Interview With Top Mechanic Christian Kauffman of Starr Racing Yamaha
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So being a mechanic for a professional athlete, you were like the last person that you’re at. The last words other than what an athlete might say to themselves are coming from you. And so I think what’s really fascinating is how much power and influence, your words, your vibe, your energy has over the athlete you work with.
I wanted to hear a little bit more about how you manage that. Uh, so yeah, being a motocross mechanic, we are the last people to speak to our guys before the gate drops, right? So I mean, the team’s trying to relay messages down to me, but at the end of the day, it’s what I say to Nate. So my biggest thing is just trying to make sure that he’s calm, he’s confident.
Like I’m not one of those yelling, screaming guys. I know they’re dudes that are, but it’s just trying to keep Nate confident and keep him calm and get him out there know to do what he knows how to do. I love it. So guys, we’re here with Christian Kaufman. He is a mechanic for Star Racing Yamaha. Uh, he is the mechanic for professional athlete by the name of Nate Thrasher who competes, uh, in professional Supercross and motocross.
Um, so tell me a little bit more about how the relationship forms, because for me, if I know how valuable, let’s say I’m a professional athlete and I know how valuable it is to not just have someone who could do the mechanical piece, but I need someone that aligns with my vibe If I’m a high energy. Fun loving guy, which I’d like to think I am.
There’s a certain type of personality I tend to jive with. But then, you know, you might have an athlete, maybe like a Cooper Webb or someone that’s maybe a little bit different where the personalities have to match. How did that whole relationship, and not just with Nate, your current, um, athlete, but maybe in, maybe walk me through a little bit of maybe some past, and I know you worked with Rammy, um, just some of the athletes you work with.
What makes a great relationship with a mechanic and a, a racer and, and where do the challenges come in and how does this whole dynamic form? So honestly, the relationship most of the time is just something that kind of gets paired up, uh, either by random or by choice or, you know, the families or something.
Or sometimes they’re friends. But most of mine have actually been just, I signed with a team and. That was who I was assigned to. Like I signed with Star Racing Yamaha at the end of 2021. And basically they told me like, Hey, you’re gonna be Nate’s mechanic. And it’s really, sometimes it’s super hard. Like Nate had had the same mechanic his entire career up until me.
So the really hard challenge with working with Nate is just realizing that that relationship is gonna take a huge amount of time. And sometimes it vibes and sometimes it doesn’t. Luckily with Nate and I, we vibe, I try to be more of like just a calm, confident, reassuring person and he seems to respond to that.
But I mean, I’ve had relationships with riders in the past where it just, it doesn’t work for whatever reason. Like you have those guys that are super high on energy and then you have some riders that, you know, they’ve spent their whole life getting yelled at by their dad. So then that’s what they expect from a mechanic
And it’s just, it’s hard like, cuz I’m not that guy. So luckily Nate and I work together, but sometimes it just. . That’s wild. Yeah. And, and it’s so true. And, and I hate to pick on Moto, well, actually that’s not true. I love to pick on Moto. Um, in Moto you do see a lot of Moto dads. Um, it’s amazing. When I used to post, um, before my former Instagram account got ba banned when I was posting and getting like a lot more engagement and I was in the algorithm and I was surfing that wave of, of getting, uh, in front of the right people.
Uh, what was interesting is that the post that got the most engagement were ones about moto dads and moto moms. And for those of you that don’t know what a Moto dad or Moto mom is, how, how would you, what’s your definition, Christian? Um, my definition would be just imagine like the craziest normal sport stick and ball mom or normal stick and ball sport Dad, that’s like always yelling at the game or like, Screaming at coaches, just imagine that.
But there’s 40 of ’em on a gate at an amateur Supercross or motocross race. Like these people are gnarly. They put their whole lives in it, and it’s super financially taxing. So I get it. Like they’re hard on their kids if nothing else. Oh, for sure. And so, without naming names, I mean, put it this way, we know for a fact you’re on, you’re in a team where there’s a lot of success, but there’s also a lot of competition, um, without, you know, having to call anyone out.
What do you see as the common link between those that succeed and maybe even those that are challenged and don’t succeed and maybe struggle a little bit more than the others? Do you start to see a consistent theme among those that do well and those that are challenged? As far as seeing a theme on our fam on our team is that we have, like, we have a pretty good spectrum of families, but I know the ones that tend to succeed a little bit are the parents that are supportive of their kids.
Like, you know, a lot of ’em still have hard relationships with their parents, but you know, at the, any given race weekend, we still have every rider’s family there, whether it’s wives, girlfriends, whatever. So it’s just super dependent on what kind of situation they’re gonna succeed in. Right. So Nate has really good success with people that are supportive and that kind of stuff, and I think that kind of goes across the industry.
Look at someone like, um, you know, Cooper Webb, he kinda had a tough time, but a lot of people just, you know, whether they need their family there or whether they need time away from their family. It just is hard and you can’t really put a finger on it because there’s so different, so many different kinds.
Like it’s hard. . Yeah. What’s interesting is you had said that you have a girlfriend, and I know that you, your travel schedule has gotta be, I mean, it, it’s literally insane. I mean, what, you fly back on a Monday, Sunday and, and then you’re flying back out, what, on a Thursday night? So you know you’re gone all the time.
How, so you’re in a relationship. You’ve got, you know, obviously parents, family, what, what have you, how do you manage a relationship, family? Then you also have an athlete that’s kind of like, you’re the, their right arm. And so now you have to not just manage them, but I’m assuming they’re very engaged and dependent on the relationship they have with their family.
So there’s just a, like a lot of relationships. It seems that have to be managed. Um, how do you manage your own relationships and then how does that look when you start to merge your family? Maybe you and your girlfriend, like for example, you know, I can’t imagine like, let’s say your Nate’s girlfriend, somebody’s got a girlfriend, what have you, maybe she doesn’t vibe with your girlfriend, then that’s a different dynamic.
There’s so many opportunities for things to be challenged. How do you manage that yourself? Um, for me personally, it’s a big thing of just trying to make the time available for all those kinds of people, you know? So we do travel extremely grueling. Like it’s an extremely grueling schedule. Like, I’m gonna fly out on a 6:00 AM flight Thursday morning to go to Indianapolis, and then I won’t get back until midday or Monday afternoon.
So it’s super hard, but at the time you just have to make, you have to make time for, for these things, right? So, , it’s really important for me to make time for my girlfriend and for me to make time so I can call my parents and kind of keep that relationship going. Because the truth of the matter is, is like Nate and I don’t necessarily hang out too much away from the track, but that’s how him and I succeed because we’re in each other’s business, you know, five days a week.
Like I see him more than I see my girlfriend, more than I see my parents, more than really, I see the majority of my friends. So I think for me it’s super, it’s super important that I make time and I put effort into those things. But those people are also very respectful and supportive of like my job.
They’re supportive of the time that I need for my job. They’re supportive of like my schedule. So I think it just goes back to, you know, you just have to be supportive. Like if you’re selfish, it’s not, it doesn’t tend to work really well, you know. . Oh, for sure. Yeah. And it’s interesting because , you were also saying as a complete side note, because before we started this call, we were talking, I thought it was hilarious, totally off subject, but, but related to you and your girlfriend, you have a mullet currently?
Mm-hmm. , you considered chopping it off. Tell me if I’m wrong. And the girlfriend paused it. She shut that operation down. The cutoff is not happening. Walk me through this whole mullet situation. . Is this like a moto thing? Is this, I assume you live in probably what, Tallahassee or nearby, right? Yeah, yeah. So now go, go ahead.
Go ahead. So you live in Tallahassee, girlfriends says no to cutting off the mullet. Is is it coming back? Because in an odd way, I’m struggling in conflict with the fact that I see it on some guy’s done. Right. And it actually doesn’t look that bad. I’m, I’m embarrassed to say it, but tell me how that works with you
Uh, for me, honestly, like it just started, uh, with like the covid lockdown. I wasn’t getting a haircut. So I had like longer hair and I would just push it back underneath my hat. And one day my rider at the time, he’s like, dude, were you like growing a mullet or something? And I was like, not really, but the idea stuck in my head.
So then like the next year we were going outdoors and I was like, I’m just gonna get a mullet cuz it was in at the time. And I just thought it was funny and like, you know, it’s, I think it’s a pretty moto haircut, so like in the nineties. So I grew a mullet out and uh, got it cut in. And ever since I’ve had it, like I’ve just like, My girlfriend has always, like, I always catch her playing with my hair and that kind of stuff.
So it’s just funny. Now if I do say I’m gonna chop it off, there’s like, it’s not even an option. Like, I’ve sent her Snapchats and sent her pictures of me with my hair, like pulled back or tucked up behind my, the back of my neck, . And she’s like, there’s no way you actually cut your mullet. Like, I wouldn’t even know what you look like.
I’m just like, . It’s just funny for me. Oh my God, I love it. Uh, . So when it comes to your team, so for those people that are listening that aren’t uh, familiar, just a quick background. Um, you yourself Christian and the athletes you work with. We’re talking motocross, we’re talking Supercross, so we’re talking dirt bikes, jumps, motocrosses outside.
Supercross is indoors and stadiums. Um, You are on a team that has had, you know, there’s certain teams in in our world that have, uh, dominated and, uh, for years it was, you know, uh, pro circuit Kawasaki. Then we are in a phase right now where it seems to be star racing Yamaha. Um, I think that the most important question that many people have, or the most common question people have is, you know, why is it, and I mean, I, I don’t like when people give too much credit to the equipment because I just, I don’t know if I agree that that’s always the differentiator.
And not to say that the equipment you’re not on is not high level. It certainly is, but I always think that it’s more the dynamic of the management, the team, the personalities, the vibe. That’s my opinion. Give me a little bit of an idea as to what you think makes you and your team so successful. So my relationship with SAR has been for the past two years.
So when I got here it was we, like Bobby sat all of us new mechanics down in the meeting and he said, look, this is star racing Yamaha. Like you guys are here to win. And we don’t put up with mistakes, we don’t put up with any sort of drama like, we’re here to do our job and we’re here to leave. So like just, I think that that being the vibe is like, look guys, we’re here to win.
And we have the equipment that’s shown to win. We’re willing to try stuff outside the box, like we do a lot and do whatever it takes to win. So it’s like, I hate to say it, but in the Viber on the team is like winning over everything. Like team over everything. Like you know, if your rider has a bad race, but the other two guys on the land land on the podium, you don’t get to go back to the truck and mope.
It’s like you get to go celebrate with the two dudes that just got in the podium like, . We do, we succeed and we die as a team. Like so to have such a big team and to have just the overwhelming sense of like the dude next to you, the dude working underneath the truck next to you has your back is, is good.
And I think it’s super necessary if we want to keep the success that we’ve had. Yeah, I love that. You know, there’s some days where you’re just not on, you know, I mean, we know that a lot of times there’s days where, hey, you’re just not feeling the track, or your, your athlete’s not dialed and hey, you know, maybe a fifth isn’t what we want.
But if we’re chasing a championship, maybe fifth is actually our best as opposed to a 10th, the 12th. 15th. Um, circling back to your relationship with the team, um, what is it you feel that you offer, like, what’s the one thing that you’re proud of that you bring to the team? Because obviously that’s what makes a team great.
If you have all alphas, all betas, all introverts, all extroverts, it doesn’t work. There needs to be a mix where everyone in the tribe kind of has, you know, the, you know, the medicine man, you have the hunters, the gatherers. Um, that to me is what makes an effective tribe. What do you feel you are most proud of for contributing to your tribe?
So what I’m proud of is I came in to star racing last year, or you know, at the end of 2021 with really no results to my resume. You know what I mean? Like I had been with those private tier guys and those touted amateurs, whether it was practice guy, race guy. So I had put the work in, but as far as my rider’s on track results, there wasn’t too much to hang my hat on.
But in myself, I knew that that meant that I had to come here. I had to learn, I had to listen. You know, I’m not the best mechanic in the world, but these guys here have won just about everything there is to win. So just put my head down and listen and work hard. Like so listening to whether it’s Brad, who’s our team principal, or listening to Trevor, who’s our engine guy, or trusting our suspension techs, like my job is to build my motorcycle.
My job is to do everything I can for Nate, but at the same time, I have to understand that those guys are doing everything they can for the team. So, Falling in line there is really good and really important. Like understanding and trusting the guys around me is super important. And honestly, like in my first year with the team, Nate won the East West shootout in Salt Lake.
So to win my first Supercross and my first year with star racing was like unreal. And ever since then, it’s just been a constant strive to, you know, back that up. Right. Have, you know, leading laps in Motos and outdoors and winning Supercross this year. It’s like, it’s super important and I’m happy that I see myself rising to that level to where, you know, I can provide Nate with a, you know, podium if not winning bike every weekend.
Like those guys trusted me and I trust in them and that just, Makes it so much better when you’re able to just work as a well oiled machine. And those guys don’t have to check in on me every five minutes or like double check my stuff. I still ask them to, you know, like, just because I try not to be a proud person.
Like, I try to be humble and realize, you know, everyone makes mistakes and I think that’s important. Like if you have mechanics that never admit to a mistake, then you’ll never get to the bottom of a problem. Oh, it’s so true. And you know, and, and it’s funny because it’s, it’s hard, right? I mean, it’s hard to say I screwed up cuz you’re, you ego is being challenged, you know, and, but if you really think about it, it.
You see this in, and especially with, you know, athletes like Chase Sexton who races, uh, the class that’s called the four 50 class, as opposed to, you know, your class, the two 50 and you know, you see mistakes happen and sometimes you see another mistake happen. And so, you know, this ability to manage mistakes, especially I work with a pro golfer, so I’m a mental performance coach and the pro golfer I work with, I mean, it’s a game of misses and you start to pay attention to things and you realize that, um, as much as you want to be fast and succeed, it’s just as valuable and important, if not more to manage the downside.
You know, manage the days where you know you’re not on and, and things aren’t going well. So, um, letting go is like a big topic that we cover. Letting go from the attachment, you have to have the memory of. You know, a goldfish is ideal, but, uh, unfortunately when you have the emotional attachment to your results or identify with your results, that can be challenging.
Um, take me back to that e EastWest shootout, that first win you had. I personally am a vibe guy. Matter of fact, I don’t know if you can see it, but says the vibe mindset back there. So I created something called the Vibe mindset, because I am so about vibe. I think just the word vibe comes up all the time.
You’re like, oh yeah, the vibes are right. You know, we just woke up and I just woke up and just felt like, you know, hey, I’m in Minneapolis. Like for me, if I go to Minneapolis, I got some good stories from Minneapolis. I got good vibes there. I’ve had fun there. I’ve had some great stories, great restaurant.
Like, everything about Minneapolis to me is thumbs up. So if I go to a Minneapolis Supercross and I’m with an athlete, they’re gonna feel that vibe because there’s things called mirror neurons and you can just, you know, you know when someone’s vibe is on or someone’s off, you just feel it. Yeah. Um, gimme an idea.
So I’m a vibe guy. What kind of guy are you, and also more specifically to that win, what was the vibe and energy and what was the key? If you go back to that success that you had, and I’m talking like maybe even bringing it back as early as maybe the days before you left for that event, or even the morning of, you know, maybe gimme a little bit of an idea of what led up to it.
So the vibe in Salt Lake was kind of, uh, it wa it wasn’t crazy, but it was high energy, right? Because we were going into Salt Lake and Eli Tomac, who’s our four 50 teammate, had just won the four 50 championship the week before. So, you know, he was doing all the stuff, whether it was revving the bike or doing burnout.
So we were all super excited and obviously our, my two 50 teammate Christian Craig had the, the points lead. So we were honestly going into that weekend and we were like, dude, we gotta back that up. Like, We, those guys had so much fun last weekend. We had so much fun last weekend underneath the truck, partying with fans, like doing that kind of stuff.
We want that this weekend. So we went in there and like the main focus was just getting Christian like through the main event and making sure that we had at least another blue bike in front of whoever was second place in the championship. So like I could just tell with Nate that day that he was just different.
You know what I mean? He came out and he was like firing. He did what he’s did really well in practice. Like, and to me, Nate is most dangerous when he’s like quiet and confident. So we went into that main event after a good heat race and Nate was just like, he’s like, I could get this tonight. And I was like, all right, dude.
Like you got it. So we go out there and you know, I’m next to Christian’s mechanic, Brent Duffy, and we’re just focused on, on Christian. And then Nate like goes for a hard pass on Christian and Hunter at the same time. So like, Brent’s looking at me and I’m just like, dude, I don’t know. Like, I’m just trusting Nate right now.
So then, uh, after that on the headset, Bobby comes on the radio and he’s like, Thrasher’s gotta go. Like, we’ve gotta get Thrasher going. So I just like tell Nate on the pit board. I’m like, you just gotta push and focus forward. So he’s leading the whole thing in Hunter, like they’re starting to yo-yo. And I remember like, I was like, dude, this is like, he was leading and the white flag came out and I’m like, dude, this is crazy.
Like, I’m about to win my first race. Nate’s about to win this thing. So like, I’m trying to do all this stuff. So like, write something super cool on the pit board, so it gets put on the commercial for next week or it gets put on a YouTube video and I’m watching it and hunter’s like reeled him in. And the last thing between me and the finish line is the, whoops.
And Nate did not have a huge lead. So I erased like all the cool stuff I had written. And I just wrote Push and Me and I was hanging over the wall cheering him on. Brent was over the wall cheering him on and we saw him like go through the, the whoops the last time. And then like, I don’t wanna say I blacked out cause I remember it, but he went over the finish line and the next thing I know, like both hands and the PI board are in there.
And I’m just like, yeah. And then we like, there’s still a video I have saved on Instagram that Yamaha posted. Like we go over to the podium and you know, Brent and Christian had just won the championship and Nate and I had just won the race. So Duff looks at me and he goes, holy. And then he starts. So he like, they had to bleep some stuff out, but we’re hugging and we’re freaking out.
And then we turn around and me and Duff are like, I had my arm around Duff. And we look and Christian and Nate are sitting next to each other on the. on the triple face and they’re revving their bikes and cheering and we were just electric the whole, the whole rest of the time. Like Nate went up on the podium.
It was so cool to see, like it’s so rewarding to see your guy on the podium with the goggles around his neck champagne bottle in his hand. Like that’s what we do it for. But, so we’re going down after the four 50 main to take pictures on the podium and stuff. So me and Brent take our bikes from the technical inspection that they do after every race and we go down to the stadium and there’s still fans hanging out.
And Duff had Christian’s son, Jagger on the front of his bike. So I go down there and I see Jagger’s, Reven, Christian’s bike. So I get there and then like for me, the crowd erupts. So like I grab a handful of clutch and a handful of throttle and just Rev Nate’s bike and there’s all these fans cheering, freaking out.
And then, We go up on the podium and the guys are doing burnouts, and it was just a feeling you’d like, dude, you can’t forget. Like, you’ll never forget that feeling. And it was to the point where we were so electric, we were like, dude, we want more of this. Like, it’s such a good feeling and like I, it is indescribable.
It’s one of the best feelings in the world when you’re guy, when like you realize a bike that you built took this guy to a win and that the guy that you’re with like is capable of that. It’s, it’s crazy. Oh, it’s wild. And you know, even listening to you tell the story is like, I got chills. Like, I, you, your clarity of the story was so crystal clear.
I felt like I got sucked into your brain for a little bit and was there watching with you. So it’s so powerful. Now, was there an event after that? Because what I’m very curious about is I’ve noticed that an athlete will have momentum. And it almost seems like, and I, and I wish that, um, Fowler Facts had a stat on this.
If you have a breakout or have like a really strong finish the weekend before, I’m just wondering how much that influenced the next weekend. Was there an event that you had the following weekend or I forget, or was that We had, Nope. So we had, uh, two weekends off and then we started our outdoor series.
Motocross. That’s right. So we had two. Yep. So we had two weekends off, and then we went to Paula in California to go race nationals. So it’s not like the momentum was lost, but it’s a new series. It’s a new, new event. You’re, it’s a totally different style of event. Like, so it’s not that the momentum’s lost, it’s just a different vibe, you know what I mean?
Because you have all those guys that either didn’t finish out Supercross or didn’t race, and they’re focused on the Nationals. So it’s like, it’s kind of hard. In that aspect to, to keep the momentum rolling. And you know, last year at the beginning of the outdoors, we did have a little bit of bike struggles, like setting up the bike, but that was just because we were so laser focused on Supercross all the way until the very end.
Yeah. You know what’s interesting too, and it’s funny, I sometimes like to challenge narratives and challenge beliefs cause I feel like, um, beliefs and narratives, it’s very easy to buy into them. So if I challenged you and said, okay, so the suspension’s different, Supercross versus motocross, but the principles in the process are somewhat similar.
Break down the track breaking, acceleration, suspension, set up athlete, being prepared physically, emotionally, mentally, um, adjusting and being adaptable. Is it. If I were to challenge you, is it really that different? Like are we all buying into the narrative because, and I, and I certainly am, you’re, you’re not alone with your narrative.
I mean, this is the narrative that everyone in the industry has. You hear it every season, like, oh yeah, we get a train, we get a prep. And I’m just wondering, are people just buying into a belief in a narrative, acting in alignment with it in when in reality, maybe there’s a little bit, I’m not saying it’s a hundred percent on the, the one I just proposed, but could you see that maybe it’s not as big of a difference as people think and maybe that we’re giving it too much credibility and making it too big of a thing that transition?
Um, so coming from the mechanic side, like we changed so much, oh, and forgive me because I can’t remember who said it, but Supercross is boxing. The lights are on. It’s a, it’s an art form, it’s a science. There’s a technique, there’s all this stuff, and then you get to outdoors and that’s a ballroom fright.
Like you get to outdoors and dudes are s sling it out for 35 minutes, like. You don’t have to be as precise. You can kind of be a little bit more wide open and kind of that kind of stuff. So as much as you’re gonna have a professional boxer that can hold his own in a barroom fight like Eli Tok did, he won both championships last year.
Cuz it’s the same concept but it’s a little bit different. So we definitely understand that it’s somewhat sometimes difficult for guys to transition between the two. And the gap is honestly growing if nothing else. But it is the same concept. So you can have dudes that are coming off cloud nine and they’re ready for a brawl and they’ll take it straight to outdoors.
But at the same time you have some guys that, you know, whether it’s the heat, whether it’s the track being so wide open, whether it’s the ruts being so deep, it’s, it’s a mental and physical strain compared to Super Cross. Oh, for sure. Yeah. And so in the times where you’ve worked with athletes and I, you know, not just Nate but just athletes in general, I know it’s been years, what do you see as being the biggest mental challenge?
Cause as a mental performance coach, I feel that I’m certainly biased. I look at a race through a different lens. I look at it through that mental performance lens. And I’m, even when I am listening to post-race interviews, press conferences, I’m looking for body language. I’m looking for tone, I’m looking for words, narratives, the beliefs that support ’em.
I mean, I go deep dive, especially with the athletes that I work with. You know, I’m, I’m, I mean, even today, I would say outta the athletes I worked with, I would say I sent three clips. From press conferences in different sports. Cause I work with athletes in different sports. I think two were, uh, so there was one that was basketball, one golf, and one moto.
And, um, you just, the mental side is, is huge. What do you see as the biggest mental struggle in motocross Supercross, and how many people do you think actually address it? Or how many people just say send it race through it, you know, ride through it, you’ll figure it out. So as far as as that side of it, I’m, the only part I can speak on is my interaction with the athletes that I’ve worked with.
And honestly it’s super big. Like, you know, I’ve, the majority of the athletes I’ve worked with do have mental coaches, right. And whatever they talk about behind closed doors is between them. I know my biggest thing is just making sure that we’re, we’re confident, right? Because I think there’s a difference between confidence and cockiness and it’s super important for me that.
You know, if I’m sending Nate out there, I want him to be confident. I don’t want him to be cocky. I don’t want him to think like, oh dude, like I don’t have to be on my stuff and make a mistake. Like, and I could be totally wrong and I’m just getting the, a wrong vibe from Nate. But for me, I always just try and keep him and I say it all the time to him, calm and confident.
Like, dude, you know what you’re doing. You know it where you belong, you know that you’re gonna be up front there. And that’s where I feel that Nate and I succeed. Like, I think it’s super hard for a lot of guys to get that confidence going right away. Whether they’ve had a bad weekend before or there’s a little nagging injury or you know, there was something that was bugging him in practice or something that was bugging him with the bike.
Like some of that stuff like you just try and kind of push your guy over because like, You’re not gonna have a hundred percent motorcycle underneath you, but if we can get the set up to 95, 90 8% and you knew exactly what it’s gonna do on that track, dude, trust your bike, trust yourself, let’s go do this thing.
Like, I think for me, that that’s the, the biggest challenge I see is just trying to keep the guy two feet in front of me on the motorcycle. Confident. So what do you think inspires confidence then? I think definitely confidence is inspired a hundred percent by trust. Like from what I’ve seen, if at, at first, uh, with being new with Nate, I don’t think the confidence was there right away.
Like in preseason training that first year. Like, you know, I don’t know if it was me just trying to rush things along or whatever. , I got the vibe that I kind of had to tone it down and I had to dial it back. And it maybe it was that Nate, you know, didn’t know who I was, didn’t know my personality, and didn’t necessarily know the quality of my work yet.
But now that I have been told by Nate and his fiance that they trust me and I can feel that with Nate. And I think that that’s what breeds confidence. If nothing else, Nate knows that I have his back and Nate knows that I’m gonna do everything I can with the people around me to make sure that that motorcycle is the best it can be for him.
And when he has that trust in myself, in his program, in his trainer, that’s when I think that these dudes are on, on their on point. Yeah, and it’s so true. Because if you think about it, trust aligns with the word belief and obviously you need to believe in yourself. And belief is. Having a trust. Cuz trust oftentimes is almost like blind faith, right?
And you go to a tra it’s like any race you go to, you don’t know what’s gonna happen. I mean, um, any event, you know, you could start off great, not finish well the bike could perform well, but then it could blow up at the last lap. I mean, we’ve seen so many wild things happen, not just in motocross Supercross, but in motorsports in general.
Um, and it’s interesting, you know, because you’re right, trust is huge. But the thing is, is there’s a function of time associated with trust, right? And so, uh, it’s interesting how for you to come in, if you really think about it. And it could work both ways, right? Like let’s say for example you were, uh, working with Michael Esi, who is an expert in starts.
Like he was always getting hold shots, right? I think that if someone. Were to be trained. Let’s say I said I was an expert in, you know, or I could get people, hold shots, be like, well, I’m not really sure, not really familiar with the name. When it comes to hold shots, I don’t, there’d be like a lag. Even if I had the exact same information, like let’s say like Mike ESI was talking in my ear and all I was doing was delivering the same exact words, same techniques, everything’s the same.
I think that there would be a lag in how quickly that athlete would get better at starts. However, if it were Mike physically in front of someone saying the exact same words, in the exact same tone, the exact same order and way, I think that people just have this blind faith and trust because he’s done it, that they would automatically, probably same day, um, get faster in the starts.
What are your thoughts? Agree or disagree? No, I a hundred percent agree. Like dude, uh, obviously being in the amateur scene, there’s a lot of really smart. Coaches, there’s a lot of really smart dads. There’s a lot of that kind of stuff. And you can have an amateur kid whose dad tells him the same thing a hundred times over and he’s not gonna listen.
But if a former pro or a different coach says it to him, he does it right away. Like, so. There are times where , you know, like if the wrong people are saying the right things, it doesn’t necessarily always resonate. Where you need to have the people that you trust and the people that you have confidence in saying those things to you and realize that you know that they’re being honest with you and that they’re not just saying something to fluff you or they’re not just saying something because they think it’s the right thing.
Like I think it goes back to, you know, you would trust Michael Lessie didn’t know, who know how to pull a whole shot like . No, it’s true. And so, you know what’s interesting too, and I, I’m, I couldn’t wait to ask you this question. I. My opinion on suspension is that a lot of us chase settings. I used to compete, um, I used to do more motocross racing cars, but I’d say my most success was in Supermoto.
So in Supermoto, um, you know, a lot of it’s, it’s road racing and yes, there is some dirt, but you know, a lot of it’s a suspension and that’s set. And so sometimes, you know, you catch yourself blaming the tires, uh, the tire pressure, the gearing, you’re blaming the bike. When in actuality if you have that one person who’s being, you know, who you trust, who’s honest with you, um, they’ll be like, Hey man, I, I’ll be honest with you, it is not the bike.
It’s you. I can see it. I’m watching you and I can see it with my own eyes. How do you manage the relationship be between, with a specifically suspension bike, you can even call bike set up, but it seems like it’s more suspension. How do you manage that piece of the puzzle? Because there has to be a point where, That fine line between, you want your athlete to be confident in the suspension, the setup they have, so they can perform at the best, at their best because they trust the bike, they trust you and the setup.
But then there’s also times where I think an athlete might get too nerved up and my theory is always if you go into a little bit of a fight or flight, you grip the bars a little bit harder. I would assume that the bike is going to feel different and perform different if you’ve got a different level of intensity on the grip.
I mean if you go 2030, we’ll call it 20, 20% more grip cuz you’re in that kind of fight or flight or you’re maybe a little agitated or frustrated, what have you, I just can’t see how you wouldn’t feel that the bike feels different. How do you manage suspension changes with regards to that? Like, because what if you make a change in the wrong direction now you’ve made it worse.
No, so, uh, for sure making suspension changes is probably the hardest thing because. You can collect all the data you want and you can run it on a suspension, Dino for eight hours. You can simulate races on a suspension, Dino, and that’s, that’s not gonna translate a hundred percent to what you’re gonna feel on the track, whether it’s the rider feeling a certain way, the rider thinking a certain way, the thoughts they have in their head, like there’s nothing in the world that replaces you trusting your suspension technician.
And luckily we have two great suspension technicians at Star, and Nate trusts him a hundred percent. So Nate will come over to me and if he does have a frustration or complaint about the motorcycle, he says that to me. And then my job is to make sure that either I relay that a hundred percent how he said it, or that we get a suspension tech within earshot as soon as possible, so that way he can relay to them what he’s feeling.
And they can make the changes and he’ll have a hundred percent trust in them. And a hundred percent we’ve made changes the wrong direction. Like you’re never gonna learn if you never go the wrong direction. So we’ve done stuff to NA’s bike where like, we think it’ll be better here, but it’s way worse in a different spot.
It’s a little bit better in the corners, but it’s way worse than the whoops. And it’s just trying to find that balance and trying to find the spot where, again, where Nate trusts his motorcycle, where he knows exactly what that thing’s gonna do. He knows, Hey, if I hit this line, my rear end’s gonna kick this way.
But that’s fine. Where if we try and absorb that kick, well then what’s it gonna do over in turn three Or what’s it gonna do at the end of rhythm number one? It’s, it’s hard. But that’s why I think, and I think the philosophy around us is like, look, the bike’s never gonna be a hundred percent. We’ll get you to 90%, but the rest, that 10% is you trusting it and you understanding what it’s gonna.
and that’s on you bud. Like I can’t make a change just because you’re sliding out in this one corner. Cuz if I do that, well dude, now you kinda suck in the whoops, . It’s trying to find that line. It’s like, it’s hard. And that’s why we say, you know, 90% motorcycles are winning motorcycles. Like if you get ’em there, then that’s on them.
There’s no reason for them not to trust their motorcycle, not to understand exactly what it’s gonna do on every inch of that track. I love that. You know, it’s funny, I’ve never heard that saying 90% motorcycles a winning motorcycle. That’s actually, that truly resonates. And you know, it was interesting you talk about that balance between.
Cornering setups versus whoop setups when you guys make a change or a decision based on that issue. The concern, so just to give a little clarity, if you correct me if I’m wrong, I’m not the mechanic, you make the, um, suspension so that you can turn faster and get in and out of turns better. Oftentimes the, the cost of doing that is you don’t carry as much momentum through the, whoops, like, how would you phrase that?
Like what’s, what’s the dynamic between the two and how are you actually making those decisions? Is it just feel, or do you guys actually have data where you’re looking at the data and you’re like, well, the numbers say what to do? So with us, the ma with star racing, the majority of our stuff is off of the rider’s feel.
Because if we were to mess around with, with data, sometimes you can just kind of spin your own wheels because like I said, you could, you could try anything on the dino, but it’s not gonna directly correlate. Like, so the biggest thing is we. We’ll, I’ll get feedback from Nate, or he’ll provide feedback to the suspension technicians and they’ll make the change, whether it’s balance or valving.
But a lot of times when you do get a bike that’s really good in the corners, it’s just, uh, like a little bit what we would call front end bias, or it’s a little soft in the front to get it to kind of knife into those corners. And a lot of times that would take away from the, whoops, just because you look at someone like James Stewart where he ran telephone poles for forks.
Like those things were so stiff because he could just make it corner and then he could hit the whoops at a hundred miles an hour because his front end is just gonna bounce off the top of every single one. And it is a balance thing. And I would say that those two might be the most opposing factors on a.
But it’s gonna, it’s gonna change everywhere if you make the slightest change. Like if, if we change, like say Nate’s like his shock preload, that might help it in one part of the track, but it’s gonna hurt it somewhere else. So it really just all is what the rider is confident with because you have someone like Eli Tomak who in my opinion, might have a little bit more of like a front end bias looking motorcycle, but he could still shred a set of whoops.
Oh yeah. He can definitely shred for sure. He’s, he’s basically a legend in sport. For those of you not familiar with motocross, Supercross, he’s becoming, or already is essentially a legend in our sport, but is still active. So we’re all curious as to how far that legendary status will grow and go. And, uh, it seems like there’s, um, as close as we think we are to the end is a reminder that maybe we’re not, um, so.
Bring me to your background in sport. I looked you up, saw that you got some laps in, uh, at Winchester. Uh, you also grew up in Higgin, which is mm-hmm. , uh, not too far down the street from me, myself. Uh, just kind of wanna know what led you to where you are now. Uh, so what led me to where I am now is I had a school nurse for a mom.
So that meant I wanted to do every single dangerous thing I could ever think of , and she shut most of them down. So, uh, growing up I did play sticking ball sports. I played like a lot of football. I was pretty good at football and I did track. But honestly, what always drew me in was wa like when I was little, was watching Travis Buchana on tv.
Like that always caught my attention. And then the moment MX versus ATV came out, I got my hands on it as soon as I could. And like, My mom was always like, no, dirt bikes are too dangerous. So she got me a quad of all things. So when I was little, I had like a little 90 cc quad. And then finally one day I just couldn’t take it anymore and I jumped on my cousin’s dirt bike.
And then, I don’t know, like a couple weeks later, I had one sitting in my garage. So I really got into dirt bikes at that point. And it was just, it was a super good outlet for me. Like it kept my head on straight. I loved dirt bikes, I loved Moto. I loved wanting to be better. Like dude, I was a C-class guy, so getting better was a struggle for me and it kept me going, like, um, it was hard, but motocross was the only thing that I could do that wasn’t a team sport, right?
Mm-hmm. . And it was all about me and how I could, how good I could be on a bike and how, you know, I always wanted the next bike. I always wanted to have better bikes. I always wanted to be better riding. So it really helped me. Strive to, to work on myself and it, I just fell in love with it from the first day and it brought me here.
Yeah, no. You know what’s interesting? What, what do you think it is because the people that are passionate about motorcycles, passionate about bikes, it’s a, it’s really deep, and I have my theories, but I’d love to hear yours. What do you think it is about being in a motorcycle? And I’m not just talking in competition, I’m just talking in general, whether it’s ripping through the woods, ripping down to the, I don’t know, down to your friend’s house four miles away on a 85 degree day, clear and sunny.
What do you think it is about being on a motorcycle that gets so many of us hooked at an early age? Well, I hate to use the same cliche, but it’s, it’s the freedom, right? Like I grew up in Ganham, that’s a farm town with really nothing in it. So, My dirt bike, I could pull outta my garage and ride over to my buddy’s house and then we’d fuel up there and then we’d ride on the power lines or on the state forest.
Like it was just that freedom before I ever had a license. Like, and it was the most fun thing I could do with my buddies. Like, you know, if we could go find a sandpit, if we could go find like a hill climb or some new place on the power lines. It was just the thing that we love to do. And that’s what drew me in.
And I think that’s what draws everyone in is like at a young age, you’re a hundred percent self-sufficient on that thing. It’s a motorcycle. No one’s on there with you. Like Dad will tell you gas is on the right and your brakes here, here’s your clutch and that kind of stuff. But once you leave arms reach like you’re on your own champ and you gotta figure it out.
And I think for me that’s what’s that? That was what was so drawing was just being free and being on my own and understanding that I was in complete control of this thing. Yeah, I love it and I, I’m with you that, you know, team sports, it’s like I don’t want to be associated and certainly you’re on a motocross supergrass team, but it’s different what we’re, we’re talking right now, just, you know, motorcycles one-on-one and it is great cuz like, I, I don’t, I even struggle, you know, like the guys on team sports, it’s like, well what if you perform at your best and they don’t, you get punished for it.
That’s like, to me, you know, me paying ha the same amount of taxes that the guy down the street is paying nothing. You know, I kinda like, you know, like I’m paying for all the pothole so you have to go through them. Uh, you know, I get to go around them around or whatever, but it just, it, it just doesn’t seem fair, you know?
So interesting stuff. Yeah. And it does seem like, um, it’s funny. Years ago I used to be on Facebook, which I don’t, I think I’m on it still, but I don’t log in. But I remember that I just one day went riding. And I was like super emotional cuz I, I think that something, something was challenging me. I, I know, that’s why I wrote, I don’t remember what it was, but I know that something really got me bent that day and I just remember getting home and all I cared about is like I, I’m putting my, my brand new Fox gear on.
It was like one of the cool color ways they had and I had it, I was like, oh, this stuff’s good. I’m like, I’m ripping, I’m going. And I just hammered. I have a little track, I have a sandpit. I actually own a, a sandpit, so got a gravel pit in the back of my house, which is pretty convenient. Got a state forest on the other side and you know, it’s unlimited riding where I am.
I mean, I basically live almost like at my own personal compound. And so I just remember ripping and coming back and I didn’t even feel like I was the same person. And Ashley just got on a video and I just recorded a video and it was like mil, literally I have no Facebook followers. I had like millions of views.
because, and, and that was all I talked about was how my mind was caught up in the vortex of what happened and what shouldn’t have happened. And this wasn’t fair and you know, this whole thing. But the second the helmet goes on, the golas went on. It’s like that mental break of the vortex. I call it the vortex where you know, you keep thinking negative things, then more negativity comes in, and then more and then more, and then more and more.
Well you can’t have a vortex when I’m trying to figure out how to land a little bit cleaner on the downside of this jump and how to get through the turn a little bit quicker and wondering if I have a little bit more lean angle left and who knows, maybe I’m even running a stopwatch and I wanna see what my times are.
And it was just funny, like you’re so focused on, on getting better and what you want to do. You know, at least for me, I’m more of like the competitive type. Like if I get on a bike, I can’t. Just ride and be like, oh, let’s just go for a ride. I’m like, eh, unfortunately I can’t do that. Um, but it frees your mind.
You couldn’t, you come back and it’s like, it’s almost like therapy, right? I mean, they call it what? Throttle therapy, right? Mm-hmm. . Yeah, they do call , they call trial therapy. I think that was one of my Instagram captions and I was like, 18 or something. is one of those funny things, but yeah, uh, for sure.
Honestly, you, you kind of can’t be worried about what’s going on when you’re riding a dirt bike or when you’re riding a motorcycle. Like all of the other stuff in your life just kind of shuts off for a little bit, you know? And I think that’s what is so drawing, you know, you don’t, you’re not really worried about anyone outside of arm’s reach.
Like if you’re on a motorcycle, you’re worried about the dudes around you, and that’s it. And like for me, it’s like even now as a mechanic, when Nate’s ra, when I’m at a race, I’m not on my phone. I’m not worried about what’s going on. I’m not worried about anything besides what’s right in front of me, like my motorcycle and making sure that I do the best I can for Nate.
So it’s super healthy for me and it’s something that, you know, as a 26 year old person, like, dude, you, you gotta work on. Like, I so now value the races as just like that point where I’m not on my phone, I’m not worried about anything else. I’m worried about the race and it, and that’s what still draws me to riding.
Like when we go, when we have days where, like as mechanics, we go out riding, which is few and far between, but we still make time for that because you’re, you’re worried about the dudes around you and it’s such a good bonding experience. And it’s like the, a dirt bike is probably the. easiest way to, to only focus on one thing because if you pull focus while you’re on a dirt bike, you’re going down dude.
And then you have more stuff to worry about than you did before, cuz now you’re hurt. So That is so true. Yeah. You’re high. It, it’s a state of hyper-focus. And to be honest with you, I think that we don’t realize it, but you’re, you’re basically, you enter a lot of times into a flow state. Yeah. Well, and I think it’s because you are, you really are like, dealing with so much, like, so much information and like, not information, but so much like stimuli coming at you and it’s su it’s honestly super stressful, you know what I mean?
Like, you gotta worry about, hey, does this rut, I just pick, have a kicker at the top of that thing. Like, you’re worried about so much in that time that you don’t have to think about anything else. Like I think it’s, it’s super helpful for everyone to just have something in their life where they can just kind of worry about just that for, you know, whether it’s a four lap moto or whether it’s an afternoon with your buddies.
like you’re just worried about that. You’re not worried about what’s going on, you’re not worried about anything else. That’s so true. And you know, wanna bring it back to competition for a moment. Um, I have a couple theories. One theory that I think is interesting because I try to disprove it. I think a lot of times if I have a belief or a theory, I don’t look always just for validation, because that’s what most people do and it’s easy and you can filter out anything that doesn’t align with your belief and your narrative.
And so you only see the evidence to support it, but you miss the evidence to challenge it. And so a lot of times I challenge my beliefs and one of the beliefs I challenged recently is I’ve watched some of these races in, in my mind, and I wanna hear your opinion on this. I believe that in our sport, motocross, Supercross, there is a level of.
even though you might be my competitor and I might not be friends with you, I might not like you , you know? But at the same time, if I’m a 10th place guy and you are like on the podium every weekend, I feel that there are a lot of athletes that, especially when it comes to the whole shot, they will already in their mind, create the race and they will make the mistake of competing in alignment with a predicted outcome.
In other words, hey, you know, didn’t really feel too fast in practice. Didn’t have the best qualifier, not feeling comfortable on the bike, which obviously we know the word comfort is almost like a prereq prerequisite to success in our sport. And it’s interesting cuz not a lot of people talk about comfort.
I do all the time with my athletes, but not enough people break down comfort because you realize that is the, that is the, the condition that most people have in order to succeed. But I noticed that a lot of guys, I feel will not be as aggressive outta the gate at the start because they already feel that they know where they are in the pecking order.
Agree or disagree? Um, I definitely see that, you know what I mean? Like, and I agree with most guys, but you still have those guys that have like almost delusions of grandeur where they’re like, dude, I’m gonna get this start. And it’s kind of like, okay, like if you want, but we’ll see you at the end of three laps, you know?
But yeah, for sure there definitely is. There’s not really a hierarchy, but there’s, there are times where there are guys that you know are borderline main event guys or top 10 guys where they just kind of fall into the beds they’ve made, right? So these dudes, a lot of ’em, they focus on the L C Q and then once you’re in the main, they’re like, cool, I’m in the main, and then they like shut off early at the Star or they do whatever and that’s up to them, right?
Like I feel like if you are thinking something so hard, like you’re gonna manifest it like, so those dudes that are just thinking like, oh, I’m gonna get tired. Oh I’m gonna get arm pump or whatever, like that stuff’s gonna happen. Where if you have a good mindset and I feel like if you’re confident, like stuff’s gonna go well.
Like, you know, even this past weekend, Nate and I came to Daytona. Daytona is a super Speedway race. A super Speedway Supercross race. So it’s a little bit more open, the track’s a little bit narrower, it’s a little bit different than your traditional stadium Supercross. And that was a lot of confidence for Nate and I is like, Hey man, this is your kind of track.
And he went out there and he crushed everything he could this weekend, right? Obviously didn’t have the result in the main event that he wanted. But at the end of the day, I think that just snowballed from something that wasn’t his fault. But on the flip side of that, I think you have those guys that are just like, they, they don’t necessarily know where they fit in and it, it just leads to whether it’s bad results or lack of success or anything like that.
So I think it’s just over kind of getting that imposter syndrome and just realizing you, you’re where you need to be and you could definitely succeed and you can do. , you could do a lot of stuff that you thought was impossible. As a person I know in my life I’ve done a lot of stuff that was impossible.
Like dude, if I told 13 year old me that I’d want a Supercross as a factory mechanic, he would freak out right now like . It’s snarly God. Isn’t that so true? And you know, that’s actually a really good exercise is to look back, you know, cuz sometimes you know, it’s so easy to put pressure on yourself, right?
Like, oh, this should have happened, that should have happened. But when you do that exercise, I love that you that you did that and you recognize that the value of that, it’s like, wow, the 13 year old would never in a million years imagine that I would be where I am now, but yet the modern day me, the now me is not being so kind.
But yet, look at the 13 year old me over there who literally is jumping up and down. To the point where it’s just like, you see, he’s not, he’s, he doesn’t even, he’s in a different world, you know? His mind is just blown. Um, so it’s an interesting exercise and it’s interesting that you recognize imposter syndrome.
You know what’s interesting? Do you feel that when, so your athlete, just so you know, there’s different types of tracks and your athlete is definitely fast, amazing, and is capable of anything he wishes. However, he’s definitely. I been identified and labeled as someone who is definitely gonna be most likely at the lead on some of these tracks.
Do you think that the belief came first because it’s interesting, it’s like, is he believing that he’s good on these tracks and that in of itself is feeding the result? Or is there something that he really does all that different that you could watch film on and be like, oh, look what Nate just did. No one else is doing that.
Where do you feel the difference between, you know, belief? Where do you feel belief comes in? Is it, is it the prerequisite? Prerequisite and it comes first? Like, how does that all factor in, if you know how I’m asking that question? I feel like I didn’t the best . No, you’re good. Um, so the kind of way that I interpreted that was do the results come first and does the belief come first?
Correct. And for food, you can we swap places? ? Yeah. No, you’re good. You’re good. But. Honestly, if, if I’m gonna be transparent, it is like I wasn’t there for Nate’s first two races in Atlanta, his rookie year, so I wasn’t there. So for me, I know that he has confidence from his results. Now, did he go into that night thinking, dude, I’m gonna win this thing.
I’m a rookie, I’m number 91. Like, I’m gonna come out here, I’m gonna crush it, I’m gonna show all these dudes, what’s up? Or did the result just come and I don’t know. You know what I mean? Like when I’m watching it from a third party, like I was watching it as actually a competitor and I was like, dude, Nate’s in the L C Q, like what’s going on?
But he comes outta the L C Q and crushes it. So in my head, I gotta think that Nate’s confidence came first, cuz like you go to the L CQ and you win the L C Q, like that’s cool, but that’s not the result you want to have on a night. So, I think it’s a lot of confidence. I know some dudes, it’s really hard to build confidence, but I think that once you get the ball rolling, it’s super easy to keep it rolling, but it’s just as easy to stop it.
So I think it’s super important to continue to have that confidence and realize that if, for me, it’s like if you realize if you’re just gonna be able to do this and you’re gonna have the confidence to do this, like do do everything you can and eventually it will come and you’ll be looking back at the results.
Like, I knew I could do that. Yeah, and it’s interesting because in listening to you describe confidence, how you know it can come just as easily as easy, easily as it goes. The thing that I think about when you say that is that if you attach your results to your confidence, then. Exactly what you said is true.
If I win one weekend, I’m confident. If I don’t win the next, I’m not. You know, and then you start to see these athletes with these roller coaster of emotions because they become a result. They, their sense of self-worth is based on their points, based on their, you know, you’re only as good as your last race, which I kind of, I I, I certainly get the saying, but it’s interesting because you start to realize that if you, if your confidence is fed by your results, then yes, exactly what you said is true.
However, if your process is, and that’s why everyone’s tries to say that process is, you know, more important than results. But, you know, sometimes you get some people a little resistant to it cuz it’s a little cliche at this point. You know, trust the process. People kind of , I’m even myself, not, not a big fan of that phrase because it doesn’t go into enough detail for people to really recognize the value of what we’re really talking about.
And that is that, If my program, my preparation, my mental emotional, my physical, my team, my mechanic, my suspension guy, like if I have all of that and I lose, well, I still have the same core. My core hasn’t changed. Who I am hasn’t changed in, I still would expect in my mind to be able to perform at a really high level, even if my last race weekend maybe wasn’t ideal.
Um, do you think that athletes sometimes identify too much with the results? Yeah, for sure. Like, and that’s one thing like I know I’ve, I focus on with Nate is like, you know, you’re at in the industry, results do define you, but at the end of the day, dude, You gotta look at all the other external forces that affected your results, right?
So a lot of times, and I’m not trying to pass the blame, I’m not trying to like just fluff my guy up, but a lot of times it’s not your fault, dude. Like you did everything you could and that’s what you have to take away from it. You have to understand that you can, you can only, you can only put in all the hard work.
You can all the time, you can all the effort you can. If something happens, like say if Nate has a bike break or if Nate gets taken down by somebody, or Nate has a crash, it’s like, dude, that’s not your fault. Like you did everything you could do. And that’s what I try to focus on with my guys is like, if you, if you give me a hundred percent effort, that’s all I can ask of you.
And I’ll tell you what, out of all the people I’ve worked with at all the dudes, I think in the sport, Nate has the most heart outta anyone. And I never has have to ask that guy for more effort. And to me that is just the. The best thing cuz it’s like, I trust his effort. I know that that dude is gonna put the lapse in, is gonna put the reps in, and that’s what leads to his results.
And that’s why it takes nothing for me to be on the line building his confidence that hopefully he already has inside. But I build it because I trust the work that he’s put in. You know, at the end of the day, whether or not he does, that’s on him, but I do, so I’m gonna try and help him with his confidence the best I can.
Yeah, I love that. No, I I like the way you speak dude. Dude, your background and the way that you analyze the mind, all that. Have you spent time researching like the mental side? Because like, you definitely use some phrases and you speak in some ways where I’m like, eh, you’ve read some books or watched some YouTube, or I don’t know, there’s something you’re doing.
What, what exactly is it? So in, in all honesty, like when I was in high school and stuff, trying to get the best performance outta myself, I did spend time in therapy and I think it’s super important to be introspective and to understand like you’re the only thing in this world that you can control. And that’s something that I’ve had to come to grips with cuz like I said, when I was little, I always wanted to have that control of whether it was football or something.
It’s like it’s, your effort is really the only thing that you can control and yourself is the only thing that you can control. So you can affect only so much in this life and the rest of it’s just gonna come at you and you gotta roll with it. . That is so true. I love that you knew that at an early age.
And it’s funny, um, I have an amateur program where I have a couple 10 year old. and one of the exercises we do, I should, I actually, if you want to come in, I should, I should have you be a guest speaker this coming Monday. It’s a small group, um, and it’s a really group, a group that would really probably appreciate your time.
But we’ve got two 10 year olds, um, and they are, they are spicy. They are really good kids. They are so funny. So what we’ll do is on Mondays we will listen to interviews of some of the, um, athletes post-race press conferences and I will play a little clip or also SWAT Moto Live who does the Hower weekend, which is also e oftentimes even better.
And it’s so funny, I will actually, and these, these are people that have been in my group training program for a while now. Cause I have gr I have a group training program and I have my one-on-one. And so , I have these 10 year olds where if you were to listen in, I go, Hey, listen. We just , we just listened to Chase Sexton talk for the last two minutes.
Um, Palmer Chase is in front of you right now, just finished with this interview. Give him some advice. He’s like, all right, listen. And it’s like he just starts going into it and it is hilarious. And we have a 10 year old giving chase sex an advice that is literally, fundamentally very sound great, solid.
And I’m like, would it be inappropriate to take this 10 , 10 year old ? Yeah. You block for life. I’d probably, you know, wouldn’t even be able buy a, a Honda Civic. It, it would probably go that deep, you know, where, where my name would be blacklisted. But, um, really interesting that you, and what gave me the inspiration to share that with you is just getting those mental skills dialed early.
Um, think about how much that influenced where you are now. Um, probably has influenced. The success of your relationship with not just your girlfriend, but obviously with other teammates. Because you know, what’s interesting that people don’t realize is you, you’re at a facility where you’ve got, I mean, I don’t know, you know, the math para 90, maybe six guys, 5, 6, 7 guys, whatever it is that are all competing, not always in the same class, but many who are.
And there’s that desire to compete. But then yet here you are, it’s not even race weekend yet, and you’re looking around and you know exactly where you stand. You know that I’m here, he’s there, he’s there, and he’s there. And this is where I’m at. And you know, it’s so interesting to me the fact that this relation, the, the, the dynamics of the relationship between all the athletes, the parents, the coaches, the mechanics being managed, um, it’s just so fascinating to me.
One question that I had was, there is a, um, family by the last name of Deacons, which you probably hear about it so much, that’s why I’m only asking one question, so don’t worry. But I am very, very pro deagan. Not because I’m a fanboy, but because I pay very, very close attention to the way that his father speaks to him.
And I’ve also paid very close attention to the way his son speaks in interviews. And there’s things that I hear and that I pick up that I know as a mental performance coach are definitely factoring into his success. What do you feel factors into that family in particular success? So I met Brian and Hayden when I lived in California before I even worked with Star.
And from the beginning I could tell like, dude, this kid, he, like, people always wanted to say he’s had everything that he could ever dream of given to him on a silver spoon. And it’s like he. because that kid understands that the effort he puts in is exactly what he’s gonna get out. So there’ll be days where Hayden just, he wants to do more laps and his trainer has to tell him no, or he wants to go riding on a day, that’s a rest day, or he wants to do this or that.
And all of it comes from a good place of just the family understanding that they need to and they want to do everything they can to help Hayden succeed. So that’s why like, yeah, people always are wanting to hate on the deacons or whatever or anything, but if you met those people in person and there was no fans around, no cameras around nothing, you are hard pressed to find someone that doesn’t like ’em because they honestly are genuine people who may look like they have the glitz and the glamor, but.
They’re still hardworking people. Like Brian still goes out and races. Hayden works his butt off week in and week out and it’s just, it’s, they’re a good, genuine family and they’re pretty great to be around sometimes . Yeah, and it’s funny, I met Brian in person at Red Bud at like midnight . Yeah. In at the, um, the, where they had the, uh, pit bike race and just started talking and, and and what you said, I, I corroborate that story for sure.
He was super kind, super nice. I’m like, wow, this is great. And you know, you, it just no surprise you start to see that you know the parents, you know, when, when a parent has a successful relationship, a successful career themselves has kids that are. Quote unquote successful, whatever that means. Um, you know, competing at a high level in motor sports, let’s call it, um, you know, it’s, it’s by design.
It’s certainly not by chance. Now what’s also interesting is they’re a very dynamic, active social media driven family. Then you’ve got this other family, the Tomax. You got John Tomac, who is a former mountain bike champion. Very intense. Still definitely, you know, winning is in his blood. Uh, I haven’t met, hi, I’ve talked to John, but I haven’t met his, um, Eli’s mom.
But you’ve got a family who’s completely on the other spectrum of not so much engaging in social, don’t have their own channels trying to promote themselves, much more different personality. Um, how do you, how do you view the difference between like the deacons success and tomacs success? What are the things that you’ve noticed?
Contrasting, but also maybe some things that are the same, um, that have led to both of their families succeed in, in, in what you’ve seen. So my experience with the Tomac family is, is fairly limited. Like we’ve obviously had, uh, Johnny t, John Tomac, Eli’s dad is there at every race and he’s super involved with the four 50 team, which I think is important, but I personally am not involved with the four 50 team, so I can’t speak on that.
But I know from the interactions that I’ve had with Eli, like he still is a normal guy and I, he likes to joke around, he likes to laugh. Like he came out for the photo shoot and he was telling us all about this Porsche day that he had at, at one of the, some road track in the car. And he was showing us videos of him racing this Porsche around and he was telling us all about it.
And he’s a normal guy. He’ll talk about his dogs, he’ll talk about his, all the stuff that he does like. Yes, behind closed doors, but that’s his personal life. And I think it’s, it’s different because the tomax I, I feel like, are still extremely successful, but maybe they’re not on YouTube and maybe they’re not doing those things and that’s their right not to be, but they’re still crushing it and they’re still great people to be around.
Like even, uh, Eli’s mom, she was the one handed me my credential my first year as a mechanic. Like I’d go see her every weekend and she’d give me a wristband and she’d sign me in. And it was, they’re just, they’re, they’re good people. And, you know. Yeah. No, I think it’s really cool. It’s funny, I didn’t even realize that she probably gave me my credentials when I was going to more of the events.
That’s good. And I, and I probably didn’t even know it, you know? Yeah. Well, and that’s the thing though, that they’re unassuming, right? They’re there to work. They’re not, they’re not the people that are in the spotlight, and they don’t have to be, that’s not asked of them, like, They’ve given us one of the greatest people to swing a leg over a dirt bike.
So I think they’ve done their part . It’s true. And you realize that, and you start to realize that some of the top, the best athletes in the world are super normal people with just super abnormal results in lifestyles, you know? Or even, not even lifestyles, just abnormal results, you know? No, that’s, it might, that’s it.
That’s one thing I think is like, you look at all these people and you look at these successful motocross athletes and Supercross athletes, and they’re normal people. Like, yeah, they, they do superhero stuff on a dirt bike, but at the end of the day, like, they still like to, they still like to have fun.
They still like to joke around, like, we’re all normal people. It’s just a matter of, uh, what you do on a dirt bike or what you do in life. It’s so true. I just wanted to ask you one last question cuz I think it’s fascinating and it’s someone that I don’t have a lot of knowledge of. Um, so I would assume you, you, I know that you have like your direct, you know, the, the people that you directly respond to as far as your bosses go.
But then you have like the team owner, what’s his name? Bobby Reagan . Bobby Reagan. So I wasn’t sure if it was Reagan or Reagan. That’s why I had you say it. So, Bobby Reagan, um, I’ve never, I haven’t searched, but I haven’t bumped into, uh, a video of him, haven’t bumped into an interview. Uh, if he walked right in front of me, uh, wouldn’t, wouldn’t know it was him.
Um, what I’m curious is, To what about him? Because you know, you, you start to realize that, you know, almost like if you were to break down what I’ve seen from the outside, uh, of your team and the people you work with, it’s just a game player. A game player. Me getting to know you better, a game player, like you’re a game, your athletes a game.
It’s like, don’t see many beats, you know? It’s almost like, geez, you know, it’s all a game players. What if we go right to the top? What is it about the owner, Bobby, at the top? Because there has to be a certain level of respect we give him, because he is at the top of that. You know, if you look down at like a pyramid, he’s at the top and everyone that gets hired, I would assume, He has some degree of say to it, or at least his direct reports do.
What is it about this mystery man to me that makes his team so sex, uh, so, so successful? I mean, , he’s, he’s killing it. Yeah. Uh, uh, Bobby is pro. He’s not the, he’s probably the most unassuming successful team owner that you’d ever meet. He’s from Wiggins, Mississippi. He’s got a southern jaw. He’s a tall dude.
He has a mullet and like, he’s just, he’s, he’s honestly funny and I mean, he has those moments where he is hard, but he grew up playing football. He was a, you know, he was telling me the other week that he played at, I think it was LSU football, way back in the day. And it’s like to see that guy have so much independent success on his own, whether it’s being a car dealership owner or playing football or whatever he did, he just took a liking to motocross and.
that team is his family. And you know, he lets us know it. Like on Friday in Arlington, he’s sitting there playing with a, a Turkey call because that’s what he does. Like, he’ll be sitting there playing with a Turkey call and then Saturday night he’ll be like yelling at us on the headset. And it’s just funny because he realizes like, no, this dude’s just doing him and we’re all here.
Like, he’s, he’s great. He like, yeah, there’s, there’s always gonna be that stuff where it’s like, dude, he’s being harsh this week or he’s upset, but he’s, he, he wants us to succeed and he’ll tell us that, you know, this is star thing Yamaha. We’re here to win. We’re here for like one thing and one thing only, and that’s to put more plaques on that door.
And like, he really, he lives by that and you know, he tries his best to, to breed a good feeling underneath the truck because I think he really. Views us as kind of his family and his outlet, you know, so he is a mystery man, but I think that’s a little bit, because he’s not someone that’s in the limelight.
Like I know he’s done, I think, an interview with Whiskey Throttle where he talks about kind of his backstory and that kind of stuff. But, you know, at the end of the day, to us, it’s, that’s Bob, you know, he’s the same guy that will roll up in a, a used Chevy Colorado that he drove to the race himself, and he’ll pull up next to the tent and we’ll go over and talk to him.
But he is also the same guy that, you know, has a million dollar semi riding down the road with professional motocross bikes on it. He’s probably the most winningest team owner in the last 10 years, in two 50 Supercross and motocross like. Oh, wow. There’s really no way to describe him. It’s just Bob . Yeah, and once again, you see the theme of, you know, he is just a normal guy who wants to get better at calling turkeys in so he could shoot more turkeys and, and he just got, you know, maybe a slightly abnormal life existence and income and, you know, and, and what he does with his income is definitely not the norm.
So, yeah, it’s really wild stuff. Um, last question, I promise. Funniest on the headset conversation or things said, there’s gotta be some, you know, with the headsets, I’ve obviously been keyed into some of these headsets and some of the conversations, uh, make sense. Sometimes people are saying things. Some, I’ve even heard people banter and get in arguments what, anything funny or any good stories on the headset.
Uh oh. Every weekend it’s great stories on the headset. Like we’re always trying to have fun and we’re trying to joke around whether it’s like pointing out something weird on someone’s bike that we see or something going on. But like top tier moment for me was my first ever super cross with the team.
Like this is my first super cross with the team. . Bobby at the time really didn’t know who I was. He just, he always, and to this day, he still calls me Thrasher Mechanic on the headset. . So it’s a one, it’s a one. I’m sitting on the line and he’s on the headset and he goes, Hey, Thrasher’s mechanic, I could, I could see you on the jumbotron.
And I turn and look and it’s just me and Nate on the jumbotron, like they zoomed in on Nate. And he’s like, I mean, you gotta smack that boy around a little bit. You gotta get him fired up. Tell him shake and bake. So I’m like, I didn’t know Nate super well at the time. Like Nate and I were still kind of in that, those early stages.
So I like pull my microphone away and I’m like, Hey Nate, like he’s telling me to shake you up a little bit and slap you around. And Nate’s like, no, he’s, he’s telling me to tell you shake and bake. And he just, he looks at me and he starts laughing and like taps his goggles and puts him on and like, all time, that is, that is one of the things I’ll never forget.
It’s just sitting on the line and just hearing, Hey, Thrasher’s mechanic. And I look up and it’s just , it’s me on the, on the jumbo trial. I’m like, oh dude, great shake and make, yeah, if that fires up your athlete, then you definitely have uh, a, definitely a powerful effect on the . Yeah. Yeah. That’s awesome. Oh my God, I love it.
Great story. Great way to end things. If someone wants to reach out to you or follow you on social, how can people find. So I’m on Instagram at CT Kaufman. It’s super easy. It’s just my first two initials and my last name, um, follow nate, follow star racing in Yamaha. Other than that, I’m not super active and I gotta be better about it.
I’m sorry, , but otherwise I’m just on Instagram. Well, now you’re on YouTube. Yeah, YouTube too. Uh, yeah, my first foray into podcasting. I’ve done the vlog thing. I’m still doing the vlog thing. Nate’s got vlogs out, so look for me on there too. But my first floor, yeah, they’re, they’re, they’re pretty good.
They’re funny. We try and have a good time. You, you should do more podcasts. You’re a great interview. I’m being honest. You’re, you’ve got a great delivery, a great way of sharing just interesting stories, I think. Uh, I don’t know, man. I think if you get sick of getting oil on your hands, you know, you might, you might wanna grab yourself, your own mic and your own camera and start.
You know, recording . We’ll see how it shakes down. I’m always, I’m always down to talk. I know like the Yamaha Media people, they never, they never have a shortage of questions for me, so , I get my fair bit of reps in . Yeah, well you know what? A shake and bake, so it’s all good. Yeah. Anyways, thank you so much for your time.
Had a great time with you and uh, thank you so much. Really appreciate it. No, thanks for having me, andjay. It was great. It was fun.