"You Didn't Want Stanton to Be Near Your Rental Car" - Mike 'Goose' Gosselaar

We check in with legendary mechanic Mike Gosselaar to discuss everything from how he got his start in the industry to wrecking rental cars.

When considering the Mt. Rushmore of motocross riders, there’s room for endless debate. When it comes to which mechanics would be immortalize, the list is much shorter. There’s still room for debate, but Skip Norfolk, Jeremy “J-Bone” Albrecht, and Mike “Goose” Gosselaar are locks. We checked in with Goose to see what he’s been up to and hear a couple stories from The Good Ole Days.

For the full audio interview, hit the YouTube video here. To read through the written version, just scroll a little further.


Jamie "Darkside" Guida - Vital MX: You are one of the most successful mechanics of all time. I believe you have 13 titles. That is an amazing accomplishment.

Mike ‘Goose’ Gosselaar: I don't have 13 titles. I was part of rider’s careers that won 13 championships. There’s a lot of people involved, and I was just one of them.

Vital MX:  You have always been a very humble person. I feel you don't take enough credit for what you accomplished at this level. You didn't have very many failures.

Goose: There's a lot of luck involved. Being in the right places, right time, right people. There's a lot of guys out there that put in hard work, and they don't win a championship or become part of a championship.

Vital MX: Before you became a professional Supercross mechanic, you worked for the CHP as a motorcycle mechanic. This was at a time the t.v. show, CHiPs, was still being filmed. Did you ever meet Ponch and John?

Goose: Oh, yeah. The footage they shot from inside the shop was the shop I worked in. They'd come through there, you know, and kind of do their rehearsals and stuff and talk to you for a little bit.

Vital MX: Looking back on your career, as impressive as it is, what are your fondest memories of starting out, getting in the industry and being a part of this great sport?

Goose: There's so many cool things. Going to work for Honda. They were the superpower team at that point. Getting an offer from them to go to work for them, it's like, is this for real? Motocross of Nations events, championship events, and certain races. There's a lot that went on in the roughly 25 years I did it.

Vital MX: You got your start at Honda through Dave Arnold. He was a legendary part of Factory Honda’s history. 

Goose:  Yeah! I worked at a Yamaha dealer before working for the CHP, so I was riding Yamahas. I never had any Honda's and I kind of always looked at them like, “Gosh, these guys have so much money. They buy everything. They buy the best of everything, best riders, best bikes”. And then I get an offer to go work for them. Just ironic. Also, getting the opportunity for a few years to drive box vans around the country, having a close relationship with the other mechanics and the riders on the team, just totally different times. There were so many different things you could do during the week. Your boss didn't even know where you were. I didn't even care as long as everything was right. When they showed up at the races that's all that mattered. We got to stay in some really cool places and do a lot of adventurous stuff. We were kind of on our own, you know. It was before cell phones.

Vital MX: There’s stories of mechanics stopping at a local race and jumping on the factory race bike. Something that would never happen today.

Goose: I mean, when I was working on the 125, they encouraged me to take a bike out and break it in and rip it back apart to make sure everything was good. To go ride the thing. And at that point I was still riding quite a bit and racing. So, it's pretty awesome riding some national champion’s personal bike.

Goose: Gosh, that's a tough question. They all had certain traits that were just better than most people. It's hard to pick just one guy. Every one of them you work with, you enjoyed working during that time, you know? Being part of their program. I don't even want to be put on the spot like that. To where I offend one of the other guys. I’m still pretty close with all my riders. 

Vital MX: Talk about working with Ryan Dungey.

Goose: I didn't work with him until he jumped onto 450’s. I remember having a meeting with him and his manager and they were talking about a bonus structure, you know, like if he got first or second or third, would it pay out? I'm thinking. Yeah, he’s a rookie.  I'm probably never going to see a bonus this year. I was wrong on that one. After Anaheim 1, I remember I talked to Larry Ward quite a bit. He said, “you know what? That was pretty amazing what he did. That guy's going to go places”. I said, “Why?” He said, “Well, when he crossed over the finish line to get second in his first 450 race, he just went over the finish line. He didn’t pump his hands, didn't do anything. You watch, he's going to be doing things”. He was pretty much right on.

VitalMX: How do you feel about the fact that he's back now? 

Goose:  It's amazing. I'm impressed. You figure he's always had the speed and he didn't quit when he was on the downhill side, and I'm sure he stayed fit. To be that talented, one of the best guys we have, it's a pretty amazing thing.

Vital MX: Who was the most challenging to work with as far as testing? I feel like it'd probably be Chad Reed, but maybe I'm wrong.

Goose: You're probably pretty close. Chad is always searching for just a little bit better. And he's pretty tech savvy, fully understands quite a bit of things. So that might have been one of the most challenging ones, you know, because we had our own team and we're kind of on our own. Yeah. We had a way to make things, figure things out, make it work.

Vital MX:  Did you enjoy the technical side of trying to find that 1%?

Goose:  Sure. I mean, when you do find something really small, and it makes a big change. It's like, wow, you would never have guessed that would do what it did.

Vital MX: You were with Suzuki at the height of their success. Any surprise that they don’t seem as interested in racing as they used to?

Goose: Yes and no. I mean, we know when Ricky went over there, talking to some of the salespeople there, they didn't really sell many more bikes. And Ricky's winning everything. In the 80’s Suzuki was a huge powerhouse when it came to production bikes. And I don't know where that changed. If you're not selling products, you're not making money. It's hard to go spend money. When I first went to work for Honda, they were even telling me, you know, we don't get our money from selling motorcycles. It comes from elsewhere. There's a whole bunch of it in the marketing side of things that we probably don't see or understand.

Vital MX: I want to go back to the box van days just for a minute. There's a history of stories with rental cars. Do you have any stories you can tell us that maybe you haven't told in a while?

Goose: There's tons of stories. I don't want to incriminate myself. So, I'll incriminate somebody else. Jeff Stanton and Steve Lamson, they were in the two rental cars, and we were leaving Unadilla. And Stanton would always get full coverage insurance. You didn't want Stanton to be anywhere near your rental car that you were responsible for. Because it would probably get ruined. And we were driving through these little towns leaving Unadilla. And we almost got in trouble because the E brakes would get stuck on and make a lot of noise. We somehow evaded the police with that. But then later we were down on a four-lane highway, two lanes going in each direction. Stanton just rolls up next to Steve and literally like you see in an Indy car when their wheels touch and one drives over the top of one another. He drove over the top of Steve's hood at about 60 miles an hour with parts flying everywhere.  Steve was in tears. That's just one of the stories.

Vital MX: Going back to RC, we’ve heard how hard he was on equipment. Do you have any stories about that?

Goose: He could get the things so hot. You really had to be careful what kind of oils you were using or trying. Certain parts, you know, had to be beefed up. They'd never seen any kind of failures like what he could do to them. One year at Southwick on a Suzuki, in practice, he's running around the track, and I don't think he let off. He just kind of used the clutch to slow down for a corner, but literally had the throttle wide open and his muffler caught fire like two or three laps into it. And he came into the pits and I'm like, “Keep going. Your bike's on fire”. We didn't have any fire extinguishers, but he melted the packing inside the silencer and melted the titanium core. And Mitch wouldn't believe it. Mitch kept telling me, there's something wrong with your jetting. He's got something going on. I had given the number plate to Mitch after the race that was completely burned and melted off the side of the bike because the bike would go by, and he'd see a big orange glow from the whole cam being that hot. 

Vital MX: Is there an event or race that stands out as one of the most special?

Goose: Motocross of Nations are all special when you represent the United States. And that's a proud moment when you win. But I'll never forget when we went to Juarez, Spain, with Lamson, Jeremy, and Jeff Emig. In one moto Lamson had like seven current and past national and world champions in his class. He smoked everybody on his 125. That's one that'll stick with me for a long time. It's pretty amazing, a 125 against 500s. There was a huge jump that Lamson and Jeremy were doing. It was just massive, you know, and all the Europeans were trying to get the FIM to change that jump so that they couldn't do it.

Vital MX: Here’s a question from one of the forum members, PNWMXer, would like to hear more about the Honda carburetor mod from those early four strokes

Goose: Well, you can send me your carburetor to the shop, and I'll do one for you. We do so many CRF carburetors. Every single one of them that comes in when they're this old need a lot of attention. That story is funny because I kind of learned it from one of our satellite team guys who was on to something. We were trying everything. We tried it one time and it was definitely better. My sons and I would always go to Mammoth every year and it was the highlight of our year. One of my sons had a 450 and I had done it on his bike. I also got to take care of Jeremy's full works 450 up there. Jeremy was struggling with the thing bogging, especially with the heat and the altitude. I said, “Well, come on, come check out Caleb's bike, you know, just on the stand”. So, he comes over and checks it out, blips the throttle a bunch of times. He says, “put his carburetor on my bike”. I said, “I can't. You have a $10,000 magnesium carburetor”. I can't. I’m not allowed to do that, you know? He said, “No, you're putting it on my bike”. “Jeremy, I can't”. Anyway, he talked me into it, didn't even ride the thing, basically lined up with it. He raced and won Mammoth that year. The next race, I forget where it was. Ricky was complaining about a bog, and I let it slip out that I'd done something to Jeremy's. He said, “well do it to mine”. I got talked into doing it on Ricky's bike and then of course, you know, crap hit the fan when the Japanese found out. Then we did some more extensive testing, and it did work. I'm sure there's a bunch of people doing it out there, but I don't want to give it away. I'm still making a living, you know?

Vital MX: Do you miss being at the races?

Goose: Sure. You know, it's all the work that leads up to actually lining up. That's the hard part. It’s a tough grind every week for all these guys. You know, it can burn you out. There's so much work that needs to be done in a short period of time.

Vital MX: You talked about working in the shop. What are you doing now? Are still running your own business?

Goose: Yeah, running a small shop in a little bitty town in Idaho. I never thought I'd be this busy. We're well over two months out right now. I work with a guy that that I met working through Chad Reed. He was a mechanic on practice bikes and took care of his racetrack and the shop. 90% of these people have no clue or don't even care what I did in the past. We get good work done.

Vital MX: That's great! It sounds like you're pretty fulfilled

Goose: Yeah. If you could see my view right now. I'm just sitting out here on the patio. 


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