Music and dirt bikes go together like peanut butter and jelly for me. Music touches every aspect of my day, and certain songs are like timestamps from a moment in time. When riding dirt bikes, having songs that pump me up on the way to the track or when getting ready is crucial. I actually listen to hard rock music while riding because I can’t imagine one without the other.
Of course, rock n roll and motocross have a lot of history. In the 80s, Team Honda rider Micky Dymond was known to hang out with the guys in Motley Crue. In the 90s and early 2000s, videos like Terrafirma, Crusty Demons of Dirt, and The Great Outdoors series had soundtracks that personified the feeling of riding. Bands like Pennywise, Strung Out, Corrosion of Conformity, The Offspring, White Zombie, Megadeth, and many others were synonymous with dirt bikes. In 2023, Hunter Lawrence and Alpinestars collaborated with Adam Jones of Tool due to Hunter’s love of that band.
When the owner of the Metal Hall of Fame, Pat Gesualdo, and Supercross came together last year, it was a perfect symbiotic relationship. Pat is a close friend of Owen Kennedy, who does security for Supercross and the Metal Hall of Fame. That friendship and love of the sport led Pat to reach out to build a relationship with Feld and Supercross.
Senior Public Relations Manager for Supercross, Sean Brennen, is a huge hard rock fan and invited me to the event in 2023. I can’t tell you how exciting this was for me. Sean, Doug Cabrera (Director of two-wheel television for Feld), Cade Clason, Henry Miller, and I went to the event, and it was amazing. Cade and Henry walked the red carpet and promoted the sport of Supercross to the music media. It was cool to hear the musicians asking questions and exclaiming their amazement at what our athletes do weekly.
The 2023 Metal Hall of Fame was a night to remember for all of us. It was Cade’s first-ever concert, and we met legendary artists such as Doug Aldrich (Whitesnake, Dio, Hurricane), saw guitar god Steve Vai (Whitesnake, David Lee Roth, Steve Vai) and one of my favorite drummers Mike Portnoy (Dream Theatre, Winery Dogs, Avenged Sevenfold). We also witnessed fantastic performances. I even got yelled at by Dee Snider from Twisted Sister for recording their set instead of watching. That was freaking cool. Twisted Sister was also inducted that night.
The Metal Hall of Fame is usually scheduled around A2 and the NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) convention because all the musicians are in town to support the brands that support them. Sean had asked me if I could think of a few riders who were into hard rock music and might attend the event. He already had Cade Clason, Josh Hill, and a few others lined up, but I thought getting one of our athletes out on a Wednesday night might be difficult. I thought of Hunter, Levi Kitchen, and Aaron Plessinger immediately. Yes, I know AP is a country guy, but he’s told me he likes some classic rock, and Chris LeDoux did say, “Even cowboys like a little rock n roll.”
On press day in San Diego, I saw AP and asked him if there was any chance he’d be into it. He immediately lit up and said, “Hell yeah! I’m also bringing Seth Rarick (KTM’s East Coast race team coordinator).” That was easier than expected. I also asked Levi, but he couldn’t make it. We had a great group of guys going that included Josh Hill, Cade, Doug, Dakota Tedder, Alec Gaut (Gaut Photography), Talon Hawkins, Dr. Steve Navarro, Robbie Wageman, and Kat Voiles (Senior Live Even Manager - SuperMotocross).
I was particularly excited because one of my favorite singers, Sebastian Bach (Skid Row), was being inducted. Tom Morello (Rage Against the Machine, Audioslave), Eddie Trunk (Radio personality for 40 years, That Metal Show, Trunk Nation on XM), Mick Mars (Motley Crue), and others were also being inducted. My excitement could not equal that of Seth Rarick when we were told we might meet Tom Morello. Seth grew up loving Tom and Chris Cornell (Soundgarden, Audioslave), so the prospect of meeting Tom was special.
We met Tom, John 5 (Rob Zombie, Marilyn Manson, Motley Crue), Eddie Trunk, and Sebastian Bach, thanks to Todd Headlee from the Metal Hall of Fame. Meeting Sebastian was a 14-year-old me’s dream come true. I showed Baz some of his lyrics I have tattooed on my arm and he was stoked on it. This was on the red carpet, so the show hadn’t even started, and I was on cloud nine.
We all went back to the green room to meet Tom and John 5 before the show started, and they could not have been nicer guys. They asked questions about Supercross and generally were into it.
Sean Brennen: “A highlight for me was meeting John 5 and Tom Morrello. Tom told us stories about him and Vince Vaughn flying out on Friday and looking to find where Supercross was racing that weekend. Those are experiences you wouldn’t normally get.”
AP and Seth went back separately to meet Tom and John 5 because Todd Headlee knew how big this was for Rarick.
Seth Rarick: “It was really cool! Meeting Tom Morello was surreal. My entire childhood was spent listening to Rage and Soundgarden. When Audioslave formed, it was life-changing for me. Talking to Tom about my favorite artist of all time, Chris Cornell is one of my coolest life experiences. I’d like to go back next year.”
Aaron Plessinger: “I thought attending the Metal Hall of Fame was awesome. We saw some cool people give awesome speeches and play great music. It was also cool to see everyone stuck to their dress code from the 80s with the long hair and wild outfits. I’m definitely going back if I get the chance.”
Todd also took us to meet Eddie Trunk, who I’ve listened to for ten years or more, and Cathy Rankin (music and TV personality, no relation to mechanic Derek Rankin), who hosted the event. Todd made sure we, as a group, were having a great night. Then, it was time to start the show.
Feld had two tables up front, and we enjoyed great live music and lots of laughs. Everyone at the tables had a fantastic time, thanks to the relationship between Supercross and the Metal Hall of Fame. I asked some people at our table what they thought of the event to see if they had as much fun as I did.
Cade Clason: “This was my second year going, and I had a blast each time. It’s so cool to go somewhere that’s a completely different scene than I’m used to, and they are still interested in Supercross and what I’m doing. Especially when it’s in a place where I am the super fan.”
Talon Hawkins: “It was super cool to get out and do something different. I grew up listening to Rage Against the Machine, which made the experience even more rad.”
Kat Voiles: "It was an incredible experience to see the Metal Hall of Fame and Supercross worlds combine. As someone who was brought up listening to good music, it was refreshing to rock the night away with stars of Supercross and rock n roll. It was an experience I know we will all remember forever."
Alec Gaut: “It was a dream come true. I also got to shoot photos at the event. I grew up listening to that kind of music, which plays a huge part in my life. So, meeting some of the musicians and saying thank you was special.”
Doug Cabrera: “Witnessing Supercross and the rock n roll world come together for one night was fantastic. It was gratifying to see riders like Aaron Plessinger interact with the likes of Tom Morello and Carlos Cavazo (Quiet Riot, Ratt).”
At the end of the day, or better yet, night, Sean Brennen said it best. “Any time we can put music, rockstars, and athletes together, it’s a marriage made in Heaven. Heavy metal and hard rock go with racing so well. We’re fortunate to have the relationship we are developing with the Metal Hall of Fame and looking forward to doing bigger things in the future.”
Getting more eyes on our sport is exciting, and if branching out into other industries, such as music, helps, then let’s do more of it. The opportunity to do something in Nashville seems like a slam dunk. I know Sean and the Feld crew are always looking for a way to tie in other entertainment groups and cross-promote, and I appreciate it. Having actors, musicians, racers from other disciplines, etc., is super cool. For now, I will enjoy the memories I’ve shared with my friends in the industry and wait for next year’s Metal Hall of Fame. Horns up!!