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5 Minutes with ... Chad Reed

Earlier this week, an interview came out of Australia that was hard to imagine: Two-time AMA Supercross Champion Chad Reed was pondering retirement from supercross in order to pursue a career in V8 car racing, which is basically Australia’s NASCAR tour. Why would a guy quit at the top of his game? Was Reed going to be the next JMB and just ride away to do something else? So, while waiting for the open house at Racer X to begin on Friday afternoon, I picked up the phone and called Reed at his home in Florida to find out if it was really true...

Racer X: Chad, okay, I read that newspaper article from Australia, and I was like, “Please, don’t quit supercross...” That can’t possibly be true.
Chad Reed: No, I’m not ready to go anywhere, you know? I think, for me, I feel like I’m in a better place, and getting close to what I’ve been chasing for a long, long time. That article, I knew going in that the guy was somewhat of a “controversy” kind of guy, and I tried to pick my words and be careful, but it didn’t work! [Laughs] It’s unfortunate.

Well, it was probably good news for V8 Supercar fans, but for supercross fans, it’s like, “Uh oh...”
Yeah, I mean, it just didn’t make no sense at all. I was in Australia, and I didn’t fly to Australia on a 24-hour flight from Florida to launch my supercross series and then two days after that, be saying that I’m leaving supercross and going to V8s. That would be ludicrous and suicidal on my part. It’s a little frustrating, but what can you do? Over the last month, I can honestly say that I’ve learned a lot about life and our sport in general, so it’s been a great learning experience, and I think I’ll come out the other side a better person and more understanding of what you should do.

Yeah, those learning experiences seem to be going around right now... I wrote about your speech at the banquet, and I was just really impressed by how sincere and honest you were up there, knowing that your team situation was up in the air and everything.
Yeah, I read your Racerhead, and I definitely appreciate what you had to write. In that situation, in that moment, it’s difficult to put it on. It was sincere, and it was from my heart, you know? It was an amazing feeling to have my family – my mom and dad – present in Vegas, and it was an awesome situation. It was tough because I didn’t know at that point where my future was held and where I was going to go, but it was nice to have my mom and dad there to enjoy that moment with me. Like I said on the podium, it’s difficult to go through life on your own, and it’s only been me and Ellie from day one when we left. Me and Ellie were 18, and I think I’ve made some amazing choices, and been on some amazing teams, and had some great experiences, and sure, I’ve done my fair share of saying or doing the wrong thing, but we live and learn from our mistakes, and I wouldn’t change it for anything. I think when you look at the sport of motocross, it’s very, very family oriented, and there’s not a lot of people out there that can say that they went and made life decisions at 18 years old and ended up getting as far as I have. I’m pretty proud of the choices that I’ve made that have gotten me to this point.

You’ve got some big choices coming up, and I wish I could pin you down and make you tell me, but I’m going to guess that you don’t have a deal solidified for 2009 just yet.
Right now, I don’t have anything to announce. It’s both good and bad. There was some truth to that article. There were some things that were put in that were legit, and there were a lot of things that weren’t. For me, I feel like I stand by who I am and what I want out of the sport. I feel like making good choices is a very important thing. You’ve got to set standards, and being the supercross champ, there are certain things that I want. It’s not certain right now. I’m definitely trying to make everything possible and be flexible so that my Australian things can work in with it and all of that kind of stuff. I’m excited about a change, and for what the future holds for me. As for me, how I feel, I feel that I have a lot to offer to the sport of supercross, and I still feel like I’ve got some more wins and championships in me, so I’m not ready to walk away at this point. That’s the main thing for me, right now. I’m really, really excited. I find it funny saying it, but I’d actually love to be out there racing [the Nationals] and going to the races right now.

 
As an outdoor motocross fan, I can tell you that we miss you out here! There was something that I noticed in that article that I’m sure was true: You mentioned that your season really starts in October and runs through May. People don’t realize that we have some unique challenges in America, because we have an entire supercross series, and then an entire AMA Motocross series. And now you’re trying to put together a quality supercross series back in Australia in the fall. That is a full-time, round-the-clock, year-long job, so I don’t blame you for taking a little time for yourself, for what that’s worth.
Yeah, I mean, I guess the sad thing is that going through life, and somewhat going through the ups and downs, and dealing with different stuff... For me, I chose to step away because I was offered a job for only supercross, and at that point, I just wasn’t really enjoying the outdoors very much. It wasn’t that I didn’t like the racing, or the tracks, or whatever, it was just that I was having a tough time at it. I felt that the time away could help me revive and get that motivation back just to figure out where I was out. I was in deep conversations with the guys at Australian Supercross trying to figure out how I could play a role in making it better. I had made some one-off visits back home in ’02, ’03 and ’04, and every time I went back there, I was both able to be there and race, but I was also able to go and watch some races and not actually participate in them. The races that I was involved in were just really sad to be at. There was nobody there watching it, and looking from the outside in, I could just tell that the sport needed help. I wanted to try and play a role in that. I don’t think there’s anyone that can claim that they have truly helped the sport of supercross – gave back. Looking down the line of riders, there are not a lot of people that have really given back, and that’s what’s been difficult for me. I feel like I stepped away to help my sport, my country, and I felt like I got a lot of hatred towards me over it. That was difficult to deal with. It’s just been difficult to handle that. I feel like I’m somebody who gave it my all every time I was out there, and I’m stepping away from one thing, but then I’m also giving back. It wasn’t like I was just stepping away and going home and partying all summer and basically just milking it. I felt like I was really giving back and doing a good thing.

Honestly, if that were an option for me, I’d go to Australia and party all summer...
[Laughs] Well, my season is October through May. If I was to continue doing outdoors, I would race year-round, and I just wouldn’t have a break. Already, even with taking the summer off, it’s very difficult. Right now, I’m trying to figure out where the future is for me, and trying to get bikes and work on that new deal, and for me, as it is, if I’m chosen to do the Motocross of Nations, which I’m planning on and hoping for, I may do the last few Nationals and then go and do the Motocross of Nations. I need to fly directly from England to Perth, which is the complete opposite side of Australia, and then get on a plane from Perth and come back and do the U.S. Open, and then immediately get back on a plane and go do the Adelaide round [in Australia], and that’s way, way down at the bottom like 20 hours from my house. It’s pretty nuts. I have a pretty gnarly schedule set out, and people just don’t understand that. They’ve just kind of got their blinders on and they’re just listening to the bullshit and the talk going around. It’s hurtful. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t. It definitely hurts when people talk a lot of crap that’s not true. That’s why I say I’ve learned a lot about the sport, and what you say and what you can’t say, and I’ve always watched people on the podium, and I’ve always said, “Why don’t they just say what they feel?” Now I know why. You can respect why they’re robots!

I hear you. Like the context thing you were talking about; when Jeff Ward did that interview with Ping, I know he didn’t mean it that way, but he was just bench-racing, I guess. He told me he didn’t mean it that way, that it was one of those things where sometimes you just don’t realize what you say, and what you might think in a bench-racing session, when someone sees it in print, it can be very hurtful.
I think, from that article, I honestly never took that to heart. I’ve been around Jeff a little bit, to the point where his son’s a fan, and all that kind of stuff, and for me, I always respected Jeff a lot as a rider. He’s 44 or 45 years old and still kicks butt. He’s doing a lot for Supermoto, and he’s kind of taking that sport to a new level, and I respect that from what I’m doing for my country and my sport. So I never really took that seriously. I felt that maybe if he did say it, maybe he was having a bad day and whatever, and he didn’t really know his facts, and I knew just from my position how the media turns things around. Maybe you say it one way, but in print it doesn’t really come off the way you said it or meant it. I felt that Jeff was better than that, and to call me out on the things he called me out on didn’t even make sense.

Let me ask you a question about your series: Steve Cox is bothering the hell out of me to go to one of the races. Which would be the coolest race to send a U.S. journalist who has never been to Australia to?
I think all of it’s cool. I think the Sydney rounds are going to be really cool. It’s funny, because I haven’t even raced there competitively in a series in eight years or something like that. It’s been a long time for me. Actually, I’ve only raced in one of the stadiums of the seven. The one that I’m racing is the one that I raced in my very, very first supercross when I was 12 years old. That should be cool to go back to. But I think the Wallagong round is a very neat one. It’s on the beach. It’s a beautiful town. The Sydney round is cool, but I’m not the biggest fan of Sydney – you’ve seen one big city, you’ve seen them all. It doesn’t matter if it’s LA, Chicago or New York. I think they’re all the same. And I think the Brisbaine round will be really cool. It’s close to the gold coast, and the weather should be beautiful that time of year. But for me, personally, I would love to have the media come and I want to take some people to my home town and try to show them what I grew up in. I don’t think people in the U.S. understand me and where I come from, and who I am, and whatever else.
Wow, it’s crazy, I’m actually looking out the back window at my lake and there’s a huge gator going by my lake! [Laughs] Sorry. I’m like, “Whoa!”

Nice. Well, we’ll send Cox down and you can take him to your house, and then we can double our money on the ticket and he can knock on Casey Stoner’s door and talk to him for Road Racer X...
There we go. Casey’s mom and dad live about a mile from my mom and dad’s house.

That’s the strangest thing: The best Supercross champion and the MotoGP champion grew up a mile apart.
And we barely know each other, which is kind of crazy, because he grew up in flat track and I did the motocross thing. In Australia, it was just pretty competitive back in the day. There are a lot of guys doing Moto GP and World Supersport and the stuff down in Australia, and we all live pretty close.

Well, I know you probably have to go hunt some gators...
I’m not hunting anything. That thing, I didn’t like it, actually. My JetSki is sitting on my dock, and I don’t think I’m going to put it in the water until that thing has gone a long way. I appreciate you calling. I just think that a lot of the stuff that I’ve been hearing and reading about me, it’s just so hurtful. I don’t really understand it, and maybe some of the stuff that I say is not really taken the right way, or people don’t understand it just from any aspect. From the L&M thing to my competitors and all of that kind of stuff, I’ve never said that my competitors don’t work hard. I say something, and people just seem like they add words to it and make up their own decision. I keep an eye on the sport. I’m a huge fan. Even from watching the Freestone race on the post-race show...

Wait, you watch the Racer X Motocross Show?
Yeah I watch it. I keep up with all that stuff. Like I said, I miss the races. I miss the racing part, I really, really do. I would love to be out there and would love to be racing, but I don’t think it’s physically possible to have that on my schedule. I don’t see anyone hating on Kevin [Windham] right now, and he’s at home. It’s interesting to be in this position, and people before me have been in this position, but maybe the internet wasn’t around then, and the whole Josh Hill and Jason Lawrence thing – back in the day, that seems like it was a pretty normal thing, but this internet thing is crazy.

Well, I’ve got to tell you, they went a little over-the-top in Texas. But you’re right. I always tell people the world is a much smaller place now because of the internet, and you can’t get away with the things you used to get away with. Here’s a perfect example: The banquet. Todd Jendro, the Director of Supercross, did the same thing to me in Paris, and you, and Grant Langston... He gets a bottle of Wild Turkey or Jack Daniel’s, and he celebrates the end of the series or the trip to Paris. You take a swig off of it, and it ends up causing an international shit storm that you didn’t deserve, that Todd didn’t deserve, and even GuyB, who took the photo, did not deserve.
I guess you could put it in the magazine, but it’s crazy to see where the sport has come and whatever. I think it’s great, and everybody has an opinion, and everybody has a right to it, but when I look on your website and I see two journalists going back and forth on each other, and they’re trying to cover up their mistake, and they’re trying to answer to people, it’s crazy. The whole Bauer/Cox thing, now Bauer has to answer and make his story right, and it’s like... It’s kind of interesting, you know? I mean, what’s life coming to?

I’ve always worried, Chad, about people who make stickers of themselves.... Anyway, I’ve got an open house to attend to here, so let’s just say that I hope I get to see you riding at a National soon.
I’ll try to get to Steel City. How’s that?

Deal!
Thanks. See you later.

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