If there was an award for the team that does the most with the least, Rock River Yamaha would definitely be in the running. Despite the lack of funding from a deep-pocketed title sponsor, the team finds a way to get their semi to every single round of Monster Energy Supercross and Lucas Oil Motocross, as well the Monster Energy Cup, all while maintaining a professional presence and look for their sponsors. The team even provides integral parts support to any and all Yamaha-mounted privateers. We got in touch with Team Manager Christina Denney to see what ‘s in store for the team in 2013.
Racer X: Let’s start with a little team background.
Christina Denney: Rock River Racing was originally formed as a stepping stone for amateur riders to transition from the amateur ranks to the pro ranks. We saw a need for the kids who did not have factory support, and wanted to make sure the transition for them was as smooth as possible. We chose to set up our pro program, with first priority being those riders who represented our company as an amateur and needed transport, sponsorship, motors, etc. at the pro level. It has since evolved into a full blown supercross and outdoor national team and Monster Energy Cup, offering trackside support for all Yamaha riders.
You also have a special parts program for Yamaha riders, right?
Yes. The pro parts program offers parts for all factory and privateer riders and teams. The truck stocks OEM parts to make sure all the Yamaha riders can finish the event. This service is offered as a "Thank You" to all the riders representing Yamaha at the Pro events. It has helped us as a team and also many Yamaha riders alike. With the growing number of Yamaha riders and teams, I am anxious to see how well it facilitates the riders this year.
Denney (pictured above) is the Team Manager for Rock River Yamaha.
Simon Cudby photo
What are some of your long-term goals for the team?
Rock River's pro and amateur teams will continue to grow, and we look forward to promoting all the sponsors that have been helping us since inception. We will continue with our primary focus of bringing amateur riders to the pro ranks, but we will also have another transporter to house our elite pro riders, much like we are currently doing with the pro team. This will allow us to take our pro riders to the next level.
What do you mean when you say next level?
For us, the next level is getting more support for our riders. We have a semi and nice, professional pits, so it may look like we are fully funded, but we definitely aren’t. The majority of our funding comes from the Rock River Power Sports Yamaha dealer in St. Jefferson, Wisconsin. The guys that ride for us aren’t getting paid, their entry fees aren’t paid for, they pay their own travel costs and they’re on their own during the week. They don’t pay us to pit under our truck or anything like that, but we unfortunately aren’t able to help with their outside expenses. They are true privateers. So for us, the next level is to be able to pay some of their expenses and be able to pay them a salary. From there it would evolve into a program with high-level riders, complete with more exposure for potential sponsors, namely a title sponsor.
That’s an interesting point. You do have a big and professional looking presence at the races, so a lot of people may not realize what a struggle it still is for your riders.
Right. For Ben LaMay to go out and put together some of the results he did at the Nationals is a huge deal. We don’t have a shop everyone works out of or anything like that. We’re not a traditional team where the riders go practicing and testing together. Everyone is on their own with that kind of stuff. Our goal is to secure a title sponsor so that we can start covering more expenses for our riders and create the structure that riders need to succeed at this level. LaMay is on the bubble of doing big things, and we want that for him, and riders like him. We want to be able to give him the chance to become a supported rider with a salary and see what he can do with it. He’s very deserving of it, and he has the potential to be a top-ten guy consistently.
And Yamaha has helped us out. They’ve been great, and we’re very thankful to them for the support they’ve provided, but in order to progress and provide the next level of rider support, we need to find a title sponsor. For example, it’d be great to be able to get a guy like Kyle Chisholm, who didn’t have a ride, but we don’t have the means to secure a rider like that. Thinking outside the box and looking for someone outside the industry is what we are working toward, and right now we are waiting for the right fit to make this happen. We know we have a lot to offer in representing a company who is ready and willing to take Rock River Yamaha to the next level. Anyone interested should contact me at Christina@rockriverracing.com to see what we can do for a company that is ready to take the next step in supporting a race team.
What’s new for 2013?
Ben LaMay is back with Rock River Yamaha for 2013 and hopes to continue the success he had in 2012.
2013 is going to be an exciting season for us. Yamaha Racing has stepped up their program for us, and we have Ben [LaMay] returning to pilot a YZ450. He is capable of running up front and we are working hard to make sure that he gets there. With the addition of 250SX riders, Chris Johnson and Bryce Stewart, our 250 program has evolved to have riders on both the East and West Coasts.
We will also continue our Pro Parts Program for 2013 with a broader range of OEM parts to support the vast array of riders who depend on this program week in and week out. With Yamaha's contingency program for 2013, we expect to see more Yamahas at the races.
Education has become a large part of our focus for 2013. We want to make sure our riders understand that there is a lot of preparation that goes into professional racing, and if they are educated correctly, and come to the race prepared, the results will happen on their own.
Who will the riders be?
Ben LaMay, Chris Johnson, Joey Peters, Dalton Carlson, Bryce Stewart and Seth Caldwell. We are supported by Yamaha Racing, GYTR, YamaLube, RoostMX, FMF, K&N, Xtrig, Renegade Fuels, Race Tech, Dunlop, FrithCo., Vertex, Bell, Vortex, GUTS, EVS, Cycra, Boyesen, LiftMaster, MotoStar, Ziios.com and PSN.