Brian J. Nelson

Man In A Van With A Plan 2.0: Back For More!

New bike, new team, same gameplan, kind of...

Nobody said it would be easy. Racing doesn't work that way. Putting a competitive race program together doesn't work that way. And yet here we are, back in a van, crisscrossing the country to compete in MotoAmerica's Superstock 1000 class and select American Flat Track rounds. Why? Because we believe in going racing, and because we believe in challenging ourselves. More importantly, we believe in everything that Cycle World's Man in a Van with a Plan program represents. This is grassroots racing, and we can't get enough of it. So we're coming back for more.

For those unfamiliar with the MVP program, think of it like an homage to American race legends like Mert Lawwill, who traveled the country with racebikes stuffed in the back of their vans, competing in the Grand National Championship. They went roadracing one weekend and dirt tracking the next. For glory, yes, but also because they simply loved being on their bikes, competing against the best of the best. To be better.

Hayden Gillim, who finished fifth in the 2016 MotoAmerica Superstock 1000 championship and won the Peoria TT, is back on board. Same goes for his crew chief, Rick Matheny, who has the unique challenge of taking Suzuki's all-new, 2017 GSX-R1000 and turning it into a racebike in as short a time as possible. Alongside Gillim and Matheny is Josh Day and Glen Veatch, who will lend a hand at the roadraces and fill in for John Heinen, who has moved over to the Yoshimura Suzuki squad for 2017. Day, a former MotoAmerica Superstock 1000 race winner himself, will double as Gillim's riding coach.

In addition to the 2017 GSX-R1000 that we’ll race in MotoAmerica (Hayden will ride his 2016 racebike up until the new bike is ready), we’ve got an RM-Z450 prepped for flat-track competition, with plans to race a Suzuki VanVan200 in the Buffalo Chip TT Super Hooligan race as well. All-new for 2017, the GSX-R1000 represents a massive step forward in terms of performance, and is arguably the biggest breath of fresh air in our MVP 2.0 race program.

As was the case last year, Gillim will get from one round to the next in a van. Behind it, a trailer loaded to the gills with racebikes, gear, and spare parts. You better bet there’s a cot in there too; Sleeping isn’t quite as luxurious an experience when on the road, but such is life for our Man in the Van.

Changes? This year, we’ve teamed up with Alpinestars and Ecstar, in addition to Bell Helmets, one of Gillim’s longest and closest sponsors. This is a team effort, and without the help of those involved, we wouldn’t be where we are today.

If you're looking to follow along, be sure to like and follow Cycle World on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, as well as click over to Cycleworld.com, where we'll have race updates, racebike build stories, and weekend recap videos.

You can also follow Hayden on Instagram and Snapchat (which is where all the cool kids virtually hang out these days). He's been averaging about 270-330 miles per week on the bicycle this offseason, and says he's in the best shape of his career. Which is to say his page is more bicycle pics than selfies. We promise.

If we don’t see you there, then we’ll see you at the races. It’s going to be a great year, and we’re excited to have you along for the ride.

Nissan NV3500 MVP van
If you see this van on the road, be sure to say hi (and toss a Red Bull Hayden's way, he's going to need it!).Brian J. Nelson
Peoria TT
Gillim is headed to two American Flat Track races in 2017: the Springfield TT and Sturgis half-mile.Andrea Wilson
Man in a Van with a Plan 2.0
Total team effort! From left to right, Nik Wogen (video), Glenn Veatch (crew), Josh Day (mechanic/rider coach), Rick Matheny (crew chief), and Hayden Gillim.Brian J. Nelson