Face To Face: Chad Reed – Part II

Jean Turner | February 17, 2009

Changing gears a bit in part two of our interview, Chad Reed talks about his Super X series in Australia, and how it’s the only Supercross racing in the world comparable to AMA Supercross. Reed also commented on why he started the series, exactly what his role in it is, and who he thinks is the next big thing to come out of Oz.Everyone was anticipating the mud in San Francisco and again in San Diego, but it seems like the weather held off pretty good for all the California rounds. It seems that way. It’s Southern California and every time I hear a rain report it’s never really accurate

. So we just take it as it is.Rain has a history of really throwing a curve ball into the series.The rain presents a whole new element to the race. You gotta be consistent. You could make up a lot of points and lose a lot of points.At the end of the day, to be champion you gotta be good at everything. If it’s raining we’ll try to make the best of it.Do you feel like there have been races that were so muddy, they should have been cancelled?Yeah. Daytona last year really should never have been raced on. Because for one, there was really bad lightning. And we weren’t dealing with mud in Daytona; it was pure water. Motorcycles don’t run on water [laughs]; they don’t like water at all.That’s where I think the AMA should have really stepped up. Sitting on the starting line, I was knee-high in water. That’s never a good thing.That said, I rode great. I really enjoyed it; it was fun. I just felt like I was a little kid out there playing in the water and the mud. And two laps — or should I say two corners — from the finish line, my bike broke. Basically it just sucked water and it wouldn’t run anymore. A lot of people had that problem and I unfortunately had it when I had a minute and 16 second lead. [laughs] That hurt a little bit.In races like that are you running the actual race bike or the practice bike?At that point the race bike’s on the truck and we just ride [the practice bike]. In that situation we probably run the test bike. They prep them a little bit differently for the mud. They try to keep the water away from the airbox, they put a lot of sponge in the unfilled areas to try to keep the mud out — a few things like that. I’m sure if there’s going to be mud, the guys have a lot of work to do to the bike to try to turn it around.Shifting gears, tell me about the series you have going on in Australia. Yeah. I have a Supercross series called Super X. It’s going into its second year this year. I believe we’re going to have about 8 to 10 races. I have a three-year commitment to compete and then after that, I’m a share-holder in the company.We try to have a great series down there and have the younger riders in Australia see and feel a Supercross the way that it’s meant to be seen. This year we’ve had seven races in nine weeks. It was my first championship that I had competed in in Australia in eight years. So it was really quite a lot of fun.We had live television at all seven races — something no other Supercross series in the world has had — not even in the US. They were able to change up the racing formats to suit TV packages. Some were good, some were horrible [laughs]. But overall, it was really quite fun. The fans and the industry is really buzzing about it and they’re quite excited. It’s been a long time coming.Were you more inspired to do this for the Australian riders or for the fans?They go hand in hand. First, I love the sport. I don’t go racing for a paycheck. I go racing because I absolutely love it and I wake up in the morning and I want to be better at it. You know, for what the sport’s given me over the years, I’ve been [all over] and seen the world. I have made a living from it and I’ve met a lot of very special people. If I can give a kid or a fan a piece of that than that’s my job accomplished.It’s been tough because it’s been a thing that’s been in the works for a long time — probably the last three years. I started working on it just before I signed my first Supercross-only contract. When I started working on it is when I decided to concentrate on Supercross only here in the U.S. and then put a lot of effort and time into trying to create something down there. Three years later, it’s ran its first year.I took a lot of heat to be honest. I took a lot of heat about my Supercross-only contract. But at the end of the day, I love the sport a lot and I really wanted to get back to my country and my fans down there. That’s what made me happy and what made me sleep at night. So I was happy with my decision of stepping down from the outdoors. And I really wasn’t enjoying it. It’s really cool; it’s worked out.When you say you received heat, was that just from people in the US? It was all in the states. A lot of people in the states kind of looked down on me like I was turning my back on the grass roots of the sport when in reality, it couldn’t have been any further from the truth. I was really planting seeds everywhere else! I wasn’t stepping away from the roots; I was working hard on trying to maybe make more Australians better. And maybe some of the amateur and up-and-coming American kids can go down there and race full-blown American-style Supercross tracks in a little less pressure and learn the ropes.That’s what I’m hoping. All these kids, the Grand Prix riders in Europe, I don’t know why the hell they wouldn’t want to go to Australia — it’s summertime, it’s a beautiful country, and they can learn Supercross in a less-pressure situation than they can here in the US. It was tough, and then the funny thing is, here we are three years later and I’m considering racing nationals again.(Yes, Reedy might race the AMA Motocross Championship this year. See Part I of the interview.)In the Australian series, why the bracket race format?It’s really the only thing that they could get live TV for. It comes down to a television package and taking it outside of the hard-core fan and trying to put butts in seats. The reality is that my name is bigger in Australia than Supercross is. People know my name more than they know what Supercross is, but me going down there and lapping third place at the 20 lap races is kind of hard to sell. Selling live TV to me out there riding by myself is not really the key.I understand that we need entertainment to survive, and really, the U.S. is going to have to go that direction, too. Right now, [AMA Supercross] is lucky. They have two riders battling for a championship with a third guy coming in. But years past, somebody gets hurt and it’s a one-rider thing. You’re selling one guy. So the bracket racing kinda breaks it up a little bit and gives it more of a NASCAR flavor.TV coverage was amazing and the general public really had a great feedback and we’re really excited about it. But I still won every race but one. I crashed in a mud race and then got second.That’s what we’re dealing with. In the U.S. you have the best riders in the world and down there they have the best Australian guys. There’s a big difference.So who do you think is going to be the next big thing coming out of Oz?It’s really hard to say. I see a lot of good kids. A kid back there is 18, Luke George; he rides really well. I think he has the talent to come here and do good. But there’s so much more to racing. Talent will get you so far, but you gotta have a lot more.To move to another country, to adapt to a new lifestyle, a new way of living, all that stuff is really quite difficult. People here in the U.S. really underestimate what it is and how big of an achievement it is for non-American guys to come here and race. It’s difficult.[America] is an amazing country; I love it to death and I find it extremely easy to live here. I could live here year-round and be happy, and maybe that’s why I’m doing well. I’ve adapted to that and I enjoy it. But many people come here and they struggle on the traffic, the way of living, the food, everything like that. So you gotta have talent, but you gotta have the big picture, too.Aside from the U.S., are Australia and France the only countries that have a Supercross series?I believe so. I think there’s some other races, like there are some races in Switzerland and Germany has a good Supercross championship. New Zealand has a Supercross championship but it’s not competitive — they’re not real Supercross tracks. So I think there’s only Australia and the US that have this style of track with this style of stadium. I’ve been to many, many races through Europe and none of them are like this or like Australia.

Jean Turner | Contributor

A former staffer at Cycle News, Turner continues to contribute to the website and magazine as a columnist and someone we can count on to whip up a few thousand words on an off-road race when needed.