Chad Reed comes to America – 2002 interview, by Rick Johnson
Chad Reed had just left racing the MX GP’s in Europe to give it a go in America. Reading back on this early 2002 interview, little did anyone know that Chad would go on to win two AMA Supercross Series titles, an AMA National Motocross title, make hundreds of thousands of fans, start his own racing team, and more. A nostalgic and good read …
At some time in our racing careers we have all had dreams of racing in America and becoming a champion. Through your efforts, many people are able to live out those aspirations. Win, loose or draw – you are a true champion! Thanks.
Good Luck mate!
Perth – Western Australia
How about having an entire country watching your career? This sums up the phenomenon that is Chad Reed. I’ve admired him on the track, but I wanted to find out more about him.
RJ: Chad, how is it going for you in your first year of racing here in the States?
Chad: I think it’s gone well. The first race (125 East in Indy) I won, although I didn’t feel like I was 100% ready with riding the four-stroke. The week after (Minneapolis) was a much better ride for me. I got the holeshot, and won, and I consider that one of the best races I’ve ever done.
On the Wednesday before Minneapolis, I couldn’t even walk because of a crash practicing earlier in the week. I wasn’t quite sure if I was even going to race. As I rode, I got warm, and it felt better, so I decided to race. That night in Minnesota couldn’t of been any better. I won my heat, and then I won the Main. I feel like I didn’t make any mistakes in the Main, which is hard to do.
RJ: Tell me about the injury. What exactly did you hurt?
Chad: I had a crash on the Monday before Minneapolis. I landed on my lower back, and it messed up my groin and lower back. I was weak in that area, and it was quite painful. I have a trainer working with me named Jeff Spencer who really got me prepared to race that weekend.
RJ: I worked with Jeff. He’s great, and a great motivator as well. Plus he has so much knowledge and experience. He’s worked with us motocross guys, but he’s also working with Lance Armstrong (Tour de France Champion).
Chad: Jeff’s great. I work with him on a day to day basis. He knows how to treat various injuries and how far to go on training. When I went to his house and saw all the people he has worked with in the past .. it was impressive! Johnny O’Mara, David Bailey, Lance Armstrong, Tiger Woods … all the motocross guys …. the list goes on. He works with Lance and Tiger on a day to day basis as well. Everything he says is positive, and makes good sense, so I really enjoy working with Jeff.
RJ: When I would go down to Australia to race against Jeff Leisk and Craig Dack, there was so much pride for them in Australia, and from Australia when they raced overseas. How does it feel now to be the first one to win a supercross in America?
Chad: It feels good. But I’m not a person that’s about records. I enjoy what I do. I have fun doing what I do. Maybe when I get older it will feel even better to tell someone I was the first Australian rider to win a supercross in the States.
I’m sure I won’t be the only one. There will be young riders coming up from Australia. I expect good things to follow.
RJ: Craig Dack, he was an Australian pioneer. We raced against each other here in the States, in Australia, in Paris, at the des Nations …. what is your relationship with him now that he’s the manager at Yamaha of Troy?
Chad: Craig’s a really good guy to work with. I rode with his team in Australia too. Obviously me and Craig are very familiar with each other.
When I heard that Erik Kehoe was leaving Yamaha of Troy, I mentioned it to Craig. I said ‘Hey, would you be interested in that job?’ He was. And Craig has worked with Steve Butler at Yamaha in the past. Craig is just a great guy to work with. He knows so much about motocross.
RJ: When did you start riding motorcycles?
Chad: I started when I was three and one half years old. I began racing at age four. Won my first Australian Championship at age seven. Over the years, I’ve won quite a few amateur championships, and two supercross championships in Australia. So, as a career, it’s been pretty much since I was four up till now.
RJ: Does anyone in your family ride?
Chad: Yes. I have a younger brother that rides. He’s never been into racing to the same extent as I have been, but he rides my practice bikes around the bush for fun. He’s fast, but he’s not interested in competing.
RJ: In the outdoor series here, are you going to ride the 125 or the 250 class?
Chad: I’m going to be riding the 125 class. That’s the contract I signed with Yamaha of Troy. I need to hold up my end of the bargain. I’m going to try and win that championship for those guys. Then hopefully I can move up to the 250 class for next year.
RJ: Is it a one year contract with Yamaha of Troy?
Chad: Yes, it’s a one year contract that I signed. I wasn’t overly excited about racing in the 125 class, so my goal is to move up to the 250 class next year.
All I’ve ever wanted to do is race in that 250 class. All the biggest and best guys are racing in it.
RJ: You have a sense of confidence about yourself that a lot of guys don’t have, especially coming up. Every one treads lightly around the top guys. You can ride physical, and you seem comfortable is saying ‘Hey, these guys can be beaten!’ Where do you get that confidence?
Chad: It’s from my dad. He has taught me so much in life. No one is above anyone else. We are all the same. All of us can be beaten. We are all normal human beings. We just happen to ride motocross bikes. That’s straight from my dad’s mouth. And that’s my plan: to ride my motocross bike real fast and try to beat everyone.
RJ: You’ve raced in Australia. You’ve raced in Europe. Now you are racing in the States. Do you plan to stay here for your career?
Chad: The world championships don’t interest me too much anymore. I think that some day the world championships will be held primarily in America. That certainly seems to be where it’s heading at least with supercross.
I see myself staying here for the rest of my career. I have a great life here. But I also see myself going back to Australia someday too. I love Australia, and that’s where I’ll live when I finish up racing. I can’t think of a better place for me to be than Australia.
I have a long time girlfriend living there. During the year, I can see myself going back there for a couple of weeks, but nothing too long. I have a house here, and right now the United States is my home.
My parents are back in Australia too. They are building a new house. They’d love to be here in the States, but unfortunately they can’t be here. In a way it helps me with my parents not being here, because it makes a person grow up much quicker, and allows my personality to develop more fully.
RJ: When you came to the States, did you know you were going to ride the four-stroke, or did you think you’d be on a two-stroke?
Chad: I knew I’d be on the four-stroke. Although I didn’t want to ride in the 125 class, the four-stroke is something different. I certainly didn’t think if I rode that bike I’d be taking a step backwards. The bike works very well. It took me a while to learn it’s characteristics, but it’s a great bike and I’m having a fun time on it.
RJ: I like your riding style. What riders did you try to copy when you were growing up?
Chad: When I was really young, I had a cousin named Craig Anderson that raced back home. He’s four years older than I am, and he became Australian Supercross Champion. I call him the ‘Kevin Windham’ of Australia. ; ) So much talent. He could not even train sometimes and still win races. He’s just like Kevin – stands up a lot, very smooth, precise, with good timing. I looked up to him.
I probably became a bit more aggressive because of him too. When I was riding 60’s and 80’s, he was on the 125’s. He was always a bit ahead of me. So I was always trying to keep up with him. That’s how I learned to be aggressive. If Craig had the desire to conquer the world, he’d definitely be a top five rider here.
RJ: When you and Jeremy McGrath had your little ‘run-in’ in Bercy, what happened?
Chad: Seems like everyone has an opinion on that ; )
I was really close to Jeremy on the last lap. Of course, he has one story, and I have another. He squared the berm really tight, and I didn’t expect him to do that. I expected him to protect his line. When he squared, I jumped to the inside, and we collided in the corner. It was hard to deal with, and definitely one of the hardest things I’ve had to deal with in my career.
I looked up to Jeremy for a large part of my life. I’ve idolized him. When he carried on the way he did, that’s when I fully realized that anyone can be beaten. I thought he carried on quite childishly, and maybe he wasn’t quite the person I’d thought him to be.
However, now, we are friends, and we talk quite a bit. It’s just a bummer that we had to go thru that little thing.
The fact is, we are all just human. Everyone can be beat. Like my dad said, ‘Go after it! We all work hard. No one is better than anyone else. We are all determined.’
I’ve dreamed all my life about racing against those top guys. I watch video all the time. I can’t wait for the day when I can start racing the whole season against them.
RJ: You looked very comfortable early in the year in the 250 class. I thought you might even stay in that division because of the amount of points you had scored.
Chad: I would of liked that. Everyone says ‘You can win the 125 championship’, but that doesn’t mean that much to me. I never dreamed of winning a 125 championship. Always 250.
I get good bonuses in winning races, but that doesn’t interest me either. I just want to compete at the top level.