Marshal Weltin, originally of Michigan but now based in North Carolina, has been through it all as of late. He made his way through Europe in the EMX250 series for a few years, then came back to the U.S. this year when the FIM’s under-23 age rule was adopted for EMX, pushing him out of that class. He raced as a privateer in the 250SX East Region of Monster Energy AMA Supercross, then went to Canada, then showed up at Unadilla and Ironman and scored solid points in his motos (he went 19-15 in Unadilla’s 250 Class, and 20-11 in Ironman’s 450 Class).
Then over the weekend he hit the Baja Brawl at Baja Acres in Michigan and won the 450 class there. He has a bit more planned for the off-season, too, so we rang him up and asked him about it.
Racer X: Marshal, what’s up? You raced in Canada this summer, you raced Unadilla and Ironman Nationals, looks like you showed up at Baja Brawl. You’re just racing!
Marshal Weltin: There’s no set way to do it as a privateer, so I’ve been trying to find the best, most logical way and sometimes it’s just not really clear. At the end of Ironman, Travis [Beam, local bicycle shop owner in North Carolina] gave me that 450 he used so the plan is to go out and just race some local money motos throughout the fall in the southeast in the next month or so. I’ll do the Racer X Maine Event, and there’s that Pleasure Valley race in Pennsylvania. There’s also pro-am at RedBud this weekend and another one at Budds Creek. So I’m probably just going to hit the road solo every weekend and take my van and just try to make some money.
This is rad. You’re going to do all these? This is old school.
Oh, yeah. Not really old school, but I just want to try to make some money. My dad is going to buy me a 2020 KTM 250, so I’ll have a 250 to race. That’s really just how I’m trying to get by right now. It kind of sucks when you show up to those races and you just have a 450. I had my brother’s 250 this weekend but it’s super clapped out and has 50 hours on it. It’s stock. Not to mention, I sucked some sand in the engine so I couldn’t even finish the whole weekend out on it.
The reason I say it’s old school is because I think there used to be a time where there was good contingency and purse money all over, and that’s what guys did. They just went to bigger local or regional events and tried to make some purse money and stuff.
Yeah, that is pretty much my plan. That race in Maine has a $15,000 purse. The Pleasure Valley one has a $10,000 purse, and then a $4,000 250 purse. So if I can make a few grand here and there and try to stack that towards supercross or whatever I do next. That’s kind of where my head’s at.
Let me go all the way back to supercross. I know that Travis Beam hooked you up with a bike and stuff. What was your prep going into supercross? It was kind of a plan, but was it really a plan or were you just going for it?
Actually, I don’t think I couldn’t have prepared myself more. It was more on me. Me and Broc [Tickle] had a solid three or four months of prep. We did suspension testing. We did ECU testing with Jamie Ellis. My bike was freaking sweet. I think everything was lined up. I just didn’t have the experience to kind of make it happen. The prep wasn’t the issue. The only thing that I wasn’t fully prepared with is hitting real supercross whoops. That kind of held me back all season, I believe. Two to three seconds in one segment just there. So if I could have just mastered those a little bit better, I think I would have had a little bit better outcome of the season. Then after the fourth round I ended up getting injured anyway and that screwed me over. I don’t think the prep was the issue.
So supercross was going to plan. Then did the Canada thing come along late, or was that actually a plan, also?
Canada was late. Travis actually bought the 450 I have right now for me to do a privateer outdoor 450 effort, kind of like John Short and Henry [Miller] did this year. So that was going to be my plan. Then the deal came to Canada where I was going to get free bikes and I could make a little extra bonus money and race for wins and not 12th places. So that was pretty inviting to me, so I took that route instead. It was last-minute, but I had already had my suspension and my ECU and some wheel stuff carried over from supercross, so I just saved that stuff and then I put it on my Canadian race bike. It all kind of worked out pretty good. After the season ended in Canada, we only did eight races up there and I did four supercross races, so I’m not burned out at all. I don’t feel like I need a break or an off-season. I just wanted to keep racing. So me and my brother just loaded up my van and went to Ironman and did the best we could. I ended up coming home after Ironman to Michigan, because that’s where I’m from. I grew up an hour from Baja. That’s my home track. I just wanted to go back and race and see some friends. It was a fun weekend.
First of all, Canada—you had some podiums. Were you happy with your results?
I was. I became kind of stagnant mid-season. I feel like I lost a little speed, maybe. I don’t know. I think me jumping to new tracks and not really being comfortable on it right away. It was a little bit frustrating because I was healthy and I didn’t have an excuse, I just didn’t quite have it at a few of the races. But then at the end I felt like I picked it back up and I was kind of back into form and challenging for the race lead again. I was pretty happy with it. I had four podiums on the season and three fourth-places. So I was pretty consistently a top-four guy every moto.
Did you end up making money on that part?
I did make a little money up in Canada. It wasn’t a complete loss.
Let’s talk about these motos at Ironman. You were top-ten guy for the most part in the 450 Class! It was pretty awesome.
Thanks. I don’t know where it came from! I didn’t have any expectations coming into the weekend. Like I said, I have a stock KTM 450 with my suspension on it. It hasn’t been serviced in 40 hours, but it works fine. Everything was great. I had my little brother there. He didn’t even have a backpack going to the line. Barely had a pit board. I didn’t have numbers until the night of the race because I screwed up, I got the wrong color graphics. I didn’t even realize I needed a different color. I don’t know why it just slipped my mind. When I asked Briar for a new set of graphics for Ironman, I ordered them and I forgot to even mention that I was racing the 450 Class. I raced a 250 at Unadilla. Changing the graphics colors slipped my mind. When you got to arrange all this stuff and try to get ready, sometimes the details get blurred.
At Ironman you finished 11th in moto two. Were you up there in the first moto also at one point?
First moto I fell in the second turn, charged up to around 15th and then I ended up falling again. I fell five times the whole moto! I think I mentioned it before, but it was like I didn’t install my triple clamps properly. I was missing a spacer. When I did qualifying I had a little o-ring that kind of held it together, but then in the races I think the o-ring went to shreds. Then my stem was just flopping around in the moto. I kept falling and I couldn’t figure out why. I came back and went to my buddy, Maniac, Matt Winters in TLD and asked him a quick question. I needed a spacer. I didn’t really realize it, but I messed it up. I got a spacer for moto two and went to the line. I got a decent gate and I just jumped up and I think I was around tenth to the start and made it happen.
Did you get nervous or surprised at any point?
I’ve never been less nervous for a race. I don’t know what it was, but I had no nerves. I went to the line just super nonchalant. I think I was drinking a coffee. Not even a care in the world, to be honest. Like I said, I had already finished my season so that race I had literally zero pressure. I felt like no one was even watching me anyway, so I’m like, I don’t really care how I do. Just go out and have fun. I really had one goal, and that was to beat Josh Osby. We always have a rivalry. If I could have beat Osby, that was really where my head was at. Other than that, I didn’t care about anything else.
You ended up battling factory guys in that one!
Yeah. I lined up right next to [Fredrik] Noren. We fist-bumped. I live right in Huntersville right next to JGR. I feel like they don’t get to see me ride very much and it’s cool to show them I’m still in it and still trying to make it work. I go on bicycle rides with those guys sometimes. I see them all the time, but they don’t really get to see me ride. I don’t ride up at their test track at all. So it’s cool to kind of show my stuff a little.
Yeah so next time you’re on a bicycle ride they’ll be like, “Hey, Marshal’s fast.” So Baja Brawl, that’s your home track then. So how’d those motos go? Obviously well in the 450 class, which you won. I did see the DNS there in the 250, but I guess we know why.
Yeah. I don’t know why the bike  did that, but I just sucked a little dirt into the engine. I only did one moto on it so I don’t really know why it sucked dirt, but it kind of sucked. I was on top of the air filter. I borrowed my brother’s 250 for the 250 classes and the thing was not fresh by any means. We tried to get it prepped for the weekend and it just wasn’t ready. I did what I could. I was second or third. I don’t know if I won a moto even. It was just kind of whatever in the 250 class, but I felt right at home on the 450. I felt like I pretty much dominated the whole 450 class. There was a mud moto at the end. I pulled a 25-second lead. It was muddy sand. It reminded me of being back in Europe. I loved it. I had so much fun. Racing in the wet sand is something that most people would hate, but I thought it was just super cool.
I’m sure you’ve dealt with that a time or two in your career.
Yeah. That’s what I mean. Last year when I lived in Belgium, those conditions were pretty ordinary for the most part. So it was just fun to refresh my memory with those conditions.
You’re going to Maine and a lot of these other races. Is there some part of this that’s fun? Just like, hey dude, I got my dirt bike and I got my van and I’m just going to go racing?
That’s where I’m trying to keep my head at, just have as much fun with it as possible. I’m still at home right now in Michigan at my parents’ place. They’re both at work right now. I’ve just been training. I just did a solo half-marathon by myself this morning. I do an hour gym workout, prep my dirt bike and try to eat as much healthy food as I can. Just trying to enjoy what I’m doing right now.
You just ran 13 miles, bro?
Yeah. It took me like two hours. It was nothing too gnarly. Last week I did 150 miles on the bicycle. I haven’t ran in a month and a half and just off the couch. I did four miles yesterday and then this morning I did my first one and I’m like, screw it, I feel like running a half right now.
By the way, you’re not just doing a half marathon this morning, you’re then doing other stuff after it!
[Laughs] I’ll probably do a gym workout this afternoon. I don’t know. I’m just trying to enjoy what I’m doing. I like training. It’s always been fun to me.
One more thing on Baja Brawl. My buddies Kevin Kelly and Wes Kain announced that race and tell he it’s maybe the most fun party atmosphere of any race they go to. I don’t know if you were supposed to be asleep or what. Did you see this stuff?
It was all pretty much before 9:00, so I saw pretty much everything. I didn’t go to the pit bike race, but that stunt that Ronnie Mac did was pretty mental. That takes some serious balls.
Was this the double pond crossing?
Yeah. I’m sure you’ve seen it on video by now. If you could have seen the takeoff ramps that they rigged up and how they managed it. They made a CR250 with wakeboards on the front fender. It took some serious balls to go and hit that. I give him props. Yeah, I eventually had to go to bed but I saw a lot of my friends there, and the party was pretty sick, but that’s not my focus right now!
Main Image: Rich Shepherd