Avid MotoUSA readers may already know who I am, but for those of you who do not – my name is Chris See and I am one of the lucky riders who test motocross bikes on a semi-regular basis for this fine website. This year I am on a quest to experience the privateer lifestyle while I compete in the 2012 Lucas Oil AMA Motocross Nationals
on a 2012 Honda
Chris See is a regular during our motocross testing because of his speed and unparalleled endurance.
CRF450R. I’ve been racing for most of my life with support from my dad and a core group of sponsors, but now it’s time to see if I can really run with the big boys in the 450 class. So join me on my journey across America, as I try to make my lifelong dream a reality.
I’ve learned so much in the last two months when I started putting this MX campaign together, especially in the training department. It’s one thing to be in shape, but a whole other thing to be in National Motocross shape. I’ve been working hard with Kyle Lewis at his riding clinics to bring my fitness level to the best it can be. After a full day of college courses on Monday, I hit the track with Kyle to work on technique, raw speed and endurance for the long motos. Then it’s off to the gym for some more raw abuse by Kyle. It’s through these times of physical discomfort you find out how bad you really want it and if you have what it takes to push to the next level. As a privateer in the gym and on the track it really makes me respect how hard the top–10 racers work to get where they are. At the same time I’m jealous of the equipment they have at their disposal, but I make do with who and what I have.
With school, training and practice my day is already jam packed, but there is plenty more to be done. Bike maintenance, communicating with sponsors and searching for potential new sponsors fills every free moment I have until my head hits the pillow. It’s a ton of work, but nobody said it would be easy. And I know better than to think it would be.
Round 1 – Hangtown, California
So we hit the road for Hangtown in our privateer-special E-150 van with my single CRF450R race bike strapped down in the back. That’s right – just one single race bike. Thankfully, my practice bike has been holding up excellently, so I was confident that we wouldn’t have any problems as long as I didn’t crash too hard.
As a rookie going through the whole process of setting up in the pits your emotions run from excitement at what’s to come, frustration with rules and regulations and nervousness about being able to qualify for the big show. But I think that is what brings all of us privateers here. We work together to get here and are willing to help each other out. It felt good to finally get to Hangtown after so many month of hard work.
First thing in the morning, I headed over to the riders meeting. I don’t know if it was me or if it happens for everyone, but looking around and seeing I’m in the same place as James Stewart
and Davi Millsaps somehow settled my nerves. It was my zen moment. Right after the meeting it’s time to go out and see if I have what it takes to make it.
The bike Chris is competing the 2012 AMA Motocross Nationals on is the very same bike we used in our 2012 450 Motocross Shootout.
Sitting at the staging area for practice is an awesome feeling; every bit of hard work and sacrifice is 100% worth it at that moment. When it was time to head out, I rolled all the jumps as required by the AMA on the first lap. When the green flag dropped for Lap 2 I told myself to do every jump on the track right away. I stuck to my plan and over-jumped an uphill step-up that I had been a more than a little worried about. When I landed, I washed the front-end and crashed into the hay bales, jamming my wrist. At least it was right in front of the hospitality tent, so everyone in the industry could watch me bite it on my second lap of practice.
The second practice session was make it or break it time. I had to put the crash behind me and go for it. I felt better on my trusty CRF450R, and even ran inside the Top-20 for a short time. Unfortunately some tense riding and not being aggressive enough cost me a boatload of time, but we were unsure where I stacked up. We would find out soon enough. I had qualified 41st, and missed a spot on the start gate by 1.2 seconds.
That is how close it is at this level – a half-second here and a half-second there – and you are out. It felt like my world came crashing down as all the hard work and help from everyone was for nothing. Then I realized that there are so many people that would trade places with me in a second to be out here competing for a spot in the 450 class; I need to suck it up and make it happen next week.
Round 2 – Freestone, Texas
On the way home from Hangtown in the cramped Ford van, my Dad called saying he had an idea. Rather than me having to drive to every race, my pops arranged for Godfather Privateer Racing
to transport my bike to every round. His thinking was that not driving to every race and being staged under a trailer awning could give me that extra something I needed to qualify. I couldn’t agree fast enough. So from here on out I’m on the road for the rest of the season with the
The track was a muddy mess in the first practice but dried up towards the end of the session.
Godfather Privateer Racing posse. This poses new challenges such as sharing a motorhome with six other people, but it’s head and shoulders above spending time behind the wheel.
Freestone is notoriously hot, and by hot I mean downright nasty. The first order of business would be to stay hydrated. Easier said than done with the humidity and high temps, but I managed. We also changed the set-up on the Honda with some stiffer fork springs and new fork oil to allow for harder charging in the turns. The bike and I were ready to go.
In the first practice the track was a muddy mess, so I decided to let everyone go ahead and I would hang back for a clear track. My plan worked at first as I posted the fifth fastest time in the first half of the session, but as the track dried out from the Texas Sun everybody started posting faster times. By then I was tired from pushing too hard too soon. Although the track conditions were awesome, I was not.
In the second practice, I was better prepared for the pace right out of the gate with a freshly watered track. Even though I was prepared to put down a fast time, it seemed like I always ran into riders that seemed to be blockers more than racers. So once again it was another less than stellar performance in practice. Off to the LCQ I went.
Although Chris has not yet achieved his goal of qualifying for a AMA National, he is not giving up and will campaign the entire season on a 2012 Honda CRF450R.
I had just four laps to make it happen, or it was back to the trailer to watch from the sidelines. I know I was on the same level as most of the riders in the LCQ, so I was calm and ready to go to work. I knew I could hold on for four laps at a sprint, so I knew I could hold off anyone that challenged me.
When the gate dropped, my CRF450R shot me to the front with just one other rider who was cutting over to my right. Then Bam! I washed the front end out and had 39 other riders go by in the first turn. My heart sunk as I raced to get back underway. I was about a straightway behind, but I just put my head down and charged as hard as I could. In the end, I managed to pick off 14 riders, but 25th place wasn’t going to cut it. Once again I wouldn’t be making the motos, but I am out here trying my best and I’m not going to give up. I’m racing with the best riders in the country and it’s hard. It only motivates me to work harder during the week so I can achieve my goals on the weekend.
Next up on the MX schedule is the high altitude track in Lakewood, Colorado. Stay tuned, as the third time should be the charm. I’d like to thank Honda, AXO, FMF, EVS Sports, Motul, Jett Boots, EKS Brand, Motorcycle-Superstore.com
and MotoUSA for all their help and support to make this possible. And of course a big thanks goes out to my fad, my girlfriend, Rachel, and Kyle Lewis. I will give it my all to make each and every one of you proud.