Racer X: So I guess the first thing to ask is what happened at Jagermeister KTM?
Steve Lamson: It was a surprise, for sure. In December, Danny Paladino, the race director here at MDK, called me in and said that there was going to be some budget cuts and I was being let go. It was effective January 15th and I had no idea it was coming. I started letting people know about my situation because I still wanted to keep going and working in the industry. That article you wrote (on motocross.com) helped out a lot and opened things up for people to talk to me at the first round.
I was still working for MDK obviously and doing the best job I could, but at the same time, people were coming up to me and asking about my situation. I was looking for a job and some people were looking for help.
So how did this new opportunity come about?
How I got hooked up with them originally was my girlfriend is good friends with Erica Vuillemin and they’re obviously in France right now. My girlfriend said I should email the Vuillemins, so I did. They thought they could help me out and put me in touch with Allison Turner, the agent who set up the team. From there, it was a snowball effect: I got my resume to her as soon as possible, and seeing as she has a big part in setting up this team, things moved quickly. The owner, Mike Genova, trusts her to help set everything up, so I met her at Anaheim and it went good. On Sunday, night we got the deal finalized and I started immediately.
You inherit a pretty good team as Ben Coisey finished top ten in 450s as did Jeff Alessi in the 250 class...
Yeah, exactly. It’s tough to jump in after the first round and make sure the truck has everything we need and the riders are all setup, but it is what it is. I just have to try to do the best thing for the mechanics and the riders. I’ve learned over the years what works and we’ll have to switch up some things to make it done the way I think it should be done. I’ve already gotten off to a good start with Mike [Genova]. It seems that he respects me for who I am and trusts me to run the program the way I want to. He said, “You’ve been there, done it. Run it the way you want to.” They already have an infrastructure in place up there in Spokane, so that makes it easier on me as far as press releases, travel stuff. They handle it up there. I’ll work on the parts, riders, test schedules, things like that.
What’s your managing style, Lammy? Are you one of those guys that tell the riders that this is how you did it when you won Budds Creek ’96, so we’re all doing it that way?
Ha. No, it really depends on the people. That’s something I learned is that everybody is motivated a different way and you have to get to know the guys and find out what makes them tick. I know I can help out at the track, with riding and the mindset that a rider has in certain situations. When I first started at MDK, I wasn’t sure if DV and Wey would want to listen to me but they were cool about it and listened to what I had to say. The new riders now, I just have to get to know them. Some guys like the suggestions, some don’t. I think watching the bike at the races, I seem to know how they are working and what they need to do to them.
Do you remember when we were teammates at Chapparral in 1999?
Oh yeah, I remember those days.
That was cool.
Uh, yeah. I was just cleaning out my desk the other day and saw a photo of me sitting on the start line in Fox gear number 24 on a Yamaha. It was from Italy. I do remember those days but not so fondly! [Laughs]
I took a pair of your pants and jerseys from your locker after you got hurt that year. Do you want them back or can I keep them?
Really? Nah, you can keep them. I got plenty of my old gear. I remember all the jokes we played on Jerry Campbell, my old mechanic. Those were classic.
What were you most proud of working at MDK?
The highlight of me being here for two years was working with the guys; the year that we had Nick Wey and David Vuillemin was great. I got along with those guys really well. We had some success that year. Every team has its ups and downs but for me coming in and starting fresh, I learned a lot when it came to managing skills. The concepts of being organized and having all your ducks in a row was something I had to learn. I had to grasp these things quickly and stay on top of everything, which I was able to.
The 2008 season, I was manager of both Nick Wey and Martin Davalos and then at the end of last year they informed me I was going to be the manager of both programs, which was fine with me – I have big shoulders and can handle it. Then they made their decision. I was bummed for sure, I have a great relationship with everyone here at the shop, the riders, mechanics and motor guys – they are all great guys.
Who do you want to thank?
I want to thank the riders I worked with this year: Brayton, Sipes, Davalos and even Will Hahn for a little bit. I didn’t work long with Travis Preston or Josh Summey, but was just starting to click with them and get to know them. All the crew down at the MDK shop also, the motor guys like Leighton and Brent. Mark Kvamme, the owner. I still have a relationship with MDK as they do the motors for the Moto Concepts team. I also want to thank the team I’m working on. They’ve been great so far. Mike and Allison have trusted me and I want do the best job I can for them.