In The Mag, On The Web: How to Start a Riot

In the Mag, On the Web How to Start a Riot

May 30, 2014 10:30am

In The Mag, On The Web is an online feature where we take a behind-the-scenes look at one of the print features in Racer X Illustrated. Check out some more information on “How to Start a Riot” by Steve Matthes.

I’ve been reading more and more books like the Complete History of Saturday Night Live and the ESPN book and been enjoying them a lot. The story of whatever told through the people that lived it. It’s great reading and it’s great (and funny) to see two people describe an incident with completely different view points. Time has a funny way of doing that to people.

Anyways, I worked at Moto XXX in 2002 for Nick Wey and I always thought that it was pretty amazing how Moto XXX the team lasted so long, had pretty good success and really, no one really talked about them. In a sport where teams come and go and then come and go again, the punk-rock bastards of the pits lasted just about the longest anyone could have possibly thought.

So over a year ago I set out to chronicle the complete oral history of the Moto XXX team through the people that lived it. And as a privateer mechanic who was friends with original team manager Kenny Watson (Watson didn’t really speak to me much though) I was around the team quite a bit in its inaugural year in ’97 and as I said I worked there. The team really was a happening in those early years. So I felt like I was in a good spot to get this down on virtual paper. 

Read "How to Start a Riot" in the July '14 issue of Racer X. Illustration: Jeff Proctor

Talking to Jordan Burns and Erik Sandin (two of the original owners) was easy, getting the third owner Kurt Haller to talk to me was not. Despite numerous messages left and one conversation where he said he didn’t feel like rehashing that part of his life, Haller declined to talk to me about the story. Which was a bummer but, hey, the show had to go on, right? I got Brian Deegan to give me 15 minutes (I think getting the United Nations to agree on something would have been easier), Watson is now talking to me, Nick Wey, Tim Ferry, Kyle Lewis, Larry Ward, Damon Huffman, Paul Currie were all easy to get. Mechanics like Jason Haines, Scott Roegner, and Kyle Bentley all chipped in and my good friend Alan Brown (the second owner) all helped fill in the story. All told, over 20 people were talked to for this story -- by far the most ever for me.

I debated putting myself into the story (that’s kind of weird, right?) but I did work there and Eric Johnson (also quoted in the story) told me I should so I used myself to fill in some gaps in the ’02 season. Then the work began of transcribing everyone’s interviews and forming it together to make sense.

22,000 words later we had the complete oral history of Moto XXX. Now, obviously that wouldn’t fit in the magazine but the decision was to run the first year in print and the rest of the story online. But another roadblock came up in that we couldn’t get enough good color photos for those first couple of years. Andrew Fredrickson scoured the earth and it was like those photos never existed. He was able to get a few, but not many. I was bummed, by now the feature was over a year old just sitting on my hard drive. I even looked into maybe putting the entire thing on PulpMX or making an E-book. I had to get this thing out there somehow. It was now consuming me at night. Will it ever run? Why does God hate me? Why can’t we find mag-quality photos of Brian Deegan from this year?

Then the great Bryan Stealey came up with an original idea of using illustrations for the feature and we were back baby! I have to thank Bryan for being creative and coming up with this unique angle and I love the way it turned out. Jeff Proctor killed it on the illustrations. And I hope you guys enjoy the oral history of Moto XXX in that first year and then after that keep enjoying the rest of the story on Racer X Online as we roll it out.

Just don’t ask me to do another oral history of a team ever again.

Read the entire “How to Start a Riot" feature in the July '14 issue of Racer X right now or look for the cover below on Newsstands to pick up the issue in person.

Illustration: Jeff Proctor