As the team manager for both of the MDK KTM teams (Lites and 450) in 2009, Steve Lamson has a lot on his plate. However, at least two big achievements are done and over with, as Lammy now boasts a new sponsor for the 450cc end of the team in Jagermeister, and has signed two solid riders to field the electric-start KTM 450SX/F throughout 2009 in Josh Summey and Travis Preston. We caught up with Lamson to find out how things are going over at MDK KTM.
Josh Summey and Travis Preston to race your 450s this year.
Steve Lamson: On the 450 end of it, a couple of months ago, we weren’t even sure that we were going to go 450cc racing. We were just going to do the Lites end of it. But then, we were waiting on this whole Jagermeister deal to come through for the 450cc team, and things were up and down there, and then a few weeks ago, the Jager deal was done for the 450, and [team owner Mark] Kvamme said to hire a couple of guys for the 450cc end of it. We didn’t have a ton of money to spend on riders, and at that point, the very top guys like [Andrew] Short and those guys, were already signed, obviously. We went through the list, talked to a few people, and the first guy we got was Summey for the 450. Then, a week and a half ago, we got Preston signed up. So we have two decent, solid guys there, you know?
Were there rules, with the alcohol sponsorship, that the Jagermeister people wanted you guys to stay within for rider ages and things like that?
Basically, our agreement with them was that we had to make sure both riders were at least 21, and at least one of the two riders was 25 or over, which worked out good for us, but it did kind of limit who we could really get, too.
I think that was the case with Bud Light back when they sponsored Jeremy McGrath. At first, knowing these parameters, was that a little bit of a daunting task, knowing you’d have age restrictions like that?
It was, actually, because obviously in the beginning, we were looking at guys that weren’t in that age bracket, and we couldn’t hire them, for sure. But we figured if we went out with veteran-type guys, we could get a couple solid guys, and it worked out. I mean, Summey is going to ride a 450 all year, and the first year with Travis, he’s going to do Supercross-only and then, the second year, he’ll do the full year.
It’s not like Preston can’t ride outdoors. The last two times he raced the outdoor nationals, he was in the top five overall at the end of the season.
Exactly. So right now, that’s how that’s working, and then when he doesn’t do the outdoors, then Justin Brayton will bump up for the outdoors into the 450cc truck. So we’ll still have two guys. Brayton will ride Lites supercross and then bump up to the 450cc truck for outdoors.
We’re talking about that right now, but we’re just going to see how things play out here and see if we can work it into the budget and with bikes and all that stuff, too, you know? He definitely wants to do it, for sure. He rides that thing good. We made some good changed with Brayton right before the Open, and now the thing... I mean, it was good all last year, but I think we kind of saw the results and didn’t get the best rep. Everybody’s nervous with the bike, but now with Brayton riding it and Goerke’s last three Nationals, it showed that the 450 is plenty competitive, you know?
Did Brayton’s performance at the US Open help to convince Preston to make the deal?
For sure. Preston, after that, I called him, because I saw him there watching, and he goes, “Was Brayton on the 450?” I’m like, “Yeah.” He’s like, “That thing went good!” That kind of opened him up on the deal.
It seems like the bike’s reputation is a hard thing for you guys to overcome. The perception is that it’s not competitive, so regardless of whether or not that’s true, it seems like you guys are a step or two behind in even convincing riders to come to your team.
Yeah, true. Everybody questions if the 450 is good or not, but just having the guys ride it helps. Everybody who has ridden our 450, even if just for a test to see about hiring them, they love it. [Kevin] Windham rode the bike last year after X Games and was pumped on it, [David] Vuillemin has ridden it, and everybody says it’s a lot better than what they thought. I think we’re going to have a solid deal for sure.
So, with these two guys, what are your team’s expectations for next year?
A good goal for Summey for indoors is top 10 for sure, and then with how Preston’s riding the bike, I don’t see why he can’t be a consistent top-five guy.