Ready for some reading material? Here's five interviews that should keep you busy for a bit.


Kyle Partridge

Privateer life isn't easy for sure. During Supercross last year, Kyle Partridge had one bike that he used for both practice and racing, which meant that he didn't do all that much practice or training, in an effort to keep his equipment fresh. For the outdoors, the lanky Las Vegas resident hooked up a sponsorship with the Sycuan Casino (www.sycuan.com) in El Cajon, CA, and hooked up with the DNA Shred Stix / Star Racing / Yamaha crew for the outdoors. That gave him a good place to pit from and made travel to and from the races easier, but being a 450 guy on a 250 team, he apparently wasn't getting much in the way of testing and support.

For 2012, he helped bring the Sycuan support over to the Hart & Huntington/Dodge/Kawasaki team, and turned some heads with a solid ride in his heat race at the Monster Energy Cup. Now he's prepping for the 2012 Monster Energy Supercross season, and will be working with Ivan Tedesco for get really dialed. There's no doubt he's got skills, and the upcoming season will definitely be his best chance yet to showcase them.


Vital MX: Okay, Kyle, so tell me about your deal for next year.

Kyle Partridge: It's kind of a little bit different than what I've had in the past. Just a good group of guys and good equipment with Hart and Huntington and Carey, everybody out at Vegas at the shop, Watson… It's kind of good. I'm happy for once. I have a good bike and I feel really good actually so we'll see how everything goes.

I was going to say… Monster Energy Cup, you were duking it out in there for a while, and scored a direct transfer to the main events.

Yeah. My heat race...I don't want to say that I rode great, because I didn't, but I rode good. I rode better than I have in the past. I think that kind of shows what I can do with good equipment and good people. I rode a lot before Monster Cup, probably more than I rode all year Supercross last year, with only having the one bike. Now being out here in California with Ivan and him helping me out, it's going to make me ten times better than I was at Monster Cup.

Do you feel like you'll be able to finally show your true potential there?

It kind of fires me up because Matthes seems to talk a lot of crap about me being on the team. It almost is like, for me when I passed Alessi and I started catching Townley, after the heat race I was like I know where I can be now. I know I can run with these guys. I just need to get in a little bit better shape. Not even a little; I need to get in a lot better shape. But it should be good Anaheim 1. Working with Ivan, like I said, is going to be huge for me. He's somebody that I've looked up to my whole life. He has obviously won championships and won races so he knows what it takes and is a top-ten guy. So, it will be good for me especially with Ivan and Hill and Hansen and those guys helping me out will be big.

I know the Pro Circuit guys have used Ivan in the past to, "Hey, go out and push our guys around and help them." So in a way, that's not a new thing for him.

No. And his biggest thing with me is… And he told me the other day, "I don't want to have to babysit you." And I told him I just want to be able to do twenty laps. I'll do whatever I've got to do. You don't have to worry about babysitting me. Just tell me what I have to do. So far it's good. We're just kind of doing riding stuff right now because he's still trying to get in shape as well. We're kind of on the same page as far as where we're at together as our conditioning goes, just because he's been out. We're going to start doing a lot of gym stuff I think here pretty soon just to get us both a lot stronger. It will be cool hanging out with him and going to see Dr. G, and just getting the whole program together.

Tell me about your deal with the Sycuan casino - how that came about, what that brought to Star last year, and then over to Hart and Huntington this year?

I was at Davi's house last year and I got in contact with an old friend of mine that I've known for seven or eight years and her mom happens to be the general manager of the casino. And we just kind of started talking and she was asking me what I needed through Supercross on, from Jacksonville on. They kind of just were dabbling in it. They just paid for my flights and hotels and entries and stuff like that, which was huge because I was having to pay for all that myself. They bought me a bike right before outdoors started because I was just going do them on my own. Then the whole deal with Star came about. Obviously they gave Star quite a bit of money. I think a lot of people that looked at that deal as me paying for my ride don't understand that in a sense, yeah, I kind of bought my ride but at the same time I'm trying to get a sponsor involved in our sport. They battle with San Manuel as far as advertising and marketing. So, all outdoors the guys at Star were telling the casino we're going to run ads and stuff like that. They never did and the casino wasn't really too happy about it. So, I went down to the shop and talked to Watson about a completely different thing and then it just got brought up with (Carey) Hart and we just kind of took it from there. I literally just the Sycuan people a text message with a link of a video of Hart's wrap-up of the year and said, "Here's another option." And she said, "Have Hart call me." It kind of just took off from there.


In a sense, I want what's best for the casino as well as Hart. No offense to Star Racing or a lot of other people that were approaching me trying to bring it, but Hart's marketing and Hart's ways of going about getting their brand out I think is one of the best in our sport. And they do a lot of stuff for the casino. Just with giveaways and Dodge and the casino having cars for giveaways at the casino, and having Hart come down… It's just a better business plan for the casino, because their ultimate goal is to get people into business. Having Carey Hart, or hypothetically Pink come to the casino is going to draw a bigger crowd. They're trying to put together a deal with the truck team right now to have an off-road race at the casino. I think that will be huge. It's just a good deal for me. I want what's best for them just like they want what's best for me. They're going to be co-title sponsor with Dodge. I think it will be a good relationship with Hart and the casino. I know it's for a couple years. That will line me up for the next two years and it will be good.

Being co-branded title sponsor with Dodge, that's huge.

I know that they're really excited about that because, like I said, Hart is really good at trying to get his sponsors to work together. That's stuff that Hart does that not a lot of other teams do. I think that that's what's really appealing for the casino to have Dodge and to have Sycuan t-shirts made with Hart and Huntington logo on it and sold inside of Zumiez. We're doing a big autograph thing on the first of December down at the casino. They're advertising all of it in every store that Hart and Huntington is sold in and there are eighty stores in San Diego county, forty in Inland Empire. They're trying to get a big crowd to go to the casino. It's just little things like that that I don't think a lot of people see, or if they do they overlook it. Kind of like the whole deal with Star. I kind of felt like they took advantage of the situation and they got their money and that was it. I don't want to talk bad about Star because they're a good team and Bobby took good care of me. It was just really frustrating because I didn't get a lot of time to test...actually I didn't really get any time to test. I was promised that I was going to test a lot and I never did. I think it just worked out better for Hart. Obviously for me because Hart is at home and I don't have to move. The shop is twenty minutes from my house; our track is thirty minutes… It will be good I think.


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.

 

Josh Hill

If there was someone that probably nearly everyone is rooting for as a potential Comeback of the Year, it'd be Josh Hill. After a huge backflip-gone-wrong, and then complications on other body parts due to reactions from his surgeries, it's been a long, tough year for Josh as he struggles to recover and get back on the track. When we talked to him this week, he's been back on his Hart & Huntington/Dodge/Kawasaki, and is working his way back up to speed. But better than that, he seems happy and pumped to be out there.

Vital MX: All right, Josh. Where have you been at and what have you been up to?

Josh Hill: For like the last year and a half I’ve just been trying to get better. Trying to do everything I can in rehab. I had to have a lot of surgeries. A little over three months ago I had to get my Achilles Tendon, the tendon below that clipped. They had to break all the ankle capsules in my ankle. They cut all the tendons in my toes. I had to rebuild my ankle because it was just paralyzed for so long that it kind of fused together. Luckily that surgery took and I’m able to move my ankle. I’m gaining feeling pretty much everywhere except for my toes are pretty much paralyzed still. But everything’s going good; I’m able to work out and just keep doing my stuff and try to make baby steps at getting back up there.


Watching you out on the track again it looks like you’re having fun again, and that didn’t always seem to be the case.

I’m having a blast. I’ve definitely had a lot of time to sit back and look at what I want to do with my life and it’s definitely riding dirt bikes; there’s nothing better than this. There have been times where I’ve taken it for granted and now all I want to do is keep getting better every day. It’s easy to have fun when you haven’t done anything for a year-and-a half.

What flipped that switch for you?

Things happen. I feel like everything happens for a reason. Basically I just have a whole new perspective on racing and what I like. Even the people I like watching ride have probably changed. The people I have respect for has probably changed, just because I’ve got a whole new outlook on everything. When you’re kind of caught up in things and you’re in the scene every day sometimes you need to take a step back and see how cool the things are that I was doing. There’s probably nothing better than racing a dirt bike. I probably was just taking it for granted.

Do you wish you could go back and redo some of that stuff from the past?

Oh, man, yeah. If I had a time machine that would be sweet. Maybe just pull a little bit harder on that one flip… Just do a bunch of things. Obviously, yeah, I wish I could change a lot of things but at the same time I’m only 22 years old. I love riding and this is what I love to do, so I think I’ve got plenty more years in me as long as I can keep making myself stronger without having any big injuries.

What do you have to work on between now and the start of the season?

I’ve got a laundry list of things I need to work on. More than anything right now it’s just keeping my physical therapy going, keeping working out, and not getting discouraged. I always used to be one of those guys who just wanted to go to the track and wanted to be the fastest guy out there. Now I kind of have to swallow my pride a little bit and just cut my teeth and go out here and try to get a little bit better every single time I ride the bike. I’m just definitely looking at it a lot differently than I used to. I’m looking at it as every single day I want to build and I want to get just a little bit better and get a little bit closer to my goal of being at the front of a Supercross race. I have a long ways to go but I’ve got two months and I’ve got the right attitude. I think I’m ready to just keep putting in the work. I think I can - maybe not at the very beginning of the season - be up there battling with those guys, but if I keep chipping away and just keep getting stronger hopefully mid-season I’ll be running up there with those guys.


What does it mean to you that a team like Carey and the Hart and Huntington crew have faith in you even as injured as you were and kind of as down as you were?

I can’t even thank those guys enough for stepping up. They came in when I was so down and out. I was barely walking and able to do anything when they came on board. So, for those guys to have faith in me and to keep that faith in me the whole time I’ve been hurt and just be positive… I definitely wouldn’t be in this situation I’m in right now if it wasn’t for those guys. I probably would have lost faith in myself because between Carey and Kenny Watson, everyone at the Dodge/Hart and Huntington team, between them and DC Shoes and Dragon, I would have been struggling in life. Those guys kept me afloat. They kept me going, and made it to where I could do everything I needed to do financially - have the surgeries I needed to have, have the training and physical therapy… They’ve just been a huge blessing.

Do you have to keep one eye in the rearview mirror now because you’ve got your brother Justin coming back there, too?

No, he’s already past me. It sounds funny but he’s already so good on a bike. He has already jumped stuff out here that I haven’t done yet, and I think most of the 250F guys haven’t done. He’s gnarly. When he comes in I think he’s going to be at the top of his class I believe. He’s an animal, too. His whole training outlook on everything…he’s an animal. He’s got the more Ricky Carmichael mentality; he just wants to do everything he can. Just a good old boy living up in the country.

Does that motivate you, too?

Oh, totally. I cut my hair to try to look like him. I’m doing everything trying to follow in his footsteps. (Laughs)

 

Tyler Bowers

Tyler got off to a great defense of his AMA Arenacross Championship last weekend by taking the season-opener in Des Moines, Iowa. The series has bounced around a little over the last few years in engine displacement, and has finally settled on the 250 class again. That forced Tyler to slim up before the start of this season, and he was looking fitter than ever.

Vital MX: All right, Tyler. So, did you go down a weight class for the start of the Arenacross season?

Tyler Bowers: Yeah. I kind of had to get into the boxer mentality and lose a little bit of weight. I lost about twenty pounds getting ready for the Arenacross series here. I’ve got a little more I think to lose. I plan on doing some East Coast Supercross or something afterwards. Just trying to lean out, try to ride this little bike.


What’s it like on the series now kind of bouncing back and forth between 250 and 450?

It’s kind of a headache. It’s really not that bad as far as racing goes. The bikes are great. The Team Babbitt’s/Monster Energy/Amsoil/Kawasaki this year is great. We got good motors put together. Tom Morgan is doing our motors this year. I used him a little bit during amateur ranks. He’s awesome. He’s really intelligent. We got really good motors. For the little tracks, I guess the little bike’s not that bad but I was a little bit hefty anyway at 210 last year. It was kind of heavy for a dirt bike rider. I had to trim down to about 190 this year. It’s a little bit more fun to race the 250s because you can throw it around a lot more and you feel like you’re going a lot faster than you are. It’s fun to do.

So you had to cut back on the cupcakes?

Yeah. Bella’s Cupcakes actually helped me out at the Monster Cup. It’s mom’s cupcake shop back in Richmond, Kentucky. She’s helping me out a little bit and she sponsors Zach Ames who actually beat me in the Dash for Cash this weekend. He won his heat race and was really killing it in the Main Event before he tangled up with (Chad) Johnson. They got a good deal together and it’s kind of weird that I’ve got to race against somebody who rides for my mom.

Well, they did help you out a little there.

Yeah, for sure. Like I said, Bella’s Cupcakes kind of got my way to the Monster Cup. With the help of them and a few other people I went there and did it on my own. Got my own ’12 450 and went there and had some fun. So, like I said, thank Bella’s Cupcakes for sure.

But I’m guessing you don’t actually eat very many of them?

Yeah, I try to stay away from them. This summer it was hard not to. She would bring back boxes of leftovers. I’m talking like 24, 36 in a box. And after a day they can’t do anything with them. They either eat them at home or they go in the trash. So every now and then, like, once every two weeks I’d have a cupcake. It’s the best ever because they’ve got all these crazy flavors like s’mores and stuff like that. So, it’s awesome.

I like your number one plate in the back window of your truck.

Yeah. I’ve got to rep the number one plate in the back window of the truck. I don’t know if you ever saw what I was rolling around in last year - my all primered-out Chevy 2500 that’s old and getting ready to break in half. Last year with the championship I was able to go and invest in a new truck to make sure I got to the track every day. I rep the number one plate back there to remind me of how I got it. Days like this out here at the test track is how I got that championship last year.

So give us an overview on what the Arenacross series is like now.

It’s good. It’s fun. I think the guys are coming in stronger than ever. Demuth is back from an injury. I think he took a little bit of time off. I think he kind of regrouped. He’s probably healthier now than he ever has been. And then you’ve got Jeff Gibson who put on a strong run in the beginning of the series last year and he’s always a contender. The veterans are always smart and they know what they’re doing. I think he’s coming in and trying to get some redemption more than ever. And then you’ve got Chad Johnson, one of my other teammates. He’s strong as can be right now. I know he has gotten a lot of testing in back east with Denny Bartz, our team manager. He’s got kind of the advantage as far as testing is going. He’s the tester. I know he feels really good and comfortable on the bike. And then Zach Ames is actually out here staying with me here in Corona. He’s riding better than ever. He switched to Kawasaki this year, got off Spinechillers. I think he’s coming together with a little bit better plan. He’s a little bit more serious. I think he’s going to be a really big threat this year. And then we’ve got just the regular guys. Ginolfi is riding good. Kelly Smith went to the KTMs and I think once he gets used to it he’s going to be up there. It’s a strong year again.

 

Alex Ewing

Not familiar with the name? Alex is one of the legion of mechanics who keep things dialed for the guys on the track, and he's worked with some of the best, including great athletes like, Billy Laninovich, Paul Carpenter, Kevin Windham, Jeremy McGrath, Ivan Tedesco, Josh Grant, and Davi Millsaps. But he sort of dropped out of sight last year, and when we ran into him recently, we wanted to see what he's been up to.

Vital MX: So, we haven’t seen you for a while. What’s the gig now? Where have you been? What happened?

Alex Ewing: I am working with Robbie Madison and just helping him do some world record stuff and his freestyle stuff. I’ve been traveling with him, going to events and just hanging out. Starting a new chapter of my life back in California. That’s about it.


You were doing the deal with JGRMX and wrenching for Davi, but then you disappeared during the middle part of the SX season.

Yeah. What actually ended up happening was we went out for dinner and I got pulled over on the way home. I blew a .07 and I got arrested. Went to jail for the night, got up the next morning, called Coy and told him that we needed to have a talk. He later on in the day came over to me and said, yeah, let’s go have a chat. Got in the truck with him and he let me know that somebody had emailed the information about that happening to somebody at human resources. He pretty much said there’s nothing I can do for you. I was let go before Atlanta Supercross. Six weeks later I went to court and the case was thrown out. So I was not convicted of a DUI because I blew under the legal limit.

Was that an on-site test or back at the station?

No, that was the on-site test. The actual judge told the officer that she didn’t want to see him bring anybody back to court for blowing under the legal limit. That happened and then I was just kind of hanging out in North Carolina seeing what would come about. Kevin Windham had called me and asked me what I was doing and asked me if I would be interested in coming to his house and helping him for the end of the Supercross season. And then he ended up riding some of the Outdoors and I stayed there for that. That was a great opportunity to go back and hang out with Kevin and his family. They’re great people and they were great to me. Robbie called me and asked me if I would come help him for a certain event and then that event has just turned into a full-time job with him. Everything’s good. I’m in a good place and super happy with life. Everything happens for a reason. You always end up somewhere better than where you were, I would like to believe. That’s where I’m at now.

Still kind of a bummer though to end up like that.

It sucks the way it happened because I’m sure all the people that ran around saying I got a DUI after they found out I was not convicted of a DUI, I’m sure the same people didn’t go running around saying, “Hey, did you hear Alex Ewing wasn’t convicted of a DUI?” That part kind of sucks.

Well, that’s not nearly as exciting.

No. But whatever; I still have a relationship with the guys at Gibbs and they’re actually building Robbie’s engine for his New Year’s Eve world record jump this year for his Yamaha 450. So, I still talk to those guys, still in contact with them. Everything’s all good. Like I said, everything happens for a reason. I’m in a better spot and I’m happier now. It’s all good.

Does Gibbs have a zero tolerance policy?

I don’t know so much about that. Maybe I was used as an example as this is what not to do. But I know there are people that have DUI’s that have been convicted of DUI’s that you can look up on the internet, just as you could me before mine got expunged, that still currently work there that are in the shop and that travel. So, like I said, I don’t know if it was just Coy setting the standard and that just happened to be me. But whatever. Bummer the way it went down but, like I said, it’s all good.

What did it take to get to a .07?

It was one drink and three martinis over the course of dinner. So, don’t surpass that. Don’t go past that, people.



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