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Privateer X

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From pulpmx:


I asked a privateer to tell me about how life really is as a guy trying to make it. I promised anonymity and he gave me this.

"Obviously our sport is pretty expensive compared to any stick and ball sports and it’s tough to make it as a privateer without any real support. The more money you have, the more you’re able to get good equipment and then continue on upward. Especially early in your career, if you have some rich parents that are behind you 100%, you almost can’t help but be good at motocross. Then you do well at the amateur races, get on a good team early on and then you have to prove yourself all over. Amateur motocross, almost without exception, is about the money and who has it. I was an amateur not too long ago and you can almost tell who’s going to be successful and who isn’t by their pit set-up.

I always felt like the factories look for potential to win. I don’t think they’re concerned with good results or being in the mix. If they don’t think you can win or win down the road, then they won’t take a chance on you. That’s how it is. That’s what drives them-can this guy win? If they think that, then they will hire you. I’m not a career privateer like some guys out there, but my window to get picked up is definitely diminishing. If I was on a factory bike, I’d do better but I don’t think that I would win or anything like that. I talked to a team that got factory support but they didn’t hire me.

When you’re a privateer, you’re trying to get to a level playing field with the factories and that is super tough. Even though the four-strokes have helped it out, the gap between a factory bike and a privateer bike is still pretty wide. Just watch a high two-digit guy enter the whoops besides a top guy! My bike is pretty good but it’s not possible to make it as good. They’ve tried things that I don’t even know exist. They play with everything on the bike that you can possibly think of and we don’t even have access to even begin to tinker with some of the stuff.

As far as how the riders treat you, I’ve been on both sides of the fence. When I first started, the guys had no time for me and I was just an obstacle on the track. They didn’t give me any respect in the least. Now, I’ve been around for a little bit and they know who I am and I feel like they give me respect on the track. The attitude has kind of changed, they don’t look at me like a threat but they know I’ve been doing it on a high level for a long time so there’s some sort of respect there.

One thing that people don’t know is the amount of shady teams out there. I laugh with my friends about how contracts don’t mean much. If you went to every rider out there and looked at their deals, very rarely is what is on paper is actually carried out. It doesn’t seem like there are any consequences for the teams, unless it’s a factory team, if they want to get rid of you. If the team doesn’t want to pay, they just say “Sue me” and what are you going to do? By the time you get lawyer fees and court costs and all that, it’s not even worth it. It’s happened to me and happened to my friends as well.

You have to get results or these teams can drop you at a moments notice. Look at Motoconcepts, they’ve gone through a ton of guys. They’ve gone through half the riders out there! It’s mind boggling really. If you’re a borderline guy and you’ve got a ride, you’ve got so much pressure to perform its not even funny. Like I said, there’s no consequence for them to get rid of you. They just tell you to take your gear bag with you when you leave. There are no deals out there that are long term or anything like that. It’s weekend to weekend.

Financially, it’s not really like it used to be…I’ll tell you that. It’s really tough to make any money right now. The OEM’s have cut back on their contingency money, the sponsors have cut back on bonuses. It’s tougher than I’ve ever seen it. I was telling someone the other day where I’m glad I’m not at the beginning of my career because it would be so hard to try and get ahead financially right now.

When I first started racing pro, it was $75 to sign up and it’s gone up two or three times since then but now it’s $200.00. Sure the purse has gone up in that time but not at the same amount as the entry fees, percentage-wise. Especially in the Lites class, the entry is $200 for us and to make the night show is $230 and tenth place is $420. That’s pretty hard to take and if you’re riding a bike that doesn’t pay contingency. If you have a great night and get tenth as a privateer, you’re not even breaking even most times. That’s years and years of work and practicing to get you the ability to finish in tenth. I’m not real big on taking the top guys purse money and spreading it down, I don’t know the solution but I know that anyone who races the 250 class is getting ripped off bad! A few years ago, the good guys had good salaries and contingency was good…there was five ways to make money but that’s gone. Now the purse money is one of the only ways to make money so it stands out.

The 450’s are a lot better for sure. I used to race that and it was definitely better. You could make a living if you make most main events and it’s worth going to the races. Most of those guys are chasing their dreams and aspiring to make the jump up but if you’re there to make a living, it’s real tough.

I used to cut the track at nationals and get behind the fast guys and figure out their lines and stuff, I pulled in front of a factory guy one time and he flipped me off and roosted me in the turns. He wasn’t happy, you have to be careful with these guys when you’re new. I can sympathize with the privateers that are starting out right now.

When you deal with the AMA and Feld and you’re not a superstar, you have a low chance of getting listened to and getting your issue worked out. You’re not what makes these guys money and they don’t need you, but yet they kind of do y’know? Things like parking are pretty bad. All the semi’s are up front and all that but if you’re not in one of those, sometimes you’re around the corner, down the street or whatever. These lots are not secured and you have to be careful that your stuff doesn’t get stolen. There just isn’t always room for everyone at the downtown stadiums.

The whole thing with who is a privateer and who isn’t makes it real tough to tell who is getting what. You have former Lites supercross champions who are out of work! You have all these guys who are more than qualified to be full factory riders but they have no money. Then you have to ask yourself if Yamaha is giving Ivan Tedesco back door help? Why wouldn’t they right? They have all these parts lying around, they bought Yamaha’s old truck and you’re telling me he’s just getting over the counter help? I feel sorry for the guys at Feld who have to determine who is a privateer and who isn’t. There is a ton of pressure on them because the privateer money is huge and helps out. They have to figure it out and of course the guys are lying when they are asked if they get help. How is Feld going to know what Tedesco is running inside his transmission? A few years ago, Travis Preston was running full works clamps from Honda where he could change his rake and trail but yet he was listed as a privateer.

I’m just glad I don’t have to answer those questions and make the decision on who is what because no matter what, you’re not going to make everyone happy. There’s zero chance of you making everyone happy with that role."


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Real reporting. I love these pieces from the team at pulpmx.

How do the privateers continue to show up for races?

I love them too! But you know what? Most people don't care! They think they will be the exception and make all the money! Every Mini-Dad is in denial. Every armature family is in denial. A Justin Barcia only comes every 5 years.

Just my 2 cents.

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Privateer X's. They make it so hard to support them for the most part. How do we know who they are and what they are about? Their weekly results and struggle ?

Get on the message boards and use the largest and best free resource out there to market yourselves!





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Interesting article .... Thanks for posting it....

I can see the 'sue me' part of the article ... I had some jobs as an software contractor and once was not payed and the response was the same as stated here ...

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