Reaching my goals in the corporate world has allowed me the freedom to start building something I have a significant passion for: flat track. I have the support of my family, and I have surrounded myself with an incredible group of people.
When I looked at 2019, I asked, "What do I want, and who do I want to represent?" I made this decision to help the longevity of flat track, to work with American Flat Track and its CEO, Michael Lock, saying, "We need brand recognition."
My roots are with Yamaha. We can't have just Indian and Harley-Davidson out there. This is my way of saying, "I am a passionate Yamaha guy, and I believe we can get this engine and frame and suspension to a place where we can be competitive."
I want to make Yamaha a recognizable product in flat track. I want a Yamaha to win a Grand National championship race, which hasn't happened since the 1981 Peoria TT. My next goal is to win a Grand National championship on a Yamaha product.
When I raced as a kid, I would only accept winning. I played hockey as a kid, and I would only accept winning. When I went into the business world, I wanted to succeed. And now I'm driving this. I believe you will see some excitement this year.
Going into this year, having a five-rider team, I simply didn't know what I didn't know. What I clearly didn't know was the amount of work it was going to be to go from two riders to five. I was very fortunate to be able to partner with Tommy Hayden.
Tommy is our director of racing operations. He is ultimately in charge of everything you see: setup at the track, rider discipline and training, working with engine builders, frame builders, and suspension companies.
JD Beach rode my bike at the last couple of races in 2018—Minneapolis and New Jersey. He got on a dirt-track bike maybe one or two races a year, and he generally made the main and finished toward the front. That is extraordinary.
I was serious to see if JD would want to transition to full-time flat track. He was torn. His heart is in roadracing—it has been for most of his career—but his roots are dirt. He was looking for a Superbike ride, and I started thinking about that more.
Understanding the love a rider has for a certain discipline—in this case, Superbike—I started thinking, "How great would it be if I could help him fulfill both dreams?" There are four conflicting races. We're going to make the decisions race by race.
Dallas Daniels is with Estenson Racing for the next couple of years. He's doing the MotoAmerica Junior Cup again this year. At Road Atlanta, he did back-to-back seconds. There is another kid on both sides: He loves dirt. He loves roadracing.
Right now, Dallas is leaning toward the dirt, but I am going to support him in whatever direction he chooses to go. He will turn 16 in June, so he will be able to get his professional license. His first national flat-track race will be the Lima Half-Mile.
Even though we are on the racetrack, we are in the people business. We can drive that culture in an environment that is going to empower each person to be the best they can be. We are building a really strong team, and I am confident the wins are going to come.
My wife, Traci, is very involved from the people side of this business and working with the riders, driving toward education. There is life after racing, so we want to make sure of that, especially with the younger folks.
I believe flat track is going to continue to grow. I hope other OEMs jump on board. I believe in what everyone is seeing, this tenfold growth year over year, with the hopes of going to live TV for a certain number of races next year with NBC Sports Network.
A stadium type of program is so easy to watch, very engaging and educating. We've got to have the couch warriors, saying, "Hey, I know something about flat track. Now I am telling my neighbors."
Really, what we have to do is educate. That is the main thing. We have to somehow get the word out and get young kids going. Get them off the keyboard at home and say, "Let's go in the backyard and ride a minibike."