Fly Racing, distributed by Western Power Sports, is certainly a gear company on the move these days. The brand not only backs headliners like Andrew Short, Trey Canard, Matt Goerke, Jimmy Albertson and Weston Peick, but they support riders deep into the privateer ranks, including a ton of 250SX riders, and the full kit of riders under privateer tents like The Privateer Journey. Despite such big numbers, there’s just one man looking after all of those Fly athletes: Max Steffens. Max is at every race making things happen for the guys and then logs long days at the office getting ready for the next one. It’s a seven-day-a-week-every-week gig, but that’s industry life. We cornered him in the BTOSports.com KTM rig to get a bit more of his story.
Racer X: Okay Max, what’s your official job at Fly?
Max Steffens: I guess my technical name would be Professional Race Manager.
By far you have the most guys to take care of in the pits. Exactly how many guys do you personally take care of?
I couldn’t answer that honestly with a solid number. I take care of probably anywhere between 12 and 16 weekly. Total racers that I talk to at some point throughout the season is probably upwards of 50 to 70. And I do talk to every single one of those guys, personally, throughout the year to make sure they’re getting what they need.
There’s been a huge push by Western Power Sports and Fly in the last few years. It seems like a lot of guys are wearing it and you guys are making some real noise.
We’re trying really hard. We’ve got a good design team and a good sales force behind us. Making big pushes in GNCCs, supercross, everywhere we can. Things are going good.
You have a bunch of lines that everybody seems to be wearing. What’s the standard line that the top riders seem to wear the most?
Honestly, they run a little bit of everything just based off what we need to do as a sales department and all that type of stuff. Light Hydrogen, Evolution, and Kinetic are our primary lines, and then we have a Kinetic Mesh. But primarily I would say Kinetic and Evolution are probably our two most used gears.
Which colors do the guys like?
Really all of them. Really no one complains about any colors. I would say the one that people kind of veer away from lately is the purple and white. I don’t know why but the purple and white would probably be the one that some guys are like “No, I don’t want to wear that.” They wear it anyway because we tell them to. Some guys like it and some guys don’t.
Obviously Trey Canard and Andrew Short are two of your higher profile guys, but who are some of the other guys that run Fly?
I don’t want to leave anybody out because we do have a lot of guys. In the 250 class I have Alex Martin, Matt Lemoine, Mitchell Oldenberg, Ryan Zimmer… I’m mainly talking East Coast guys right now because we’re on the East Coast. We also have Weston Peick, Jimmy Albertson, Goerke, Kyle Chisholm, Ben LaMay… We help tons of guys. Those are the guys I can think of right now. Obviously the whole Privateer Journey team we support. Nick Schmidt, Adam Enticknap and more.
Hey, so what is up with Enticknap? Just in general…
Attitude-wise he’s amazing. I don’t know how he keeps it up all the time. He’s always on the pumped side. I don’t know how. He’s just living life to the fullest. Races dirt bikes and loves it, that’s it. Then like I said, that whole Privateer Journey team, Teddy Parks Jr., Dustin Pipes…
Do you make all those guys’ gear for The Privateer Journey each week?
They get gear once or twice throughout the season and I build four or five sets per guy and then they get it all. That’s part of the deal with the team. Schmidt is a main event guy and Enticknap’s made some mains in the past, so they both get gear periodically. Every guy gets a little bit more than what they’re supposed to, just because they wear stuff out and whatever. But I build all their gear.
That’s the work during the week, right?
Oh yeah, once I’m back at the office we’re going to work for the next race. The names and numbers on the back, the right sponsor logos, I’m literally making all of that gear all week long. I’m also calling the guys to make sure they’re good, and preparing reports, working with the budget. After a few days of that, it’s off to the airport for the next one!
You started as a mechanic, didn’t you?
Yes, I started as a mechanic. I was a mechanic for four years. I was a mechanic for [Cole] Siebler and then I was a mechanic for Butler Brothers. And then I worked for Kevin Maret with the Tamer Team. It was the standard story with every privateer mechanic really. The privateer stops racing at a level where I can stay with him.
Well Max, some of us go to factory jobs.
I wasn’t cool enough I guess! Siebler actually got a ride on a good team and he couldn’t take me with him so I had to go home and I went and worked at a local Honda dealership. Then I know Terry Baisley who’s the VP of Sales at Western Power Sports. He called me with the race opportunity and I took the job and I’ve been there for six years now.
No secret you go to all these races. You’re hardcore. But you recently had a kid and missed three. What was that like not being at the races for you?
Stressful. I sat in front of the timer. I watched the TV. I was on the app. I was screaming at things. It was stressful. I think I texted everybody I could. I texted JT [Jason Thomas] a bunch to get results, anything I could. It’s stressful. After being here, as you all know, being here as long as we’ve all been here, it’s tough not being at one, let alone three.
How was JT to work with? When he raced he was usually angry.
JT is actually probably one of the lowest maintenance guys I’ve ever worked with. Him and Shorty are probably right up there, and then Trey Canard and Peick and Albertson. That’s probably the tier. But JT was definitely like, “Oh, is my gear here? Oh, okay, cool, bro.” That was it.
It seems like Western Power Sports and Fly are really making a mark. You have to be pumped on the future.
We’re gaining a lot of ground. Our sales force is really strong. We’ve got JT and Bob Lowry, both the sales managers for Fly, and then Craig Shoemaker and Terry Baisley and the whole team. It’s a great company to work for. Craig’s a great guy. He takes really good care of his employees. We’re growing really fast. We’re expanding our office and just gaining ground as much as we can, making pushes. Customer service is our big background and that’s what we’re striving for and it’s working. We’re doing really well. The designs are getting better, the gear’s getting better, the design department… everybody’s getting better. It’s a lot of work, but we’re all just improving and gaining as much ground as we can.