5 Minutes With... Chad Reed

Rockstar/Makita Suzuki’s Chad Reed was out at Glen Helen on Thursday testing. Yes, testing. Back in country for barely more than a day, he was out pounding laps at the notoriously hot and brutal track. With only a few loose ends to tie up contractually, here's the interview you've been waiting for...

Racer X: So you’ve been out of the country for a little while. What was it like going back to Australia and just hanging out for a week and a half or so?
Chad Reed: It was nice! I think it was worth going back there. It was a quick trip, but I always just like to go home and get grounded again. I’m not going to lie, I was disappointed to lose the championship. I had high hopes there, and I just wanted to win that, but with all that said and done, I fought hard and James [Stewart] rode a great season and was able to win the championship. So, you know, it was nice to go home and let go of that and be around some friends and family, and my sister in law, who has an eight-month-old baby. It was great to see her, and at first she doesn’t even know who you are, so it’s kind of disappointing. After a few days, she loosened up a little, and Ellie and I got to mind her and look after her, and have a house on the beach, and it’s hard to walk away from, for sure. It’s nice to be able to just put your feet up and chill out a little bit. I know I gave up on some training and some testing and all that, but I think I’d worked hard all year long, and I deserved it. I don’t care. I don’t think I could’ve gone straight on into testing and riding.

Does that mean there are some bambinos in your future? Was it like a trial run with your niece?
No, I mean, I wouldn’t call it a trial run. Ellie and I love kids, and I’m ready to have kids at any time, but it would be hard to have them while I’m racing. I think having a kid is something special, and obviously Ellie and I have plans to have a family and have some kids of our own. She would have one in a second, but I’ve got her on the leash a little bit [laughs].

We’re out here at Glen Helen now, and you’re testing...
Yeah, I’m out here testing for [Mike] Alessi, and I’m a good guy, and we’ll see what we can do... [Laughs] No, you know what, we've got a few small things to iron out, but I’m planning on racing the nationals this year. I think it’s time to get back out and give it a shot, get dirty and have fun. I fought hard this supercross season, and all supercross season it was in the back of my mind – was I going to do it or not – and I feel like the timing is right. I’m not getting any younger, and I copped a lot of slack and a lot of fans didn’t appreciate me going supercross-only, but I stick by what I did. I think it was the right move for me. I enjoyed life. I went and lived life. Everybody wants to make out that we have the best job in the world, and no ifs ands or buts, we do – I love my job, and I love what I have for a career – but when you’ve been doing it since you were three and a half years old and you’ve traveled the world, and all in such a small period of time, the pressure and everything gets to you. The outdoors was my weakest link, and somebody offered me a supercross-only contract, and I jumped at it. I worked my butt off. I never shied away. Ricky Carmichael was a bad dude. They don’t call him the GOAT for nothing, and it was tough. I took a beating. I felt that I could beat him, but I was never able to do it. I felt that I needed time away, and I feel that now’s the right time. I’m having fun again, and this team’s cool, and we’ll see what we can do. For me, the pressure’s off. I’m here because I want to be, not because I have to be, and I think that helps a lot when you know in the back of your mind that you’re here because you want to be around the fans and around the team and around the sport. I think MX Sports is doing a lot of positive things, and I’m glad that the time that I feel good and comfortable and rejuvenated is now. It’s a great time to come in when MX Sports is taking a step forward.
I know you feel like you’ve taken crap for not being a good outdoor rider, but the reality is that if you took Ricky Carmichael out of the picture, you would’ve won a lot of nationals. There was even the race at Millville the last year you rode outdoors when you were giving RC fits before your header pipe fell off. I think you’re selling yourself short on your outdoor abilities, or maybe you’re just making fun of the people who think you can’t do it...
I find it amusing, I really do, that people can criticize my outdoor abilities, because the truth of the matter is that there has really been three, maybe four, people that could ever beat me outdoors, Ricky being one, then James, then Windham when he was on fire, and Tim Ferry when he was on fire. Other than that, nobody’s ever beaten me. I always got hurt at the end of the motocross seasons, otherwise I think I would’ve been basically second every time to Ricky. Being second to the greatest of all time can’t be that bad! I feel like I deserve a little more than that. But I feel that where it comes from is that I ride smooth, and within my capabilities, and James and Ricky just pin it. The truth of the matter is that these guys grew up racing on tracks like this [at Glen Helen] their whole lives, and they’re really, really good and strong at it. I felt that I just didn’t take that next step, and it wasn’t because I wasn’t trying [laughs], and that’s what I hear a lot, that if I would only step it up... Believe me, I was trying.

You also didn’t seem to be enjoying yourself toward the end of your last run at the outdoors, and if you don’t enjoy yourself, you’re not going to go fast.
I wasn’t enjoying myself.

My point is that if you’re making the choice because you want to race the nationals, it’s probably going to result in you going faster anyway.
Yeah, I believe so. I think there are a lot of kids in the class – a lot of fast kids. Ryan [Villopoto] has never lost an outdoor championship. The only other person to do that is Ricky. Everyone’s talking about the big bike, and he’s done a full season on the bike in supercross – I mean, he missed a few, but he’s been riding that bike a long time now, and he’s been riding the bike outdoors for a long time, too. It’s the same-size bike, with just a little more horsepower, and I don’t see that being something that’s going to slow him down. He’s had a lot of great outdoor races, and he’s been really, really strong at the Motocross des Nations, and he’s beaten me there on a Lites bike, but now we’re on big bikes, and I care about it [laughs]. So, we’ll see what happens from here.

Maybe we’ll see more Sumo suits with 22 on them...
I hope so! I hope I see some guys in Sumo suits out here next Saturday. I think when that guy that’s wearing the Sumo suit comes up, I’ll take off my shirt and weigh in and see what’s up.

Have you thought much about how this is going to affect your supercross series down in Australia? You’re basically going to be riding all year long...
Yeah, I mean that’s the reason it’s taken so long for me to make an announcement and to really put forward my ideas. It’s been in the back of my mind a long time, and I’ve been thinking about it a lot, but it is a big commitment. A lot of people don’t understand what it’s like to work your ass off for 17 races in 18 weeks. I mean, you as a photographer, being on the road at every race, you can appreciate the amount of work it takes...

But I don’t have the physical exertion on top of it.
Yeah, and when we get back Monday morning, we’re right back in the gym working our butts off. That’s what I’ve committed to. I’ve given it long, hard thought, and I believe I have a good program in place. My Australian Supercross Series is different. I don’t have the pressure that I have here in the U.S. there. Those guys are going to be good this year, and there are going to be some American guys going down there to do it, and it’s going to put a little more pressure on me, but to be honest with you, if I win or I lose, it doesn’t matter, because that’s not the priority. The priority is the AMA Supercross Championship, and now the AMA Motocross Championship. It kind of feels weird saying that, but... I would like to sit here and say I’ve put a lot of effort into this thing, and I’m ready to go, but the sheer fact of it is that it’s not true! [Laughs] I’m just coming off of supercross, and I’m excited to go racing. I think that’s going to outweigh the lack of testing and workload that I’ve missed out on in the last few weeks.

How much of a difference did the one-day schedule make for you when you decided to do this?
You know what? The schedule that MX Sports put together, that didn’t play a role at all. For me, as a rider, it’s the same thing. All year, people have been selling it: “It’s only one day, and you can fly in and fly out,” and that’s a load of crap! I mean, there are two 30-minute motos, plus, I think, what is it? Two laps?

Yeah! You forgot already...
And that doesn’t change. That’s my point. The work is done during the week. You need to work your butt off during the week, and you need to be strong for 30 minutes plus two laps, and one day or two on the weekends doesn’t change that. It’s the races that matter. Timed qualifying and practice, you’re out there having fun, and the fans are there drinking beers, and you’re jealous because you want to go drink a beer, but it is what it is. I think, for me, it doesn’t change a thing at all. My decision was that I want to be around the sport and I want to be out racing on the weekends and not at home. That’s why I’m going to be there. I'm just glad that Rockstar/Makita Suzuki and Thor/Parts Unlimited have stepped up to help me do this. I can't thank them enough.