The riders who come out each week to do battle, often hurt, sick or demoralized, are the face of Supercross as seen by the public. Many fans that spring for the pit pass in addition to their SX ticket may have seen some of the men behind the scenes. The people working frantically to make sure their rider has the best possible machine between their legs every time they go out. Mechanics are as special as the bikes they prepare, and they too come to work every day regardless of their bumps, bruises, scratches, cuts and busted knuckles and are oblivious to rain, sleet or snow (though the latter are a bit rare in the SoCal region).
Even though he's a veteran on the racing scene, those kissy faces are something new to DeLaurier. Must be an Australian thing.
Our weekly schedule hasn't panned out but stay tuned as we massage the kinks in this feature to bring you an inside look at a professional SX mechanic and their machine. Paul DeLaurier is one of the most experienced mechanics in Supercross. His job is to build a winning Supercross bike for Chad Reed, make it look like a regular bike and have fun! Where do we sign up?
Paul DeLaurier has turned wrenches for Damon Bradshaw, Mike LaRocco, Mike Alessi, and a few more before working for Chad Reed and his new San Manuel/L&M/Yamaha Supercross team managed by Larry Brooks. Brooks managed Jeremy McGrath's final years of Supercross success and he brought that experience to L&M Racing. Brooks keeps the team working close together and keeps it fun, using the same experience from McGrath Racing days. "It's a good group of people," says DeLaurier of the arrangement, "Everyone works real well together and we have a lot of fun."
Reed's bike is trick, but plain. Plenty of other race teams throw more bling into their rides, but not many post better results.
DeLaurier puts together a bike for Chad Reed that is designed to fit Reed's needs in Supercross but it looks like the YZ450F at your local shop! It's no secret Yamaha is into keeping to the basics in factory racing. The trucks remain plain blue and white and don't have energy drinks or tool companies as title sponsors. Sure Reed's bike is trick, but they go a little out of there way to make it look plain. Reed even runs stock Yamaha handgrips, the same grips you see on the showroom floor.
"We do a little fine-tuning to it," says DeLaurier about Reed's 450F, "but we try to keep it to the basics since the Yamaha chassis and package is really good right from the factory."
Reed's L&M Racing Team is something new in Supercross factory racing. Reed gets full-on factory supported KYB suspension, maintained by the same guy at Yamaha that preps suspension for Grant Langston and Josh Hill - Bret Leaf. "Chad is one of the top riders so they look after him really well with suspension needs," says DeLaurier.
L&M Racing runs its own graphics featuring its title sponsor, the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, but, other than that, his bike looks pretty tame. About like what you would get if you bought a 2007 YZ450F and some Yamaha GYTR parts.
"They make a lot of good products" says the mechanic of Yamaha's in-house development center. Included in Reed's list of GYTR products are a carbon fiber skid plate and rear brake caliper guard, clutch perch and hot start. The clutch perch has a Teflon piece in it so if he falls it will spin a little bit rather than break a lever. Another clutch setup trick is a small hole drilled in the lever so the end will pop off in a crash rather than the whole thing.
Tighter AMA rules for sound didn't cause L&M any headaches with their White Brothers exhaust system. "Actually we have been under on everything we have done," says DeLaurier, "I think we had about one of the quietest bikes when we were in Canada. We are lucky with the 450s they have so much power, they want to tone it down a little bit so it's more raceable."
The O-ring is so DeLaurier can keep track of how far Chad actually uses his suspension.
Maybe suspensions are mega-buck and elite things, but the engines are so good on 450s, they are not exactly hyped-up exotica. "The thing with the 450 is they already make so much power," says DeLaurier, "It's just making it more manageable and making the carburetor run really clean, and make it more fun for the rider. You can take a production bike out there and holeshot with it, if the right guy was on it."
For Reed's 450, every week the engine comes out and gets checked. "Every week it is gone through," his mechanic says. "We put a lot into getting here and it is nice to know everything is the same."
Not only does DeLaurier have to keep up a winning bike, at L&M, he is part of the goal of keeping work fun. Reed makes it easy, he says. "Chad is a super-cool guy as far as his attitude when we go practicing and testing. He will go until dark. He has fun riding the motorcycle and trying different things, and laughing and joking between sessions. He is just enjoying it. The whole group of us really clicks well. Chad is a big part of it."
So for a mechanic that has been watching top guys since the Bradshaw days, how does Reed look to his mechanic? "I can't believe how good he can make a motorcycle go around a track," he says, "When he shows up, the fire is in his eyes. He is ready to get there, ready to practice, ready to race. He is always ready to be there and he enjoys it. When you get someone with that kind of talent and he enjoys riding the motorcycle that is unbeatable. For a racer at this level it is basically as much as you could ask for - someone that wants to do it, enjoys doing it and works hard during the week."
Making Reed's 2007 YZ450F:
Vortex and Yamaha Racing. "We use different curves, depending on where we go."
White Brothers full system titanium/carbon fiber
Keeping things loose and fun is all part of a mechanic's weekly duties.
Nissin brakes, production brake pads
Stock, with GYTR baskets
Ti Parts -
Motor hardware, footpegs
Triple clamps -
Factory Yamaha. "We actually make them at our shop to their specs. A lot of work goes into making them."
Cycra disc guards and number plates
Bridgestone "They have a couple different models that we use - no 'Chad Reed' compound."
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