Yamaha Factory Crew Chief Tom Houseworth Speaks Out

Rapping with the top wrench for World Superbike Champion Ben Spies.

Photography by Andrew Wheeler and Mark Wernham

Yamaha Factory Crew Chief Tom Houseworth Speaks Out

Tom Houseworth knows Ben Spies as only a crew chief can. The pair began working together in late 2002 at Yoshimura Suzuki and, over the next several seasons, produced five AMA titles, including three Superbike championships, beating the interminable Mat Mladin in the process. Following their stunning success this past season in World Superbike, Spies and Houseworth are moving to MotoGP in 2010 with the Yamaha-supported Tech3 team. Here's what Houseworth had to say on a few racing-related subjects.

Differences between being a privateer and a factory mechanic:

"To win, you've got to work. There's no slacking off. The difference is, the factories have more engineers and maybe the parts show up quicker. And you don't have to buy the stuff. The work is basically the same, but you're not pulling the money out of your own account to fix the bike."

Being away from home: "My wife, Suzie, has been awesome. I think maybe I'm the big baby; I'm the one who wants to go home and see her. After a while, you definitely get homesick. Woody has the same problem: He's got to hang out with me 2–3 months at a time. We're great friends, but by the end, it's like, 'You're ugly.' 'Yeah? So are you!'"

Spies moving from World Superbike to MotoGP: "Ben wants to run with the best at this point in his career. He's 26. Valentino Rossi has, what, 87 championships, and he's 30. So, yeah, I think now is the best time for him to jump. Me? I really liked those World Superbike guys; they're a fun group of people."

MotoGP vs. World Superbike: "Basically, it's a motorcycle. It's geometry and physics. With the MotoGP bike, you're dealing with the best of everything—billet cases, cassette transmission. Once you've got the basics down, it's kind of all the same thing. The biggest thing on the MotoGP bike is the front tire. That thing is incredible. It seems like you can push past the limit with it."

Testing the Tech3 Yamaha MotoGP bike in Spain:"The setup that Ben raced at Valencia was close to a Jorge Lorenzo setting. For the test, they took that setup and put it on James Toseland's bike. The only thing we did for the test was go a little stiffer on the rear spring. Ben didn't want to change much. He's still learning the limits of the bike. He's really good at leaving the bike alone until he gets up to speed."

Look for Cycle World Technical Editor Kevin Cameron's Race Watch interview with Houseworth, "House Rules," in the March, 2010, issue. On-sale date is February 2.

Yamaha Factory Crew Chief Tom Houseworth Speaks Out

Yamaha Factory Crew Chief Tom Houseworth Speaks Out

Yamaha Factory Crew Chief Tom Houseworth Speaks Out

Yamaha Factory Crew Chief Tom Houseworth Speaks Out

Yamaha Factory Crew Chief Tom Houseworth Speaks Out

Yamaha Factory Crew Chief Tom Houseworth Speaks Out

Yamaha Factory Crew Chief Tom Houseworth Speaks Out

Yamaha Factory Crew Chief Tom Houseworth Speaks Out

Yamaha Factory Crew Chief Tom Houseworth Speaks Out

Yamaha Factory Crew Chief Tom Houseworth Speaks Out