After the great success of the amateur program Xtreme Team Green, Team Owner Bobby Hewitt will venture out in 2008 into the professional racing world with a new team, Xtreme Pro Lites. As the amateur team gears up for its first race in Florida later this month and the pro team preparing for its first AMA Supercross race at Anaheim I, Hewitt sat down to talk about each team and their awaiting future success.
Q: What has your role been with Xtreme Team Green?
Bobby Hewitt: In general, I oversee all operations. From the financial standpoint to scheduling, I try to be as involved as possible. Its like any other business, whatever needs to be done, I’ll do.
Q: And how long has the team been up and running?
B.H.: This will be our fourth year. How time flies when you’re having fun!
Q: How did the team, Xtreme Team Green, come about?
B.H.: Originally it was an idea that some of the other existing Team Green riders’ parents had. The original idea, not in its current form, was to have an additional place for the bikes to pit. But I wanted something more out of it. And from there, Ed Torrance and I were asked to take over the idea since Kawasaki wanted to form something that would enhance their program.
Q: What makes your program so different than any other manufacturer out there?
B.H.: I really think we work harder than anyone else. We are involved with building all the bikes and testing with all the riders. It’s just not building the bikes and taking the bikes to them at the races. We are basically a month away from the next amateur race in Florida and we’re out here (in Texas) testing with all the riders. I have flown all the riders to my house to test here together.
We also have higher expectations, which show in higher results. If we aren’t winning or worst case scenario on the box, we’re not happy. I don’t want to say there is pressure on the riders but the expectations are much higher than the average guy. You take PJ (Larsen) and Hunter (Hewitt), who are in their last year as an amateur, we are trying to give them the tools and mold them so their transition into the pros is much more seamless. This will help them to know what to expect at the next level.
Everyone that works for Xtreme Team Green works full-time. Everything is full-time. We don’t start preparing for a national two weeks before but it’s an ongoing process.
Q: Since Xtreme Team Green has gone so well over the past few years, Team Green has decided to start a new venture with Xtreme Pro Lites. Can you explain exactly what we can see next year? (From Amateur to Pro)
B.H.: We’ve got a box van and a power washer…we are good to go. Just kidding.
But seriously, you will see a very professionally ran program. Just like the amateur side. We are just taking it to a next level with the quality of everything from the riders to the way the bikes look.
The Xtreme Pro Lites is an extension of Xtreme Team Green. I was able to secure the foundation that Motosport Outlet had laid last year with their race shop, their semi, most of their mechanics will stay to work on this new team, and we have Bill Keefe as the team manager, who was Motosport Outlet’s manager from last year. In terms of the riders, I think we have a much stronger team this year than what they had last year. The expectations are higher. It isn’t any different than the answer I gave Kawasaki; I don’t want to compete in the pro level and finish 10-15th. I don’t have any interest in that. Not to say that we will get there in our first year but if we aren’t top five, the expectations that I have made clear are not being met. Our goal is for everyone to finish in the top five.
A little side note on Phil Nicolette. He is the one amateur rider that we brought up and if he finishes in the top eight for his first year, I would be happy for that. He knows my expectations are top five and that is what he is shooting for. But if he finishes top eight, I would be happy. The other guys, Andrew McFarlane, Tommy Hahn, and Kyle Chisholm understand they are expected to be in the top five.
Q: What was the idea behind this new professional team?
B.H.: This program really gives Kawasaki a full-rounded program from being an amateur Kawasaki rider to being a professional Kawasaki rider. There are always more amateurs that deserve a ride, that can compete at a professional level but there might not be enough spots open on the teams. This gives Kawasaki and us another place to have those two or three amateurs coming out each year that have the ability, to be placed on a professional level team. It really strengthens Kawasaki’s program and our program to have a place for the riders to go.
Q: Why do you think this team is so different?
B.H.: I think there are very few owners who are involved as much as I am. Whether it’s testing with the riders, or working with the mechanics or the financial side, I’m involved in it. I know what my expectations are and Kawasaki’s. Everyone on the team knows where we want this team to go. We want to win and anything short of that is not where we want to be. Everyone is committed to making this team better. If it takes extra testing or longer hours, we are willing to work to get where we want to be. We really owe that drive to the manufacturer and our sponsors to never be satisfied. Everyone has that drive to make this the best team we can.
Q: What riders will the Xtreme Pro Lites team have under the tent next year and what made each rider stand out to you in order to approach them for this new team?
B.H.: We really wanted to raise the bar as far as the quality of the rider that was on the team. I’m not saying the team in the past had weak riders because to make it to the pro level is an accomplishment in itself. We wanted guys would we thought could be on the box every time.
Andrew McFarlane is probably our most seasoned rider and has been at the top two to three years ago. He was one of the guys. I think what really hurt him was that he didn’t have a program behind him that was as organized and dedicated to finishing as the top as he was. I have a lot of respect for McFarlane because it wasn’t like we offered him a ride and he said ‘where do I sign?’ He was very methodical in the fact that he wanted to see the shop, look at the bikes, meet the mechanics, and know the products we are using. He did not want to go to another program that was not well organized or have the same drive as him. I have the greatest amount of respect for that. For him to sign with us is great because he sees our dedication to him and the program.
Tommy Hahn is without question a guy that can be a consistent top rider. If you don’t have the proper program behind you, it’s going to be a bigger struggle.
I think Kyle Chisholm just needed a little more support to get him there but he is definitely capable of the expectations we have set for the team.
Phil Nicoletti has been putting in the work to be at the same level as the other guys. I know he has what it takes to do what our team is asking of him.
I didn’t want a rider that would bring any distractions on or off the track. We have a good continuity with all the riders. We all have a common goal and purpose. When you get a group together, working well together, the sky is the limit.
Q: With a new team, have you sponsors to thank?
B.H.: Of course! There have been several people that have put in so much to make this team what we envisioned. Motosport Outlet is going to be our title sponsor and it’s great to have people that understand your vision and where you want the team to go. Also Kawasaki, Moose Racing, St. Lawrence Radiology, One Industries, Pro Circuit, Renthal, Dunlop, ASV, Alpinestars, Smith Optics, Maxima, RK Chain, Excel, Hinson, Twin Air, Light Speed, QTM, Xtreme, and VP Racing.