News 23 Jan 2017

Motocross career still within reach for aspiring Australians

CDR Yamaha owner Dack certain that pathways still exist.

Image: Foremost Media.

The opportunity for up and coming Australian racers to establish themselves as professionals in the sport still exists, according to domestic motocross icon and CDR Yamaha team owner Craig Dack.

With select riders opting out of the upcoming 2017 Motul MX Nationals season in favour of contesting supercross or exiting national-level racing altogether, onlookers have questioned the state of the sport for aspiring pros.

But the chances of becoming a professional locally – and potentially internationally – are still strong Dack says, despite the fluctuation of incoming and outgoing talent. The processes have only improved in recent seasons.

“100 percent there is [the opportunity],” Dack told “At the moment, in particular, it’s a rider’s world because you’ve got six manufacturers with at least two factory seats on each team, plus the satellite teams. There’s no shortage of good rides around for riders, so I don’t understand what people are thinking.

“Of course, most of the teams only have the budget for one really, really good guy – we have Ferris, Honda has Waters, KTM has Gibbs, Husky’s got Metcalfe and then there are second riders on those teams such as a Dylan Long or whoever, that you’re fostering into being ‘that guy’ one day, because you don’t really have the budget for two top guys.

“Attached to a lot of these seats, manufacturers have pretty healthy bonus programs and they’re all fairly decent, so it’s incentive-based with a base salary and teams pay all of your expenses. If people have the aspirations to go all the way, there’s options in Europe or America, otherwise if you want to be the best here in Australia for your whole career and you become quite successful at it, you’ll do well financially.

“Chad Reed is an example – he rode for us and knew that Australia wasn’t big enough for his mind. So he could’ve stayed here and made his decent living or he rolled the dice, went for the big stage and the rest is history. It’s changed a lot since back then… for the better. It fluctuates, but now I believe it’s in a manageable state – we’re not too big or too small.”

Dack said that aside from the various manufacturer-supported development programs, the teams do observe who is making an impact across the board at a national level. In many cases, that can result in an opportunity of a factory-backed team for those who are truly capable and both 2017 CDR Yamaha team riders Dean Ferris and Dylan Long have raced at the privateer level in MX1.

“If you’ve left school and you have that discussion with your parents, that you’ve set your goals and targets to be a professional racer, plus you are talented enough and doing all the right things to be fit enough, you’ll get noticed,” he stated.

“Each manufacturer has people running teams who know what they’re doing. Particularly these days we have to choose wisely to get value on our spend, someone will notice and pick you up. Unfortunately, on the other side of that, you might not impress anybody either because it is in the eye of the beholder. Sometimes, some people – like in any sport – slip through the cracks.

“But as I said, all I can say is that there are a bunch of good seats out there. The sport’s in pretty good shape, just look at the size of the teams out there and the effort the manufacturers and industry are putting in – they all see racing as a sport they need to hang their hat on commercially. There are positions available for good guys.”

With the Motul MX Nationals spanning 10 rounds between April and August and AUS Supercross fielding six rounds over nine weeks, Dack believes co-existing is in the best interest of the sport and the skill-sets between the pair cross over substantially. He’s confident that both are succeeding at this point, although motocross remains the more prominent series.

“In speaking to Kevin Williams, he is as positive, as enthusiastic and as driven as he ever has been,” Dack added. “I know that his support from [MX Nationals] partners and sponsors is solid, plus supercross is the best I’ve seen it in probably 15-20 years, to be honest with you. I was one of the biggest critics of supercross, but now they’ve finally found a model that works.

“I still think motocross is the major part of our calendar, because it runs through the major part of the year for the good part of five months. Supercross is important too, of course, but it seems like supercross comes and it goes in Australia – it doesn’t entrench into you, whereas motocross does because it sticks around for longer.

“They basically need to run parallel with eachother and one feeds off of the other, as far as I’m concerned. Motocross is always going to be there, because you don’t come off of a PW50 onto a supercross track – you start on motocross, so the evolution of a rider is motocross first and then supercross later. As a whole, the sport’s in a better position than I’ve seen in a long time.”