Privateer Profile: Dakota Alix

Privateer Profile: Dakota Alix

The last time we talked to Dakota Alix he was bouncing around from the MXGPs to the Canadian Nationals. After a short but successful run in Canada, Alix hunkered down in the off-season to get ready to run the 250SX East Region which kicked off last weekend in Minneapolis. After making the main through the LCQ and having a terrible gate position, Alix uncorked an amazing start to come around the second corner in second. Unfortunately, he got together with Colt Nichols at the end of the next rhythm section and went down hard.

We caught up with Alix to see how he is feeling after that crash, dealing with the winters growing up, and if he has a more consistent plan for the upcoming summer.

Racer X: Let’s talk about that start you got from the outside in the main event. You had to run it in deep, but you were still pulling as good as the factory riders. What were you expecting going into that start?
Dakota Alix: I had a really bad heat race and had to go to the LCQ, so I was all the way to the outside gate. But my gate was actually really good—there was no big bumps or anything after the gate. I noticed on some of the inside gates there was that. So I knew I had a pretty good shot of getting a good start if I just had that perfect jump. I didn’t even do a practice start on my hot lap, so my mechanic had the gate extra good. I got a perfect jump. I had no one on my right so I could kind of just held it pinned around the outside and banked off the landing of the jump that was in the first turn. So that was kind of game plan to get the best possible jump and just hold it into the first turn as fast as possible. I figured there would be a lot of guys on the inside of me but my plan actually ended up working out pretty good—until the crash.

You’ve always been a pretty good starter. Do you feel comfortable when you get out front like that, or do you tighten up a little bit?
No, I feel pretty comfortable. I always get kind of good starts. I have really good reaction time and I practice a lot of starts, so that’s pretty good. It’s a good feeling to get out front and be in the lead the first couple turns. That’s always a good feeling. But this year I need to work on holding the lead a little longer.

Then you got together with Nichols in the next rhythm. In your eyes, what happened with that crash?
I watched the crash a bunch of times and in the moment he was on the far left, right by the hay bales. I was kind of in the middle of the track. I wasn’t expecting him to go to the right a little bit, so I jumped to the left a little bit so I could get the triple [after the corner]. So in hindsight it was probably more my fault because I could have just gone way inside and not even got close to him, but I thought he was going to stay straight instead of moving over to the right a little bit. Obviously it bit me in the butt pretty good.

How are you feeling after it? It was pretty spectacular-looking. Did you hit pretty hard or were you okay?
Three and a half weeks before the opening round I had a pretty bad AC separation in my left shoulder. Unfortunately, that’s pretty much where I landed was on the left shoulder, so I was really sore after that. But other than that … I was kind of banged up my whole left, but I was able to get up. I was definitely hurting that whole rest of the race and my bike was really mangled, but for the most part I’m fine. I’ve taken this whole week off and I’ll try to ride a little bit tomorrow and get rested for Atlanta.

So you’re for sure doing Atlanta then?
Yeah, definitely going to do Atlanta. Even if I didn’t crash I still would have been really sore from the AC separation I had almost a month ago now. I actually did ride a little bit yesterday for maybe 30 minutes total, just working some sections at [Justin] Barcia’s house, with the MTF [Millsaps Training Facility] guys. But I haven’t really done any laps this week, so I’ll try to do a couple laps tomorrow and then get rested on Friday.

What’s your sponsorship situation like this year? There’s not really a ton of logos on your bike and Emig mentioned that you were sponsor-less on the broadcast, which isn’t true. You have people helping you out, right?
I have a lot of great people helping me out. I guess on the entry list it says “none listed” because there was a problem with me getting signed up and I had to call in last minute. But obviously my whole family is helping me a lot, and then everyone at MTF, they help out too.

Taking a step back here, you grew up in Vermont. Did you have to take the winters off or would you travel down south to do some riding?
Where I live in Vermont it’s about a mile from Canada and I live in the mountains, so really the only good months for riding dirt bikes is June, July, August and a week or two in September. So growing up, that was the only time I got to ride really.

In 2007, I started to go down south a little bit. 2008 was kind of when I did Loretta Lynn’s for the first year and I started training at MTF. I kind of started spending the winters down in Georgia around 2007, 2008.

I grew up in Minnesota and the big debate there was whether the winters off are nice and help you recharge or whether they hinder your development a little bit.
No, I think it was definitely a hindrance. Growing up even in the summers in Vermont … it seems like they’ve actually been kind of warm the last two or three years, but I remember growing up it would be really cold even in July and August and sometimes there’d be snow on the mountains in June even. So my riding was pretty minimal growing up, so I think it definitely was kind of a hindrance, but it does help you stay motivated and refreshed. I didn’t start riding until I was seven or eight, but I remember when I was eight, nine, 10 in the winter I would just watch the same Travis Pastrana movie almost every day when I got home from school. So it definitely will keep you interested in it.

Going into 2010 you had that break-out year in super minis, and then Red Bull picks you up. You were kind of a super-hyped amateur after that, and then all the injuries started coming along. Do you feel like after that year in super minis there was a lot of extra pressure on you to perform?
No, I didn’t really feel much extra pressure. There were expectations from everyone, but it didn’t really bother me much. Then I did pretty good as an amateur, like you said. In 2013 I had a really bad knee injury and that basically swallowed up almost two years of my career, so that was a really big bummer. And then last year was pretty good going Canada. I did better in supercross. I’m just trying to get back up front.

Do you wish that you could have waited a year to turn pro with your knee injuries going into that year?
Yeah, I 100 percent wish I would have waited. I was pretty honestly stupid for even getting on a bike. I could hardly even walk at that point. I remember after the races I would almost have to ask for a wheelchair in the airports because my knee was just so swollen I could barely even walk. At the pro level, especially being a rookie, you have to be prime. Your body has to be perfect and it has to be good to go to even expect to do good. I was there barely being able to walk trying to race a pro national on the gnarliest tracks in the world. So in hindsight it was really, really kind of arrogant and stupid of me, but in the moment I just wanted to race. I didn’t really think it would hurt me, but I think it definitely didn’t do me any good, that’s for sure. So I wish I just would have waited.

It’s a tough spot to be in when you know you have a ride waiting for you.
Yeah, for sure. As a kid that’s like all you really want is a ride for the pros. That’s what I worked my whole life for, by the time I was 14. So to have that ride there waiting for me with a good bike. Even if I didn’t have the ride I worked my whole life to become a professional, so I wanted to be there and do good, but there’s no way I could have done good.

The last time we talked to you, you were kind of bouncing around doing different series last summer. So it’s look like you’ll be doing the Canadian Nationals this summer?
Yeah, I think it’s looking like I’ll do the Canadian Nationals again this summer. It’s not 100 percent yet, but I think that’s what’s going to happen. Last year I did the six East Coast rounds because I was in Europe during the West Coast rounds, but this year I’d like to do the full series and go for the MX2 title.

We'll see if Alix can utilize his starting ability in Atlanta.
We'll see if Alix can utilize his starting ability in Atlanta. Jeff Kardas

You’ve done pretty much every motocross, supercross series. Which one is your favorite overall to ride in, schedule throughout the day, purse money?
I’d say my favorite is definitely supercross. I just like the whole vibe of supercross. It’s a little more technical. It’s cool how it’s at night. I like the tracks, the style of the racing. So supercross, that’s my favorite. Then behind that, it’s a tough call between the Canadian Nationals and the MXGP series. The Canadian Nationals is cool because it’s close to home in Vermont. The people are all really cool and nice and friendly. The tracks were really awesome last summer. The GPs are really cool because it’s just all around the world. It’s a lot of traveling and it’s a lot more relaxed than it is in the Nationals. On Saturday you have practice and then qualifying, and then on Sunday you have the two motos. I think it’s an hour and a half, two hours between the motos, whereas in the AMA it’s basically you’re in a sprint once you’re off the track to eat and get dressed and get back in your gear. So I kind of like how in the GPs it’s more spread out, and it’s cool to travel all over the world too.

Was there a little bit of culture shock when you went to do the GPs?
Yeah, for sure. I was living in England mostly and I liked England. It was cool. Not too much of a change there. It was really weird driving on the left side of the road and accents and everything. In France it was really awesome too. I enjoyed my time in France. I went to Northern Ireland and that was probably my favorite country I visited while I was there. The big culture shock was in Spain for sure. That was weird. Everything was so relaxed there. You couldn’t get breakfast before 9:00 a.m. You couldn’t get dinner until after like 9:00 p.m. So Spain was definitely the biggest culture shock.

Any sponsors you’d like to thank?
I definitely would like to thank my mom and dad and sisters, MTF, Factory Connection, Fox Racing, FMF, Dunlop, 139 Designs, Stheart Clothing, Fuel Socks, Acerbis, Brooks Hamilton and JSR at KTM, Cooper at Pearlescent Media, and my mechanic Mathieu.