It’s always exciting to see a new team in the pits. The 2018 season will see the debut of the H.E.P Motorsports Suzuki team with support from the OEM, and the roster consists exclusively of working mans’ privateer hero-type riders. It’s funded in part by a former 125 National Champion George Holland, who’s been quiet over the years. We talked to rider/manager Dustin Pipes about what’s been brewing up there in NorCal.
For more information on the team, go here.
Racer X: Exciting news for you. H.E.P Motorsports Suzuki, new team. Who owns it? How did it come together, and what’s your role in it?
Dustin Pipes: There’s actually three guys who are doing the team. Myself is one, Billy Ezernack is the other, and the third would be George Holland. Obviously, George, some people might know him from winning the 125 national championship in 1988. Billy has supported guys throughout the years and is just a really big fan. He supported some guys last year and he’s always wanted to kind of grow in the sport and do some things in it to give back to the riders. And then myself being a current pro. It just kind of happened, honestly, through going to JGR’s place for you at PulpMX. That’s kind of when things started up with Suzuki’s Chris Wheeler. Kind of put us on the track to where we are today. So I guess thanks to you! [Laughs]
I wouldn’t go that far. So you’re going to be a little bit of a manager and a rider? How’s that going to go?
Correct. I don’t think it’s going to be too bad. Right now I’m doing that, riding, and going to school. During the season, I think it will be a little bit lighter because I won’t be going to school. I think the main thing for me has been just trying to distribute some of the things that need to happen and putting people in place to fill those roles. It’s a little bit of a struggle, but it’s something that I want to take on. Just being involved in racing for so long, I kind of have a vision of where I kind of want to go and do things. I think it’s good if I’m in it firsthand.
How did Kyle Cunningham, Henry Miller, and Tallon LaFountaine come to be on the team?
So, just being a first-year team for us, I think the main thing for us was trying to work with people that are good guys. I think that’s something that each rider brings. Very, very down-to-earth people that we can actually work with. Kyle, I spent some time with him during outdoors I think two or three years ago. I got to know him and his dad. Henry, I met at the JGR 2018 Suzuki RMZ450 shoot for the new bike. Tallon, just from being around on the West Coast and stuff, I knew him. With being a new team we didn’t want guys that were going to be hard to work with, [or] that just wanted a lot of stuff. I think that’s why we kind of went after these guys. Kyle has a lot of potential and he is killing it on big bikes. I can’t even believe how fast he’s going right now. Henry, before he just absolutely weeded himself, was really fast, too, and will be back riding any day now. The main thing for us is guys with potential that can really slash, and that are also good guys. Tallon, his first year got cut short because of injury but he’s a really good technical rider. I think he’ll turn some heads too on the 250SX West Coast, so I’m happy with him.
You guys got a semi, and what are some of the other sponsors?
Yes, we did. Very happy with that, and happy with all the sponsors that are on board. Suspension and motors are Race Tech, Race Tech is doing the heads, and we’re also going to use Snuffy racing for motors. J.E. Pistons is pretty in with the team.
So, for Holland, for people who don’t know him, he’s one of the greats. Incredible career. I know in talking to him that he doesn’t come around a lot to the races. He’s very low-key. How hands-on is George going to be?
George was at the track literally yesterday. He actually works with the riders and stuff like that. He’s a pretty busy guy. He’s done pretty well with what he’s earned throughout racing. Businesses require quite a bit of his time. But he’s really pumped for the team and kind of getting things going. He was kind of itching a little bit to have something else to do, so it’s good for him. He helped some guys out last year with Bill. It’s just been a steady rise to what they want to do in the sport and kind of take the team.
What’s been the hardest thing for you so far in helping all this come together and being a point man for this?
I think the hardest thing was probably at the very beginning, just getting everything set up and in line and just everything being like, “Let’s go.” I think that would be the main thing, just kind of getting everybody on board whether it was the factory or the gear and stuff like that. Just kind of getting everybody to be like, “All right, let’s actually do this thing.” I’m not very patient. I like to kind of get things done quick. That’s kind of how I’ve been raised. Just working with corporate and stuff like that, these types of deals take some time. For me, we started a little late so I didn’t have that much time. I felt like there was kind of a wall there. So, for me, it was just trying to be patient and kind of get through everything and get everything rolling.
FXR is on as a team gear deal?
Yeah. Every rider is going to be in there. We’re really pumped to work with them. Andy [White] came on a couple months ago with the team. I think the brand is just growing. I think it’s awesome to work with a company that wants to push just as hard as the team does. That’s something that they want to do. I think a lot of people don’t know just how big they are in the snow and in Europe and stuff. I think they’re going to be around for a long time.. It’s great stuff. I really didn’t know how good it was until I wore it the first time. Just being in Fly for all those years, I was used to a really good product. They are right in line with the top gear out there. It’s been awesome to work with them.
2017 for you was rough. One of your worst years. How do you feel, you yourself as a rider? Are we going to get back to battling for main events?
I think the main thing for me last year, the last two years, has just been being hurt the whole time. I feel really healthy. Honestly, having all these guys here and all this support has kind of upped my riding. I definitely think it will probably be one of my best years. I just want to do good for the team.
The H.E.P Motorsports Suzuki team is sponsored by the Suzuki Motor Corporation of America, Holland Nut Company, FXR, Snuffy Racing Development, Bill’s Pipes, Race Tech, Payton Trucking, R&S Solar, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Sidi, MotoTV, Carl Nelson Insurance, Acerbis, Mika Metals, Dunlop, EKS Brand goggles, Engine Ice, 180 Decal, Rekluse, DT1 Airfilters, Motostuff, Guts Factory Seats, 6D, Works Connection, JE Piston, Elite Image, Ambroshi Farms, Midland Tractor, and Z-boys Auto Detail.