While the life of a privateer supercross racer isn’t as glamorous as their factory counterparts, sometimes success comes when they least expect it. For example, Devin Harriman.
Harriman, 23, spent some time in the arenacross ranks—he even traveled the country with Stank Dog, but that’s a whole different story—and ended up making the main event in his second ever try at Monster Energy AMA Supercross in Glendale.
Earlier this week, we had the chance to chat with the Washington native about his struggles getting to Anaheim 2, why he decided to race supercross, and much more.
Racer X: Let people know who you are, how old you are, where you’re from, that sort of thing.
Devin Harriman: I’m 23 years old. I’ve been racing motocross for 19 years, with a couple years off here and there. This is my first year doing supercross. Last year I did arenacross. Two thousand eighteen was supposed to be my first year doing supercross, [but] I got hurt in late 2016 and had to take the whole entire 2017 off. Then [Gared] Steinke called me in December of 2017 and asked me if I wanted to do the arenacross with him, and he offered me some parts that I couldn’t really turn down. So I went into the first round in Dayton, Ohio, with about five hours on the bike in a year, really. By the end of the season we had our shit figured out, mostly. Then with arenacross coming to an end, I didn’t really have any other options besides supercross. So me and a couple of sponsors and my parents and I started to figure out how I could do this whole supercross thing. I always told myself that supercross was gnarly and I would never do it, and here we are now.
You had no plans of ever doing supercross?
No. Like I said, I’m 23 years old. Pretty late to be starting supercross, if you ask me. Supercross was never really in the future for me. I got my supercross license in 2016. Maybe I thought about doing Seattle or something, because that’s the closest race to home for me, but other than that, supercross was kind of a long shot for me, especially doing the whole West Coast series. Now here we are three rounds in and I’m sitting 21st in points.
It seems to be going well, right?
Yeah, if you would have told me I would have been making mains this early in the season a couple weeks ago, I would have told you you’re on drugs. I’ve not done more than eight laps, nine laps on a supercross track at one time because I never thought I would be making mains. I thought I’d be qualifying anywhere from 38th to 45th, barely to make night shows. To qualify for my first main event two rounds in was beyond crazy. I missed it by one at A1. I never planned on doing A1! A sponsor was like, “You should do it. You’re going to be going there. Might as well just do it.” I’m like, “No, A1 is gnarly. That’s a long shot. I’m not going to waste my money.” Then I came off free practice and I qualified fourth or something on the board. I was like, “Oh, that’s weird.” At that point I was blown away. I didn’t really know what to think. Like, “Damn, maybe I can do this.” So it was all kind of a huge eye-opener for me.
Do you chalk how well it’s gone up to having no pressure, no expectations? Just kind of seeing what happens?
Exactly. People kept asking me if I was nervous before A1. No, not at all. Doing the whole arenacross series beforehand helped me out a lot with the people and timing and stuff like that. Doing the whole 12 rounds with Steinke just helped me tremendously. I knew all I had to do was just go out, set a fast time, and if I was fast enough, I was fast enough. If not, better luck next time.
How’d the heat race at A1 go?
The heat race I was fifth going into the first corner and [Dylan] Ferrandis tucked his front end or crashed or whatever. It was slick. I had nowhere to go, really. I tried to go over his bike but ended up going down and went from dead last. I was the last one to come out of the first corner. I worked up to tenth with ninth right in front of me, with like three or four laps to go, from dead last. In the little section before the tunnel jump I went off the track and crashed again. Fought back up to 12th. I was a little bummed out, but like I said, I had zero expectations on anything, so I couldn’t be too bummed out when I had no idea where I would be at. Then the LCQ I had a bad start, way back there. I fought up to fifth with fourth right in front of me.
Did your results at A1 kind of open your eyes a little bit going into Glendale?
Yeah, to a point. Like I said, I’m from Washington. My only podium ever in arenacross was in mud. A1 was kind of… I wouldn’t say muddy. To me, that wasn’t muddy. It was just greasy. So that to me was maybe why I did good because it was rainy and it was slick. So it didn’t boost my confidence a whole lot. I still came into Glendale with zero expectations because it was dry. So I didn’t even think I’d be able to do that in the dry, because in arenacross I couldn’t pull my head out of my ass in the dry either. But for some reason, things worked out in Glendale.
Yeah, things worked out in Glendale. You made the main.
I had a terrible start in my heat race. I went from dead last to tenth in the heat race. Then that thing, I had a terrible start again in the LCQ. At that point it just pisses me off. I know I should be up front. I belong up front, especially qualifying where I’m at. I qualified 22nd at Anaheim and 24th at Glendale. For first two supercrosses, that’s not too shabby. So I know I should be up front. I just put my head down and charged. When I saw a good buddy from home, Chris Howell, that was in fourth, I told myself, “I’m sorry, bud, but I’m not going to be nice to make this main event. You’re a good buddy and all, but this is going to be my first main event. I will clean you out if I have to.” That’s kind of what went through my head. Thankfully I didn’t have to do that. He messed up in a rhythm when I just had one rhythm going into the corner. Just kind of went up under him before the whoops and made it through the LCQ.
You were prepared to do battle if you had to?
For sure. After leaving A1, I was ready to hang myself. Getting a fifth place in the LCQ… I would have much rather got a 12th place or something in the LCQ than a fifth place, even if it was my first one or not. A fifth place in the LCQ is terrible.
Isn’t that funny how you go into a race with zero expectations, but then as the day goes on the competitiveness comes out in you and you’re like, “I had no expectations, but dammit, I should have done it!”
Exactly. I had zero expectations but because I was so close, that’s what pisses me off.
So after you make the main in Glendale, what’s going through your mind? How are you feeling?
I felt great. It hadn’t hit me yet. Afterwards I pulled off the track almost tearing up. In 2016 I blew my left knee out and wasn’t able to move it at all, and honestly never thought I’d be able to ride supercross or anything like that. I was overseas when it happened. That was one of the scariest things of my life. I’d never had surgery. Never really done anything besides breaking collarbones. To blow a knee out overseas was frightening, and then to think that two years later I just made my first supercross main event was crazy. It made everything worth it.
How’d the main go for you? Overall were you happy with it?
No. Maybe it’s not just me as a motocrosser. Maybe it’s all motocrossers, but I feel like I’m never happy with a finish, especially if I know I could have done better. I want to say it was [Robbie] Wageman and I. We started way back. I was honestly dead last off the first corner. We got a good pace going and we worked up to I think at least 15th. I saw [Justin] Starling, and once I saw him I was catching him and I tried to make some moves and I just couldn’t. I had real bad cramps in my stomach. I don’t know what the deal was, but I was just in a lot of pain at that point. As soon as we started getting lapped, [other] people got around me because we were getting lapped. It was hard to say who was coming around leading with leaders and who’s not.
This is where it gets gnarly. You had some struggles with the van and maybe spent a little extra time in Arizona?
Yeah, Arizona was the best weekend of my life and also the worst weekend I’ve had racing in a while. So, like I said, I did the whole arenacross last year with Steinke and I had somebody with me the whole time. This year after Glendale I had some van issues, the ECU or CDI or whatever you want to call it. So I was stuck in Glendale, Arizona, up until Friday morning. Bikes were all locked up. I sat in a hotel for all week really. Got the van back Friday morning and hauled ass straight home to Wildomar.
And you were by yourself the whole time? You had nobody with you? Just chilling in Arizona by yourself?
Correct. I was broke. I didn’t get paid from AMA or anything like that because I didn’t have my W-9 stuff set up yet. I shouldn't say broke—I had money with sponsor stuff—but just solo, sitting there. I had a buddy who was a sponsor of mine who said, “I’ll pay for the van.” With that being said, I was like, “Okay, cool.” Thinking it was only going to be a couple hundred bucks. Well, the van came out to be like $2,700, and I’m like, “Okay, I can’t have him pay for this.” As a racer, obviously I have an emergency fund, but I didn’t have $2,700 worth. So I started up a GoFundMe thinking maybe I’ll get some help. I had enough people donate like four grand, which I was blown away by and beyond thankful for that. So thank you to whoever helped me out with that. So I got the van back Friday and then they told me the van doesn’t go faster than 75 miles an hour and it takes two minutes to get to 60 miles an hour, so I’m like, what the hell? All the dash lights were on. So the van went back into Mercedes Sunday night, and they are working on it today.
I can only imagine how frustrated you were trying to climb some of those hills just getting back into SoCal.
Let’s just say that I was going 25 miles an hour up some of those hills, on the shoulder with flashers on. I had zero power. I was not thrilled. Now it’s back into the shop and they just told me today it’s going to be another $3,600.
How did A2 go for you? It was a little bit gnarly too, right?
Not good at all. Obviously I had a shit week. Didn’t get to ride. A lot of people obviously didn’t down here in the SoCal, Arizona area because of the rain. A2 was not good. Free practice I went down twice. I had to pull off and change a set of gloves because I couldn’t get my shit together. Hands were muddy. Crashed in the only mud puddle in the whole track which was in the whoops. Not to mention I was in group A, so that was obviously a little bit intimidating being out there with the best of the best.
Did you learn anything by being in group A?
First practice I stomped my foot peg off on a triple when I cased it, so I missed the first timed qualifying. When I did that, I got whiplash on my neck and went out in the second timed qualifying and tried to lay down some heaters but I just wasn’t able to because every time I’d clip my rear wheel on a jump or something or go through the whoops my head just wanted to go straight down to the handlebars. But learning stuff, it’s tough because you don’t get to watch a whole lot. That’s what I liked about B, I was able to watch the lines and watch them and see what they were doing. With this being my first year, I don’t know what’s possible and what’s not possible. Coming from arenacross, everything is a lot tighter in arenacross. We use first and second gear where these dudes are using second, third. We’re a 13-52 in arenacross and now I’m on a 13-51, so gearing is a little different. It’s cool to be out there, but I would rather watch the first year to see that those boys do what they’re supposed to be done and what’s fast. I don’t know. I’m new at all this.
Overall, what are your goals to finish out the season?
Finish the season in one piece. If you would have asked me this question four weeks ago, I would have told you to make a main event. But because I did that the second round in, I don’t know where I’m at now. But the main goal is to finish top 20 and earn a national number. That’s like a lifetime goal, I guess you could say. I think that’s all going to come easier than expected.
Anybody you want to give a shout out and thanks to before we wrap this up?
MotoSport Hillsboro, Fusion Graphics, JMR Suspension, Aektiv Co Gear, Devol Engineering, Rekluse, Viral Goggles, Pro Wheel, Jim Haeseker, CFP Construction, Traction MX, my parents, and everybody else who has helped me throughout my whole career to get me to this point, along with everyone who donated and helped out with the GoFundMe page.