A few words with …
Angela’s been very busy at the first five supercross events of 2007. In no special order, she talks with Paul Delaurier (Chad Reed’s tech), Eddie Casillas (Asterisk Mobile Medical), Matt Lemoine (Supercross rookie), Donovan Mitchell (Team Lucas Oil Manager), and Ivan Tedesco.
Paul Delaurier – technician to Chad Reed
Angela: Paul, this is your first year working with Chad, can you tell me how you came to get involved?
Paul: Yes, Chad and I met in the fall of last year, and we hit it off really well … it was a good connection. He’s probably one of the funniest guys I’ve worked around. I see the talent and fire in his eyes and excitement about coming to the track, and Chad has the same type of enthusiasm that I have. I’ve worked with a lot of different riders in the past, basically done this my whole life, and it’s great to see that combination in Chad.
Ang: Sounds like a good team environment; how do you spend your week days getting ready for a race?
Paul: We ride and test till dark almost every time we are together. Because we enjoy the day and it goes by so quick, and you try a lot of things, it makes the days a lot of fun.
Ang: You have an extensive history in the sport, can you tell me who you have worked with in the past?
Paul: I worked with KTM for the last five years. We did a testing program with them for a couple of years, and then I worked with Mike Alessi for little over a year. Before that I worked with Factory Connection Honda & Mike LaRocco for five years, and I worked with Damon Bradshaw before that. I’ve been either racing or riding myself, working on bikes, and learning the whole trade over the years.
Ang: What have you seen change in supercross since you began your career?
Paul: Well, there’s a lot more people involved within the advertising side of things, so that’s brought a lot of people to the sport as well as money & exposure to the industry.
Ang: The team is officially sponsored by The San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, how is everything working out there and with the crew?
Paul: The team is great. I can’t say enough good things about them. Everyone has a lot of experience, and if you’ve got any questions or have a need for anything there’s always someone on the team that you can go to, or that can help with things. That in itself is the biggest bonus to the whole team! That’s why everything has gone so good with our testing, with the racing, and everything!
Ang: Can you give us an update on what’s happening with Chad’s shoulder injury?
Paul: Well, his shoulder is not too bad. When he crashed his helmet struck his chest and then the bike hit him from behind. His shoulder is alright, but the pain of his ribs, sternum, chest and lungs makes breathing very difficult for him.
His spirit is good though. He wants to race every weekend, and he wants to win a championship. The only way to do that is go through the rough spots and wait for the shiny spots.
Ang: Sounds like you two are a great team. I wish you both the best of luck this year!
Paul: Thanks, because luck is a part of it, so we need all the luck we can get!
Eddie Casillas – Asterisk Medic Mobile Unit
Ang: Eddie, this is a brand new mobile medical unit truck this year, what can you tell me about it?
Eddie: It’s a mobile hospital on wheels. That’s what we provide to the riders at every race, free of charge. If you’re a rider, mechanic, family member, or person with credentials, you can get service here at the medical unit and again it’s free of charge. Basically, anything you can get done in a hospital you can pretty much get done here, except for MRI’s and CAT scans. We just try to provide a service to the riders that will keep them from having to go to the hospital and get treated there.
If a rider gets hurt on the track we can bring them in on our Kawasaki Medic mule, or they come in on their own and we will evaluate them here in the truck. A lot of times a rider will finish the race and realize when he gets back to the pits that something’s hurting that they didn’t feel while they were on the track, and they will come over here then.
Ang: I imagine it takes a team & staff to run this medic unit; who are the people responsible for helping here?
Eddie: The staff members are Dr. Bodnar, Dr. Augustine, and myself as a certified athletic trainer, and then we have a rotation of 5 nurses and each of them will pick races throughout the year that they will work at.
Ang: The truck is very, very extensive inside. How do you use it?
Eddie: The front of the truck is our lounge/hospitality area where we hold meetings, and hang out during any down time. Then you have our triage area which is just like when you go to a hospital: you walk in, we have a nurse that will ask you some questions to determine what your needs are and who needs to see you. Then we have the back part of the truck where we treat everybody, including an X-Ray machine.
For me personally, as a certified athletic trainer, when we go to school one of the dreams of each and every student is to work at the professional level. It is awesome being here, and I wouldn’t give it up for anything.
Ang: The truck, the equipment, and the staff are very impressive, and I am sure the riders appreciate it …
Eddie: Yes, the riders definitely appreciate it. When we first started, they were a little apprehensive about coming in, but now, you talk to a lot of them, and they would hate to see this go away. It’s pretty much expected at every race. Again, it’s important to the riders, it’s important to the family members, and it’s important to us to keep this thing going.
Ang: How do you keep this free service and truck at the races?
Eddie: The truck is sponsored in part by Asterisk, the knee brace company, but the majority of the funding comes from donations given by the riders, or by fund raisers that we put on. The woman’s auxiliary is a also a big contributor to our fund raising. Every year we pretty much break even, so every year it’s a struggle to keep going.
If anybody that has pit credentials wants to come by and take a look at the rig, we encourage that, and if we have the opportunity and the time we’d be more than happy to show you the entire truck.
Matt Lemoine is a Supercross rookie from Pilot Point, Texas, and he’s competing in the 250 Lites West Coast series.
Ang: Matt, you’ve had a great rookie season thus far. How do you feel?
Matt: I take each race just as well as all the other races. I put pressure on myself to do as good as I can. I will go out there and ride practice, put out some good lap times, and make it into the mains and take it from there.
For example, back in Phoenix, I got a fairly decent start and weaseled my way up front a little bit. I battled with those guys near the lead, rode as hard as I could, until the last couple of laps where I made a couple mistakes. A little bit of pressure got to me, but I came out 4th so it wasn’t all that bad.
The pressure of my first season isn’t as bad as I thought it would be. But I found out that if you finish up front, then everything else goes a lot better. I am just trying to keep it consistent, in the top 5.
Ang: What do you do to prepare each week?
I usually go riding a couple of days, testing a few things and try to get everything right for the weekend.
Ang: Who is supporting you out here at the races?
Matt: These guys here at Lucas Oil are great. They do anything that I need to get done so, it’s great! So, first of all, Lucas Oil, Star racing Yamaha, Bobby R and all the guys, my mechanic Andy and my Mom and Dad. Toyota for hooking me up with a truck. Vans, FLY, FMF, Smith Goggles, and CTi.
Donovan Mitchell – Team Manager Lucas Oil
Ang: Donovan, can you tell us what your role is here with the team?
Donovan: I manage the team, and I am behind the scenes at all the races. During the week I do everything from taking care of the sponsors, writing press releases, ordering parts, dealing with the riders, … anything that can come up with problems, and I try to keep everything moving & people happy, and make sure everybody knows where they are going.
Ang: Who are the people behind the team?
Donovan: Well, we have a unique group of people. I work with a guy by the name of Brad Hoffman who actually oversees the mechanics, deals with the motors and suspension, where as I deal with the sponsors, making sure we are set for race day with the semi, the race shop and doing all the PR stuff.
We have a good group of mechanics, and we’ve come up with a couple more young riders, like Matt Lemoine and Dusty Klatt from Canada, a nationals champion there, and Brock Tickle. Sean Collier returned from last year, and he did pretty well for us. We got a podium in Canada, and that brought some good exposure. Now with Matt Lemoine doing well, that’s even better. Yamaha has given us the factory support, and that has taken us on to a whole new level in the last two years.
Ang: What is your history in motocross?
Donovan: I started racing when I was 4 years old. I grew up in Sacramento CA. Through the years I just progressed, and I always knew I wanted to be a professional motocross racer. After doing all the amateur stuff, Loretta Lynn’s and all that, I turned pro at 17. I moved to southern California and did a year of riding as a privateer, then riding for Yamaha support and other good sponsors, I finally obtained a factory KTM ride.
I never got to race for KTM in a Supercross, but got some races under my belt, and then had a serious injury in November 1999 which has left me as a quadriplegic. I’ve had a lot of battles since then, but I’ve got to where I am now, and had set a lot of goals for myself.
One of my goals was to manage a team at some point, and three years ago this came about through a friend who got this team established. We started small, and together we’ve brought this team to a good place now, each year we have continued to grow.
Ang: It sounds like you are home at a Supercross then?
Donovan: Oh yeah, for sure. When you do something for that long, and that’s all you’ve ever done, it comfortable. I’ve tried other things since my injury, school, going on to college, and somehow I end up back here, so I am very happy this will work.
Ang: That’s an inspiration for others who have similar circumstances. What would you say to those people out there looking to get involved and follow their dreams?
Donovan: Just try to find motivation. I sometimes wonder what wakes me up first thing in the morning, but I can’t say I am always like that. Everyday, for the most part, I wake up and set goals for myself. I keep my mind busy, and if you are just going to sulk, or want to just lay in bed, then that isn’t going to work. I’ve had a lot of luck on my side since my injury too. I’ve met a lot of good people. I think if you try your hardest, and you do whatever you can to try to get better, then something good will follow. That’s the way I feel. If you put in the effort something good can come from it somewhere down the line.
Ang: I certainly appreciate you talking to me, and it looks like it’s going to be a great season for your team.
Donovan: I think so, and thank you. Hopefully tonight and the rest of the races will go like they’ve been going, which is great!
It’s 6:00pm, about an hour before Anaheim 2 kicks off. How are you feeling about tonight’s race?
Ivan: Alright. I struggled a little bit in practice, and then we made some changes to the bike. I watched some video of practice to learn where I was making the mistakes. I think tonight will be a good night. My hand is not hurting as bad as it was last week … we will see how it goes. Until my hand is 100%, my goal is to be close to the podium or on it.
Ang: You recently spoke on how you felt regarding James Stewart’s actions, and the controversy following that accident in Canada. Then in Phoenix, during the last lap of the main event, there was a bump at the end with James. What really happened out there?
Ivan: They (the leaders) were coming up on me right there in the last lap. I actually looked back to see where my team mate (Ricky Carmichael) was so I wouldn’t get in his way. By the time I looked back, Stewart was cutting that corner real tight, and I wasn’t expecting him to do that. I kind of ran into him. It wasn’t intentional … I am not going to do something like that when I am a lap down. Some people thought it was intentional, and I don’t know why. If you watch the video you’ll see that I am hitting the brakes when I ran into him. If I was trying to take him out I would have been hitting the gas.
Ang: Are things cool now between you and James?
Ivan: I am still not happy with my situation. This isn’t how I wanted to come into the season (with an injured hand). It sucks that he’s the one that did it but, it is what it is, … I am trying to make the best of it. Hopefully I can get healthy soon and be upfront. Hopefully later in the season I can be up there consistently and battle for some wins and make my team proud.
Ang: We are about an hour till race time here, what do you do to warm up and get ready for that start?
Ivan: I warm up on my stationary bicycle. Then we do opening ceremonies, and I try to get mentally prepared for the race.
Ang: Do you get nervous before a race?
Ivan: Oh yeah, I think there’s always nerves. If you are not nervous, you don’t care. I think every racer gets nervous before a race. I just get real anxious and want to get out there and get it done.
I’d like to take the time to thank my team, especially Makita Suzuki for sticking behind me through the injury … they’ve been really good with it. Parts Unlimited, Thor, all the guys, the whole crew, my trainer Darrin, Dr. G for helping me with therapy, and my wife for being patient with me when I was hurt.