5 Minutes With... Dan Reardon

GEICO Powersports Honda’s Dan Reardon is putting together a solid season in the 450 class outdoors this year. Known as a 450 rider back home in Australia, Reardon struggled a fair bit over the last year and a half racing a 250F. Now he’s on a 450, just like he likes, and the results have turned around.

Racer X: How would you describe your last year and a half leading into these nationals?
Dan Reardon: Well, it didn’t go as planned. I felt like the first year on the 250, I don’t think it was a bad year, but it wasn’t a good year. I had some good races, some bad races, and I thought it was a good learning year for me, and I was learning to get my feet wet. Coming from Australia and coming here, I had to make that change to race the 250, and I wasn’t too sure if that was the right thing, but the decision was done, so I put all my effort and everything I had into making it work.

Are you talking about the decision to come over here and race a 250 instead of a 450?
Well, when I came over here, I actually came over here to ride a 450, but then I changed my mind and I started to ride the 250. I sort of had to re-learn how to ride a 250 again. I never really excelled on a 250 in Australia, either. I started doing good on the 450 over there, too. The first year, like I said, wasn’t a bad year, but coming into this new season this year, I had big expectations of what I wanted to do. I had worked hard in the off-season and all the rest of it, and that first race didn’t go as planned – I mean, it was going good, and then it completely reversed on me. I didn’t want it to, but it snowballed through the rest of the season. Things just went from bad to worse. It was a disappointing season. It was probably the lowest I’d felt in my whole career, resultwise and just not knowing what to do. I had been talking with the guys about jumping to the 450 eventually, so I felt it was a good move to jump to that for the outdoors, and I ride the bike comfortably. I’ve gradually been getting better, and I’m looking forward to standing on that box soon.

We heard a lot about your speed in Australia on a 450 before you ever showed up here to race full-time, and there was even an outdoor race where Chad Reed was down there and everybody was talking about how you gave him fits at that race. So we were all looking for someone to sort of light the world on fire, and then the first season was okay, but this year’s supercross championship was worse. People started to wonder, “Where’s that Dan Reardon? Where’s the guy from that race in Australia two years ago?”
He’s coming back. He’s on his way back.

Was there maybe more pressure when you moved up, knowing that you’re really supposed to do better on a 450, because that’s what you’ve proven in the past and what you’ve told people today? If you didn’t perform on a 450, it could be even worse...
No, I wasn’t nervous. I was excited about being up in the class with the new guys. It was a completely different thing for me, and for everybody involved with it. I’ve never ridden a 450 over here [with the exception of the U.S. Open last year], so people didn’t know how I’d do. It was good. It was a big change for me. Once I knew I was going to be on the 450, I was excited about it, and everything was going good. Obviously, I didn’t know how I would fit into that class at first, but I’m slowly filling in and feeling comfortable. It’s going to get better. I just have to work hard and keep improving.

You’ve been around Ricky Dietrich a couple times on the track. Does being behind a guy who is actually an off-roader give you extra motivation to pass him?
That moto, everything that could’ve went wrong, went wrong. It could’ve been anybody and I wouldn’t have taken any notice of it.

So far, how have the tracks translated from what you remember on a 250F last year to riding a 450 on them this year?
Well, it is different, just because I think the tracks are different already. It’s hard to compare because last year every track was brand-new, and then this year the first two tracks were run backward anyway, so they were different again anyway. Texas was the first track that was basically the same for me. I’m looking forward to this weekend, because I really like High Point.

What is it going to take to get you that little extra that it takes to get you on the podium, like you almost had in the second moto at Texas?
I think momentum and time. I’d love to be able to click my fingers and make it happen, but I believe I’m doing the right things to make it happen, and it will happen. I just need to give it time.

Let’s talk about what happened in Texas: You were second for a really long time, and then you faded at the end, and you were seriously out of breath on the podium. What went on out there?
I got a good start, which was the first I’ve had this season, and normally I’m coming through the pack from like 10th or further back, but I was in second for 15 or 20 minutes before Chad passed me. I tried to latch on to Chad and not let him get too far away, and it was going good for like two laps or whatever, and then I slowly started dropping back. Then Shorty got me, and by the time that happened, I think I was just over-excited about the position I was in on the track. I haven’t been up front like that for that long over here, and I just hyped myself up. “This moto’s going really good!” And my body just overheated, and my heart rate when through the roof, and it was bad. It was like one of those soccer players that lifts their jersey up over their head before they’ve actually kicked it into the goal, and then totally misses the goal, you know what I mean? I thought I’d already kicked that ball, and I didn’t.

Yeah, when you were taking your helmet and gloves off by the podium, you were really wobbily...
Yeah, I was a little exhausted, and that’s really not like me. I do train really hard during the week, and my trainer is putting me through some grueling stuff. I believe I’m one of the fittest guys out there. That just got a hold of me on the weekend.

I’ve actually talked to Andrew Short about that before, and he said that he used to have that problem, too. And it’s not that he’s not in shape. He’s in shape. But you can pump yourself up, and then your heart rate spikes, and it’s over. It looks like you’re not in shape to the outside observer, but it’s really a matter of controlling your breathing and controlling your actions on the bike...
Yeah, you’ve really got to control your emotions, and they got away from me there just because that race was probably one of the best races I’ve had since I’ve been here. And to consistently go through the whole race, I was in a position where I wasn’t comfortable, even though I really enjoyed it. But it all just collided and I just exploded. But you’re right, it probably doesn’t look good, but it’s not that I’m not in shape.

But having been in that position now, hopefully next time this won’t happen. The hope is that you won’t blow up next time because you have this experience in the back of your head.
Yeah, it’s like when a privateer makes his first main event, and then he finds himself up front at the start of the main, his heart rate is going to shoot through the roof! It’s just controlling the emotions that matters.

Thanks a lot, Dan, and see you at High Point.
Thanks, Steve. You’re riding my bike this weekend, aren’t you?

That’s the plan.
Well good luck with that.