The Garrett Marchbanks signing certainly took headlines for the Club MX team, but the squad also added Jace Owen, brought back Joey Crown, and even added German Supercross front-runner Dominique Thury. Despite not being a full factory effort, the riders still believe there’s a big upside to being on this program and have high expectations for 2021. We’ve spoken with Haas and Marchbanks already this week. We caught up with Owen, Crown, and Thury on Tuesday as they were doing one last photoshoot before the season.
Racer X: How’s everything going with the team getting ready for this season?
Jace Owen: Everything has been going awesome. For me, this is a new team, a new opportunity for me. I’ve been on Honda for a long time, so switching brands I think was something I needed in my program, just kind of like a new start. I’ve been at ClubMX for quite a few years now just training. Me and Brandon [Haas, team owner] go way back. I was kind of one of the originals back in 2011. We had a lot of success together. I won a lot of amateur championships in Schoolboy and B classes. For things to make a full circle and now Brandon has a team, and a very successful team, it’s cool to be a part of that, and then have the training side on top of it. He’s my team owner, but at the same time he’s also my trainer. So, it’s cool that we have that.
How different dynamic-wise to your other teams is it?
I think for me it’s a perfect situation. Having the relationship that I do with Brandon for all the years, and me feeling like I can communicate with him about the bike, and he helps with that. If I’m having a situation that I think we could be a little bit better, he’s good at seeing things and what improvements we can make there. Same with off the bike, in the gym and training-wise there. Kind of making the changes that I need to have the best program that I can have.
You talked about switching from Hondas to Yamahas now. What is the difference with the bikes that you enjoy? How has the team helped you get everything dialed in?
From the couple years past, I’ve done the arenacross thing and I’ve kind of dipped into supercross. So, a big part for me this year was my main focus was just supercross. I’ve definitely got more training in this year than I ever have in the past. Everyone was always like, “It’s supercross. You need to put everything into that.” It was tough with arenacross and the success that I’ve had in that, but it’s cool. I feel like I’m at a point in my career right now where it’s almost like a make or break, as far as succeeding in supercross and achieving my goals and my dreams. As far as the bike, the Yamaha, a big thing has just been training days compared to the past. Not having any bike malfunctions, bike problems. Everything has been really good there. Power-wise, the bike is really good all the way through. Smooth power, but super-fast. So, I think I’ve always been a great starter in the past and I think this year a big thing will be getting good starts and running up front with those guys.
Now that you’re focused on supercross, where do your expectations lie? Are you looking to make huge steps, or are you trying to just take it race by race and see how it all feels out?
I definitely have my goals and where I want to be, but one of the main things is just having fun. When I’m having fun, I’ll definitely reach my goals. As soon as you start struggling and the fun part comes out of it and you put too high of expectations on yourself… I know where I should be and where I definitely can finish, but my main thing each weekend is just go have fun and I’ll do the best that I can do, and then I’ll be where I want to be.
Racer X: Going back to supercross last year, obviously the broken collarbone and concussion in Atlanta took a good chunk out of your season. How was that process of getting over that hump, and how are you feeling now?
Joey Crown: It was quite a bit more of a process than I had hoped. The collarbone took about two weeks and I was back riding, and my head felt all right. I was planning on being ready for Detroit, I think it was, or maybe the round after. That was pre-COVID[-19]. And then COVID happened. I was like, “I won’t have to rush back.” Then I started having issues with my head a little bit and it didn’t really get any better. It was hard to get into anywhere to get checked out, with COVID and everything going on. Luckily I found a clinic in Minnesota that I my buddy, Carter Biese, went to. He saw I was having problems and told me about it. I was not making any progress, and then once I went there I was riding within two weeks and feeling better. So, it definitely kind of was ongoing and it lingered a little bit into the outdoors, but I was able to get back to 100 percent. I went back a few weeks ago for a nice tune-up and kind of get my eyes and everything dialed in. Sort of like brain training, if you will. We do training off the bike for physical stuff, and one thing that the head injury kind of made me realize is that learning more about my brain, that’s a big part of it. Look at F1 guys, too. I see them doing hand-eye coordination, reaction time stuff, which I feel like maybe on the moto side is a little bit lacking in that part. So, I’ve been focusing on that and I feel like it’s been helping for sure.
What training exercises do they have you doing? I know you said with F1 sometimes they do these exercises where maybe you hit lights and other things like that to try to keep your mind active. What was it that they were having you do?
When I go into the clinic, it’s kind of like a gyro machine. You sit in this chair and it spins 360 degrees, upside-down, sideways. Then also they spin you and you have to hit targets with a laser. So, as you’re spinning, you’re hitting targets. Then they have a similar thing like what the F1 guys do. There’s different lights that do different things when you’re hitting them. A lot of simple eye movement stuff and stabilization, like looking at dots on a wall and moving your head. It sounds simple, and when they first told me some of the stuff, I was kind of like, is this is going to work? But I was ready to try anything. It definitely helps. I could tell when I would slack off on my exercises and not do them, I could feel something getting a little bit off. So, it’s important to keep up.
So, you talked about going to that clinic and you felt a lot better pretty quickly, but then when did the whole Rock River thing come together for outdoors last year?
I think it was around Salt Lake time they called me, maybe a little bit before, because I had nothing going for the summer. ClubMX was a supercross-only team at the time. I was planning on just maybe racing a 450 at a few rounds. So, they hit me up and it ended up kind of working out with that. At first it was going to be 450, but I was kind of wanting to be in the 250 class. That’s where I want to be successful at right now. So, I stayed on a 250 and it worked out. It was not a little bit what I was expecting going in. I was expecting more of a higher standard of equipment and whatnot. It was kind of leftover stuff from the previous years, which led to lots of DNF’s and bike issues. And some issues with myself. It wasn’t all the team. But we made it through the year, and I was happy. I got my personal best, a 12th, which isn’t great, but everything considered, I was happy with that and finished pretty much a whole season healthy. It kind of primed me up for boot camp, supercross training.
Now coming back to the Club team again, you’re familiar with the program. I think you’ve trained there for a while too. Is it almost like a home feeling, where you’re just comfortable with everything?
Yeah. It’s pretty awesome here at ClubMX. I was on the team the first year they started back up in ’18. The injury took me out of supercross, but I raced the Canadian nationals with them. It’s been getting better every year. It’s cool this year with my four or five teammates, we’re also friends. Brandon is a great mentor and trainer. He’s been taking a little bit more of a role in our physical training this year, which is definitely helping. I feel like I’m in the best shape I ever have been. It’s a great vibe here for sure. For being not a factory team, I think it’s the closest one biting on the heels of all the guys for sure.
You finished top ten last year in both your rounds. Is that kind of immediately where you think you should fit in? Maybe you can push top five pretty quickly with how comfortable you are with everything?
I’m pretty confident. Top ten won’t really satisfy me this year, where last year it was pretty satisfying coming off my previous year of making no mains. So, I’m aiming for top five, and hopefully be on podiums this year. I only raced two races unfortunately last year, but the Arlington one for the second main event I got a good start and was running up front for a while and had some really good times. That built a lot of confidence. This year, I only feel better. I’m pretty confident on my bike and my fitness and my ability for this year. I think the ClubMX team is going to surprise a lot of people in the industry.
How about the schedule? You didn’t really get to do the Salt Lake swing last year, but obviously some of these are going to be triple headers. We’re going to Atlanta Motor Speedway. It’s kind of a weird schedule, for sure. What do you think of it?
I’m excited, especially Arlington being three races there. I really liked that round last year and the dirt. The city was cool and stuff. So, I’m excited for it. You race one race and then you come back, and the week normally goes by fast anyway when you’re back here training, and you’re sometimes prone to do a little bit too much or want to do too much. At a three-round race like that, you’re more focused on just recovery and being ready for the next one. So, it should be good.
Racer X: Tell me about how this whole deal came together with you getting on the ClubMX program this year.
Dominique Thury: So, I was here back in 2019 but just for three weeks back in December. I was blown away by the facility. Four supercross tracks, and even more motocross tracks. I was planning to do some races on a 450 because I raced in Europe on a 450. Then I got injured at the last race in January, in Germany. That canceled all my plans. Then COVID came around and we have a full lockdown in Germany, still. I was like, “What can I do? Should I just go all in?” That’s what I did. I talked to Brandon and luckily, we worked out a deal. Then I packed two bags and sold everything in Germany. Took these two bags and my dog and never looked back. I’m here since October, and I couldn’t be happier.
That’s a crazy story. How has it been living in the U.S. so far? Are you enjoying the lifestyle and working with everybody here?
Yeah. To be honest, I said it the other day to my teammates, I really feel home here. It was always my dream to go to America. It just never happened earlier. I really enjoy it. There were some things that I had to get used to, food and stuff like that, but I really, really like it. Right now at home, it’s not even possible to ride. So, I really like it. Also, the team dynamic, we four riders get along so good. It’s crazy.. I still had to get used to the American tracks, so I guess I benefitted the most out of it.
American fans may not know this, but you have had a long career racing German supercross and stuff like that. Do you have any GP experience?
I was always, I wouldn’t say I would joke about some GP guys, but I never saw the sense in it. You pay so much money to go racing. You have to pay €1,000 which is $1,200 for a race, just to be allowed to start there. Plus license, plus travel, plus everything, and you don’t get a cent of prize money. So, I never saw the sense behind that. I was basically paying attention to some national races, German championship, and other races which had a lot of GP guys in it, but I never saw that to be useful. That’s why I was never really interested in it. On the flip side, I’m now basically taking all my savings to live the dream. I was always more interested in supercross. I can’t tell you why, but even when I rode 65’s, I liked supercross. That was my thing, basically. So, I was never really paying attention to GP’s. The goal was always to go to America. It happened later than I thought it would happen, but I’m finally here.
Where do you feel like your expectations lie for when the gate drops this weekend in Orlando?
The goal for this season is to get top ten finishes, but for Orlando I just want to get the main event checked. So, whenever I make it into the main event, that’s the goal for this weekend. Then just doing better each weekend. It’s still a new thing to me, even though we’ve basically raced here every day on the practice track.
Talk a little bit about working with three other guys on the team where you guys kind of are pushing each other, racing each other. Is that kind of new for you? Did you have any experience on a team where you raced with your teammates on a daily basis like that?
Unfortunately, not. That was always the thing that held me back a little bit. Obviously, we don’t have a lot of supercross racers in Germany, especially not in the 450 class. So, I was always the only guy. That’s why I'm basically also the public hero at the German races. I always trained alone. That was the main thing. They called me world champion of training because I’m known to work hard. But it’s a huge difference doing your own stuff and riding alone on a track, and then suddenly you have 20 guys—or in Europe you just have 12 guys on the start gate. It’s a huge difference. I can’t even tell you if I ever rode alone since I got to America. So, it’s not just the teammates. Sometimes before supercross started, we were down there with 16 people and we were just training together. So, it’s a huge part. I really like it because I know that was a big missing piece for me in my training schedule. So that’s a huge plus. Like I said, we all get along so good with each other. It’s like a big win already.
Do you know Ken Roczen at all? I know he’s a little bit younger than you, but obviously like you said, there’s not many German supercross riders.
Yeah. We basically grew up together. We raced 50s, 65s, and 80s. Ever since he went his way and rode European and then world championship, we kind of haven’t seen each other that much anymore, but we know each other. I took care of the supercross track where he grew up. I’m very close to his dad, too. So, we know each other. He knows that I’m here. I’m excited to see him again. Maybe we’ll do some stuff together.
I know with COVID it’s a little bit tough because everybody is kind of in their own pod, but do you think you’re going to try to reach out to him and maybe ask for a little bit of advice for your first supercross out here?
I really respect that he has his own program, so that’s why I never really texted him when I was in German and he was in America. I know he is super busy, and he is a big star. We actually spoke already over text messages. I don't know if I will ask him for advice, but just to say hi and hang out and maybe speak some German words. Would be fun.
Main image courtesy of ClubMX/Mike Vizer