Just 10 different riders have now qualified for every single main event in the 450SX class this season through the first 10 rounds. Aside from the championship contenders like Ken Roczen and Cooper Webb being the obvious ones, you might not have noticed that 33-year-old Kyle Chisholm has sliced his privateer Yamaha effort into each and every single main event so far this season. He doesn’t get the big recognition of being on a solid team or breaking through for standout rides, but even in the latter stages of his career, he’s still grinding it out every weekend. Bottom line: Chiz gonna Chiz.
After his third top 15 of the year at Arlington 1, Chisholm spoke with the media on Sunday afternoon via Zoom to offer insights to his program and season outlook.
Racer X: True privateer. Every year, your program comes together late. You’re putting sponsors together for yourself like Blud Lubricants, Eks Brand Goggles, every year you’re doing this, and you’re making mains. Talk about the struggle of being a true privateer, a vet, and you’re pretty much almost guaranteed it feels like to make a main.
Kyle Chisholm: Well, first of all, it’s definitely not guaranteed to make a main. There’s so many good guys every year. But this year actually was a little bit better for me being on the same bike and getting some Yamaha support. So, it was earlier than the past couple of years have been. I think I’m riding better than I have the last couple of years and I think it’s just because of that. Being on the same bike, same program, for the most part the same sponsors, and kind of able to carry over from building off of last year. But yeah, it’s tough. I mean, these are the best racers in the world and I’m old. I’ve been doing this a long time, but I’m still learning. I’m still enjoying it, I like the process, I like the work and the challenge. I think that’s what kind of keeps me out there and trying to mix it up with these guys and not get in their way too much but race with them a little bit.
You’ve stayed busy. You’re one of the few guys in the consistent 450 lineup that will find a side race to go do and stay sharp. You did the Pro Circuit Open at Dade City before Daytona. How is it for you to just keep clicking off these races, keep making these milestones for main event starts and everything like that because it’s kind of second nature for you at this point? It just seems no matter what position you get into, you figure out what you need to do. You get into the main event and then you do the work there.
Yeah, I think it’s just experience. It’s just doing it a lot of times. But like you said, I just like to race. I enjoy it. I enjoy, personally, the challenge just to go do my best. So, I raced a local race Thursday before Daytona. I won that and made a little extra money. I just like racing and enjoy what I do. I know I can’t do it forever and how much longer, I don’t know, because I’m definitely not getting any younger. I surprise myself a little bit sometimes, but I work hard too. I think that’s something that I maybe don’t say enough. I do work hard like all of these guys do, but I enjoy it. From the training, off the bike, on the bike, during the week, and then getting to the race and being up there racing with the guys. With the level of competition this year, like every year, but this year even more so, there’s just so many fast guys and just to be in the main event is pretty tough. It’s not easy, but that experience and doing it for a long time. I’m not the best practicer or qualifier, but when it comes race time, I think it’s a little bit of instinct and strategy and that just comes from the experience of doing it a lot. I try to use that to my advantage when I can and go out there and have some fun.
Did you expect when you were really early in your pro career that you’d be one of those grizzled old vets that would just still be doing it like the Kyle Lewis’s or the Larry Ward’s and those kinds of guys?
No, to be honest, not at all. I definitely always thought that I’m definitely not racing past when I’m 30 years old, because that’s old! Back more in my prime, if that’s what you want to call it, Nick Wey was the older guy. And I beat him, towards the end of his career, I beat him most of the time, but he was to me like the old guy where I’m like, “That old guy’s not going to beat me!” And sometimes he would! It’s just funny because now I look back and some of these guys like Benny [Bloss], we joke every week that I’m that old guy now. I kind of recognize that, but like I said, you just go through different phases of your career. I thought I wouldn’t be racing at this age, but I really enjoy it still. I think I enjoy it more now than I did back then because there’s not as much pressure and I like my role now being the old guy trying to battle with these young guys.