Reed at the intro of his one-race-only Vodaphone Honda deal in Australia last month.
Alex Gobert photo
Yeah that’s the thing, the big news here isn’t this Australian newspaper article, it’s the fact that you’re starting a team, and you’re going racing.
Yeah, it’s something that’s been in the works for a long time. This is a box I really wanted to check off. I always looked up to Jeremy [McGrath] and I think that, and not trying to compare it to Jeremy, but from the outside looking in, he had an off year back in what, 1997, and he just tried to create his own thing. I wouldn’t say I’m doing that exactly, but I just want to do some things, have a little say in things, a little more control. What better way to do that than own your own team? I’m excited to announce over the next week or so some of the unique and cool relationships we’re going to work on and some of the team and staff. It’s disappointing to have this newspaper story out there. This morning, I got good a message from someone about one of things we’re trying to do with the team, so I was excited, but then I heard about this story, so that was too bad, because it’s not what I really wanted out there, but I guess it’s done and dusted now.
Okay, well we all want to know about the team. How in the hell are you going to pull this off by Anaheim 1?
Well, now it’s official, but it’s been in the works for the last couple months. It’s like we had a checklist of things we had to check off before we could pull the trigger on something so big. We’ve got some great people helping out and great sponsors. And, really, the reason why I do have this option and because of the people’s budgets, I’ve been very fortunate in racing and there is a certain amount of money I can put out there on my own. And I love it. I love racing, and I love the business side of racing. I’ve learned a lot over the last few years. These teams are all committed and their budgets are set, and everything is really tough. My way of looking at it is, they’re maxed out, and I look at what it takes to go racing, just even a bonus program at this level, if you’re on the podium week after week, and being in almost every title fight like I was for eight years, it really adds up. It’s expensive, the insurers don’t like me, because my odds are good [laughs]. It really has nothing to do with salary or bikes and parts. It’s a big commitment to do that, so I’m going to try to do it on my own and invest in myself and invest in the sport.
The story says you’re riding Hondas. Any other brands or companies known yet?
Nothing that I can announce at this point. The newspaper did say one thing right, the Honda is my bike of choice. I’ve been fortunate—since I didn’t have any contracts over the last few months—I was really able to evaluate everything. Do I still have the fire to go race? Do I really want to do my own team? I feel like I got to make decisions based on facts, and not just being in a contract and making a decision off of what you’ve seen or heard. And I liked the Honda, and the opportunity I had with Vodafone to race in Australia was kind of a trial run. I really like the Honda, it’s light and nimble, it’s a rider’s bike. It was a lot of work, a lot of headache, packing up stuff in a box and doing that race in Australia, but there were a lot of positives, too. I’m creating my own destiny and that’s what I’m most excited about. The story made it seem like an Australia versus the U.S. thing. But let’s be honest, motorcycles are where my head’s at. If I wanted to move to Australia, I could have tried to go V8 Supercar racing. I’m building a house here, this is where I want to be.
So you’re putting your own money into this?
Yeah. At this point I have some commitments, but most of them are only 99 percent signed off on. So there’s no money coming in, so checks have to written on behalf of me. That’s how much I love it. I’ve gotten to work with some amazing people, I’ve been around the block a few times, and I’ve tried to be a big sponge over the years and see what some teams do better than others. I’ve seen people make mistakes, including me, and I hope to learn enough from that to put a team together that can challenge for a championship.
Reed won in his only Aussie apperance on a Honda.
Alex Gobert photo
Still, we’re looking at two months. That’s a lot of work.
Yeah, it’s a lot of work to do, but to be honest there’s a lot to do if I’m just steering the ship, or if I’m just a rider. Over the last few days I was able to secure things I needed to do, and now I can kind of move on to training and testing.
From your experience being on factory bikes, do you need access to factory parts? Can you get access to factory parts? What’s the current state of the private team?
I think all the production bikes are very good, and they’re all good enough to go race and win on. They all do something better than each other in some area. The Honda is the one that suits what I’m looking for. I really think that, having one part available or twenty parts available are the same if you don’t know what you’re looking for. You can run around in circles quite a bit. I’m well aware of what factory guys have available to them. There are certainly things I would love to have available to me, and we’re working on that. But at the end of the day I think the Honda is still enough. I think we’re further down the track than what it seems. Time to get after it and make it happen.
You’ve had a lot of setbacks with training and health. How are you doing with that?
I feel awesome to be honest. I really did need time to step away. I had to put myself in a horrible situation, where I had to make late decisions and build a race team in November. I really was sick and I really wasn’t at my best, and it was hurting me, my confidence, my name, Monster, Kawasaki, everyone. People were saying I didn’t look good on it. It just wasn’t a good situation for all involved, so that’s why I tried to get out of the things that would stop me from being healthy. I had to be 100 percent committed to taking time off and doing the therapy that I chose. Obviously a lot has happened since the last time I raced. It’s been a challenging year, but I think at the end of the day it’s one of those years where you just learn a lot.
My epstein barr was connected to the glandular fever I had when I was a kid. I had to repeat the first year of school when I was a kid, because I was sick.
What’s that called?
Glandular fever, that’s what it’s called in Australia, I think it’s the very similar to Mono. It seems like doctors have a different opinion and story, and that seems to be the most reliable thing I’ve heard.
Reed plans on announcing sponsors and more details regarding his new U.S. team by the end of the week.
Alex Gobert photo
One of the things people don’t understand about riding for free is, nowadays at the top level, you have your own tracks, and trainers and practice mechanics. To ride for free is to start in the hole. Can you still maintain all that?
It’s not that easy, and it is funny to read that, but I also understand it. It’s hard for some folks to know what goes into achieving these goals, to be a guy challenging for the lead. Everyone of these guys has trainers and their own facility, and that all adds up to making your race day as comfortable as can be, because that’s when it counts. I’m sure a lot of people don’t understand when you say you won’t ride for free, but now I’m out there writing my own checks. I’m writing checks now, but I expect checks to come back in!
We’ll see what brands are bringing those checks in when, this week?
I think in the next week we’ll see that, yeah. So yeah I’ve got some exciting new things. I have a new trainer, which is new for me, because I haven’t had a trainer since Hangtown in 2006. So I’m excited and real positive to get after it. I’m committed to the sport, I want to be one of those guys who walked away having checked off a lot of different boxes.
I think next year is going to be a really challenging year, and I think the series is going to be a real crazy one. I’m not willing to give up not being a part of that yet. I think I still have some fight in me. I want to be a part of that battle and that fight. So I’m stepping up in many ways—like getting a new trainer. I interviewed and met with five or six guys, so it’s been fun, a lot’s been going on. I try to keep the twitter fans [follow Chad at @CRtwotwo] up to date on as much as I can, there have definitely been things going on without making it public.
Have you gotten in trouble for Twitter yet?
[Laughs] Not on that end, yet, but I didn’t have a contract, so I felt like I was able to share things no one else could share, because everyone else has a contract. Some people love it, some hate it, but that’s normal.
Well, people may love or hate you, but everyone wants to see all the top riders race each other next year, and you’re going racing.
Yeah, and that’s what I’m excited about. And I was really questioning all that last year, not being able to go fifteen minutes into a moto. I was like, "what’s going on here? Is this is sign or a warning?" So I had to go away, but doing that one race in Australia really showed me a lot. A lot of Australians are disappointed I’m not racing there, but the U.S. for me is where my heart’s at. This is my focus; these are the races and championships that I want to win. I’ve been away from my family for three weeks, I have a six-month-old that’s trying to crawl, and I’m missing all that. I’m committed to going racing and doing whatever it takes, even if it means stepping away from family. I’m excited and I’m motivated so now it’s time to get to work.