ďReed: Australian for FastĒ
An Interview with Chad Reed
Story & Photos by Eddie Graveline
Youíve seen those beer commercials that say, ďFosters: Australian for BeerĒ, right? Meet Chad Reed, Australiaís definition of speed and the latest import from down under to make a crack at Supercross stardom in the United States. Chad is only a 3rd year pro in the sport, but heís made the most of that time. After representing Australia with surprising poise at the 2000 MX des Nations, Chad was offered a 250cc Grand Prix ride by the Kawasaki factory. Though his dream was always to race in the U.S., the opportunity to compete aboard factory equipment was something that no one in their right mind would pass up. Chad fared better than most expected during the í01 GP campaign, eventually finishing second to Suzukiís Mikael Pichon. His ability to learn and compete quickly impressed more than a few stateside teams and finally, he signed a contract with Yamaha of Troy to ride the 125 East Supercross series and 125 Nationals aboard a YZ250F. As a bonus, Reed was allowed to contest the first few West Coast rounds in the 250 class. Once again, the 19-year-old Aussie turned heads by finishing in the top five, ahead of many established factory riders. Once the 125 East got started, Reed came out of the gates swinging and won the first three races of the series. With a learning curve like that, it would seem that the sky is the limit for Chad Reedís career. I got the chance to talk with Chad right before the season started. We talked about his past as well as his future and in doing so, I discovered that he is one of the most driven and determined individuals I have ever met.
Q: Chad, I know from reading past interviews with you that your number one goal has always been to race Supercross in America. Now that youíve gotten here, what is your mindset?
A: ďBasically, it hasnít changed. The 250 class is for sure where I want to be one day. So far, I love America. Itís a nice country and itís pretty much like home. Once I get my house, Iím here for the long haul. I want to be here for the next ten years or so. Hopefully, I can get it together and do well.Ē
Q: You had a very successful GP season last year. Did knowing that you could go back and challenge for a World Championship make your decision to move to the U.S. any harder?
A: ďIt was kind of tough because, like you said, I went from basically nothing to a lot. I started off the year just wanting to finish in the top ten and ended up second in the World Championship. In my first year away from Australia, that was quite a good accomplishment for me. But staying there and winning a World Championship wasnít exactly what I wanted to do. My whole life, Iíve looked toward America and wanted to be an American champion. Being World Champion doesnít interest me so much. If America doesnít turn out just how I want it, I can always go back to Europe. I left a good impression there. Maybe one day I can go back there.Ē
Q: There have been quite a few successful GP riders that have come to America to race. Many of them have had success outdoors here, but struggled in Supercross. Youíre more of a Supercross rider than them, though, arenít you?
A: ďMy whole life, Iíve had a Supercross track in my back yard. Just because Iím coming from the Grand Prix scene doesnít mean Iím not used to Supercross and being around Supercross. Iím probably more comfortable in Supercross than I am in motocross. Going to Europe and learning the way they ride motocross, I think, is only going to help my motocross and Supercross skills. Hopefully it will all work out and we can do really well this year.Ē
Q: Did you arrive in the U.S. early enough to test with your new team and bike enough to where you feel prepared going into the season?
A: ďBasically, we have factory front forks on the bike and shock. Basically thatís it. I think the head and cylinder is pretty much standard. I havenít really done that much testing. I was here quite late and I went home for Christmas because I had to do my visa and all of that stuff. I havenít had a lot of testing, but my real season starts five weeks from now. This weekend (the season opener) means a lot to me, but I canít look at it as my number one priority right now.Ē
Q: Iím sure you got in quite a few laps at the Yamaha track and some other places around Southern California, but practice at the first round was the first time you actually rode an AMA Supercross track. Were there any surprises or was it what you expected?
A: ďNo, itís everything that Iíve watched on television. It has the big stadium. The only thing missing is the whoops and the crowd, but come Saturday, Iím sure theyíll all be in and screaming for the American guys. Everybody knows this is what Iíve always wanted to do. I just want to go out there and have fun and find where Iím at in Supercross here in America.Ē
Q: You raced the Bercy SX before the season started and had a highly (perhaps overly) publicized run-in with Jeremy McGrath on the track after you made an aggressive attempt to pass him. Was that a case of you just racing for the win like you always do, or do you want to send a message to your competition that youíre for real?
A: ďIt wasnít meant to be like that. It was just one of those incidents. Jeremy turned off of the berm quite fast and I went inside to pass. Our lines came together and we crashed. It wasnít meant to be anything really. It was just meant to be a pass and me come second, him come third. As far as me feeling things out, I have four races to get into the swing of things and then the 125 East Coast championship starts. Thatís the championship that I want to win and do really well at. Iím hired to win races and if I donít win races, the 250 guys arenít going to be so interested. I need to get my act together and put two series together, which is the 125 East and the 125 outdoor championship and hopefully move up to the 250 class.Ē
Q: Yamaha of Troy hired Craig Dack as their teamís Assistant Manager. Craig is a fellow Australian and someone youíve worked with in the past. Does having someone like that on board make settling in here easier for you?
A: ďYeah, itís definitely easier when you have someone like Craig. As you said, I have worked with Craig. I actually rode for his Australian team in 2000. Communicating with someone that Iím familiar with and trust a lot, sure itís going to be a lot easier. The same as when I went to Europe last year, I knew nobody. I got hired to ride the factory Kawasaki, I was there to do a job and thatís exactly what I had to do.Ē
Q: What are your expectations for yourself while riding in the 250 class in the first few rounds?
A: ďI want to finish in the top ten. This first race, I want to go out and qualify and be in the main and hopefully be in the top ten. My own personal goals are quite high. Iíve always set personal goals really high. Iím really a determined kind of person, so if it doesnít happen, Iíll do everything in my power to try and make it happen. Weíll see where we go five weeks from now.Ē
Q: Obviously, the last thing youíd want to do is get hurt riding 250s before the 125 East starts, though.
A: ďYeah, thatís right. As much as I want to ride 250s, I canít take it 110% seriously because, as the team has pointed out a number of times, itís not the series that Iím contracted to do. Iíve just go to go and feel my way out and have some fun. I donít want to get hurt at all on a 250, which is not the bike that Iím contracted to ride.Ē
Q: As far as the 125 East series goes, what do you really expect to do there?
A: ďIíd like to win. Thereís a lot of fast, top guys in there, so itís for sure not going to be easy. But lifeís not meant to be easy. Itís just going to take a lot of hard work and consistency. Thereís going to be Langston, Brown, myself and a couple of other guys battling it out, so hopefully I can put me and my Yamaha up on top.Ē
Q: Do you have an opinion on the whole 125 vs. 250F controversy and whether or not the 250F is an advantage in Supercross?
A: ďFrom riding both, I donít see it as an advantage, really. It has its advantages and it has its disadvantages. I think when you weigh the two of them out, theyíre on par. Theyíre pretty much identical bikes. Iíve never really looked at it like that because even if you have the fastest bike out there, youíve still got to be able to turn the throttle. I donít see it as an advantage, no.Ē
Q: The Australian media, and specifically my friend Geoff Meyer, are really pumped about you coming here to race. Weíve seen some Australian riders put in some good rides here in America, but nothing with any longevity. Are you wanting to be the first Australian to really break through and become a household name in American racing?
A: ďYeah, sure, to say the least. Iíve always said that this is what I wanted so Iím going to do everything in my power to break the Australian ice and put us up there. I did my best in Europe this year and got second. Iím going to do my best here in America also.Ē
Q: Is it important for Australian motocross and the growth of the sport there to have someone come to America and do really well?
A: ďFor sure. At the moment we have a few young guys that are really fast. I think that between myself and Michael Byrne, we set a really good example for the Australian riders. Iím hoping that in a few years we have a lot of Australians over here. Weíre just the same as the rest of the world. We all have two legs, two arms and a heartbeat. Thereís nothing that they can do that we canít do. Weíve just got to go out there and prove it and go from there.Ē
Q: Thanks for your time, Chad. I wish you the best of luck and have fun.
A: ďThank you.Ē