Kyle Chisholm has built his supercross career around being a staple in main events. Now, with no main events to staple himself into, Chisholm has had to reorganize his plans moving forward for the 2020 season.
His home state of Florida is one of the places that are beginning to bend to the iron fist of sports and could be a sign of things to come. With that in mind, we rang up Chisholm this week to see how he’s doing and what his thoughts are on it all.
Racer X: How are you holding up with not being at the races every weekend right now?
Kyle Chisholm: To be honest, I’ve done this a long time, especially in supercross. Typically, January we start, and we don’t get a break until Easter. So, once we’re getting closer, you’ve done eight, nine, ten weekends in a row, it’s kind of like sometimes a weekend off, a little time off would be nice. I’m typically not too much like that. You got to get into a rhythm. I’ve found a good balance since I’ve been doing it so many years. So, for me, I kind of find a good balance once I get going. But I’m always like, it would be nice to have a weekend at home. We get that now, and the first weekend I was like, it’s kind of nice to just have a weekend home, a break from the grind. But then literally by the next weekend I was like, I don’t know what to even do with myself. You’re just programmed. I had a plan in place, like most guys do. I had a training plan and all that of what I needed to do week to week and month to month. You kind of go through your training cycles. It all kind of literally suddenly came to a halt. At first it was nice to have a weekend at home unexpected, and then now by the next weekend it was like, okay, what do you do when you’re not racing? Definitely a bummer. It is what it is. Everybody’s in the same boat. For me, I’m just kind of staying busy. I had some plans, some things to do after supercross was over, so I kind of sped those up and been doing that now pretty much since we’ve had the break.
What is kind of your approach right now with the situation? Are you able to get out and train much, or is just a lot of hanging out at the house right now?
I would say both. For me, I’m in Florida. To be honest, obviously it’s a big deal and people and dying, but I definitely feel like just personal opinion, the media kind of makes people go a little bit crazy or whatever with numbers. So many people die from the flu every year, and they have a flu vaccine. Half the time it doesn’t work. Sometimes I think it makes people get the flu, or they get it anyway. I think somewhere like 20,000-70,000 people a year die from the flu. We don’t stop everything because of that. I get this is maybe a little bit different, but I feel like they make it a little bit a bigger deal than maybe it is. But at least in Florida where I am, I wouldn’t say everything’s normal. My phone kind of sucks in my house. I went two miles down the road, where the main road is. I’m parked at a gas station talking right now and there’s at least 30 cars at this gas station, people driving by… I think people are kind of staying away from each other a little bit, but everybody’s out and doing stuff. Obviously, you see it on the news in Michigan and I think somewhere else, people in their counties or states weren’t allowed to leave their home or whatever or they’d get in trouble or something. People are protesting. It’s craziness. I get it. It’s a little different. Obviously, I don’t want people to die, and prevent it if we can, but I feel there’s a good balance between completely stopping everything and having to stay home and not do anything versus normal life what it was. So, I think it all kind of eases the next little while we got to get back to normal slowly. Around here, it’s not like there’s nobody out on the streets at all. So, for me, I’ve been doing the normal bicycling, running. I can’t go to the gym because the gym’s not open. Luckily, I have some equipment, weights, and stuff at home, so I kind of do my own workout which is good enough for a little while. So, I’ve been doing all that stuff, training and stuff. On the riding side, I haven’t ridden in probably about two weeks now. Kind of try to treat this as a normal off-season. After say September, I would probably take at least two weeks completely off the bike, and really no training at all. Just let my body rest. I’ve still been training and doing all that stuff, but I haven’t ridden in probably two weeks. I’m actually going riding tomorrow. So, I just kind of want to take a little bit of time off, let my body rest. To be honest, I’ll probably be riding once, maybe twice a week between now and whenever we start racing again. It’s hard for doing my own program. I don’t have an unlimited budget of parts and all that. I had only planned on doing supercross, maybe a couple outdoors here and there, but the main focus was just doing supercross. For me, I kind of budgeted and planned on the parts I was going to use and the time on the bikes was to be used from November to May, for the most part. So, if I go pound motos from now until, let’s say I do a couple outdoors and then let’s say supercross does resume in September or October, my bikes are going to be worn out. I won’t have new parts left in the budget or whatever by the time we get back to racing. So, for me, I’ve got an overall plan. I need to be careful with how much stuff I go through. Maybe take a little bit of time off here. The other thing is to be honest, if we do start racing supercross in September, that’s almost five months from now. It doesn’t do me any good to pound motos for five months. So, for me, I can take a couple months off and then I still have two or three months to prepare, to be riding. Which like I said, I’m still riding. I’m still training. Not completely taking it off. I do kind of want to maybe do a couple outdoors here and there, then I want to be ready for supercross if and when we can start back up. So, it’s just weird. Going with the punches as they come. Just staying fit and not overdoing it as well.
I’m curious with this being something that we’ve never really dealt with, and you’ve been in the sport for a long time, how do you feel it might affect the industry as a whole moving forward past this situation?
To be honest, it can’t be good. I hate to say it. Just from the standpoint of all the people getting laid off. The lower, middle-class working people are the first ones that are kind of laid off or out of work. Maybe people that make a little bit more money or are higher up in companies, they may be able to work from home. Just from a general economic, business standpoint, but a lot of small businesses that aren’t allowed to be open right now that aren’t essential, those types of businesses can’t afford to have a month or two with no income. They can’t sustain that. The government is giving out loans or whatever for that. That’s going to have to be paid back some way or another. They can’t just give out free money. So, it can only go so long. So I feel like the quicker that everything can kind of get back to normal and businesses can open, obviously be smart and safe about it, but everybody kind of get back to work and maybe keep their distance for a while, and maybe older, more susceptible people to getting sick, compromised immune system or just elderly people, maybe they need to self-quarantine or stay home longer. The healthy people that can fight it off or whatever, I feel like they need to safely get back to work, get the economy back going and businesses going. For me, the point of that is, people need money to go buy a dirt bike helmet or buy a new dirt bike or buy parts on their bike, or to pay to ride at a local track, to buy Racer X magazines, or whatever it is. People need money in their pocket to spend. So, the quicker they come back, and the businesses can open… The economy has been doing so good, for the most part, the last two or three years and it’s been growing and being good. I feel like businesses have been good. Turnouts at the races have been good. Sponsorships have been good, at least from my knowledge and my experience lately. So it sucks that it all came to a sudden halt, but I feel like the quicker we can get back to normal, the quicker we’ll kind of rebound and get back to there so people have money to spend and support the sport. Let’s be honest, it’s not a huge sport, in the grand scheme of things. Hopefully we just get back to normal, so people have money in their pocket to spend and go support the sport and go have fun.
How much, if at all, has the racing hiatus been kind of a tough situation financially for you?
To be honest, it’s hard. I won’t name any sponsors, but for the most part, so I’ve been doing my own team this year, just did my own little program. I kind of tried to separate my gear deals or something like that from my bike sponsors. Basically, they’re all my personal sponsors. Firepower, I run their batteries and their chains. They’re a personal sponsor to me, but they kind of more fell into the category of like a team too sponsor, or like LS2, my helmet sponsor, is more like my personal sponsor. They’re still a team sponsor. They’re still on my bike, my jersey, my helmet. But the way I look at it, if I ride for a team when I’m allowed to do my own gear deals, I kind of ride for the team that pays me, and I ride their bike and their handlebars and their sprockets and their chains and their graphics. That’s the team side of it. Then if on that team I can do my own gear deals, that’s like my own personal stuff. Even though it’s my own team so everything is my own, personal stuff, I tried to kind of separate it business-wise. So, for instance, Twin Air or ODI, they’re a team sponsor. So any bonuses or money that I kind of raised before the season to sponsor the team to help with travel and paying the mechanic and paying the truck driver and paying for the truck to go on the road, that all fell in the team category. That money got put into that pile. Then my gear stuff is kind of my personal one. I’m paying myself with that money. Obviously, I might need to give some to the team, I do. But that’s my salary I pay myself, or whatever you want to call it. So, for me it definitely is tough. So just so people that’s how I kind of worked my deal this year, doing my own thing. But the way I set up all my deals for the team, it was basically like they would pay me from December to May, X amount per month or per race, whatever the deal was set up for, but when races stopped or we’re not racing, they’re not going to pay. It’s hard to expect them to because we’re not out there doing it, because that’s how I set it all up was just to be a supercross-only deal. They were going to pay me December, January through May, so five months. So for instance, let’s say somebody’s paying me five grand to be a part of the team, and they’re maybe paying me $1,000 a month, January, February, March, April and May, or they may pay me $5,000 divided by 17 races and pay me per race. When that all comes to a stop, obviously I’m not functioning, spending money on the team, but then the gear side of it potentially could be the same. A lot of deals are set up like that, is what I’m saying. So, the team side of it stopped, so maybe those payments stopped and maybe they’ll start again. Hopefully they’ll start again once we start racing. That’s what I’m hoping on that side. Then even the gear side, I still have bills to pay but I’m not racing, so it just depends on how the deals are set up. It makes it tough because sponsors aren’t doing well if they can’t be running or if people aren’t spending money. So, it’s definitely affecting that side of things, just say my salary, what I don’t have coming in. But then the other side of it is the bonus money that you earn on the weekend and the purse money and stuff like that. For me, that’s what I do, and it’s how I make a living. So not having that bonus or the purse money, Yamaha contingency since I’m on a Yamaha… Having none of that coming in, not that I have no other way to make money, but that is my job. Go get a job or figure something else out. It definitely makes it tough. Luckily, I kind of put myself in a good enough situation that I can be okay with that. But it still sucks. Everybody wants to make money and make more money. I’m in a fine position, personally, but still not the best situation to be in.
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Pretty pumped on the set up this year. Not too bad for throwing it together in about 3 weeks. @tilube and @actionsportscanopies stepped up huge for me on short notice to give me a nice pit set up. If you are in need of any oils and lubricants or you want to get an awesome custom canopy done for yourself or your business check out these two great companies. Thanks guys ???????? #teamchiz
Talking about your season, you had some ups and downs. You obviously had the crash at A2. But overall, were you pretty happy with the season and how things had gone to that point?
Yeah. To be honest, I didn’t even get my Yamahas until the day after Christmas. I think I rode two days and then I rode press day, and then I raced A1. So A1 was the first day on my Yamaha. I don’t know if anyone remembers the video. I rode press at A1. I had suspension done, just stock stuff, re-valve, but I still had a stock sprocket, a stock chain, the tires that come on the bike… I think I had my handlebars and suspension re-valved, and that’s all I rode press day with. Everything was so late. A lot of people brought stuff to Anaheim. We brought an FMF pipe and the Rekluse clutch and brake fluid and all that stuff that was good. But I had like no time on the bike. So, to make the main at A1, get it going right away, it was good. I was starting to make progress, get closer. I had a 12th or a 13th in some of the motos in Dallas [the Arlington Supercross] in the Triple Crown. I had a few top 15, getting close to the top ten. So just making steady progress. Doing my own thing, just basically me and my dad and my truck driver, Kenny [Germain]. It’s pretty much the whole team. So, all things considered, and how stacked the field was this year, especially in the beginning, I was happy just being in the main event every week and being up in the top 15, close to it and then getting closer to the top ten. So that was all good. Like you said, I had that crash at A2. So, I had a couple races that were not a bummer. I skipped the second round because I already had a commitment to go to Germany to race that. So, I missed the second round going over there. Then I came back from A2 for round three, and I crashed in the heat race. Kind of hurt my shoulder and bruised a lung and hit my head a little bit. So that was a bummer. So, I had to sit out the next race to let everything kind of heal up. So, I had a couple races there that were kind of a bummer. A crash at A2 and then missing Phoenix. But then we were right back in the main event every week and up in the battle. Not even having to go to the LCQ most weeks. So, I was really happy with everything. I think we kind of just started to get into a groove. Was getting my program going kind of how I wanted. There’s so much that goes into running your own program aside from just showing up to race and practice during the week. So, all things considered, all that work behind the scenes that people don’t see, I was pretty happy with the progress we had made. Just working with sponsors. It was going good and all that. Just sucks to come to a stop so quickly. But it is what it is, and hopefully get right back into the groove once we start back racing.
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Well I was going to wait until tomorrow to show you guys this but how badass did my @ls2helmetsus military themed helmet turn out for the San Diego @supercrosslive military appreciation race. As you can see I went with the newly announced space force theme ????????. I’ll be rocking it this weekend so come by and check it out. @gabe_uhde killed it on this thing. Thanks man
Who you would you like to thank for helping you through this time and through this year so far?
Obviously, my family, first off. My wife, my parents, my dad. My dad has been mechanic for me pretty much every week. For those that don’t know, he’s my practice bike during the week already. So, he’s been a huge help at the races being the race mechanic and everything, during the week and on the weekends. He works. He owns his own business, so he’s pretty much flying in Friday night after work, helping on the Saturday, going back Sunday and going right back to work. Pretty much nonstop for him. So definitely him. My truck driver, Kenny. He’s been awesome. He drove for the HEP Suzuki team last year, and when he wasn’t working for them this year. We got to know each other after working together. So, he’s been a huge help. He’s working for pennies on the dollar for my budget and what I have to work with. So, he’s been awesome, as far as those things go. TiLube was a huge help to me. Without them, I would have been racing but not with the presentation at the level that I am. Joe [Murphy] and everybody at TiLube has been kind of the first big puzzle piece that kind of fell together for me. Then along with Rock River, Mike [DuClos] at Rock River. Obviously, he has his own team and he really wanted me. We were trying to make it work for me to be on the team, but it just didn’t make sense just in general and financially a little bit, to be honest, for me to do it. But we still wanted to work together, so all my bikes and parts and everything are coming from him, from Rock River, and Yamaha as well. Then Pure Canna CBD. They’re a huge sponsor that stepped up for me to help me with my program. So, this is the first year working with them and getting to know them. They’ve been awesome to work with. LS2. This is my second year with them, and they’ve been awesome, LS2 helmets. A couple personal people. Sean Backus and Chad Ward. Just two good friends that have successful business outside of racing. They just love the sport and they stepped up to help me quite a bit this year. FXR, EVS, Atlas, Eks Brand, Sidi. Action Sport Canopies. They’re another one. If anyone got to see my pit setup, for throwing everything together in a week, they did an awesome job with all my canopies. Active Ride suspension, Engine Ice, Ricky Fowler. He’s helped the last quite a few years. We’re good friends. For those that don’t know, he’s a professional golfer. Awesome family that supports the sport quite a bit. His dad rides and everything, which is really cool. FMF, Rekluse, Backyard Design graphics, ODI, Bolt hardware, Moto Hose, Firepower, DM Designs, Sunstar sprockets, Acerbis, Galfer, Works Connection, Guts seats, Dunlop, Twisted [Development]. Jamie [Ellis] over at Twisted did an awesome job with me. Motion Pro, Matrix, and Twin Air. I’m sure I’m forgetting some people, but a long list of help for me this year, which is awesome.