Monday Conversation: Dean Wilson

I first met Dean Wilson in the early evening of Saturday, October 3, 2009 in the pit area of the Autodromo Daniel Bonera in Italy. Team Canada, of which the 17 year-old was a member of, had missed qualifying for Sunday’s 63rd Annual Motocross of Nations by one spot. Disappointed, Wilson, who had raced to a fine eleventh in the frighteningly competitive MX2 qualifying moto, was shrugging it all off, hoping to fare better in Sunday’s B Final. And he did, easily beating the other 36 riders on the gate to take the win. The winner of the 2009 AMA Horizon Award and the champion of the 250 and 450 A classes at the Air Nautiques/Amateur Nationals, the Scottish-born-Canadian-raised rider had decided to forgo the last four Nationals of 2009 to make his professional debut in Italy. A polite, friendly kid with a determination in his eyes that seems to burn, Wilson received a bit of very good news recently when word came out of the big white building located smack off the side 91 Freeway in Corona, California, that he had been chosen by racing boss Mitch Payton to join the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki team for 2010. Excited almost beyond words, today we spoke with him while he caught his breath and watched a couple of hose toting workers water down the sun-burned Kawasaki test track.

  • Wilson grabs a holeshot over Dan Reardon, Michael Sleeter, Chris Blose, and more.
Dean, how are you doing today, dude?
Pretty good. I’m just hanging out at the Kawasaki track right now. They’re watering right now and I checked my phone and saw that you had called and thought, “Oh, Eric called. I can’t miss it this time.”

How many times have you been out at the Kawasaki track testing now? The whole scene must be pretty new for you.
Yeah, it’s new. I have not tested yet at this track. I think they’re just kind of letting me get the hang of things and get in the flow of the things. Hopefully, this week, we’ll start testing.

So what are you riding? A 2009 KX250F?
Yeah, an ’09.

I know you’re really new to it, but what do you think of that track? Are you cool with it?
Yeah, the track is good. I think it is perfect for what I need right now because it’s not too crazy. It’s pretty safe I would say, so it’s good until you get the hang of it.

Have you ridden much supercross before, Dean?
No, not at all, really. Every now and then I’ll go on a friend’s supercross track, but that’s it. I probably have not done supercross in like four years. I don’t know… The first time I came here the pros were here and all the Kawasaki guys. I was so nervous, but I was actually pretty happy because I dialed the track down pretty fast and I was pretty quick. So it was good because it was not as big a struggle as I thought it was going to be.

During the last few months there was upward of 10 guys going for the fourth and final seat on the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki team. Mitch told me he gave you the ride because, “I think he’s got good speed. I think he’s got good drive. I don’t think he has a lot of hang ups. I don’t think other things in life interfere with him. I think he wants to race.” How do you feel about that and how did you find out you got the ride?
Oh, I was just ecstatic. It was like a dream come true. This year I’ve worked so hard and this was my goal for the past two years. Now that I achieved it, it doesn’t even feel real. It’s crazy. My agent called me about a week and a half ago and he told me he talked to Mitch and Mitch said that he would like to have me on his team. Oh man, that was probably the happiest night of my life.

When Mitch mentioned that he felt you didn’t have any hang ups and were focused on racing he meant he felt you were more focused on racing than being a rock star. What do you think?
I worked so hard this year to get this ride and I’m not going to stop working hard. I’m going to keep working as hard as I can and achieve the goals that I’d like to achieve. You know he’s given me the opportunity to be on his team and I’m just going to try my best not to let him down.

  • Though his team failed to qualify, Dean Wilson won the B Main race at this year's Motocross of Nations.
  • Dean Wilson lays one flat.
Downshifting a bit, I really took notice of you this year when you went out and smoked everyone in the MX class at the first three Monster Energy Canadian Nationals at Kamloop, Calgary and Edmonton. From there you packed your gear bag and headed to America to begin preparing for Loretta Lynn’s. In your opinion, how did your overall plan come off?
Pretty good. Fortunately with Bobby Hewitt and my mechanic at Canidae Motosport Kawasaki, I had a really good amateur team behind me. They got me to where I am now. Everything went really well. I went up to Canada and did the three Canadian Nationals and we won that, so that was really cool. They ran longer motos that I’m not used to so that kind of helped out a lot. It was just a combination of things that helped me to get where I am. I just try to stay away from the stuff I know that won’t help me. My buddies may be going out partying and I’ll really want to go with them, but I know myself that if I stay focused and give it my best and not worry about that stuff that everything will come.

Going into the Loretta Lynn’s National last August, did you put a lot of pressure on yourself?
Honestly, not really. I knew I had the speed to win and that was pretty much it. I knew there would be be some fast guys, but leading into that race I wasn’t nervous. I just went out there and rode my best. I didn’t right tight. That’s all I could do. I knew that if I just rode the way I knew how to ride then I wouldn’t have a problem. I knew that Mitch would be looking at results there, but I knew that if I stayed collected and calm it would all work out.

After Loretta Lynn’s nobody was quite sure if you were going to hit the Nationals and turn professional or not. What shook out there?
Yeah, I really didn’t know. Everything was kind of a toss up. I really wish I could have been out those last four Nationals, but it just didn’t work out. So I had to sit out and watch my competition go out there and they were busting out top fives and top 10s and I was like, “Oh man, I wish I was out there!” But I just hung back and just got ready for the Motocross of Nations. Things didn’t work out there. I was pretty disappointed at that race.

I first met you in the Canadian pit area at the Motocross of Nations. You guys had just missed out of qualifying for the event by one spot, correct?
Yeah, it was kind of unfortunate. In my qualifier I had a pretty good start, but then I hit neutral and I went way back. I don’t feel like I rode the greatest, but I had like the fourth or fifth fastest time in my qualifier so that was kind of cool. I got eleventh and that was something to be proud of. One of my teammates got hurt in practice and then the other teammate had a problem with the gate and came through and got 20th, so we missed it by one point.

But you won the B Final…
I knew we had to win that, so I went and got a good start and got into the lead. I saw my teammate’s bike lying on the ground at the halfway mark, so I knew we weren’t going to make it. So I just rode that race and enjoyed it and pretty much knew I was going to be watching the races on the next day.

  • Now it's time to pound out laps on the test track in preparation for his supercross and AMA professional debut.
What did you think of that event and the track and the atmosphere and all the people? Were you blown away?
Yeah, it absolutely blew me away. Everything and anything was different. It was crazy. The semi races were completely different looking, the people were different looking. It was just weird. The track was really fun and I enjoyed that, but it seemed like it was pretty muddy at first. By the main, the track was getting to be more my style because it was drying out. I enjoyed it. It was fun. It was a good experience. I’m glad I got the opportunity to go over there.

So I’d assume from this point forward, its full speed ahead with training and testing for 2010, huh?
Yeah, it’s pretty much going to be full bore from now on, but I’m enjoying it. That’s why I chose to do this – because I love it and I’m looking forward to what’s ahead of me.

Mitch doesn’t let his riders know what region they are going to compete in until the last minute, so I’m sure that’s up in the air…
Yep. I would love to do west coast because I’ve been watching those rounds in person for the last five years, but I mean, I’ll ride whatever coast he wants me to do. I’m definitely looking forward to it and it should be good.

How have your new teammates been to you thus far? Ryan Villopoto, Jake Weimer, Josh Hansen, Tyla Rattray and Christophe Pourcel… That’s a pretty radical mix of talent and personality…
Yeah, they’re all really cool. You know, I thought at first it would be kind of awkward and everyone would be very serious. And everyone is serious and they want to win, but it’s pretty cool that we all get along great. To me, they’re all really nice. I mean I never really knew Josh Hansen and he’s actually one of the coolest guys I know here; so are Rattray and Weimer.

Okay, Dean. Thanks for letting us burn up your break and getting us up to speed on how you’re doing. We appreciate the call.
Alright. Thanks a lot, Eric. Talk to you later.