Dutchman Rick Elzinga sits third in the EMX250 standings through four rounds behind Nicholas Lapucci and Kevin Horgmo. The 19-year-old appears to have a promising career in motocross ahead of him as he was looking to move up to MX2 in 2022. But earlier this year, GateDropMX spoke with Elzinga about his future and learned he was without a ride for the following year and was considering returning to school full time instead. That’s when “MXMattii” on the VitalMX.com forums started a discussion. In what turned out to be a 12-page thread with many twists and turns, member “Brent” or Brent Norman, reached out to Elzinga about the prospect of racing the final two rounds of the Lucas Oil Pro AMA Motocross Championship in California. Within days, Norman had booked Elzinga flights to come stay with him in his Southern California home and went out to AEO Powersports in Murrieta, California to purchase a 2022 KTM 250 SX-F for Elzinga to race. With suspension, handlebars, his seat, and a dream, Elzinga made it to California to race Fox Raceway 2 and Hangtown in an effort to show what he’s capable of as he looks for a future in motocross. Unfortunately, he boiled fuel in 250 moto one at Fox Raceway and had the gas cap pop off and splash him with gas, some of which he swallowed. The illness that ensued coupled with the heat was enough to spoil what looked to be a good day for him. But this past weekend in Hangtown, he put 17-16 scores together for 16th overall on another sweltering hot day in California.
We caught up with him afterwards to hear all about his wild American adventure.
Racer X: Let’s go back and start with this whole journey and how it started, because people know about this Vital thread, but when did you get a call or a DM? When did this whole process start to get you here?
Rick Elzinga: Well, GateDropMX made a story about me and it was mostly about me choosing between school and motocross, because I’m doing both now. And this year, you know, I told myself, either next year I will have a contract and get a salary or get paid to ride, or I quit and continue with school because next year school is getting really busy, and I don’t really have time to do both things. So, this year is a bit of an all-out year for me. After that, Mattii from MXMag wrote [about] that GateDropMX story and he put it on Vital MX and some people reacted on that. Some people also… [like] Brent Norman. He told me that he had a 450 and that he broke his foot, and that I could come over and ride. And that’s how it started a little bit. From there on, we got in contact first through DM and later just through messages. Yeah, basically, I told him that the 450 would be a bit of a crazy thing for me because I never rode one. So, he bought a 250 for me and he tried to get everything dialed here. Of course, just a stock KTM. I brought my own suspension and handlebars and seat, and I just came over and stayed at his place and trained a bit. I ride as much as we can and tried to get the best of the bike, which we did. I think I can be satisfied with a stock bike right now.
Did you have any aspirations before this year of coming to the US or was this totally not even on your radar until this whole thing came about?
Last year in 2020, I was struggling with my broken arm and my leg. I still had the screws and the plates and stuff inside. So, last year wasn’t that great. I took them out in the middle of the season because I couldn’t bear the pain anymore. And from there on, it just went better and better and better. So, I wasn’t expecting anything before this year. Also, the first race in EMX didn’t go well because I was sick, but from there on I haven’t missed the top three in every moto, so it’s pretty good. Yeah, Brent saw it on MXGP-TV and thought I had a lot of talent, and he didn’t want me to waste it and go to school.
So, obviously last week’s result is not something you really wanted to have happen, but were you satisfied with the riding you had at Fox Raceway? Because you qualified 14th, I mean you were pace-wise up there with those guys, you got good starts. Overall, did you look back at that and think that it was a good day, it just didn’t end well?
Well, yeah. Could have been better, could have been worse. I think the qualification was a bit hard because I was in group B, and I think that the track was a bit worse in group B. But still, 14th is fantastic for me. With the start, it was just so deep, so it was difficult to get up with those factory guys. And with me being a bit tall and a bit heavy, maybe not that much, I think 150 [pounds] is quite alright. But yeah, I think it was quite nice what we did because it was like 110 [degrees] or something and I’m used to… summertime for me is like 70. So, to go out and come to the hottest race of the year wasn’t the best plan, but we did what we could. I think if I finished the first moto, I would have finished like 14th or something, but we got the problem [with gas splashing into his mouth] and then I just puked so I stopped. That was a shame, because I was giving it my all the first moto and for sure the 14th place was there to grab because I just had to do two laps more, I just couldn’t anymore. And the second moto, I was just too sick to ride. I tried still. I went close to the top 10 the first couple of laps, then I just died after 10 minutes. So, I quit because I was just going backwards.
How much better was today overall with feel on the bike, and comfortability with the schedule, and obviously race-pace as well?
Everything is new here for me so it’s quite [a lot] of stress also. It’s extra hot for me. So, I feel like every race I do, every moto I do, every time I’m on track I do better and better, you know, which was the goal. Just to let people notice me and I hope I did. I didn’t have all the resources that the other guys did. Brent and I have been talking for like two and a half, three weeks, so I’ve just known him for about a month now. So, I think we did a pretty great job for coming here and scoring points, and getting used to the heat, and trying to ride the whole 30 minutes because that’s also a bit more than in Europe because I do the 25 minutes. So, yeah everything is different. I think also everything is better because I just love it here. Just loved the experience. The pace is quite different also. In Europe, the tracks are a bit more heavy I would say, but also a bit more slow. So, here the pace is really explosive and really pushing, pushing, which I’m not really used to because I like big Lommel and getting through the big holes. That’s my thing. So, it was a bit of a change for me, but like I said, just every moto went better and better.
How has this experience maybe helped your career? Have you had any people reach out to you maybe ride-wise, or are you going to come back maybe and race in the USA at any point?
Well, the plan here was to get noticed, first of all. I don’t have any concrete interest yet. Maybe after this week because last week was just not good. But yeah, I would love to do supercross as well. Just to come here and I would just love to ride here and get in a team, you know? And not go to school and come to USA [which] is just a dream for me. I think I have a lot more to show than I did these two weeks, especially if I can just train here in the heat and I get a better bike and suspension, and that stuff. But yeah, I would like to come and race here, get a contract for a team and do supercross and motocross and that kind of stuff.
Do you have any experience with supercross?
I have went to some supercross tracks in France. They went quite well. I think the supercross tracks here are a bit bigger, but I have quite good timing and I’m a technical rider, so I will pick the supercross stuff up quite fast I think, because I’m a quick learner with that kind of stuff. And I’m lanky, so if I made a mistake, I wouldn’t mind that much. This is because with my long legs, I can take the hit. But yeah, I like supercross, and I would like to get in, somehow, with a team and train for it and get ready for a season here.
Reflecting on this whole experience now of last minute basically, coming to the US and this whole thing with Brent that you’ve done, and the performances that you’ve had now, are you satisfied with it all? Is it just so over-the-top with how everything was?
I feel like every moto was going better and better. But just everything in here is different. So, I’m satisfied with what we have done in such a short time, but I feel like I’ve been at like 80 percent because back in Europe where everything is dialed in, I just feel more comfortable and also with the heat. It’s just, yeah, I would say like 80 percent. So, I’m happy to have done this in a short time, but if I ride like this in Europe, I wouldn’t be satisfied at all. I can do much more than I did these weeks, but I’m satisfied what we did with a stock bike and stuff.
Did you learn anything from this that you are going to take back to the EMX Series?
Well, I think the fitness has been improved a bit because we are doing more long motos here in double the heat. So, I think that’s a good thing. Also, the pace is a bit different, and I hope that will be a good thing when I come back. The entry in the corners are way more fast and you just push every lap. I really had to get used to that. But I hope it will get me better speed back home and I hope I can win a couple more races.
Awesome. Who would you like to thank for this whole thing? Obviously, them [Brent and his mechanic Robert Fobbe], but your teams and everything like that too.
I want to thank Brent Norman, first of all, and also Elizabeth his wife for taking me in. Without them, I couldn’t have done it. It’s crazy how helpful they are. They just have done everything they can in the short time we had to get everything dialed. I want to thank my friend Robert. He came with me as a mechanic, and he did some good stuff as well. Also, when I did something bad, he would tell me, “You’re **** around [there],” or something. Sometimes you get a kick in the ass, and you ride better. And also, my team back home, TBS [Conversions KTM]. They let me do it, which is quite an unusual thing, I think. And I brought a lot of parts with me like suspension and that kind of stuff. So, I really want to thank them as well. And AEO Powersports as well. They have helped me with setup a little bit with suspension, and just some parts and fuel and all kinds of stuff. I broke my fork this week and they fixed it in one day, which was nice. So yeah, thanks to all of them. I couldn’t have done it without them, and I really appreciate what they have done for me.
Watch this full interview in the video below: