Hart & Huntington: On The Move

Shan Moore | January 14, 2011

When freestyler Cary Hart’s Hart & Huntington Supercross team first broke onto the scene a few years ago it was more about smoke, loud music and girls than anything. To be honest, a lot of people in the industry didn’t take them seriously. However, four years later, with backing from Dodge and Bel-Ray, H&H is a legit top-five team, and hoping to score a podium this year with 450 veteran Ivan Tedesco on the bike.At the opening round of the series in Anaheim, Tedesco grabbed the holeshot in his heat race and in the main event, and ran up front until chassis issues forced him to back off the pace for an eventual seventh place finish. However, heading into Phoenix, H&H team manager Kenny Watson feels the team is moving in the right direction. Cycle News spoke Watson about the progress of the team.Things seem to be coming together pretty well for the Hart & Huntington Supercross effort. Talk a little bit about this year’s team. We are stepping up to a new level in 2011. Every year we have moved up to a different level and this year we have raised the bar, we are almost at the top bar. We’ve got some top riders and it’s going to be an exciting year. We’ve got Chris Blose back with us, and we’re expecting good things from him. No pressure, but we’re expecting him to go out and do his best. Hopefully, we can get him into the top 10.We also have signed Josh Hill. We picked him up because we believe in him, first of all. We’re the type of people that pick people up when they’re down. A lot of people don’t believe in Josh, they say he’s done, but he’s only 20 years old, so we’re giving him a chance. He’s hurt right now, be we’re going to use him this year as kind of a media/PR guy. He’s going to handle all of our interviews and dealer signings and TV and some stuff at the track with FELD. He’s going to be out in front of the TV cameras for the fans, when the other guys can’t do it because they are out riding.We picked up Ivan Tedesco for 2011 and a lot of people don’t understand Ivan. He’s had some issues the past few years, he was having problems with arm-pump and fatigue and he thought he was over-training, but they finally figured out the problem and he is working though it. He was diagnosed with Hypoglycemia so he had to change with his diet and he’s getting that taken care of. Ivan is riding really well and he is super excited and he’s happy and so are we.What have you done, behind the scenes, to raise the bar?We hired Tony Berluti, who worked as a mechanic with Suzuki for years, and Kyle Bentley, who was Christophe Pourcel’s mechanic at Pro Circuit. We also picked up Pro Circuit to do all of our suspension and motor work. We’re also blessed to have a really good dealership behind us, Jacksonville Powersports. Jeff Lewis is a guy who helped me out at Moto XXX back in the day and it’s gone full circle and he’s helping us again. First of all, we’re on Kawasaki’s this year and Jacksonville Motorsports supplies our bikes and parts for this year. Kawasaki does absolutely nothing for our program… they don’t give us parts, they don’t give us bikes. They let our guys ride their Supercross track, which is cool, we’re grateful for that. But they have their own thing and we have our own thing.Dodge is another big backer for us, along with Bel Ray, Arna Energy Nuts, and Contour Camera, and we are blessed to have them all on board. With these sponsors we’re able to buy what we need and get what we need and not have to rub nickels together, so it exciting.Go back and talk about how the Hart & Huntington team first came about.When we started the team four years ago, Cary [Hart] was still racing Supermoto and I was kind of between jobs, and Cary and I are friends from way back, and he asked me to help him with the Supermoto program just on the weekends. I did and I kind of seen something there, how the fans were attracted to the team and how marketable Cary was. Donnie Wanat was with the program back then and he and I talked to Cary about doing a Supercoss team. So we got Rockstar involved and we knew we had to start at the bottom with a grass roots approach. We also knew we could have a strong pit presence and get the people there. But it takes a while to build a program where you get the riders to believe in it. I’ve built teams before and I kind of knew what to do and I knew that you could have the best riders in the world but if they are pushing their bikes off the track then you’re just spinning our wheels. So I like to build things from the inside out and start with some solid mechanics and work that way. When we picked up Berluti it really elevated the program. Tony is a great mechanic but he’s not just a parts changer, he’s an R&D guy. He can develop parts, he can work with the chasis and that kind of elevated our program.Talk more about the Dodge sponsorship.Well, starting out, some people in the industry liked us and some didn’t. Some said we were just a novelty and just a sideshow in the pits. When we got started we had a three-year plan. We had a three-year contract with Rockstar and we decided if we couldn’t build a good team in that three years and show to the industry and the outside world that we are marketable and a serious team, then we’re going to go away. We’re not just going to the races to get 10th place. But things came together and we had a sponsor with the team who had Dodge as a client and one thing led to the next and Dodge was interested in talking to Cary and we came away with a three-year deal with Dodge. It’s not dancing girls and smoke shows any more, it’s a legit, let’s-go-racing kind of program. We’re going to walk that fine line. We’re still going to be a little bit on the edge, but we’re going to be a legit race team.There were rumors that you were talking to Chad Reed. Tell us what you can about that.Well, our connection with Chad is that Steve Astephen with WMG is Chad’s manager; and he’s Cary’s manager too. WMG works with their athlete kind of as a family, and I’m not saying they share sponsors, but they try to keep it all under the same umbrella. Chad was without a ride and Chad and Cary are real good friends and we had a deal that was real close. We were riding Honda’s at the time and Honda gave us an offer that was really good and it looked like Chad was in. When we put the deal in front of Dodge they agreed on it but when it went to legal they kicked it back because of branding. Dodge and Honda both are competing car manufacturers, so they didn’t want to do the deal. So we had to decide what bike manufacturer we wanted to go with and we literally had three to chose from: blue, orange or green. We had to step back and look at the performance end of things and who was going to build our stuff. I went down to Mitch Payton and he really stepped up, which meant we would be going with Kawasaki. But Chad really liked the Honda and he wanted to stay on Honda and he had a really bad taste in his mouth from Kawasaki, so he decided he wanted to go his own direction on a Honda, and it was no hard feelings.You and JGRMX are the only major teams not based in Southern California. Do you see that as an advantage or a disadvantage?I think it’s an advantage. We have a really strong base here in Vegas and we don’t have to buy into all the California bullshit. We don’t get caught up in what’s going on in California; my riders don’t get caught up in it. You can go to the grocery store and you don’t see the whole industry in the supermarket. They don’t know what’s going on with your personal life and we try to stay away from that kind of stuff. Also, for us it’s good because we have a good track here in Vegas and it’s been raining so much in SoCal the last few winters so we are not affected by that. A lot of guys are coming up here to ride because it’s so wet to ride.What are your goals for the team? Our goals are to win races and eventually win a championship. By 2012 we hope to have a top-four guy on our team. I think this year we have to build and get those guys to believe in our program. We need to have some strong finishes with Ivan and we want to keep Ivan here to finish out his career, and I think if we can get one more banger to go with Ivan and Josh, then I think we are going to be a threat all across the board. It might be a pipe dream, but my goal is to look at that podium one night and see Hart & Huntington guys on all three steps.


Shan Moore | Contributing Editor

Moore covers all facets of off-road racing for Cycle News – from AMA Supercross and Motocross to GNCC and National Hare Scrambles events.