We received a press release last week about an innovative new plan for a 250SX Western Region team in Monster Energy Supercross. Team IB Corp. Racing will hold tryouts for a spot on the squad, hosted by the infamous Ryan Hughes, and record it all for shows to play on YouTube. The winner gets a ride equal to $100,000 when you consider the salary, bike, travel and staff involved.
Our man David Pingree recently ran into Jamie Ellis, who will run the team, for more info on the process. Ellis, by the way, also runs his own successful hop-up shop, Twisted Development, and he’ll build the bikes for the team.
Racer X: You work with us on a lot of our project bikes and stuff, but for those who are not familiar with your background and the company itself, give us a little run-down?
Jamie Ellis: The last professional race team I worked with was Rockstar KTM. I was a crew chief there. We won the championship on the West Coast with Jason Anderson in 2014. Prior to that, I was the engine builder. I did all of the electronic mapping, kind of the team coordinator of sorts, over mainly the motorcycles and the crew. That led me into kind of building and developing parts and doing stuff as we needed for the team. I’ve got small kids and wanted to stay home and not watch my kids grow up from afar. So that gave me the opportunity to start Twisted Development in 2014 after that season. We’ve kind of just been full-blown offering race parts and services to the general consumer.
It’s going well for you. Like we mentioned earlier, you’ve got Haiden Deegan (Brian Deegan’s son) who’s a top amateur kid. You’ve got a handful of pros who don’t have factory deals come to you to build race bikes to keep them competitive. So, your name is definitely out there.
That’s kind of how it started, is with Haiden Deegan, believe it or not. After I decided to start the business, it was Brian Deegan who took a chance with putting me on salary and giving me an opportunity to make his kid’s bikes as good as I could. I kind of got shored up by Brian Deegan, to be honest, where you would be stupid to not take this opportunity to build a brand and try to build something for the future and specialize in what you’re good at doing. So, it was that opportunity of having enough money to cover things that kind of shored me up. It’s pretty hard to not know where your paycheck is going to come from and just going out [and trying it]. Luckily, now we are coming up on our fourth year in business. We’re learning every day. We’re trying, and that’s what we tell customers.
One of the things that we do as a company maybe different than others is we sell you the best thing we can develop. Sometimes there’s a spec A or a spec B that you only give to these guys. I always tell the customers, “If you’ve got the money, you can have it.” That’s the cutting-edge thing. It’s delivering what we would have done at the race team to the general consumer and bridging that gap of, I’m putting my best foot forward because I never know who is going to win. I want anybody on my equipment to have the best that they can have.
That’s definitely not something that’s offered from other companies, if they have a race team, let’s say. You can’t buy what they’re racing on. They’ll sell you something a step down.
That comes down to if you don’t have anything better, then that’s a problem. We’re always working on something. We’re on our ninth and tenth version of the YZ250F piston. Is there something better out there? We don’t know. We’ve failed a lot of money and we’re [still] trying. If you get version six, it’s still the best thing I knew at version six, until I furthered development. Working with good partners helps us to really get to the next level. That’s our commitment to our customer, that we’re not stopping. We’re not just selling a package because it will sell well. That’s just not the type of person I am, and not the type of business that I believe in. Delivering the very best we can is what we strive to do, whether you’re coming in for just ECU tuning or you want a full engine race package. We’re not just going to sell you a big money motor. We can do anything for anybody. But of the parts we’re developing, the complete package is where our goals are.
This year, coming into the 2018 season, you guys have a unique opportunity with a race team. Tell me about what’s going on there.
This is really as good as it gets for a guy like myself, to be honest. We are going to be running the IB Corp Racing team. The owners, Jorge and Brad, they have a very unique look. They’re very successful businessmen in other ventures, and their liking of motorsports comes pretty heavily to be involved in what they’re doing. As businessmen they’re like, “There’s something missing in the sport.” Trying to create something to have an edge is what they’ve done. So, if you look at anyone that has been successful, they try to find a key area in an industry that doesn’t exist yet and try to capitalize on that. So, basically what they’ve done is created a contest. There’s a $100,000 giveaway, which is included in the guy’s salary, building the bikes and the racing and all that stuff. All of that stuff encompassed is going to be what’s going to happen. So race-track.tv is the vehicle of going to get signed up and seeing what’s there. You have to send in a video of yourself riding, a video of yourself talking about why you deserve the ride, and fill out the proper document. We’ve gotten some videos that have been less than full. So just do whatever it says and we’ll be fine. You’re going to come out to California. We’re going to have the final contest, [which] will be three riders. We’ll have three complete motorcycles. Enzo’s [suspension company] going to be there. I’m going to be there for the mapping. Basically, the general layout is to give you a day on the bike, get you comfortable, get you set up with your bars, your grips, all that stuff. Then after that, it’s going to kind of come down to… We’ll put LITPro devices on everyone, do some lap times, watch your heart rate. I’m thinking probably a road ride with Ryno [Ryan Hughes] of some sorts up Palmar Mountain.
What’s Ryno’s role again?
He’s obviously the team trainer because that’s what he’s extremely good at, but also he’s the narrator of our story. He’s a very achieved athlete and very strong-minded. If you follow him on Instagram, he’s pretty deadly accurate with most of the things he’s posting. With that being said, Ryno is just kind of a [interesting] life to be around. So, he’s a big influence in this whole thing. So, you will be on Ryno’s program if you are the guy who makes it through. That’s something that we’ll follow throughout the whole video series. So, if you go to Racetrack Supercross on YouTube, it will bring up episode one that launched last year. With Feld releasing the rights to the footage, it creates a show. Before that, we did all the filming with the hopes of Feld playing fair. They realized that it is something that is a good benefit to our sport, something new. This isn’t a reality show, but how many of those have spun off over Ultimate Fighter or American Idol or all of these things? So, what we have is racing and that’s what we love, and that’s what we’re doing. We’re a racing team that has media coverage that’s going to be there as a vehicle to help promote sponsors in a different light.
So maybe a new and improved version of the Bookoo team show they had?
So, when is the deadline for these videos?
The deadline is going to be the 15th of this month [today], at midnight. All video submissions have to be there. By the 18th, we’ll email all of the contestants to let everybody know who’s going to make it to the final cut to fly out to California and start training.
When is that? Will that be shortly after that?
Yeah, it’s going to have to move really quick. So, the motorcycles are built now and going to be all ready. The suspension, we’re going to get to Enzo. We can figure out what the weights are. We’re doing this thing right. When you show up to California, you’re going to get a motorcycle that’s set up for you, whether you’re a short guy and you want a minus ten foot pegs or plus ten foot pegs, or a minus ten subframe or whatever it is, we’re tailoring [it to] these guys to give everyone the best opportunity possible. Even if a guy comes out and doesn’t win the ride, it’s still so worth it to feel and know what a real team is like. That’s an experience that not many people in the country have actually ever been privy to. So, if you are the guy, I suggest you get signed up as quick as you can.
Who else is involved with the team and helping you guys?
Right now we’re using Yamaha YZ250Fs. They’ve been a supporter of what we’re doing, and that’s been really cool. Donny [Emler] from FMF, both the Dons, they’re on board. Dunlop tires. Some really iconic brands that we’re going with. That’s also a staple of how good the motorcycle is going to be. Twisted Development doing the engines, electronics, mapping. Enzo suspension, which as you know is some of the best you can get in the world, and their commitment to showing up, testing. We have a race guy. We’re using the full-blown factory suspension from them. So, really, with a high horsepower engine that we’re going to have to have from the Twisted Development standpoint, and also pairing that with Enzo suspension on the Yamaha, what else do you really need?
For you guys, tell me about kind of what the goals are. I guess some of that depends on who you land with, but as far as what caliber of entrance you have at this point, what do you think your goals would be?
As of right now, we have Justin Hoeft, who we had last year. We took him on. He was on the couch and we gave him an opportunity, and the kid shined. He’s a good starter. He’s up front. We’re expecting a lot out of him, as well as Martin Castello. It will be his second year racing. His first year of switching to supercross was a bit trying, but looking for some really good results out of him as well. This contest winner [who will be the third rider] is a wild card. That’s the fun of it. It will be the hungriest guy who wins the contest that will make it through. That just kind of creates another element, and also something for our sport to kind of talk about. I can see Ralph [Sheheen] and Jeff [Emig] keying it up [on television]. “The contest winner from this deal.” So, I think for our sport it gives those guys something to look forward to talking about, and they’ll follow his journey throughout the supercross season. Realistically, the bikes have to be up front. That’s the way it’s going to go.
I’m anxious to hear what Ryno always has to say, because, if nothing else, it’s always entertaining. This will be cool. A TV program like this, it surprises me someone else hasn’t done it already. It’s good entertainment. Anything else you want to add, talk about, mention?
The key points are on race-track.tv. Get signed up by the 15. There’s episode one from last season. It’s already aired. It’s on YouTube now, live, so go out and watch that.
Your website if they want to get to Twisted Development?
It’s www.td-racing.com. We’ve really got to hit hard on getting people signed up for the contest, whoever the late submissions would be. We’ve got some submissions for some really good, top-five podium guys coming from the contest. I’d like to think that this is a last-chance opportunity for a good story. How many rides are there in the Lites class, and how many good guys are there that we see? Maybe another guy from another arena, like an EnduroCross guy or a foreigner, somebody who just wants to come over. All of that just leaves all of these opportunities for a possible spot, of which will all be aired to the general public, which we don’t see. So, football has training camps. You come out, you beat each other up, you do all that stuff and it’s not televised. Every other form or sports has something of a tryout nature. If there’s anything that would go on at any of our competing race teams, we’d never know about it. We’d never know who was good and who wasn’t. You’d just know the guy got the ride. So, we’re learning. We’re going to do it our way along the way. We’re going to make changes. What version is American Idol on? They’re not doing it the same [as when it started].
There’s always riders who need rides that deserve them, probably. There’s just not enough spots. In the past, I know Pro Circuit has done kind of tryouts like this where they’ve had several riders competing for a spot. When I was at TLD, we did it. That’s how Chris Blose ended up earning his ride in ’08. But you don’t get to see any of that behind-the-scenes stuff, how it went down. What was the test day like? Were those guys stressed? So this will be neat to watch. I’m excited.