Features: Hart & Huntington DPH Suzuki’s Sam Martin
Features: Hart & Huntington DPH Suzuki’s Sam Martin
If there was an award for the “Hardest Working Rider in FMX”, Bakersfield’s Garrett Ahlf would definitely be on that voting ballot. When it comes to FMX, has been up, he has been down, and now…he is back up again. Garrett Ahlf has paid his dues and deserves every opportunity he has been given. And now with a steady gig on the FreestyleMX.com Tour and a handful of solid sponsors, Garrett Ahlf is riding stronger than ever.
We caught up with our old buddy to talk bikes, babies, and being back on tour…
Garrett Ahlf, how the heck are you?
Good man just wrapping up a busy tour season this year that started off earlier than ever with Keith Sayers and the Evolution of Extreme up in Canada “eh”. Now I am pumped to have some weekends off . It’s nice to be spending time with the family and to be at home learning some new tricks.
You’ve been staying busy even off your bike, how is being a Dad going for you?
Being a Dad is awesome, but…being a Dad with a tour schedule sucks especially when I go straight back to work when I get home from being on the road. I was able to make it home for my first father’s day this year where I got to be present to hear my son say “DADA” for the first time which I was super happy I did not miss.
Do you feeling like having your son has changed you as a rider at all?
Not necessarily, I keep the same mindset as always. I normally do what I’m comfortable with during tour season to make it through safe and sound. Once I get a couple months off during winter is when I try to step it up as in trying new tricks or whatever. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t more scared now trying new tricks as I want to be around for my wife and kid [laughs].
You have spent a lot of time on the Freestylemx.com Tour the last couple years. Tell us a little but about the tour and what an average day on tour looks like…
The tour is probably the most recognized tour in the USA. Each bus usually consists of 3 riders, a Driver and Tour hands that helps with set up and tear down. This year I toured with Brian McCarty and John Distler. Big Dis actually drove the bus, set up and tore down AND rode the shows. Hats off to him because he work’s his ASS off. Days off are usually just trying to stay busy, what I like to do is write e-mails to sponsors to let them know how shows went and how many people were there and send photos when fans capture them at the events. On show days we get to the venue find out where we are riding set up and do the first show which is normally our warm up/practice. Each day we have normally had 3 shows and after the final show, there is usually a celebration for safe shows!
You are still a younger guy, so are you cool with being a paid demo rider or is there still a part of you that wants to be the next big thing in contests?
I would love to get paid to train for big contests and only shoot for media coverage rather than being on a tour bus and away from family but for me its rather hard to find time and money to keep up with these guys that are doing every flip trick in the book on ramp to ramp. Even with a solid tour schedule I find it hard to get comfortable to try and “live” off a demo rider’s salary because the only way you can is to be gone ALL the time and at this time in my life I’m not too down for that.
You are a guy that I have always considered you very “sponsor-able” in the sense, you keep everything clean and you handle yourself well. That’s probably why most of your sponsors stick with you every year. So who are the companies helping you out?
Thanks man I appreciate that! My sponsors have been helping me out a lot with what I need to get it done during the year. Working on doing some media stuff for 2014 to keep me busy during the slow winter months! Big thanks to O’Neal MX, Alpinestars, Hart & Huntington, Brady at Shifty Illusions, BLUR optics, Etnies, Dunlop, BLEND designs, Moto-Gate.com, Works Connection, RAM mounts, Wyvern Motosports, UNI Air Filter, GPR Stabilizers.
What else do you have planned for 2013?
2013 is slowing down for me but I got a couple more stops and one I’m really excited about is in my hometown. I called the marketing guy out at Kern Raceway, our brand new Asphalt Raceway track, and got him in contact with Marc Burnett from the FreestyleMX.com tour and they worked out a deal so there would be a 10 rider ramp to ramp contest going down with both buses showing up November 23rd! I’ve been practicing so I can to put on an awesome show in front of my hometown crowd. That pretty much sums up 2013 for me and with the holidays right around I’m ready to relax and hang with family.
Hart and Huntington and RCH Racing shows up big for the Vegas Monster Energy Cup with Lance Coury and Broc Tickle competing. But first, the team needs to get there— Lancy Coury heads up Interstate 15 on the F*ck Cancer awareness raising ride. It’s a huge weekend with the “Dying to Live” fundraiser, RCH autograph signings, RCH Co-Owner Ricky Carmichael’s induction into the AMA Motorcycle Hall Of Fame, and the main event—the 2013 Monster Energy Cup on RCH’s home turf in Vegas.
Josh Hill Takes Control of ASX Championship at Phillip Island.
Hart and Huntington, InsureMyRide, Suzuki racer Josh Hill has taken control of the 2013 Terex Australian Supercross Championship at the conclusion of rounds four and five of the series, held at Phillip Island, Victoria in conjunction with the Australian round of the MotoGP championship on the weekend.
Hill who came into saturday’s round four of the championship sitting fourth in the points standings, raced to a superb second place finish just in front of Brett Metcalfe after battling his way through the field twice due to a small incident while sitting in third place early in the race. His Second place finish behind fellow American Weston Peick combined with a 11th place finish for championship leader coming into the weekend, Matt Moss allowed Hill to move up to third place in the standings on Saturday evening.
“I had a good battle with Marmont (Jay), he is a sly old racer.” Hill said about his early race battle. “I tried to come in and tap his back wheel, he knew exactly how to handle that and held up a little bit and almost made me tip over and I lost a couple of positions.
“It meant that I had to make another charge to the front and wasted some time but I was able to get around Metty late in the race for second place and scored another good result.”
Heading into Sunday’s main event with the Knowledge that new championship leader Peick was out of action after an early morning practice crash, Hill launched his Suzuki RM-Z 450 out of the gate making his way into the lead from the start of the race before dropping the hammer on the field. With a 14 second plus lead as he started the final lap of the afternoon’s main event, Hill rolled off the throttle and cruised to a comfortable win over Matt Moss and will now head into the final round of the season with a five point championship lead.
“It was great to get the win on the second day at Phillip Island and take the championship lead, we got off to a tough start in Darwin, but we have really turned it around since then and have finished in either first or second in each race since,” Hill explained.
“The guys at the Hart and Huntington InsureMyRide Suzuki team have been going a great job and we will aim to keep it going at the last round.
“It was a good weekend at Phillip Island but to be honest I did not see much of the GP action. Everything was quite spread out and I was really just more focused on myself and what I had to do for the weekend,” Hill added.
Hill who had originally planned to stay in Australia between each round, is currently on his way back to the United States to complete some testing for the 2014 AMA Supercross championship as he finalises his plans for the American season before returning for the Toowoomba finale.
“My original plan was to stay out here in Australia between now and Toowoomba, but I have to catch a flight back to the United States tomorrow to do some testing for next years Supercross season.” Hill concluded.
Josh Hill and will again be in action at the final round of the 2013 ASX Championship being held in Toowoomba, Queensland on the 16th of November
See Hart and Huntington / InsureMyRide / Suzuki rider Josh Hill in action from Rounds 1 and 2 of the Australian Supercross Championship in Darwin NT
Film Production by AUSSIE ADRENALINE
BLISS N ESO – I Am Somebody (feat. Nas)
Courtesty of Illusive Records
The blended career of being a freestyle motocross rider and owner of a small business is paying off well for Lance Coury. His skills on the bike have earned a spot at RCH/Dodge/Sycuan/Suzuki and a pair of medals (one gold, one bronze) at this year’s Global X Games stops, and the money earned through riding and his brand, MotoGate, has allowed the purchase and furnishing a nice home. Now, what landed him a wife like Courtney is anyone’s guess, but we’d say it is all of the above…
Melbourne, VIC (18nd September 2013) – The Hart and Huntington / InsureMyRide / Suzuki race team made the trip to the first two rounds of the Australian Supercross Championship’s last weekend in Darwin NT Hidden Valley which would be scheduled for, round 1 on Saturday and round 2 on Sunday.
Hart and Huntington / InsureMyRide / Suzuki rider Josh Hill didn’t quite get the results both he and the team were looking for at the series opener in Hidden Valley Darwin NT last weekend.
Saturday saw Josh post the 4th fastest qualifying time on a track which looked to hold up over the weekend. Saturday’s main event started with a bad jump out of the gate which saw him 2nd last into the first corner, but with his drive to fight through the pack Josh rode smooth and made some great passes which would see him finish in 4th place on the day and sit 4th in the championship heading into Sunday’s round 2.
With some bike changes on Sunday and a track which was deteriorating and not fully suited for Supercross only suspension, Josh struggled to ride to his fullest in the main event. He did however qualify in 3rd place and finish his heat race in 2nd place which would see him get a better gate pick than Saturday’s race.
With a better jump off the gate than Saturday this would see Josh sit in 4th place until the track started to break down into a MX style track. Josh rode the race out with his SX suspension as an ideal setting would have been semi MX setup for the way the track pealed out.
“I’m disappointed that we did not come with some MX style suspension, as I believe I have what it takes to run up the front of the pack. We will regroup and be more prepared for the coming rounds of the series” Hill said.
Josh sits equal 7th place (equal 5th) in the Champions on 31 points as he heads into the next round at Mt Gambier SA on Saturday October 12th.
This weekend we did a special show for the Marines at Camp Lejeune, NC. We had tons of fun putting on a show for them! Tried something new with the GoPros this time using rider Jeff Griffin. Enjoy!
Riders – Kenny Bell, Dustin Miller, Jeff Griffin
song – Your Girlfriend by Ryan O’connor
Carey Hart owned his H&H SX team for a number of years with some success on the track and a terrific job of marketing off. There was nothing wrong with the way he had been going about it but for 2013 he stepped it up by partnering with Ricky Carmichael, getting factory Suzuki help, signing Broc Tickle and for the first time and competing in all 12 rounds of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship. Clearly he’s not one to stand still, as we found out recently the team just missed out on getting Chad Reed’s signature for next year.
Hart’s down in Australia with his wife touring, but took the time to call us up and detail his 2013 season and what’s next for the RCH squad.
Racer X: First of all, the big news is that you guys were talking to Chad Reed but he decided to stick with his own team for 2014. Can you talk about that deal and your thoughts on that?
Carey Hart: I don’t want to get too into it but basically we were talking. We talked about bringing Chad on the RCH program. He was at a pretty major crossroads with what he’s built with his team, and going back to being a racer without his own team. So at the end of the day he made a choice and it was strictly on the fact that he wanted to keep the team going. We went down the path pretty far with him. Honestly at the end of the day we wish him all the luck in the world. We almost had him, but obviously he wanted to keep TwoTwo going and I can totally respect that.
Chad being Chad, you probably loved the social media part of him Tweeting about it and then Ricky was chiming in.
I’m actually completely surprised that we kept it as much of a secret as it was. It wasn’t a complete secret; it was in circulation a bit. But we did a pretty good job.
So next year are you going to go with the same two guys?
All I can say is we have a two-year deal with Tickle so he’s definitely coming back next year. I feel extremely confident that we’re going to be bringing Josh Hill back, extremely confident. And we’re also looking at some other options. I know that’s extremely vague, but this time of the year you can’t really show your hand. And we’re also talking with a couple other key people.
Broc Tickle will return to RCH next season.
Simon Cudby photo
As far as this year, you teamed up with Ricky, you got works Suzuki’s. I would say the program once again took another step up. What are your thoughts on it? How’d you enjoy being a little bit of a co-owner, taking a little bit of a step back?
I thought we had a great year. We set out what we wanted to do. Going back to Monster Cup when me and Ricky unveiled our program we said our goals were going to be at the end of each series between fifth and tenth and we achieved that. These days with how stacked the field is there’s nothing wrong with an eighth place in supercross and eighth place in outdoor. And honestly we fine-tuned our program. We had a brand new relationship with Suzuki that we had to kind of start working on there and putting some time into.
Honestly it was a brand new year, considering we went through the change with bringing on Suzuki and with my partnership with Ricky. I can say at the end of the day there wasn’t a single negative. From a race team owner you always want to do better results but the field is stacked and Broc was extremely consistent out there and didn’t miss any races and plugged away each race.
If you could wave a magic wand and improve something about Tickle’s year, I’m guessing you would pick starts?
Yeah, 100 percent. That’s really what it comes down to is the starts. It’s just too gnarly of a field right now to think that you’re going to go out and get a mid-pack start or a 20th place start and work your way through to the pack and get fifth. I think those days, aside from Villopoto, I think those days are kind of over for everybody. Hopefully in the off-season we’ll get him pounding starts and get a little more aggressive. Not only out the gate, but maybe those first couple laps. But his fitness was amazing. He was putting down his fastest laps the last couple laps of each moto. So there’s something to be said. He’s in shape
The faith you showed in Hill when he was injured looks to be paying off. The second half of the supercross season he looked like his old self, or very close to it. You have to be stoked on his little comeback.
Yeah, I really am. I took quite a bit of a tongue-lashing over the last couple of years for him.
And, being honest, a bit from me too as I wondered about the choice as well.
From the keyboard warriors to the industry people. At the end of the day it’s not even necessarily about me or the race team; I’m just glad to see Hill starting to get back to showing glimpses of what he was in the past. He’s still a young kid. As long as he stays healthy I think he’s got nowhere to go but up. He actually just got to Australia. He’s racing for our Hart and Huntington Supercross team in Australia. We’re going to try to get a title over here, try to go win the championship in the Aussie series. That way he’s got a little bit more race time under his belt and try to come out swinging next year.
Your team did the nationals for the first time and you yourself were at the motocross races for the first time in over a decade. How was it coming back to the outdoors? What was the good and the bad from doing the nationals?
Honestly the return, I was pleasantly surprised. I’m kind of a fan of the outdoors. From my perspective it runs very swiftly. The day starts early but we’re there by 7:00 and we’re out of there by 4:30. I like that. It’s very thorough. At the end of the day it could always have better attendance or better… the TV package is great. I think all in all they’re doing a great job.
I think since they are separate from Feld and from that program I think they just really need to focus on not falling into the same routine and rules and politics that we have with supercross. We had some issues this year just with sponsor activation based stuff, more from a strictly team side of things. I feel like they have to get better activation policies. If they do that, get all the teams on their side, I think they have nowhere to go but up on this thing. Like I said, we had a great time and it’s a very dedicated fan base. It’s not like supercross where everyone’s just showing up for the nightlife aspect of it. I had a great time.
Carey Hart (pictured) partnered with Ricky Carmichael last off-season to form RCH.
Simon Cudby photo
Supercross can almost get away with that stuff because of the exposure. And you’re saying outdoors, you got to help us want to be here.
Exactly. I wish there were 50,000 people there, but at the end of the day it’s a very committed fan base. They made their way through the pit. They’re a loyal fan base. I think they’ve done a good job with taking care of the fans.
Can you talk a little bit about how and you and Ricky got along and managed the team?
Honestly, with me and Ricky, there wasn’t a single issue this whole entire year. We’re both extremely hands-on but we also both know it’s a group effort, and that’s not just between me and Ricky; that’s between Kenny Watson, and Mark Johnson, and Kyle Bentley. No one just makes a decision and runs with it. At the end of the day we all kind of have a say on it. We also kind of understand our roles. Ricky’s extremely active on the development side and working with the riders and the relationship with Suzuki. I’m more so on the sponsor side, the marketing side. But we’re actually kind of teaching each other both sides. I’m getting a little bit more involved on the technical piece and he’s getting more involved on the marketing piece, so we’re more well-rounded owners. But we hit it off this year. Not a single issue. We’re both extremely hands-on. We talk at least six or seven times a week. It’s almost daily. Main thing is for the race team. And lucky enough for me I’m not going to be on tour next year. My wife ends her tour in December so I’m going to be at a lot more events.
And you brought Mark Johnson on who’s got a ton of experience in the industry and knows his stuff. Can you talk about what adding Mark did to the team?
Mark has been such a crucial piece. The knowledge and history and experience that he has, not only in two-wheel but four-wheel, he’s just the biggest asset we have at this point. Just the moves forward we were able to make this year. We were on extremely limited testing and developing because by the time we got into racing and we were doing our thing, we were just a click behind the 8-ball, not too bad. But just the movements that we made throughout the course of the year, and now we’re getting ready to start testing already for supercross. We’re full steam ahead. With his resources from not only his moto days but from four-wheel we’ve got some pretty exciting things we’re going to try this year and kind of look outside the box a bit. It’s kind of nice to be able to have a program like that where we’re able to kind of just run with our own dynamic.
Since you’ve started the team that’s probably been the weakest part, the technical aspect, the testing and all that. And this has been the last key thing for you to get for your team?
Exactly. 100 percent. In the past Mitch Payton was a great partner of ours but it wasn’t really testing; it was just grab it and bolt it together and go racing. So now it’s just a whole different ballpark. Now that we are a factory team and now that we’re able to even do some of the testing and development on our own.
Carmichael (pictured) is co-owner of RCH.
Simon Cudby photo
Your setup’s tremendous and you’ve got a lot of outside the industry sponsors. What makes you guys be able to do this so well while some other teams struggle?
I can’t tell you my secret!
But you seem to be ahead of the curve from a lot of teams in the pits. I think that’s a good thing, obviously.
I do want to kind of keep some stuff for ourselves because it’s kind of program. We just look at it from a different perspective of just slapping a sticker on the bike and trying to chase the podium. If everything goes as planned for next year we’re going to see some pretty major, exciting changes at the RCH camp. Let’s just say that if everything goes as planned there’s going to be a big change-up, which is going to be pretty exciting.
As long as all this involves Watson staying on the team.
Oh yeah, Watson’s not going anywhere.
The Monster Energy Freestylemx.com tour stops at the Winstar World Casino for the Professional Bull Riding in Thackerville OK! We had a great time throwing down for the crowd and then enjoyed some bull riding! Follow us on instagram @freestylemxtour @395productions
Riders – Jeff Griffin @griffinfmx, Dustin Miller @dmiller973, Kenny Bell @kennytacobell
Song – Maker in the mind by iyoubeta.com