Ivan Tedesco GoPro Helmet Cam

Transworld Motocross caught up with our very own Dodge Motorsports/sycuan Casino/Hart and Huntington/Bel-Ray’s Ivan Tedesco at Starwest MX Park last week, where he and the rest of the team were enjoying a relaxing day at play, away from the Supercross track. Hot Sauce and Kyle Partridge were quad jumping a section that was originally intended by the track builders to be a triple/single right after the finish line, so we asked Tedesco to wear our new GoPro 2 for a few laps. enjoy!

Transworld Motocross Monday Kickstart with Kenny Watson

As team manager for the Dodge Motorsports/Sycuan Casino/Hart and Huntington/Bel-ray Kawasaki, Kenny Watson is one of the busier people on the paddock. Running a team for easily the most famous motorcycle team owner in the sport, he must walk the line as not to blemish the image of Carey Hart and his many endeavors. While at the team’s release party at the aforementioned casino, we caught up with Watson and discussed just how much the team has changed in such a small time period and what the future holds for Hart and Co.

We are five weeks out from Anaheim One as of now. With full support from Sycuan Casino, Dodge, Bel-Ray, and many other companies, it has come a long way for you guys from what it was a few years ago.

When Carey and I first started this program, we just went racing. We didn’t know where it was going to take us, but Carey said, “We are going to do this smart and it will be a business. It is not going to be us getting money from our sponsors and funding it to go racing. I want the sponsors to have a return.” That is what we have tried to do, and this year we have Dodge returning for two more years and Sycuan Casino is also on for two years. We have Loc-Tite and Bel-Ray for two more years, also. We have a solid group of sponsors and we couldn’t do it without them. We are not about getting the hundred and fifty grand from the clothing company and the thirty thousand dollars from the tire company. We are not here to take money from the industry, but to help it. Get money from the outside to buy your product and put money back in your industry and make things work. That is what we try to do and what we have been working on. Going in to 2012, it will be very interesting. We have a really good line up of guys, and if they stay healthy and do what they can, we should turn some heads.

How have things come along in the last few weeks? Josh Hill is coming back from a major injury, Tedesco had his knee and hip issues, and Hansen’s hand is on the mend, and Partridge is the new guy. Has everyone made strides from where they were in the middle of the summer to now?

You can start with Hill first; four months ago he was having trouble walking and had so much nerve damage in his leg. He has been so dedicated and I remember talking to him, and he was so intense and wanted this so badly. He has pictures in his house of Villopoto, Dungey, Reed, Stewart, and Canard. I think it will be a long road for him, but I will be happy if he can makes the first few races and we get some top tens out of him. For Ivan, a lot of people didn’t know his struggles from last year. He blew his knee out after six races and rode it while they were taping his knee. They taped he knee so tight that he put his foot down and it dislocated his hip and tore the labrum in his hip. He couldn’t ride through the pain and had to have the surgery. He is probably in the best shape I’ve seen him in the fourteen years that I have known him, but he is not a kid anymore, he is thirty, so this may be his last hurrah. Hansen, you never know what you will get with him. It all matters on how much he wants it, and I think that he does now. For Partridge, he is going to be a big surprise to people, and that is all I will say there.

You have managed many teams over your career, such as Plano Honda years ago. Is it more stressful to manage a team like that, which was smaller and with a more limited budget, or this team that has so much riding on it?

Back then I didn’t have a stress level. I knew what I was doing, but I didn’t know on a business level, if that makes sense. I knew how to call and say, “I need twenty sets of plastic.” But I never looked at it like a business. I remember when Carey hired me, I went in and he said, “I know you think you know what you are doing, because I know you,” because I sponsored him for years. If you see the backflip we gave the casino, there are Plano Honda stickers on it. He knew my background in business and said, “When you come to work here, you are going to throw everything you know out the window and I am going to teach you about how to run a business. Not how to manage a motocross team, but a business.” One thing leads to another and I learned how to do it. It is stressful at times, and there are times where I can’t sleep at night and I am staring at the roof thinking, “Man, did I do this yet? I’ve got to do that now, too.” It’s not my team, but I take it in to consideration that it is. I look at it as my deal. I have nothing to lose if it fails, I have no money on the line, and realistically it’s not Hart’s money on the line either because we are pretty well funded, but it is his reputation. He said to me a long time ago, “I don’t care how good of a job you do, but if you embarrass me, my brand, my family, anything, I will fire you.” He has been my friend for a long time and I have a lot of respect for him and what he has done, and this has turned in to more than a job for me. It is my life.

Is it difficult to manage a team based out of Las Vegas, even though it is only hours away from Southern California?

No, not really. This year is the first year that we have tried something different. We have a partner, PMG Motorgroup, and they have an off-road truck team that is sponsored by Hart and Huntington, so we teamed up with them. We share their race shop in Southern California, and all of our testing and developing, and practice bikes are kept in Southern California. Our race shop, where the bikes are built, is in Vegas. It is a two and a half to three hour drive from Corona, and two days out of the week they come to Vegas, and two days out of the week they are in riding in California. It will be interesting to see how it works out, but we will see. A lot of people think of Vegas as distractions, but there really are no distractions. You don’t see anybody else and you are not caught up in everybody’s drama, who is humping who’s girlfriend, going to the supermarket and seeing the guy you are going to race against. We are at the track doing our thing every day and we don’t see all that other bullshit.

How is the equipment now compared to when you started out on Honda, when Hansen was on his first go around?

Leaps and bounds. It was one of those deals where we didn’t have the big outside sponsor and we had to get a lot of our money from in the industry. We were using things that weren’t up to par, they were just money. The exhaust pipes weren’t that great, our engine technology wasn’t there yet. We knew that are results weren’t going to be there, so we were all about the show in the pits and hoped the guys did well. Coming to last year by bringing Pro Circuit on board and having them run our deal from fender to fender, Mitch said, “I want to work with you, but you have to do what I ask. I can’t have you running shitty products to make twenty-five hundred bucks.” He is a crucial part of our program. A lot of people don’t realize there is a goal that we have, and it is with Pro Circuit and Kawasaki, that we want to be the feeder team in to the 450 class. Let’s say three guys are moving up out of Mitch’s team and they all ride Kawasaki, well there are only two spots open on the factory team, if two. They don’t want to lose a Kawasaki rider that has been winning championships that they raised from grass roots. So the goal is for Kawasaki, Mitch, and us, is if they can’t go to the factory team, they can come here.

Do you get to separate work from your personal life? Even tonight, which should be an “off night,” you are still making calls about what you have to do this week. Is it hard to find the balance and avoid burnout?

For the past three years, I have been very fortunate that my team owner never liked to ride the outdoors, so we don’t race outdoors. And our sponsors are happy with what we do. Hart and Huntington has never been to an outdoor race, and I am not under the grind like those other teams who race until September. I am done in May. I still work and finalize things, and we go to Mammoth and Powder Mountain to race, but I’m not on the grind. I’m not traveling as much, going to the race. It is a lot easier on me than it is for other people.

Carey Hart’s first back flip bike donated to Sycuan Casino for 2012

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Carey Hart, team owner of Hart and Huntington Racing, unveiled the new Supercross team riders and sponsors for the 2012 season during a press conference in San Diego at Sycuan Casino. The Dodge Motorsports/Sycuan Casino/Hart and Huntington/Bel-Ray Racing Team now includes a brand new sponsorship with Sycuan Casino for the upcoming season and beyond, as well as a continuing partnership with Dodge and Bel-Ray.

Josh Hansen, Kyle Partridge and Josh Hill will join Hart and Huntington Racing veteran Ivan Tedesco on the four-man team for 2012. In addition, Hart announced that he will be donating the bike he used at the Gravity Games in 2000 to complete the first backflip in freestyle motocross history to GameDay Sports Bar & Grill at Sycuan Casino as a token of gratitude for their support.

“I’m really looking forward to next season and couldn’t be happier about the talent behind our new team riders and the amazing support of our sponsors,” said Carey Hart. “These guys have so much energy and passion in their riding that I know a Hart and Huntington racer will make a big impact this season, just like we did last year. All of our sponsors are the driving force behind our success; elevating us to the next level and giving us the opportunity to double our team in a time when other programs are cutting back or worse, not coming back out at all.”

Hart and Sycuan Casino hosted Liv Fast Moto Demo on Thursday to provide a groundbreaking fan experience during the press announcement for the new team riders and sponsors. Lance Coury, Destin Cantrell and Drake McElroy participated in a freestyle demo for fans prior to the press conference. Hart greeted hundreds of guests at the event, which included a personal tour of the Hart and Huntington rig for young tribe members of The Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation. In addition, fans were able to meet the new team riders and get autographs during an exclusive meet-and-greet hour at the casino, which included appearances by Hart, Hansen, Hill, Partridge and Tedesco.

“We know that motocross is a sport that resonates with our local community and are excited to partner with the most innovative team in the industry,” said Sheila Howe, General Manager of Sycuan Casino. “Our goal is to host more fun and entertaining events, like Liv Fast Moto Demo, for our guests. Furthermore, we’re personally huge fans of Hart and Huntington and can’t wait to see how the team performs in the upcoming Supercross season.”

Vital MX Catches up with Ivan Tedesco

Ivan Tedesco was a solid competitor in the Supercross class season…well, at least until a couple races to go when he suffered a pair of injuries. First a knee, and then a hip, that sidelined him before they got to Las Vegas, and he just missed finishing in the top ten overall for the season. He and the rest of the Hart & Huntington/Dodge/Kawasaki crew were working with Bones at Pro Circuit to dial in their suspension when we caught up with him.

Vital MX: I think last time I saw you in action it was sitting in the Hart & Huntington/Dodge/Kawasaki rig in St. Louis, and you were working with Dr. G afterward to try and rehab your injured knee. But you at the next race you got hurt even worse, and had to call it a season. Are you back to full speed now?

Ivan Tedesco: Yeah. I tore my ACL at Toronto and I rode a few races on it. Then I tore my hip up at St. Louis. Then I raced Seattle, the following race, on both injuries and it was just too much for me to handle. So, I pulled out of the series, got surgery, and six months later here we are. I started riding two weeks ago and things are good. I’m stoked.

I hate asking the “Are you 100%?” question because I always figure everybody has always got little dings and tweaks and limitations from previous injuries. How are you feeling?

I feel good. As far as skill or comfort on the bike, whatever you want to call it, I would say I feel normal. The only thing that’s lacking is a little bit of fitness, but that will come with time. So over the next couple months I’m going to have to put my work in. We just started testing today. I feel like everything is coming into place. I’ve just got to put the work in and have a good off-season. I’m having fun with it. I’m glad to be back out here.

It seems like Carey, Kenny, and the whole Hart and Huntington crew, they kind of step up the program a little bit every year.

For sure. From where they started three or four years ago to now, it’s a legit race team. We’re here to do the things right. We’ve got some good sponsors and good people behind the program. That’s the most important thing; is having the people and the equipment. We’ve got all the tools to go be successful, now it’s just time to go to work and make it happen.

Do we see you do Outdoors again or what’s the deal? Is it still a Supercross-only team?

My contract is Supercross only. I don’t know. I’m going to race Supercross and worry about that later. Maybe I’ll show up at a couple, maybe I won’t. I don’t know. I do miss the Outdoors a little bit. It’s fun. We’ll have to see. Only time will tell.

Don’t miss that heat though, right?

No. I don’t think anybody misses that heat. If I did race and I was sitting on that line at Texas I’d be asking myself, “What am I doing here?” But I love Outdoors. Outdoors are gnarly. You can’t go race Outdoors half-ass. You’ve got to be in shape. You’ve got to have the equipment, test time…the whole package. So, we’ll see. Maybe I’ll show up at a couple. Like I said, only time will tell.

Where do you feel like you’re at in your career? Do you feel like you’re still improving all the time? What are the expectations for this year?

My expectations are the same as always. Go out there, put my work in, and do the best I can. That’s really all I can do in the end. Last year was kind of a bummer. I felt like I have a lot more to offer than my results were showing last year. Just too many crashes and injuries. That stuff holds you back. This year I just want to stay healthy and build on it. I know I can run with those front guys, I’ve just got to get the confidence and get that swagger back.

Apparently the injuries weren’t holding you back on the starts. Even on some of those races where you were hurt you were killing it on starts.

Yeah, my starts were awesome, especially there towards the end. But it sucks because I wasn’t able to put them to use. I was basically in survival mode towards the end there. I’d get the start and just kind of survive because I was in so much pain. But this year hopefully I can get some more starts like that and use them. Be up there and battle and if not to be up front finish close to the podium or on the podium a few times would be nice.

Ivan Tedesco Recovery Report

Last season former 250 MX and SX champion Ivan Tedesco came into Anaheim looking to take that next step on his Dodge/Hart & Huntington Kawasaki ride. And for a little while it looked like he had done just that as he carried himself nicely early in the year. Unfortunately for IT9, crashes and injuries set in for Hot Sauce and he found himself riding hurt indoors before pulling the plug altogether with two races left. Now 100 percent healthy, Tedesco is looking to once again make his mark on the 450 class in 2012. Racer X caught up to Ivan to find out how recovery went and what he’s looking forward to this coming supercross season.

Ivan, it’s been a long road back for you. Can you tell us what you did and what the recovery was like?
Ivan Tedesco: I tore my ACL in my knee at Toronto and I just figured I’d finish the year out with it by limiting my practicing during the week and just racing. Then two weeks after that, in St Louis, I jammed my foot into the ground and sort of dislocated my hip. So I had both of those injuries, tried to race one more race in Seattle and there was too much pain. I was just riding around. We decided to call it quits and get fixed. That was six months ago and I just started riding last week.

What did you do for the knee? Cadaver or hamstring?
I went with the hamstring for that, I thought it was better. For my hip, I tore my labrum in there and the fix is going in there and sewing it back up. I took the maximum amount of time off and even a bit more. I’m all good to go now and pain free.

So how’s it going with the riding? Knocking the rust off?
No, actually it’s been pretty good to be honest. I went and rode a couple of days outdoor testing at Starwest and Perris to get started. I guess I did feel rusty the first few days but I decided to start with supercross and I feel like I’ve never stopped. I feel good.

Overall, your season just didn’t go the way you wanted it with the crashes and the injuries?
No it didn’t. It was a rough year, I was riding good and had a good off-season. I felt like I was riding great and maybe came in a bit overconfident, I’m not sure. I wanted to come in and be one of the guys and the class was stacked with talent. To run up front, you have to hang it out and I was trying to do that, but then the crashes came. There’s that fine line between being able to do that and hitting the ground.

How’s the 2012 Kawasaki 450?
I’m just riding my race bike from last year, they’re working on getting me one right now and building it up. It shouldn’t be much longer and I’ve got a good two months to get ready. If there’s a race in the last month or so, maybe I’ll hit that up to see how everything is

The good thing about your injury and the time off is that you’re now completely 100 percent healthy.
Yeah, I’m good. Like I said, I took extra time off and I’ve been running and cycling the last few months. I wanted to make sure when I got on the bike, there was no pain in the knee. I wanted to feel great right away and I do. So now it’s hammer-time for me and I’m ready to go.

What’s new for you in 2012?
Same bike, same team and all that. We have Dodge with us on the Hart & Huntington team again and I know they’re working on some new exciting stuff as well. We also have Sycuan Casino coming on-board and we’re back with the Shift/Fox family as well, so it’s nice to be back with those guys. Also Hurley is still with me, look for some cool stuff coming on in the new year, it will be some IT9 clothing. I’m pumped to be with those guys, they’re awesome. And Tony Berluti will be back as my mechanic. Kyle Bentley will be down here in Southern California working with Pro Circuit and arranging the testing.

And of course, some new teammates as well with Josh Hansen, Josh Hill and Kyle Partridge. I’m looking forward to it, good guys in front and behind the scenes.

With Hill coming off an injury and Hansen making the jump back up to the 450 class full-time, I think you guys could get some seriously good results or it could go the other way. You have an intriguing team for those of us that follow the sport.
Yeah, we’re staying positive right now, Hill is back riding and that guy has some serious skills. He’s still a kid, still young and I’m hoping he can come back and show everyone that he’s still got it. And with Hansen, I helped him out last year and obviously he can ride a dirt bike. We’re going to be training over the next couple of months and we’ve got some good riders, the results should be there. It’s time to get to work and we’ll see in a couple of months.

Hart and Huntington Monster Cup Party in the Pits

The Dodge Motorsports / Hart and Huntington pits were the place to be at the Monster Energy Cup this past weekend. We had Mahoney on the mic tossing out product and Carey Hart, Ivan Tedesco and Josh Hill signing autographs all day long.