Privateer Profile:  Killy Rusk

Privateer Profile: Killy Rusk

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After bouncing around a few teams since his professional debut in 2010 Killy (Key-lee) Rusk found a home with Rockwell/FirePoliceMX this supercross season. Although the team is supercross only, Rockwell, which was the title sponsor of Thunder Valley, is helping Rusk for a few rounds in Lucas Oil Pro Motocross as well. Rusk was scheduled to head east to the first annual Built Ford Tough Tennessee National at Muddy Creek this weekend, but following an uncanny weekend in his home state of Colorado, his plans have changed.

Racer X: After a solid start the season at Hangtown, things didn’t exactly go your way at your home race. I’ve heard you had a bizarre weekend.
Killy Rusk:
This weekend started out great, I started out super comfortable with the track. I got through practice with a top 20 qualifying time and had a decent start in the first moto. I lost a couple positions and fell back to 15th and there was no one guy behind me. I was going over the little double and the bike just quit—dead to the world.

I came back in early in the first moto and my dad and a friend started ripping the bike apart and luckily I had my practice bike there with me and they swapped out motors. It was the quickest motor swapped I’ve ever seen in my life. The practice bike had been having some problems and we weren’t really sure what was going on with it, but we figured we would throw the moto in there… and thought what’s the worst can happen? I got about half way through the second moto and it started to run real weird and then quit on me. We don’t think it blew up, we think it had something to do with the fuel pump. We tore the motor apart when we got home and the motor looked fine, so we are not really sure what happened.

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Rusk had a solid first moto in hand at Thunder Valley before bike problems stalled his efforts.
Simon Cudby photo

Two bikes breaking in one weekend is never good—especially being a privateer. How quickly will you be able to get things running again?
We are going to have to wait awhile because we have two blown up motors. The guys that take care of my motors, Fastheads out of Utah, take really good care of me and he will get my motors together fairly quickly. It’s just a bummer because I had someone that was going to take me to the east rounds and now I don’t have bikes or anything. It’s a bummer because I was ready to go out and race again.

Where does that leave you going forward? Does it leave you stranded until Washougal?
Yeah, I’m pretty stranded for right now. I have a guy helping me out and helping with funds and I will use that to hopefully do Millville and RedBud if everything on the bike is set. I will catch Washougal and then race Salt Lake and Lake Elsinore.

Rockwell Watches, one of your main sponsors, was the title sponsor for Thunder Valley this weekend and are really beginning to put both feet into the sponsorship of motocross and supercross. How much support do you receive from them and how did you get hooked up with those guys?
We met a friend way back in my amateur days and he was connected with the FirePoliceMX guys and they of course run out of the Rockwell semi, so that’s kind of how that all came about. The Rockwell guys help me out with travel money and take my bike to the races. They have always just done supercross and we have been pushing them to do outdoors, which they finally branched out to do a few rounds this year and hopefully they will do all the rounds next year. It’s definitely a big step forward to have all of us out there for Hangtown and Colorado. They will also be doing Washougal, Salt Lake and Elsinore.

It seemed as though they were happy with their sponsorship role at Thunder Valley. They also gave away a big prize pack to every rider that made the top 40, which I thought was pretty cool.
They were super excited about it. I thought it was definitely cool to get their name out. I think they have a lot of good things coming to them. They seem to be pushing hard in marketing. They have a lot going on in Europe and Australia as well. They are doing a great job of branching out so hopefully they will turn into a full race team, but we’ll see.

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Rusk's plans for the Nationals have been put on hold.
Simon Cudby photo

You weren’t the biggest name in the amateur ranks when you turned professional in 2010. Over the years you’ve worked your way into being a solid privateer—even garnering the #66 for 2013. It seems like you’ve really grown over the past few years. Is that fair to say?
My last year of amateurs was going really great. I was able to get [Eli] Tomac and [Justin] Bogle behind me at Ponca and that was when Tomac had the GEICO deal and Bogle was with Team Green and I was still on my own deal riding a KTM. Then in the finals I crashed and broke my wrist. Ever since then it seems like everything is taking me a long time to figure out. My first year as a pro was my best year. I had some really good finishes inside the top 15, but have really struggled since then. This year started out really well, but have just had some bad luck as of late.

What are some of the challenges of being a privateer in the pro ranks?
The factory guys are always going to have bikes that they know are going to be perfect all the time. When you’re on a privateer bike, you can’t really afford to put all that much money into a motor, so you do what you can with it. The travel is another big aspect. Most can’t afford to fly back and forth to the races. Finding time to ride between races is a really big deal. The factory teams fly in and out and go home and ride and come back fresh. But when you are driving you can’t always find a track to ride, so you may only get one day of riding in. There are always things going on between equipment, being able to ride and training and stuff.

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Rusk is hoping to be able to return for RedBud.
Simon Cudby photo

How did growing up in Colorado and New Mexico, where names like Tedesco, Tomac, Anderson and others honed their skills, help bring you to where you are today?
Yeah, the local races were stacked all the time. We had guys like Anderson and Tomac and a couple other guys. The local races were always fast. It was always good to see where their pace is compared to yours. I mean, you’re always going to run faster at a local race because of the confidence you have, but it was good to see the things that they were doing different than what I was. So I would take that and apply it the next time out. It was nice to copycat them a bit, and be able to run all my training and riding through what they were doing. It definitely helped to be able to compare what they were doing to what I was doing.

Thanks, Killy. Who would you like to thank for helping you out this season?
I would like to thank Rockwell, FirePoliceMX, RRD, Dedicated Athletics, Race Tech, Bell, AXO, TCX, Novik, Tamer, Torc 1, Bazazz, FMF, LeoVince, Dunlop, REC MX, Fastheads, Leatte, Utopia, Core Oilfield, DNA, Vortex, Hinson, Vertex, Hot Cams, John Burr, Samco, EBC, SDG, EVS, No Toil, 1Law, IFrogz, Moto Tassinari, Matrix, K&N and Motul.

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