There’s nice, then there’s Fredrik Noren nice. We’d be willing to bet that you could poll anyone in the industry and not one person would have a negative thing to say about the privateer rider out of Sweden. While the Swede totes an easy-going demeanor, he’s also a legit competitor on the race track. After three rounds of the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship, Noren sits 13th overall in the 450 Class and logged a ninth-place overall finish two weeks ago at Fox Raceway in Pala, California. And he’s putting in these stellar rides on with a stock engine.
We caught up with Noren as he was making his way from Colorado back to the East Coast.
Racer X: Where are you even at right now?
Fredrik Noren: Right now actually we are on the road. We’re still in Colorado, I believe. We’re on our way to the Peer Brothers in Woodstock, Kansas—a sponsor of mine, good friends, and they’ve helped me out for a couple years. Our van broke down at the race, so it’s been at the dealership. We got it back yesterday and then we rode a little bit at Thunder Valley today. We’re on the road.
You still have that yellow van or did you get something new? What have you been rolling in?
I sold the yellow van. I’ve actually had two yellow vans in my racing career. The first yellow van we sold to a Brazilian kid who races just amateur racing in California. Then we got our newer yellow van at that time. Cody Williamson bought that one. Then this past year just before Loretta’s we got a normal white van. It’s a Duramax diesel though, so that’s what we’re looking for. It’s not yellow anymore, unfortunately.
That was kind of like your trademark thing. Everyone knew where you were at just based on the yellow van parked in the pits.
Yeah. [Laughs] Dedicated Ride Company, a sponsor of mine, they even made a T-shirt with the yellow van on it!
You guys were living in a camper for a while, too? Is that still your setup?
Yeah, we still do that. I rented a house in California in 2015 to ’16, I believe it was. That was crazy expensive, so we started thinking of what are we going to do next and Amy [Noren’s wife] came up with the good idea that let’s get a camper. So, we’re still in a fifth wheel. This will be our third year. It’s worked out really good and has worked good with the baby too because we have enough room in there. There’s going to come a time where I think we’ll either switch campers or find something else pretty soon. We’re still doing that. It’s on the East Coast, though. We’re on our way back there. We’re making our way.
I guess since you brought up, you’re making your way to the East Coast, is that kind of your plan? Are you in for all 12 nationals? What’s the plan for the summer?
That is the plan to try to do all 12 of them. We’ll keep the ball rolling as long as we can afford to and keep on racing. I love racing. I feel really good right now on the bike and off the bike. I’m ready to put in some solid motos. I know I can do really well. I’ve had some good lap times and stuff this past weekend. Colorado was kind of rough, but good in the sense a little too many mistakes, but my lap times were pretty good. I’m going to try to keep it going.
You’re 13th in points right now. At Fox Raceway you pretty much just killed it, 9-9. To say you were feeling good, that’s kind of an understatement, I think. Talk about Pala a little bit.
Pala was really good, obviously going 9-9 for ninth overall. We made some pretty drastic suspension changes after Hangtown into Pala, trying to get a little bit more comfortable with the bike. Just had a good week of riding and just a good week in general. Rolled into Pala at good time on Friday, took my time, set up, and felt really good coming into it. The day started off well as well. I felt good right away on practice and the qualifiers. I had good starts as well, which definitely helped out. I was a little bit slow on the first lap though in both starts at Pala. Kind of had to work myself through a little bit as the motos went on, but I felt really good. I had a good battle with [Justin] Barcia in the second moto. We swapped spots a couple of times, so that was a lot of fun. I’m hoping I can kind of keep that going as we get on the East Coast now as well. Bike setup is really good. Built some really good suspension. We’ve got a good setup. The ’19 Honda is awesome. It’s just bone stock in the motor and an FMF pipe, Hinson clutch. Jamie at Twisted Development mapped the bike for me, and then some VP Fuel. That thing is pretty set, so I’m pretty pumped with that.
I had heard that you were just riding a stock motor, pretty much. I know in the winter you kind of had some support through Phoenix Racing. Is that still going on in the summer? Or are you solely on your own?
As of right now, we’re fully doing it on our own. Phoenix Racing has a great setup. It’s an awesome rig and all of that, it’s just unfortunately we haven’t been able to go outdoors with them. But we’ll see what will happen in the future. As of right now I’m just being on my own and getting some help from Honda and obviously all the parts sponsors. We’ve got some other sponsors on board as well to help out financially. It’s kind of cool. Butchy’s BBQ Company came along, which is kind of cool to have a barbecue company come along and support you. I’ve never had that before, so I was pretty pumped with that. It’s worked out really good. Andy at Sustainable Oil Fuel Services is a huge help. It’s been really good so far, and I think it will be really good too as we go East Coast. I like a lot of those tracks out there as well. Pretty pumped.
It sounds like you’re comfortable in your program. It’s obviously showing in your riding. When you’re up there battling with guys like Barcia and stuff like that in the top ten, do you just feel at home, like that’s where you belong? You have had time as a factory rider, so is that just kind of where you feel like you should be?
Yeah, definitely. After Pala, it was almost like a relief coming off of all of my injures that I had in ’18. It kind of felt like I’m back. I feel like definitely that’s where I belong. I don’t want to be the best privateer. I want to have a factory bike and beat a lot of the factory guys. I think I will be doing that. I did at Pala, but I think I’ll be doing that a lot more as we get on with these rounds as well. Colorado, it being a high elevation it’s kind of a little bit tricky with bike setup and all that, but it felt really good so I’m not going to say it was a bike issue. It was a mistake issue for me. I think definitely I feel like in a sense being top ten, battling with those guys.
Are there certain tracks that you’re just really looking forward to and you expect a good result when you get there?
A lot of the East Coast rounds I think are awesome. I would say from previous years, I like Washougal a lot. I normally have good results there. I like Millville a lot, too. I had some good results there, as well. But a lot of those tracks are too similar as far as to me how much I like them. I would say the East Coast tracks are more suitable to me, as far as what I think. I’m looking forward to a lot of those rounds. It’s kind of interesting too, going to WW Ranch this year. I did the GP there in ’17. Even on a different track it was fun. It’s going to be interesting to get some new tracks to the series. It was fun to have Pala back as well.
Let’s talk dad life. You’ve got your child there with you obviously. There are a lot of riders out there who are parents, but you guys kind of live life on the road and take care of your baby. Talk a little bit about the challenges and what that’s like, being a dad on the road, taking care of a baby?
Obviously, it starts with I have an amazing wife, Amy. She does a lot to help take care of the baby and make it a lot easier for me. Amy does a lot of things for me which makes it a lot easier with the baby. Amy’s mom let us borrow her travel trailer so that we could have a setup at the races, for example. So the setup is really nice. We have a kitchen, AC. We sleep at the track and all that. We’re on the road, but kind of just planning and taking it day by day. The setup we have in general has been good. It’s definitely a challenge. I’m the mechanic, rider, truck driver, everything you want. It’s a challenge, but it’s worth it. Only a racer for so long.
It’s good you have the trailer and that setup because I don’t think you’d be able to sleep very well in a van with a baby.
No, definitely not. [Laughs] It does make it easier. It makes it slower to get to places. So my van has the governor set to 70, so I can’t go very fast anyway. Whenever we do stop, we have our bed with us, put it that way. We don’t need to repack necessarily every weekend because we’re already packed. But it’s fun. It’s different. We’ve never done the full camp at the track and all of that. It’s a lot fun. It’s kind of funny being stuck in Colorado, too. That made it pretty cool where we could go mountain bike and kind of hang out some as well.
Talk about that a little bit. What happened with your van breaking down? You’re just now leaving Colorado, right?
Yeah. We left about two, three hours ago maybe. [On the way here] we were getting closer to Colorado and I started getting a message on the display saying that the diesel exhaust was something, like the owner’s manual. We’re like, oh. We’re on the road, so trying to Google it and other people are like, “You need to see the dealer.” We got some codes. I have a code reader, so we got the check engine light on and I could check the codes. There was something with the diesel exhaust system. It wasn’t where we couldn’t drive. It would just limit our speed.
Which is not ideal in the mountains.
Yes. It would limit it. At first it limited it to 65 miles. We’re pretty close at the track at that time, but instead of 75 mph, our speed limit is going to be 55 mph. So as soon as we got to the track on Friday we unhitched and unloaded everything. Amy took it to a dealership. It was something with the diesel exhaust reservoir and injector, something was wrong with it. They had it over the weekend. Then they got it fixed yesterday, which actually worked out really good. It was kind of a blessing from God because for some reason it was covered. It’s going to be like a $1,600 expense. We got in there and with all the van parts and over 100,000 miles. They’re like, “It’s covered. You’re good.” We were like, “What?” The yellow vans never broke down, so it must be because it’s not yellow. [Laughs]
You need to get that thing wrapped or something.
Maybe I need to paint it. Maybe it needs to be like a Penske. I need to go to the Penske dealer and be like, “Hey, can you paint this for me?”
So were you just stranded at the track pretty much? After everyone left, were you just there doing motos? What has the week been like?
After we were done racing, I washed my bike and kind of started getting that ready. The guys at Thunder Valley let us stay there overnight. I borrowed a bunch of hoses from a bunch of people so we could fill up the tanks. Then we just hung out. We did some mountain biking. Just chilled. Yesterday I did most of my bike work and got that figured out. Then today they let me ride a little bit on the track. Now we’re on our way to… Oklahoma will be our stop. We’ll be riding at [Robbie] Reynard’s a little bit this week before we head back to South Carolina. It was kind of nice. We just hung out. We don’t do that very often. Straight after a race just sit.
There are worse places to be broke down than Colorado, that’s for sure.
We were saying Colorado probably would be the best race to be broken down at. We could pedal our bicycles to the stores and stuff like that, so it wasn’t too bad. Pala probably wouldn’t have been too bad because you know so many people in California. But if it would have been at like Unadilla, that would have been out there far away from everything.
You said you’re doing the full series. What’s your goal for the end of the year? What would be a successful season for you?
I feel like I’m not as fast as I can be or will be. I believe that I have a lot more to give or get as far as results. I would like to be able to break into that top five on the privateer setup. As far as the overall standings, I’m not sure where I would put me, but just being competitive every weekend and being healthy is just obviously a major goal. Start breaking into that top five and battling with more of those factory guys is definitely a big goal for me.
Getting more of those FMF privateer awards.
I’ll get those. As long as I don’t get these Hard Charger awards. I want to keep away from those.
That means you got a bad start.
Yeah. [Laughs] I’m going to try to stay away from those, but then try to get the FMF Privateer awards. That would be good. Kind of just get better overall as a racer. I have a lot more to give in supercross in 2020, so I want to be healthy and get prepared for that.
Thanks for your time, Freddie. Anyone you’d like to thank?
Sustainable Oil Field Services, Honda, Showa, FMF, Hinson, Parts Unlimited, Thor, Sidi, Bell, 100%, Pirelli, Sunstar, SSI decals, Guts Racing, ODI grips, Xtrig, VP Fuel, Works Connection, Phoenix Honda, ICW radiators, EVS Sports, Twisted Development, Integrity Electric, Peer Brothers, Dedicated Ride Co, Butchy’s BBQ, and Motion Pro.