As far as brand names in this sport go, few ring with the power of Pro Circuit, the company that best married aftermarket performance with professional racing success. Yet, when you say “Pro Circuit,” everyone really thinks “Mitch”—as in company founder Mitch Payton.
Everyone knows Mitch. Everyone has a Mitch story (for a decade, we even made “Favorite Mitch Payton story?” a 2 Tribes question). This is a competitive world, but there’s too much respect for Mitch for anyone to be disrespectful. So when the tide turned and Pro Circuit finally stopped winning, it wasn’t Mitch’s engine building or business sense that got him back on top.
It took some help from his friends. And when you have more friends than anyone else, that’s a lot of help.
Entering race day in Seattle, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki had won eight races in a row. Mitch Payton wasn’t even there, though. He was at home holding a birthday party for his twin sons, Tanner and Ty. Jim “Bones” Bacon, forever Mitch’s right-hand man and suspension guru, was filling in for the weekend—which is odd, because Bones actually retired last year. He’d planned to go to the Atlanta Supercross to check things out, but his flight had a mechanical issue and he was forced to deplane. A half hour later, when they called for boarding again, Bones had already left the airport and headed home. He pretty much gets to do as he pleases.
Yet there he was in Seattle, pitching in for his buddy. Next to him in the team semi were current racers Adam Cianciarulo and Garrett Marchbanks, as well as former team riders Ivan Tedesco (2004-’05) and Nick Wey (1998—2000). Tedesco coaches Marchbanks and tests for the team, while Wey works with Cianciarulo. Watching those two break down video footage alongside Bones gives the Pro Circuit truck a familiar feel. This could be 2019, 2009, or 1999—well, probably not ’99, as Marchbanks was actually born in 2001!
Pro Circuit’s 250SX East Region tandem has roots, too, with Austin Forkner working with Robbie Reynard, who never rode for Mitch’s team but has run plenty of Pro Circuit parts through the years. Forkner’s teammate Martin Davalos trains at the GOAT Farm, owned by Ricky Carmichael, who rode for Payton from 1997 through ’99.