Racer X: This is your eighth year of racing in the USA, and your sixth year of racing the outdoors, so you’ve been around, and that’s not even counting your time in Europe and racing back home. There were times this year when you took what you could get. How would you say your experience helped your season? Chad Reed: I think it all starts where, as a kid, I felt like I was that guy that was fast and aggressive, and all I wanted to do was win. I wouldn’t accept anything less. And a lot of times, I ended up on my head! I really think that going to Europe in ’01, in the back of my mind I’m thinking, “Dude, you’re in Europe, you don’t speak the language, everything is different,” and I didn’t want to be that guy who was in the hospital and dealing with all of that stuff. It was only Ellie and I there. I think I calmed myself down and Jan de Groot taught me a lot about being there every week and being on the podium. I think I was like eighth in the championship before I started getting podium after podium after podium, and I ended up getting second in the championship that year. It all started then. Then, in ’03, when I was a rookie [in the premier supercross track], I think I was a better supercross rider than Ricky [Carmichael] that year, but I was a rookie and I made two mistakes and got two sixth-place finishes, and that took me out of the championship. Ricky was on the podium every weekend. He lost six races to me at the end, but at the end of the day, he was the guy holding the prize. I learned from that. I never wanted to put myself in the position to be good but make dumb mistakes, so I think you just live and learn.
You said before that that might be your biggest criticism of yourself that whether it’s an inability or an unwillingness, you want the ability to really let it hang out.
I wish, at times, that I had ability to just switch off and go fast, but when I see these guys upside-down and hurt, it kind of makes you think, “Okay, maybe it’s not so bad being me...” And I’m working daily on trying to be better at that – trying to be better at the beginning of the motos and to lay it on the line and just go for it. And that’s kind of why I’m here: I want to be better and work on certain things, and racing outdoors allows me to work on that. It’s just an ongoing thing that I try to work on.
Provided that you don’t end up retired next year, do you think riding the outdoors this year is going to make you a better supercross rider next year?
I believe that, for sure, if I’m back next year, this is going to help. It’s not something that you want to jump into – racing in 100-degree weather, and nasty humidity. It’s not something that you think, “Wow, that’s cool!” [Laughs] especially when you have the option of not going. I definitely thought about it a lot, and I had a list of boxes that I really wanted to tick off, and I feel like I’m getting there. We’re just ticking slowly. There’s a long time between now and Anaheim, and I’m definitely going to work my butt off and bust my manager’s balls to try and get my deal done. I think we can make it happen, but a few little things need to fall into place.
But you’re planning on racing some in the off-season, so if you don’t have a contract for 2010...
If I don’t have a contract for 2010, it’s going to be tough. I have an Australian supercross series that starts in October, and that’s kind of in jeopardy for me right now a little bit. If I don’t have a deal by then, then I’m not going, it’s as simple as that. It’s not even physically possible for me to ride if I don’t have a contract and a bike, and I’m not going to do a two-month or three-month deal with somebody. It’s crunch time for me, not only for my future, but for the now. I have a commitment to race Super X, and as it’s looking, I may not be there. That’s tough. I want to be there, and it’s kind of a nice, little vacation for me. There are a few Americans going down there, and a few of the Aussie guys are going back, so it’s going to be a great, fun series, and I want to be a part of it, but if I don’t have a deal done, then it’s obvious that I can’t go.
You can be an announcer!
I won’t be an announcer, that’s for sure! I’ll go down and enjoy the family, have fun, and maybe show up at a few races.
You said in the press conference that you’re not going to ride a 250 at the last couple nationals. How hard is that to up and switch bikes and be around a whole new group of guys who you don’t know how they race?
It’s really difficult, actually. I think I’d be a little better off than Kevin [Windham] because weightwise I don’t think I’m far off of those guys, and I’ve also been racing the whole outdoor season, so I feel like I’m in shape and I could go do it, and there’s no doubt in my mind that I could run their pace and be up front, but there are so many things that come into play. I don’t want to open that can of worms, and it hasn’t at all been discussed within the team. I have a great bonus program and I want to keep those coming in. That’s what’s important to me. Ryan [Dungey] has to put himself in the best position possible and go for it week-in and week-out, and he’s in a bit of a hole right now. Hopefully, he can rebound at Southwick. For me, I’ve come so far with the fans, too. I was in a situation where I was the hated guy, and now I feel like I’ve come a long way, and I don’t want to put myself in any possible position to put that in jeopardy. I’m having fun riding my bike, and I’ve never been a big Lites fan – I’ve only ever raced it once in my career, and that was in ’02 here [in the USA], and I took a lot of heat, so I’m not going to go jumping back down!