Tony Alessi Interview - "Believe the Hype was a good idea" – Jeff in the forums

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1/3/2018 1:07 AM
Edited Date/Time: 1/3/2018 1:24 AM

Here are some quotes that I thought were good from the recent Tony Alessi interview on the Steve Matthes podcast. I did the transcription work. Copyright for the content belongs to PulpMX. Some quotes are informative. Some quotes are insightful. Some quotes are funny. **I have moved segments around due to relevance to the forum

M: Steve Matthes
T: Tony Alessi
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T: You brought up those Believe the Hype shirts. You know how that came about, right?

M: Uh, DMXS guys got it started, didn’t they?

T: Well, it was actually Kenny Watson’s idea.

M: Oh, boy, here was go!

T: I, we never, Mike never raced a pro national, or anything like that so we were naïve and kinda clueless and Kenny said, ‘hey this is what you gotta do, you’re gonna have to do this, it’s a good idea’. So of course, we’re naïve, we’re like, ‘Ok’. And, uh, the DMXS guys built the shirts and all that, so we rocked them. And man, and man were people pissed off.

M: It’s awesome. It’s all part of the fun. Right? Our sport and everything else; looking back on it. Yeah. Funny you say Watson though, for sure.
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M: Jeff is causing a nice little stir on these message boards right now. I don’t know how your relationship is with him right now. I don’t know what’s wrong with him. I feel like, like shaking him up and being like ‘Jeff stop posting. Stop posting’. That’s me, that’s my opinion.

T: … the only thing I share, realistically, with Jeff, is our last name. He’s a guy that beats to him own drum. He’s 30 years old … he’s his own guy … They both don’t live with me anymore … ‘the most dangerous guy in the world is the guy that either A doesn’t care whether he lives or dies or a guy that thinks he’s right about something. I think what’s going on with Jeff here is, probably, the second one. He thinks he’s right about something. He’s going with it.
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[Talking about Jeff Alessi]

T: And the very first supercross race that he ever attended and raced, in Atlanta, he qualified first. In front of Dungey … Pro Circuit guys. I remember standing there when one of the PC dudes came up to Mitch, I was kinda standing close by. He said, ‘Alessi qualified first, but it’s not the one you think’.
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M: You know, I get, I see these things online, and it’s happened on my show and everything else, people call Mike Alessi’s career, like a failure. And I’m always like, NO, it’s not. He never won a championship, OK, I get it, but he would have won that 2009 title, without a doubt in my mind, had he not broken his knee cap. And Mike has literally earned millions and millions of dollars racing. He’s made the podium so many times. He’s won nationals. Mike Alessi’s career is so far from a failure, you know. It’s funny though, our sport is so fixated on championships. I get it; But boy, I’d like to have a “Failure” of a career like Mike Alessi.

T: … If you think of the 2009 Seattle Supercross. Mike led 14 laps. He was gonna, probably, win that race if he didn’t fall. Villipoto was second right from the start. So, a race like that. Just that one alone is terrific. You know. And those races when he was a kid when he was racing against Langston were phenomenal. And in 2007, in his rookie ride as a 450 guy, which would be 10 years ago, and keep in mind he only rode the 250 class two years. So, in his first year on a 450 he woulda been 18 years old, he finished second in the championship, which is phenomenal.

T: … And lots of money! … In those days, right, if you won a race, it was a 100,000 dollars. If you won each moto, they gave you a 15,000 dollar bonus per moto. So, theoretically, if you went 1-1 on the day, you could make 130 grand in a day. So, those are all crazy and legit things, you know.

T: ..I think if his name was anything different that Mike Alessi, people would be like, ‘yeah, man, that guy had a good career’.

M: … No one would look at Tim Ferry’s career and be like, ‘oh yeah, he sucked’. Like, no way. And Mike has more wins than him! Yeah you’re right, the last name is what clouds people but as I said, I would love to have a “Failure” of a career. That’s a hell of a career he had.
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[KTM]

M: Rattray.

T: Rattray! Right. So they said, ‘hey look. We’re gonna fly you over here because we believe we have a bike that is really good, we’re winning the world championships, would you just come over and take a look at it?’ So, we flew over there to Austria and they took us to a track that was over there and the thing was SO FAST. I couldn’t believe. I literally, I had to, I asked, ‘Can I ride that?’. So I went and rode the bike. I was probably 170 pounds, or whatever, and I could do a third gear start on the thing. I was like dude, this thing, there aint nobody beating you on this thing.

M: … I had somebody tell me one time … but somebody said that you guys going to KTM with the no-link shocks at the beginning, the PDS system is what KTM had when you went there, it wasn’t ideal for supercross. Someone told me that if Mike had gotten on a bike that worked well in supercross, his whole supercross skills may have been better. Do you agree with that? Do you think the thing held you back a bit indoors?

T: Honestly, if it’s anything, it wouldn’t be more than one number. So if you’re talking the difference between being a 7 and a 6, that’s probably what we’re talking about.
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[Steve talks about Mike RE: outdoors > indoors]

T: Well I would say that, you know, as amateur riders, Loretta Lynn’s was the everything. That was it. Everything revolves around how do you win that race. With that in mind, our focus was 99.9% on motocross. Go win the area qualifiers. Go win the regional qualifiers. Go try to win Loretta Lynn’s because that’s it, that’s all that matters. … With that in mind, we didn’t really put a lot of effort into supercross while others were. Milsaps was riding supercross at very young age, so was Villipoto. … They had a huge head start.

T: We started to ride, the first time we ever rode a … supercross track was before the US Open. That race had Villipoto in it, and Josh Hill, and Crhis Pourcel. I have to look back and see what year it was right off the top, maybe 02, 03. So we went to Castillo Ranch because we were sponsored by CTI at the time. So we asked Mr. Castillo if we could go ride the supercross track … and actually he was good. He was good, he was fast, he was able do everything … I thought his technique was strange but he was fast through them … Looks a little scary but he’s fast through them.
[Mike wins US Open] [Mike wins 11 LL championships]

T: … but when it came to really ride supercross, OH SHIT. Man we got an eye opener right away. We got to the KTM track on the time we were riding supercross. The test ride was Casey Lytle (spelling), and he was 4 seconds a lap faster than Mike. I was like, Oooh Shit, we got problems. And that thing he did in the whoops, that looked fast, ended up causing multiple crashes in the whoops. In the first three months, going to the hospital was a once a week thing.
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[Tony as team manager of Smart Top Racing]

T: … at one of the teams … Jeff was beating Mike on the start, consistently … Mike what’s the problem? … He said, ‘this things not fast’ … ‘What? Not fast? It’s a factory bike!’ … Here, you get on Jeffs bike, and let Jeff go on your bike and let’s do starts. And then Mike holeshots by three bike lengths. So I did a video of it both ways and I sent it to the team manager … ‘I think the bike might need more power. It’s looks like a little off’ … ‘It’s not a factory bike’. And the answer I got bank was, ‘Maybe you should go back and ride KTM’.

T: … Those kind of things stuck with me. When the guys are telling me they need this or that or want something better, I want to make it better for them. You know, I want to make it better.
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More tomorrow, maybe. 33:15

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"What happens to your hands when you crash?"
"I put my hands up real quick to protect my sunglasses"

1/3/2018 1:18 AM

ya it was a real good interview

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1/3/2018 1:21 AM

68 wrote:

ya it was a real good interview

I did a transcript like this last year and it got a lot of responses. I assume most people on here don't listen to these and I think these may elicit some good responses in here

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"What happens to your hands when you crash?"
"I put my hands up real quick to protect my sunglasses"

1/3/2018 2:06 AM

Thanks for transcribing this... interesting stuff and I haven’t had a chance to listen yet.

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1/3/2018 6:22 AM

I've kinda been taking my son to a lot of AX races. Other parents are telling me it is a waste of time. I have been telling them that I think it is important, and it was nice to hear one of the most known Moto-Dad say it was a mistake not doing more with Mike. Now I feel '' 50% less crazy" lol

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1/3/2018 6:32 AM

Say what you want, but both of the Alessi boys were always fan friendly. Seemed like dad did a pretty good job in some areas.

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1/3/2018 6:32 AM

Thanks for your transcription.

Tony Alessi was a great interview. So much knowledge and time around the sport from amateur to pro ranks. His insight and experience is worth being shared.

I thought his comment about him and Jeff only sharing a last name was interesting. I wonder what exactly that means. Did he just mean Jeff is growing into his own person or is there a rift between the two?

Man, it's a shame the Alessi's got so much flack for Kenny Watson's boneheaded "Believe the hype" idea. I can't think of a better way to alienate fans and other racers than to dismiss your competition before the ever having lined up for a pro race.

Mike had one hell of a solid career though, that is for sure. Might not have won the championships that he and lots of us anticipated after all those Loretta's titles, but man was Mike determined. Coming back after that Redbud crash was badass!

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1/3/2018 6:51 AM

Thanks for transcribing. Interesting interview.

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1/3/2018 7:04 AM

It was a great interview and I think Tony has realized after being in the head position of a team that he has made mistakes and maybe tried to live his life through his kids to much. It is a shame that Jeff and him do not seem to have much contact right now. Hopefully they can work things out.

Matthes interviews lately have been great and he is not afraid to hold back and ask the tough questions.

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1/3/2018 7:14 AM

Thanks for transcribing, good insight on a moto Family point of view .
thanks Z50KING lol.

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1/3/2018 8:07 AM

This is the first podcast I've ever listened to, and it was great. One of the bits I found interesting was the story about Jeff being on a factory bike, and Mike on a privateer bike of the same model. I don't know what brand it was, perhaps Suzuki. He said that the privateer bike was miles faster and was destroying the factory bike off the line, and the brothers swapped bikes to confirm it wasn't just the rider.

When this feedback was passed to the factory, they told him to take a hike and were not interested in hearing it. One would assume they would have wanted to rip that privateer motor apart straight away to find out where it was getting the edge, but not so.

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1/3/2018 10:01 AM

This was only the first half. More insightful parts. The second half is more funny and strange shit

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"What happens to your hands when you crash?"
"I put my hands up real quick to protect my sunglasses"

1/3/2018 10:02 AM

DEMONDAVE wrote:

Thanks for transcribing, good insight on a moto Family point of view .
thanks Z50KING lol.

How do you know that name?

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"What happens to your hands when you crash?"
"I put my hands up real quick to protect my sunglasses"

1/3/2018 10:07 AM

newmann wrote:

Say what you want, but both of the Alessi boys were always fan friendly. Seemed like dad did a pretty good job in some areas.

I was at our Riverglade national last year (part of our Canadian series) and I was standing on the inside of the first turn to watch the gate drop on the 250 class. Mike came up, sat down right next to me and was friendly to the younger kids chatting to him, even though the reason he was there was to watch how the holeshot played out to help decide a good gate pick. Any time I've seen him in the pits he's been smiling and happy, which throws me off because all I hear on social media is that the guy isn't a nice guy.

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1/3/2018 10:15 AM

racingfortheson wrote:

I've kinda been taking my son to a lot of AX races. Other parents are telling me it is a waste of time. I have been telling them that I think it is important, and it was nice to hear one of the most known Moto-Dad say it was a mistake not doing more with Mike. Now I feel '' 50% less crazy" lol

I think any racing is important for a kid coming up and not just hiding out at these camps the whole year racing once or twice like so many are doing now days, I think the big events (LL, Monster Mt, Mini O's, etc) are important but your regular weekend racing is fun too for theses boys. So many parents believe there kids are "going pro" and do these camps etc with them and these kids miss out on so many good fun memories of just racing with there friends and family... this sport has changed and I'm afraid for the worse sometimes. It's ok to take your kids all over and enjoy racing, but also be realistic if your kid is 15,16,17 and is a "C" class rider that's great and I hope it's all fun and they make many memories but the odds of them being the next Jeremy McGrath is prob not going to happen. I don't know your situation and am just commenting on what I see so much of going on now that some of these parents take it so far that the fun is being stripped away from these kids IMO but to each is there own I suppose just frustrating that every kid has to be pro in there parents eyes and it can't just be fun! and if it grows into something great... if not that's fine too. Just feel the fun friendly atmosphere has left us somehow but anyways good luck with the arenacross! Hope you do well.

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1/3/2018 10:16 AM

racingfortheson wrote:

I've kinda been taking my son to a lot of AX races. Other parents are telling me it is a waste of time. I have been telling them that I think it is important, and it was nice to hear one of the most known Moto-Dad say it was a mistake not doing more with Mike. Now I feel '' 50% less crazy" lol

I think any racing is important for a kid coming up and not just hiding out at these camps the whole year racing once or twice like so many are doing now days, I think the big events (LL, Monster Mt, Mini O's, etc) are important but your regular weekend racing is fun too for theses boys. So many parents believe there kids are "going pro" and do these camps etc with them and these kids miss out on so many good fun memories of just racing with there friends and family... this sport has changed and I'm afraid for the worse sometimes. It's ok to take your kids all over and enjoy racing, but also be realistic if your kid is 15,16,17 and is a "C" class rider that's great and I hope it's all fun and they make many memories but the odds of them being the next Jeremy McGrath is prob not going to happen. I don't know your situation and am just commenting on what I see so much of going on now that some of these parents take it so far that the fun is being stripped away from these kids IMO but to each is there own I suppose just frustrating that every kid has to be pro in there parents eyes and it can't just be fun! and if it grows into something great... if not that's fine too. Just feel the fun friendly atmosphere has left us somehow but anyways good luck with the arenacross! Hope you do well.

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1/3/2018 10:20 AM

Now you need to transcribe some of Jeff's forum posts.

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1/3/2018 10:35 AM
Edited Date/Time: 1/3/2018 11:27 AM

I never understood the whole problem with Believe The Hype. I think it was a great way to build a name. When he was a rookie, all Mike Alessi ever said was, "I want to win." Isn't that what all racers aspire to? I wouldn't hire the guy if he said, "I'll settle for 4th and that will be OK."

Everybody was blowing Mike up for saying that he thought it was possible to beat RC when really he was just stating fact. it's POSSIBLE to beat anybody.

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1/3/2018 10:40 AM

racingfortheson wrote:

I've kinda been taking my son to a lot of AX races. Other parents are telling me it is a waste of time. I have been telling them that I think it is important, and it was nice to hear one of the most known Moto-Dad say it was a mistake not doing more with Mike. Now I feel '' 50% less crazy" lol

if anyones kid is looking to go pro this is the way to go. I've heard Tony, on multiple interviews, say that if he could do it again he would do what deegan is doing with his kid, having him ride sx tracks from an early age instead of focusing solely on Lorettas

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"If you feel in control, you're not going fast enough" ~Mario Andretti

1/3/2018 11:29 AM

Any links to the show? It sounds like a recent interview but I don't see anything on Pulp mentioning him on a recent podcast.

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1/3/2018 11:47 AM

I don’t know who, if anyone, told Tony Alessi to make up some shirts but the revisionist twist this story has taken over the years has been entertaining. I think it’s time to set the record straight on the Believe the Hype shirts.

We had Tony, Mike, and Jeff in the studio that summer before Loretta's as they were passing through Atlanta. Our studio at the time was located in the back of Kevin’s trophy and screen printing shop so we were not surprised when Tony asked us to come up with something up for Mike's big debut.

That is the extent of any creative input from the Alessi clan, or anyone else in the creative design, wording or any other aspect of the infamous shirts. In fact, nobody even saw our “800 target” design we added later until the shirts showed up at Loretta’s.

Tony did offer some suggestions like, “You Sing It, We’ll Bring It!” I doubt that would have had the same impact or pissed off James Stewart and Ricky Carmichael.

We literally put our names on the shirts and took a bunch of shit from some in the industry and top riders, especially at Loretta’s. I have no problem with that since we owned doing it from the beginning and knew it would be controversial. That was the entire point of doing something.

Any other version of this story is wrong.


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PEACE!

1/3/2018 12:01 PM

Thank for the transcription, Tony certainly has a wealth of information. As for Jeff I can't speak to his recent obsession over the PED stuff. I do think he is a good guy though with good intent. My only interaction with him is of him jumping out on the track to help scrape my kid off the ground after going down in a corner, checking he was ok and helping get him back on his way. (My kid was 6). He by no means had to do that, he was there coaching other kids whom had paid for his services and there was a flagger near by. Next lap he gave my kid a thumbs up and cheered him on as he passed. Seems like he has a love for the sport and enjoys helping others who do as well.

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1/3/2018 12:41 PM

I was under the impression that the “believe the hype” came from one of mikes favorite movies as a kid

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1/3/2018 12:41 PM

Falcon wrote:

I never understood the whole problem with Believe The Hype. I think it was a great way to build a name. When he was a rookie, all Mike Alessi ever said was, "I want to win." Isn't that what all racers aspire to? I wouldn't hire the guy if he said, "I'll settle for 4th and that will be OK."

Everybody was blowing Mike up for saying that he thought it was possible to beat RC when really he was just stating fact. it's POSSIBLE to beat anybody.

It wasn't just the tee shirts, but when you combine that with their disrepecting attitudes and comments towards the other compeditors in their interviews, it really painted a target on their back. So much so they had those target teeshirts made up. (which I thought were great).

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1/3/2018 12:50 PM

David Izer wrote:

I don’t know who, if anyone, told Tony Alessi to make up some shirts but the revisionist twist this story has taken over the years has been entertaining. I think it’s time to set the record straight on the Believe the Hype shirts.

We had Tony, Mike, and Jeff in the studio that summer before Loretta's as they were passing through Atlanta. Our studio at the time was located in the back of Kevin’s trophy and screen printing shop so we were not surprised when Tony asked us to come up with something up for Mike's big debut.

That is the extent of any creative input from the Alessi clan, or anyone else in the creative design, wording or any other aspect of the infamous shirts. In fact, nobody even saw our “800 target” design we added later until the shirts showed up at Loretta’s.

Tony did offer some suggestions like, “You Sing It, We’ll Bring It!” I doubt that would have had the same impact or pissed off James Stewart and Ricky Carmichael.

We literally put our names on the shirts and took a bunch of shit from some in the industry and top riders, especially at Loretta’s. I have no problem with that since we owned doing it from the beginning and knew it would be controversial. That was the entire point of doing something.

Any other version of this story is wrong.


Real Talk from David Izer folks. The rest is all bullshit Bro.

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United States of America

1/3/2018 12:56 PM

DEMONDAVE wrote:

Thanks for transcribing, good insight on a moto Family point of view .
thanks Z50KING lol.

enketchum wrote:

How do you know that name?

LOL , I know a lot people in the scene as well as from 50 riders / planetminis

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1/3/2018 12:57 PM

Camp332 wrote:

Real Talk from David Izer folks. The rest is all bullshit Bro.

Yeah, but don’t let the truth get in the way of a good story (or multiple stories) right?

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1/3/2018 1:04 PM

Who was the Team Manager that said maybe you should go back to KTM?

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1/3/2018 1:49 PM

my fave Alessi moment was telling Windham that it was faster to double through the Washougal whoops

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1/3/2018 2:51 PM

Falcon wrote:

I never understood the whole problem with Believe The Hype. I think it was a great way to build a name. When he was a rookie, all Mike Alessi ever said was, "I want to win." Isn't that what all racers aspire to? I wouldn't hire the guy if he said, "I'll settle for 4th and that will be OK."

Everybody was blowing Mike up for saying that he thought it was possible to beat RC when really he was just stating fact. it's POSSIBLE to beat anybody.

"it isn't possible for Chris Blose to win."
- Steve Matthes

A direct quote

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"What happens to your hands when you crash?"
"I put my hands up real quick to protect my sunglasses"