He doesn’t, he, uh, he has, he has a lot of stuff he can do on his own. I’m grateful that, uh, that I am a part of the team. And, and we have another friend of ours, uh, Ian Payne that is with us a little as well, and wanting to achieve these goals and values with me and Mike, and he’s a sponsor of, with Mike, so he has great people behind him and he couldn’t.
Maybe it’s misspoken, but I don’t think that maybe he would be on the podcast today. Me and you connected and I wanted to bring this because I think it’s his value is worth to hear and to to promote him back. And that’s what I want to do with him is promote him to the level where, cuz he, because he told me straight up, I want a race.
I’m not announcing retirement, I’m not doing that. Mm-hmm. I’m not gonna say those words right now. And he wants to, uh, hey, wants to race. And if he told me, Hey, I don’t wanna do this and all that, it’s not like we’re going to stop being friends. I mean, we have several things planned together outside of racing.
We take that very seriously. It’s not a joke. Um, we’re here to win. We’re not here to participate. We’re, we’re there to get a job done for the sponsors that I’m bringing, for Mike and the people that I’m approaching. Like I have meeting this afternoon with a, a, a big one, a great big sponsor in town. And then, um, I have a few more that is lined up and a few that sponsor my, my son.
And so I’m bringing those along for Mike and I want them to be a part of it. And so I think he holds, we all hold a value to ourself and what we’re worth, but I want to have and make it where Mike could finish these last years, whatever he wants to do, where he doesn’t have to worry about, I gotta go ahead and find a sponsor to do this race.
I gotta go over and find this. So I’m trying to take that role where he just has to ride and train. And do his work. And he has other stuff going on. There’s other people in his corner that I’ve not even met yet, but I’m here centrally located to bring the opportunities for him and, and it is to what he wants to do with it.
And that’s when.
So I would love to hear more of how do you see your future in creating real value for future sponsors?
Well, I think that what helped me to go get, like, like this first one that I went and got cuz I, I worked in the public so talking to people really wasn’t a big deal.
Cuz you know, you sell your, when you do your own thing, just like what you do and even what Mike does, you’re all selling something and the way you per sue it in the way you say it, you only have about the first five minutes if you know they’re gonna take part in it or not. The f I mean the first few minutes, you know, if the rest of your 30 minutes you’re talking to him is a waste of time or not.
Mm-hmm So when I, I work out with the guy, um, it’s a big blanket company outta Springfield, Missouri, and I work out with that guy at the gym and I said he, he had always asked me, he’s like, Hey, what’d you do this weekend? Did you have a good weekend? I said, yeah, we went race motocross and it’s a 500 weekend every time we go ride it’s 500 bucks to go race.
And so we got a motor home, a race trailer, and it’s 500 bucks to go race. So, I said, would you want to, would you want to do a sponsorship? And he said, yeah. Well, a couple weeks later, he, we kind of disconnected at the gym and he said, Hey man, uh, I was in the dressing room and he said, Hey, I wanna do that deal.
I said, really? He said, absolutely. He said, uh, I’d, I’d really like to do that for you. So we met, I took my son to his office. We got a picture of him signing a check. We went out in front of the building, took a picture. The guy was ecstatic. I sent him results, sending pictures. Um, I’m introducing him to Mike.
Um, I think they might maybe went to China for a little bit to do some work. They come back, I’m working on a deal for the Arena Cross and Super Cross series. I’m, I’m getting a deal put together to give to him. So I’m working on all that. So whenever I went to him, I just kind of put it like this. You go and put.
You go over to a local TV station and say, I wanna run an ad for my deal, you’re gonna pay a monthly or weekly or airtime and it’s gonna be a lot of money. Well, here’s the thing. We race every weekend and we talk to everybody. So I put your logo on my dirt bike and we go to Arena cross races, which are on tv.
And then so my kid podiums or for say, uh, Mike Podiums and has big blanket on the bike, uh, that’s better than a TV commercial because Mike’s gonna race every weekend and Mike’s gonna p you look at his stats, he’s gonna podium or if not when mm-hmm. He’s gonna mention your name every single weekend on tv, on Fox Sports One and all the stuff logo on the jersey.
Yep. So, and then a shirt that he wears, I mean, he ain’t gonna wear a. A shirt that doesn’t have a sponsor on it. He wears those every day. So everywhere he goes, someone’s seeing that logo every single day somehow. So when I go approach the sponsor, I just lay it out there like that. I say, look, you can buy a TV commercial, which is gonna cost you thousands and thousands of dollars and, and, uh, people might not be home.
They’re gonna be at work on the weekend, people are gonna be at the dirt bike races and on Saturdays you’re gonna DVR that MOOC cross race from General Tire Arena Cross Series, or Monster Energy Circuit, Proser, you know, whatever series. So they’re gonna see that. So, so that four or $5,000 they give you, or $20,000, you’re gonna run that all season for a year, and that’s gonna be on TV every weekend.
So I kind of lay it out in, if you get it in a roundabout way, That’s how I kind of lay it out. And if you lay it out in that perspective, nine times outta 10, you walk out of there with a deal or a phone call back in a week with a deal. Mm-hmm. Because it means more to them that you’re gonna, that they’re gonna be, and they get excited, then they want to be a part of it.
They’re like, oh, Mike, Mike might get third. He’s gonna be on the podium. Oh, if he wins, they’re going to take a picture of him and put it in a magazine. So then that magazine gets published out to a million people that subscribe to that magazine that sit to their house or phone or however it is. And so those people, um, you know, it’s a win-win for them instead of doing a commercial where me and you’re gonna be at work or the gym when that thing’s aired.
And we’re not even gonna know that exist.
And the best part, it’s on FS one, which is a big marketing, uh, station for TV for right people and viewers. Like, I still get viewers and people that are riding me like, bro, I just watched your last round in Memphis, Tennessee. You borrowed someone’s bike and you went out and won.
Like, that was so cool, like historic. And I’m just like, thank you. I appreciate the support. Like people see that. They watch it. Yeah. And it’s, and the best part is it’s Reir, so it’s not just a one time deal. It’s a Reir show that continues through
March. Yeah. It’s a rerun April. Yeah.
Mike, what were the best years for earning a living as a professional athlete?
Uh, I’d say the good years were oh 7, 0 8, 0 9, right before the crash, you know, that’s when the money was.
You know, I had, I had good results. I was vice champion to Tedesco in oh five. The Lao in oh six Langston in oh seven. So I made good money. And then obviously I was running second behind Stewart when he had the undefeated season before I had my big crash at Red Bud. Um, and then winning the championship in oh nine, like, people don’t, looking back on it, people don’t like, they don’t, and I’m not blowing myself here on, you know, saying like, I’m the best rider or whatever.
I’m just saying, if you look at statistics and stats and the facts of it, dude, I raced the gnarliest guys. I was racing Carmichael, Stewart, Villa Poto, Dungy. Like, there’s no no joke. Dudes like, yeah, I didn’t win, but damn I was this close. Like, we’re talking one little. In oh five, it’s a championship. If I didn’t break my clutch lever off in oh six, there’s another championship oh seven with Langston.
If my gas cap didn’t pop off and I got a dnf that, that season, that moto, I only lost by 10 or 12 points to Langston, there’s a third championship. Yeah, Stuart was the best in in obviously oh eight. And then in oh nine when I did my knee just doing a, a silly, you know, press deal. Uh, that could have been another championship.
So right there, you know, people don’t give a lot of credit to like my career and, and saying I’ve had a failed career. And in my eyes, you know, if that’s a, if, if, if that’s a sign of a failed career, being vice champion that many years in a row and, and making millions of dollars in the process, hell, I think anybody would take that as a failed career.
I agree 100%. Mike, I’ve always felt you got a bad rap for coming up with creative and different ways to market yourself. It appeared as if you were blackballed early in your pro career.
I was blackballed for sure right from the beginning of my career. Right from the beginning really Because of the, the,
shoulder right there, the believe the hype shirts, right? Oh yeah.
Like that, that, that blackball, that, that blackballed me right from the beginning. And, and nobody liked it. They didn’t like me and they didn’t want to see me succeed. And when I went out and went five, four for third, overall at 16 years old at Steel City, people were just like, they’re jaws hit the ground and they’re like, Holy crap.
This kid actually is good. And he did what he said he was gonna do, which was get on the podium. And then the next year I was fighting for a championship at 16 years old. At 17 years old. And people couldn’t believe it. And, uh, it just, they just, they didn’t like the success that I had at such a young age and doing what I said I could do.
And the way that we kind of went about it was the wrong way, obviously, um, with the shirts, which, which to be honest wasn’t even my idea. That was D M X S radio’s idea and it just blew up and people didn’t like it. So I would say I was just blackballed from the beginning of my career, and that’s why people don’t like me.
They don’t perceive me as a, as somebody they’ll want to cheer for at the end of the day, like the money I’ve made, the races I’ve won, the trophies I have, the houses I have, like, they can’t take it away from me, so I’ll just keep laughing all the way to the bank. That’s
Thoughts on the amount of hate in our sport?
I feel like, so in my career, I’ve, I’ve been dealing with hate for, you know, going on, you know, 20 years now of my pro career. I’m almost 35, 36 years old. Like, it is what it is at the end of the day. Like yeah, they can talk crap, but at the end of the day, I just rise above it and don’t let it bother me.
It is what it is. People are gonna say what they wanna say. Just worry about you, worry about your family, right. And just be a good person. That’s it.
Jeff, do you have any thoughts?
Yeah, I mean, me and Mike visited about this quite a bit whenever we, I mean, we had a couple hour road trip together from, uh, Tulsa to my house.
And, you know, we talked about it and, uh, we talked about the believe the hype shirts one time, because when I first met Mike, of course, when I first met him, I had to ask him, you know, Hey man, what happened here? You know, where’d you wreck here? And then it’s kind of like you’re starstruck for a minute because you can’t believe you’re really, see, I never looked at him as negative, and I really never looked at him as, you know, that, that I would’ve hated him or anything.
I, I admired him. And, and I think that that’s the groups that get together to wanna hate someone. I think it’s not that they are like, oh, I hate that guy. I think it’s this guy said something to get this guy to hate him. And then pretty soon you got a wall of people over here that. Might not like him for some reason.
And yeah, you know, you put all those writer writers together, they’re not gonna get along. I mean, if they’re getting along, that’s weird. I mean, there’s maybe a handful that are friends and gonna get along, but at the end of the day, usually people didn’t like you because, uh, you’re maybe, yeah, you’re different because you didn’t take their shit, you know, you, you stood on your own ground and said what you felt.
And a lot of people don’t like that cuz they don’t have the courage to say what they feel and they don’t have enough Exactly. Balls to. To confront ’em. And when you do confront those people, usually they cower down and they turn the other way. Because if they point a finger at them, they got four pointing back at themselves because they’re not perfect.
I’m not perfect. We’ve all made our own mistakes. Mike is, I don’t think he’s ever put himself in a, you know, position on his own that it’s like, oh, look at that guy. Look at, look what he did. I mean, things around you happen that’s outta your control. And no one, there’s always two sides to every story. And if you look at only one side, you’re, that’s, you know, you got a problem with yourself, you know, you don’t got a problem with that person, you got a problem with you yourself.
So doesn’t define that he, you know, made a, you know, someone made a shirt and said, oh, you gotta win. Or We’re gonna, you’re gonna be a loser all your life. I mean, look at his amateur career. Uh, I don’t think any of that’s a joke. I mean, you know, he holds the ti tie with titles at Loretta. I mean, his career was nothing but a success.
And he’s right what he said. They can say what they want, but they ain’t, they ain’t doing what he is doing, you know?
I feel alot of people in our sport ride because it’s the only way they know how to free their mind from their reality without drugs or alcohol.
As soon as you put the helmet on, right, there’s nobody in your ear to tell you what to do and how to do it. It’s all you on the motorcycle and your thoughts and your mind and how you feel and you’re just, you’re free. You’re just free. You’re at. That’s
t. I see many pro athletes struggle because their identity and sense of self is tied to their results. Would you agree?
Gonna lose a lot more in this, this career than you’re gonna do winning a hundred percent. And you learn more from losses than you do from wins.
Mike, when you’re coaching the fundamentals of racing with your students, what are you looking to instill within them?
When I’m working with kids, the biggest thing is I want to see them be faster, but I also want ’em to be safer. Smoother, safer riders, right? Smooth is fast, fast is smooth.
So if you can be a smooth rider, that’s a fast. And just trying to just remind ’em to always look up, watch where they’re going, fingers on the clutch, finger on the front brake. Have good technique and that’s gonna, that’s gonna make you a better rider.
Let’s shift gears to modern day racing. Thoughts on Chase Sexton?
I mean, Mike’s more of the pro at that answering that than me. But what I would say, just as a fan watching Supercross, is that I think he’s holding himself back. Maybe, I mean, maybe his nerves are getting him, maybe the pressure, I mean, I’m sure that he has a lot of people to answer to, and then maybe those thoughts are running through his mind.
He can’t get rid of them thoughts. I mean, I know if I was in his position, I, I mean, hell, I know even being in Mike’s position, I mean, just watching Mike race and, and being there, I mean, just watching him chase on TV is that, looks like he’s in a hurry, looks like he’s in a rush, looks like he maybe not, doesn’t have patience, and maybe the, maybe he’s going to the track instead of the track coming to him.
I mean, I think that, I mean, I’ve never rode at that ability, so I, I don’t, I couldn’t put myself on his bike to, to. Talk for him, but I would say that maybe he’s rushing it. Maybe he’s, he’s, uh, he feels he is in trouble and he is gotta go, go, go, go. Instead of maybe, like Mike said, you know, slows fast, fast to slow.
Maybe, maybe he is a slow down just to hair, to, to go faster. But I mean, I think that, uh, Mike’s per take on that probably be a little bit more of a pro tip. You know, I mean, what you, what do you think, Mike? Mike?
It’s a pretty easy answer, honestly. You watch James Stewart, who’s the fastest rider of this sport’s ever seen on a dirt bike.
He’s done the ability of doing things on the motorcycle that even people to this day still can’t do. And if James had just slowed down just a little bit, just a little bit, he would’ve won multiple titles. It’s the same thing with Chase. He just, he needs to slow down just a hair to be smoother and fast.
And right now he’s, it’s not that he is riding over his ability, cuz his ability is really good. It’s just he starts to get that, you know, three to five second lead on Tomac or web and then it’s like all of a sudden he, he thinks that he needs to keep that pace up. Where in reality he just needs to start maintaining and it, and kind of checking them in.
And then he is got it. He’s just in the attack position and, and, and mode the whole time. And he just needs to just, I mean, we’re talking just a smidge and then everything would just smooth out.
What was your strategy for beating Ricky Carmichael?
Straight up, like there was no beating Ricky, and that’s why Ricky was so good for his whole career because he had everybody mentally beat before he even went to the gate.
When the guys went to the gate, they’re like, oh, we might have a chance. We might have a chance. And then Ricky comes rolling up from, you know, the pits into the staging and it’s just like, yep, we’re done. We’re, we’re getting second. Like, they already knew they were getting beat. And even myself, when I raced him in oh seven, I knew I wasn’t beating them.
And it just was one of those things where I knew I had to get a good start, put myself in a good position, be up front when he went by, try to latch on and grab that toe with him and pull me away from everybody else. And it worked. And I was on the podium like more than half the season in oh seven. Um, now racing with, with James was different, you know, James was such a good rider and such a fast rider.
Um, he, but the only difference is, is he had those abilities where he would make those mistakes where he would fall and it would open up the opportunity to, to, to do good. Where Ricky, his, his, his level as far as like mistakes was they were there, but he was just so, so strong and he was just mentally so gnarly that he could ride himself out of a crash or at least a gnarly crash that, that, that James would make.
And um, it’s just two different contrasts, riders.
Our sport is physically demanding but what are your thoughts on the importance of the mental game?
Right? Straight, straight up. This sport is, I mean, a lot of people think that it’s, it’s a physical deed ally demanding sport.
Don’t get me wrong. You have to be in good shape. You have to be working all the. At the end of the day though, the mental side is way, way more important than the physical. And that’s where Ricky Outworked everybody. And he knew that he outworked ’em during the week. So when he went to the race on the weekend, he was mentally like, I got these guys beat.
They ain’t gonna keep up with me for 35 minutes in 110 degree heat at Red Bud and Millville. Like it’s not gonna happen. And straight up, he had, not just myself, but he had everybody else that was on the gate mentally beat because he knew he physically outworked everybody during the.
What does it take mentally to be an elite athlete?
Yeah. I feel like at the end of the day to be successful in this sport, you have to be confident and confidence.
It doesn’t just happen overnight. Rome wasn’t built today. It takes time, it takes a foundation with a training in the gym, on the bicycle, on the track, doing your laps. And I feel like at the end of the day to be a successful rider, you have to be confident. And once a rider gets confident, then they’re dead.
What do you think
What breeds confidence? Having the right mindset, A huge part of it, right? Is, is the, the will, the work ethic, right? That’s a huge part of it because you’re, it keeps you away from drugs, alcohol, parties, bad stuff that’s gonna distract you, right? It keeps you focused on a goal, keeps you focused on what you’re striving for, which is results.
And at the same time, once you start building that fitness base, right, then the confidence comes with riding the bike faster, you’re hitting stuff harder. Then before you know it, you’re starting to get better results. And then that’s where the results, the confidence. Confidence breeds results to be
It’s also taken chances that no one else wants to take and doing the workouts that no one else wants to do. And then when you’re not training someone else’s.
How did you improve your mental game?
So back when I was, yeah, it was like oh 6, 0 7, 0 8, 0 9. I was seeing a mental coach. I, I was, and it was like a hundred fifty, a hundred seventy five bucks an hour. And, uh, but you know, it’s, it’s, it’s, it’s a drop in the bucket. Wouldn’t you go on the weekend and you go win and make a hundred grand? It’s no problem.
Um, and yeah, just it builds that foundation that, you know, you’re, you’re, you’re just the baddest dude there and, and, and you know, you’re putting in the work during the week. And when I saw this mental coach, it just put me in a mindset where I just believed I could win and I knew I could win. And that’s why I was so successful in the oh 5, 0 6, 0 7, 0 8, 0 9, like I was, those were my best years.
And, um, yeah. And then once, you know, I wasn’t making the money that I was starting in like 2012, 2013, it was different. So I wasn’t seeing that person anymore. Where for like, let’s just say like Chase, that might be something crucially beneficial for him right now and something he should be starting. And even if it’s just once a week, you know, just to see this person or a person just to help him with his mental, just to be, keep his focus sharper and, and, and the objective of what’s at hand.
And it could, it could pay huge dividends to him in winning more super crosses and being a champion.
What was the one thing that transpired that made you seek out your mental coach?
Uh, I mean, it’s hard to pinpoint one thing. It was just, Something that I felt like I needed to go see just to keep, uh, everything in my bubble, like straight. And knowing that what the objective, the objective was and the goal was to win.
And, and the belief system inside yourself. When you believe in something so much, you almost manifest it and it just happens. And, uh, in this sport, like I’ve said, it is, it’s way more mental than physical. So,
so true. Um, cuz you can beat yourself out of the race before it even starts,
which is what car did his, his whole career.
Two did Carmic Carmichael, that’s how he beat his competition nearly his whole
Do you see a lot of similarities between Stewart and Sexton?
Mike, thoughts on parents role in racing?
I mean, at the end of the day you need your parents in your corner, right? And this is something James Stewart Senior told me after he had just won the championship in oh nine and as we’re literally walking from the podium, cause I got the whole shot.
So you get a cool little $1,500 hole shot check. He puts his arm around me. And he tells me at the end of the day, see all these people around James, they might tell him that they have his back. They’ll always be there for you. They’re the best friend. Right. Call you anytime. Right. At the end of the day, the only people who have your back is your mom and dad, and they will always have your back.
And I feel like that’s why James had his dad in his corner his whole career. Chase had his, I mean, you look at it, uh, Ricky had, uh, big Rick and Jeanie. Jeanie was a badass. Like she pushed him and made him work. Right. Right. So straight up. Yeah. That’s, that’s, uh, that’s why, and I’ve had my dad in my career my whole career.
Yeah. He’s done some things. He’s said some things that done some things that have maybe not been right at the end of the day. Like I wouldn’t want to have it any anyway, because he was in my corner. And, and people don’t realize that the racing career is such a small window of success, you know, by the time you’re.
Back then, you know, 30 was the number, you’re pretty much kind of done retired. You’re considered a, a, a vet writer. Right. But nowadays with the, the way that the bodies are trained Yeah, the, the way that you can work on your mind, right. And stay physically active. I’m 35, almost 36 years old. Like, I still feel as good as I did 10 years ago, if not better.
And that’s all from mindset. And I feel like, um, yeah, just having that right attitude of, of working hard and striving for success and having the good right fundamentals in your mind and your body. And for me, I’ve been with my wife for 20 years. We’re gonna be celebrating 20 years together in September.
So having a good foundation with your family, your wife, your significant other, and uh, just knowing what it takes, which is hard work in this day and age. You cannot, you cannot fake hard work, right? The results speak for themselves. Cooper Webb, hard worker. Look at the results. Eli Tome hard worker, look at the results.
So at the end of the day, you have to have a good foundation with your family, have to have a good foundation with your training. And also the biggest part is having a good foundation with the riding and, and your motorcycle.
Thoughts on Eli Tomac and starting a family. How does it change a racing career?
Having a family definitely keeps you on the straight and narrow.
It keeps you striving for something because you know, you have to keep, uh, food on the table, on a roof over your kid’s head, which is a huge part of it. Um, two, I mean, if you have kids at a young age, like 16, 18 years old, right? Your career is just gonna go straight downhill right from the beginning. Um, where like for Tomac to your second question, he’s 30, he’s established, he’s got a house, he’s got a wife, he’s got his kids, like, he’s got money in the bank.
Like he just races because he’s just a pure badass and he just wants to win. And like myself, I just wanna race. I just want to just k still compete. I want to keep working hard and I want to put food on the table for my wife and my kids and give ’em a good house and just be a good person. That’s it. And that’s what Eli’s doing.
And if the results come awesome, like for Eli, if they don’t come, then it just is what it is. He’s already established himself as. Right. You know, a staple in this sport. And the, you know, one of the greatest that there’s ever seen, I mean, he’s second on the all time win win list. That’s, that’s huge. That’s it.
That’s, it’s monumental. You know, they put the, uh, the Mount Rushmore, he’s on there. He’s, it’s, you know, he’s on his face is there a hundred percent. So he races because he just loves it. He’s still competitive, he’s still in shape and, and he knows the pressure’s off, right. He, he has his family, he has his kids, he has his money.
It’s good. Let’s go race and, and there’s no fluff. There’s no bullshit. You know what you’re gonna get with him, which is a hard worker and he’s gonna get the results.
E lie Toemack and Cooper Webb
It, to me its feels like, seems like, looks like two racers that, um, what’s the right word that I’m looking for here? I’m trying to find the words here. Um,
They don’t, they, like I said, they don’t have nothing to lose. Right. For both of ’em, they, they feel like they don’t want to lose. There’s, there’s, they, um, what’s the word I’m looking for right now? It’s, uh, a perfect word that I’m looking for to, to feel this answer. Um, Jeff, take over for a second while I think
about it, I don’t, I don’t think that, um, I think that I seen Eli Tomac and Cooper Webb both back in the day at the Branson Nationals.
Uh, and Mike’s race, that race too when he was amateur, uh, when he was a kid. And I seen Eli, um, there, and actually I got a photo of my son playing catch football
hunger. That’s the word I’m looking for. Sorry, I didn’t mean to cut you off, Jeff. No, no. It’s okay. Go ahead. They do it. They do it because they’re hungry.
They have that hunger inside of them that burns inside ’em that they’re winners. And they can’t lose. They don’t wanna lose. So it keeps ’em hungry. And that’s why you see these, these guys that are badass, like Chase, uh, Eli, and and Cooper, they just, they’re hungry inside. And they have that, almost like that will, that they, they can’t lose.
They won’t lose, don’t they? It’s, it’s not an option for them. Yeah. They stay
all the time. Keep, yeah. They, they’re hungry because they wanna.
E lie Tomack and Cooper Webb don’t seem to have anything to lose. .
right? Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. They, uh, I mean, they just want to go, they just go clock in like a eight to five job ex. I mean, when they get to the track, they clock in and do their job and put their work in. And when they leave, they clock out and it is what it is. They’re gonna go, you know, make their, make their money and, uh, support everybody that’s supporting them.
And then at the end of the day, they, when they leave there and they get on the airplane to head back or whatever, they know they’ve done their job and they’ve done it the best they can. And that’s what Mike’s doing. He’s doing the best he can. He’s doing his job, supporting the people that’s supporting him.
And, um, when he gets on that bike, he’s not only working for, he’s doing his own thing, he’s, he’s working for himself, but at the same time, he is working for other people too. He that have employed him, and that’s, he’s his own boss, but he is, he’s working for people that are supporting him just like those guys.
Mike, are you one of the winningest racers at Lorettas?
Me, Stewart and San are all tied at 11.
You’ve gotta go back for one more.
No, we’re going back. Yeah, we’re going
What are the biggest mistakes for families to avoid at Lorettas?
Well, first and foremost at Loretta, we, I least, I always came in super prepared with my training and my riding before I even came to the event.
So I just, Mentally, like the Carmichael situation in a sense. I knew I was mentally the best guy when I came there and I was gonna win and it, and I had to win because obviously back then that was the big cheese, right? You had to win Loretta to get the sponsorship for the next year, get the recognition, like all that kind of stuff.
At the end of the day, like, like I said, when I came in, I was prepared the best I could with my training and riding, and I knew I had, I was gonna win and it was just, I, I knew I was the best. Where now, kind of sounds bad, but like the, the Loretta doesn’t equate to much anymore to me as I look back on it now, 20 years ago when I was, the racing doesn’t hold the same clout.
Like you go there and win, it doesn’t really equal anything like it did 20, 30 years ago. Where you win, you get the factory ride where now you know the guy who. De Francisco, he already had his deal already done, set in stone before he even did Loretta, he was racing the nationals and he had his deal with Cowie for this year.
Whether he won or lost there or, uh, chance Imus on Honda. He’s basically partners right there with the Lawrence brothers and aj. So it’s like he’s got his whole program already set in stone. So for Loretta, whether he won or lost these guys, they’re already set in where they’re going. Where if you win, Loretta now it doesn’t really equate to anything except for just, you know, burning three to $5,000 in your pocketbook and Yeah.
You know, mom, mom and dad’s, uh, checkbook, you know, and, and mortgaging the house.
Exactly. And then
mortgage the house to take whatever they can there to win and throw it all on the table and then get back there in the back and don’t perform. It’s a, it’s a lot of heads hung down. On the way home, it could be bad.
Yeah. The ride home could be
and you’re getting yelled at the whole drive home. Yeah. You know, mom and dad said, we spent all this money, we did all this, blah, blah, blah. You didn’t win. And then you go to sponsors, even if you do good, you get a win or you get a podium or whatever the case may be.
You go to the sponsors and they call ’em up. You’re like, oh, awesome. We did a great job. We’ll give you 30% or 50% off of, you know, tires and gear or whatever the case may be for next year. It’s like, it’s, it’s, it’s a joke.
Mike, when Mike went, they would, uh, I seen back when watching all the videos, usually they, you’d win, you’d go to a table.
The contracted be there and that ride was a whole lot better home because, uh, you might have had a $50,000 Honda card or Kawasaki card, you know, back. And then, like Mike said, a lot of people that I talked to now, whenever they, uh, win or something, it might just be, uh, a bunch of pitchers and then, um, hey, we’re gonna give you a set of tires or for the rest of the year type of deal, and you spent five grand and they refinanced their motor home to get there.
Mm-hmm. It’s sad. It’s just a lot of money spent for maybe nothing.
Mike, did you get a factory ride based on your results at Lorettas?
So with my situation, which was kind of odd, so I had tested the two 50 Honda.
Couple of months before Loretta’s and our transition was supposed to be two 50 class at Millville in my debut. And I just, I was honest with the guys, I’m like, Hey, I don’t feel like this bike is up to par with my private tier bike that I was riding at the time. And, um, I said, thank you, but I, I, I’m gonna ride the four 50 because I feel like I have a way better chance and shot at getting, you know, for sure top 10 and maybe even a top five are a podium.
And they basically like laughed at me cuz I was racing against Carmichael, Windham, Chad and Reed McGrath, Michael Byrne, uh, Sebastian Elli, Nick Way, uh, David Fullman. You talk about the names, like it’s, that’s 10 guys right there basically. Yeah. So they’re like, when they’re like, yeah, yeah, yeah, go do your thing.
They’re like, if you go and ride the four 50 class, yeah, we’re not, they’re gonna helping you. We’re not supporting you. And uh, You know, you know, next year you can pretty much find a new team or a new bike to go ride. So we kind of, uh, approach KTM about this idea and the proposal, like, Hey, my pro debut, you know, we get top 10 X amount of money on contract and then if we get top five or podium, let’s strive towards, you know, a big X on the contract.
And so we went and tested the bike in that summer to go try the, the new bike that they had in Europe, uh, the K T M two 50, which was the, the gear driven, uh, uh, motor and, uh, gear driven ignition. Uh, and I’m like, I love this bike. Awesome. Well come to find out the next year, it wasn’t that same bike, but regardless of the bike itself, I had to go get the.
So I had to put in the work. And I put in the work. Yeah, I flopped the first round. I was running fourth or fifth, the second mo, and then my bike locked up on the white flying. So crap happens. That’s just how it goes. So on paper it looks like 35, 35, which is terrible in reality. That second mo was a, a badass ride.
I was right up in there at the top five, came back two weeks later, little bit humble, more approach, and we were low key and went five four for third overall and shocked everybody. And then literally that night, next day we’re signed out with KTM and a factory, red Bull KTM Rider, and I was there for oh 5, 0 6, 0 7, and then I came back there in 10 to debut the three 50, which I still hold the record as the only one and only rider to win on that motorcycle in American soil in a national and Oh wow.
To do that, to do that in 2010, to win that second MO is a feat that will never be broken because. I mean, nobody really races at three 50 Outdoors or Supercross anymore. And uh, that’s a cool record and staff to have and, and know that I have it. And, um, and like I said, I mean with our plan here, racing with the, the General Tire Arena cross here next year and getting sponsors to be on board to support us and to go racing, it’s awesome.
It’s great. And then with, like I said, the possibility to transition that from Arena Cross to Supercross in February.
Jeff, if anyone listening to this podcast would like to reach out to you, how can they do so?
Could always, uh, you know, Instagram’s a big part how I’ve had a lot of people message and, um, through there to see different things on, uh, the Instagram’s probably the best way to get ahold of.
Uh, and maybe when we’re done with this, maybe you could help with a link or something. Put that on there to, to go to It’s, it would be Ride Yamaha 37 on Instagram and then, um, uh, CKI brand is a brand I’m kind of playing around with, making some stuff for my stepson. And, um, then. Email, of course, the JB Campbell 1 37 yahoo.com.
Um, is the ways to kind of get involved in it. And then, um, Mike’s got some stuff there. They could always, you know, reach out on him or his wife’s, uh, Instagram as well. And I think there’s some email stuff on there, but, um, you haven’t been, I’m just, man, every single day with my job that I got, I’ll go to work right after here and I, I got a meeting with a sponsor, a potential one that I’m working on.
It’s a big one. And um, so as soon as I’m done with that, I’ll go to my, you know, regular job to meet my crew and then report back to Mike. Let him know how things are going and what we have in the works. I mean, I hustle it every single day hard. It’s like
Yeah. So I’m just kinda working in there as his agent, getting everything put together for him that way.
Alls he’s gotta do is ride and train, cuz it’s, his wife is a full-time mom. There’s a lot on her plate. And, uh, so I just kind of, you know, I just kind of work all angles because he needs to work hard, train, ride his bike. It’s hard for him to beat the streets and worry about that. So I try to take that worry out for him.
family man. And not just a family man, but a guy who works hard and still wants to go race and strive for results. And yeah, any of the sponsors that are watching listening, yeah, that’s, uh, easiest. I mean, obviously the easiest way to get ahold of us is on Instagram. It’s the new promotion, right? It’s a new way of life.
It’s, uh, the easiest way to interact and reach people.
Mike, I know you offer modocross schools, tell us a bit more about them.
Yeah, honestly, like with the writing schools, it’s just kind of just happened in the last year or two.
It just kind of playing around with it and I’ll just kind of pick locations here and there and, uh, you know, we’ll set up a riding school or a camp for a weekend and we’ll do, uh, little bikes on Saturday. We’ll do big bikes on Sunday, nine to 12 and we’ll have a certain price for it. And, uh, basically I fly in and work with the kids and, and teach ’em the fundamentals about how to ride a motorcycle to be faster, but safer riders.
And, uh, yeah, just something I’ve been playing around, you know, obviously with the last couple years, not racing professionally, like just something that I’ve been kind of reaching out to do and I’ve had a lot of good positive, uh, outlook on it and people that love it and. You know, the biggest thing I have is the secrets on starts.
Right? And that’s, that’s 90% of the game right now is putting yourself up front and being able to pick the best lines and not having to pull tear offs and get darted with rocks on your chest and get just beat up. Right? You can pick the best lines and, and, and lead the pack. Right? And that’s obviously my biggest attribute in, in what I have the value to give to these kids is starts and, and it’s something I’ve been kind of venturing and doing the last couple years and I’ve been, I’ve been enjoy.
You must get asked how to get a holeshot alot?
Everybody that we did the motocross school, um, like we got one, uh, Tulsa in September and then working on a one week camp at the, at a, at Jan Burs motocross particle. We just came from a couple weeks ago in July and um, but I probably have a hundred messages on my phone when I set those up for him on Instagram.
The dms, they say, uh, please tell me we’re gonna do starts. That’s what everybody says on there is, uh, my kid can’t get a start to save his life. What are we working starts. Even if that’s the whole school, I’m okay with that. They, they want the starts first thing they say and they said, will he give that secret?
And I said, yeah, he’ll work with you on the starts because they all think, well, he can, he perfected it. So it’s a secret, but it’s not that way. He wants them to get a start. It ain’t, Hey, I’m gonna tell you everything but the main recipe ingredient, you know, he, he wants them to get the start. I mean, so that’s the first thing.
He works with them. Actually
it is the first thing. Yep. Because I got their full focus right away and they’re listening and understanding. And the other thing is, once the mom and dad, cuz they’re kind of sitting there on the side of the track or on the fence line watching their kid as I’m working with him and they physically, visually, they can see the difference and they’re like, Holy moly.
This, that’s a, that’s way better. Like then they know right away that they got their money’s worth right there within the first 30, 40 minutes of, of the first session.
I I feel like at the end of the day it’s way easier to start first and have three or four guys pass you and you still finish podium or top five than it is to start 20th and have to kill yourself to get to top 10.
Just make life easy. Be up front dude, and just like I said, pull the, pull the pick the best lines. Pull no tear offs. You’re not getting darted with a fricking, you know, size of a paint ball. Like, like bullets, bullets coming out. Exactly. Dodge
I love it. I thought, I thought it was funny cuz at the last Rita Cross for the GT series where my bike broke and I had to jump on somebody else’s bike.
I went out and got the whole shot. I got the whole shot on somebody else’s bike. I hadn’t even ridden the whole night and I just thought that was funny.
You pull the whole shot on anything?
Pulled the whole shot on a b mx bite.
I dunno about that, Jeff. Remember, remember it says down here, Mike Leslie, it says Jake Kavanaugh. It says Just Jeff Badass. That’s what it
should say. Hey, that’s just because I really didn’t understand. That was my first time. You know? I mean, oh
maybe you also, yeah, maybe you guys did it wrong. You know, it didn’t say you had to put your last name. You know, I wasn’t filling out an application or nothing, you
I appreciate you both coming on the podcast. Sorry my fake AI voice had to be used but it is what it is.
No problem, no problem. Thank you. No problem. Thank, thank you guys for having me on and all the kids watching and the parents, you know, just keep working hard and keep striving for those goals. And I, biggest thing is be a good person, right? And, uh, and, and have a good morals and ethics.