If you want to know about the racers in the 450SX class, ask a racer, right? We sat down with SGB Racing/Maxxis/Babbitt’s Kawasaki’s Alex Ray recently to ask him his opinion on the top 20 of the 450SX class. Whatever came up, we recorded and typed out for you—here’s A Ray’s thoughts on his competitors.
Racer X: Cade Clason?
He’s not in the top twenty, I can’t talk about him.
Wilder, but a miniature Chiz [Kyle Chisholm], I would say. I do know that he did what I almost did at Glen Helen that year in 2018. Do you remember watching the replay of me just swapping down that hill? He did that but crashed. Nuts. Two laps and he wasn’t getting up. He’s sort of a quiet dude, but he gets it done. He’s one of those I feel like who could be 14th every weekend but you still never see him out there.
Benny. We shared his mechanic, Derek [Rankin]. I don’t know how he rides so well with how tall he is, but he makes it work. He’s a big giraffe. I think Derek likes me better. I think Derek weighs more towards A-Ray than Benny.
I haven’t really spoken to him too much. He is a racer. He gets it done. He’s not the best in qualifying, but whenever the gate drops, he is a racer. He knows how to get out there, get out front and stay there. That’s something I need to learn from him, for sure.
It’s just an honor to even race in the same decade as Chad Reed. I grew up watching him. It’s like he has eyeballs in the back of his head. He always knows where you’re going to be. It was just cool to see him race pretty much everyone—Ricky [Carmichael], Bubba [James Stewart], everyone. And for me to be able to race with him, it’s great. At the beginning of my career obviously I was too scared to talk to anyone because I’m just like this goon who’s in the way. He always sort of seemed like he had this pissed-off look to him. That’s just stress of doing good and stuff like that. But in the past few years, I’ve actually talked to him and carried on a conversation with him. He’s more laid back then ever, I feel like, right now. That’s a good side of Chad.
He’s like my archrival. He’s been in the game for a long time. He pretty much knows every single trick in the book, it seems like. It’s hard to rattle him. No matter if it’s the first or the last lap, he’s going to be riding the same pace. He could ride one day throughout the whole off-season and come to Anaheim 1 and get a f****** 16th. Probably on stock suspension, too. There’s nothing flashy about him, he probably has the ugliest setup, but he’s a veteran. He makes it work. He’s always going to be there.
To be honest, 2008 I rode at his house twice a week in Kentucky. We were close. Then we trained together at the SX Academy before some stuff happened. I saw it all. I was right there. Things change. People change. I wouldn't say… Whatever. If I see him, I just won’t say anything. No bad blood or anything like that. He’s freaking cleaned me-- every time he sees me, I feel like he just goes out of his way to clean me out. If we’re in a race or something, he’ll just clean me out.
Dude, Marty. I could appreciate Marty this year because he has looped out his bike and he has gotten sketchy. I like watching him ride. He’s up in the 450 class. He’s just funny, man. You talk to him and he’s not scared to admit it, he’s like, “Bro, I got so sketchy!” He’s like, “I don’t know. My bike just has a lot of power and I’m not used to it yet!” I can admire it. I can admire anyone that gets sketchy.
Zacho, another one that I can appreciate the big send this year. He fights for it. I used to race with his wife’s little brother. We share the same birthday. So, all the time at the amateur nationals and stuff we’d always hang out and stuff. He’s a cool kid. That’s sort of how I know Zach. He’s an animal on and off the bike. He’s a Manimal, I would say.
Vince gets this bad rap about cross jumping people, but I feel like, everyone’s done it at some point. Maybe not JT [Jason Thomas]. JT has never cross-jumped! [Laughs] I’ve done it. I’m guilty. There’s a few people that are guilty. It happens sometimes. I don’t know if he does it on purpose. I think he’s fighting hard for the spot. Yeah, he’s an aggressive racer. I actually grew up racing around the same area as him, because he grew up in Cape Girardeau, I grew up in Tennessee, which is about three and a half, four hours apart. We were at a lot of the same races together. He’s improved a lot. He moved to MTF [Millsaps Training Facility] I think whenever he was on amateurs, back on 125s and stuff. That’s where he really turned everything around. He became that Red Bull athlete and stuff whenever he was amateur. Me and Vince, we go way back. He’s always super, super nice to me. Never cleaned me out, I don’t think. Not yet. So that’s good.
El Chupacabra. He can send it, too. Big wall jumps. I like his place, his El Chupacabra Ranch. I think that’s awesome. I haven’t ever really talked to him, he’s a little bit of a different guy. He sort of keeps to himself. He has his whole thing there at El Chupacabra Ranch, I think he’s more of a country boy. I think that’s cool. I can appreciate that, being from the East Coast. I like his riding style. The dude can freaking crush some whoops. For a guy who’s small stature, he can crush some whoops! That’s awesome.
Whenever I was living in Corona, he was actually my neighbor. He lived right across in the apartments whenever he lived in Corona. But he’s just awesome dude. Free sprit. Just always a smile on his face. Always. No matter what, he’s got a smile on his face. He rubs his hands together when he gets all excited. Things can be going bad for him and he just always has a smile on his face, no matter what. AP is freaking funny, man. Everyone loves AP. He’s a people’s champ.
Another people’s champ. Adam Cianciarulo, he’s just a great interview. He’s so knowledgeable. I’ve talked to him a little bit. I think he’s seen me ride before, because he’s like, “A-Ray sends it.” I don’t know if he’s seen me on the practice track or what. On his slow lap he sees me coming through the whoops sideways and you can see every single one of my number plates. He’s super honest in his interviews. It’s weird. Cooper Webb would be the first to say he got his buck picked, but AC will be the first one to say, “Everyone’s riding really, really good, and I felt like I was riding good myself. I just got straight upbeat tonight.” He’s just a genuine person, man. I feel like a lot of good things are going to be coming for him in the future.
JB, he sort of keeps to himself. He’s one of those Idaho guys or whatever. [Alex means Iowa]. Big arenacross guy. He can crush some whoops, too. I spent a lot of time with him at ClubMX. He’s laughed at me a few times for freaking sending it. He’s super knowledgeable. After we’d get done with the moto, we would be riding, and he’d be watching. He just got done with one of his. He would point stuff out and be like, “Do this, do this.” He actually helped me out whenever I had just gotten my Cycle Trader ride and I was struggling with starts. Two thousand seventeen at ClubMX I was doing starts on my Yamaha and I would come out of the gate, and I would try to just get on it and go. I was just everywhere. He’s like, “Dude, on these Yamahas—I did it at JGR—you have to do low RPM. Low RPM whenever the gate is about to drop, and then go.” What it does is, it gives it less bottom, but it tracks better.
That’s actually worked on the Yamaha and the Suzuki. JB, he helped me out there with some starts.
Justin Hill can do some big ass jumps, dude. I’ve spent a little bit of time watching him, because we rode a little bit together last year whenever I was up at the Suzuki track. We would get bored with the track. We would just like, “Hey, guys. Let’s do this moto backwards.” And he was doing the biggest rhythms ever backwards. It was like three, four over a table and then jump all the way out of the rhythm section. I’m like, bro. That’s crazy. He’s crazy talented. He cracks me up whenever he does the switch kicks to the Tuff Blox.
A lot, a lot of natural talent, I feel like. I don’t know if it’s all-natural talent. He definitely works his ass off. They do a lot of laps there. He can throw down some heaters. He can crush some whoops. I’m trying to think of a story. I don’t know if I have any, but I feel like I do. Oh yeah! He was fast on a KX250 at Gatorback. He would rip there. I remember going there and watching him ride there. He was ripping. I feel like he was faster on that than his 250F. He was ripping on that thing. I’m trying to think of something more recent.
I like Deano. We send memes back and forth to each other on Instagram a lot. He’s funny. I like his Instagram edits. He’s just a peppy dude. He’s got a lot of personality. He’ll call me out. He’s like, “Yo, A-Ray, what were you doing in the freaking Tuff Blox over there?” He just likes to shoot the shit, which is cool. He’s humble, for sure. He’s definitely humble. Also, him and Coop [Webb] are the two dudes that are the most cheapest bastards I’ve ever met.
Me and Anderson, we got into an altercation before. San Diego 2018 free practice. I got in his way. I don’t know what matters in the free practice because nothing’s timed, but I get it. Freaking cleans me out in the next turn. Okay, cool. We’ll try to throw down on the freaking bike path. That’s all squashed. I’ve talked to him a bit this year. I was fortunate to be friends with TK [Tyler Keefe] a little bit and he let me spin a couple laps at the TLD test track. I saw Jason out there, we talked about it and stuff. We kind of squashed the beef. I don’t know if I’m supposed to say that I’ve been riding at the TLD track though!
Jason’s another guy who’s got loose style. He’s got his own style. I’ve admired it for a long time. I like the way he scrubs and hits the turns. He stays low over the jumps. He’s real precise about stuff. I wouldn’t say he’s as precise as say Kenny [Roczen], but he makes it work for him.
He was my teammate, but he has cleaned me out numerous times. I think St. Louis, a few years ago first lap of the semi, cleans me out. Dude, what are we doing here? We’re both on the ground. I was pissed but that all changed. [What] I saw from that Barcia to the teammate Barcia, totally different. I didn’t know him then sort of as a person. I do now, just spending time around him. He’s totally different on and off the track. Very good dude off the track. We squashed the beef. He was a good teammate.
Cooper Webb, he’s a pretty cool dude. I got a funny story. We actually went on a mountain bike ride together not that long ago. We were doing this trial called Slaughter over by his place. We come up on this guy and he’s like, “Hey, there’s a tree down and there’s some bees around it. There’s a beehive.” He’s like, “Okay, whatever.” So we kept going, whatever. Then we see the log and there’s one or two bees, whatever. Then we try to hop over it. He goes first, and just a swarm of bees. Bro. A swarm of bees! He’s getting bit left and right. He’s like, “F**k! F**k! F**k!” He said he was in so much pain by the time we got back. He was freaking out. I was like, “Bro, you need to take some Benadryl or something before you swell up.” Coop is a good dude.
Kenny has a freaking awesome personality. I like his Instagram videos where he’s always doing something out of the ordinary. He doesn’t care to have a freaking donut or some ice cream before the race. It’s not going to kill him. Same with Baggett. But he does some cool stuff in the gym. He freaking can do those backflips on his feet. That’s nuts. I can appreciate too he’s a dog dad, like myself. I can appreciate a dog dad for sure.
I don’t know. I’ve made a comment in front of him one time and he’s like, “Right? What the heck, man?” Kinda dorky, but he keeps to himself for sure. He’s there to open up a can of whoop-ass, go home, and freaking train his ass off, I feel like. I feel like he’s there to do work and it shows in his personality. Dude, I thought I revved my bike. He does not care. That thing has freaking smoke rolling out of it. He’s gnarly. I can appreciate his riding style in outdoors because he can bang off of everything. He can slam into stuff, and he makes it work. You have Kenny how he’s popping over everything and being precise…then there’s Eli.