All Photos by: Doc Weedon
These “Privateer Showcase” interviews presented by Race Tech Suspension at MotoXAddicts tell the stories of the guys in the trenches week in and week out trying to chase their dream of racing professional motocross and Supercross. While the riders at the front of the pack get the money, the T.V. time and the glory that goes with it, there’s a huge pack of guys just hoping to get a spot inside a factory semi. The privateer is the lifeblood of SX and MX and the true MotoXAddicts. We tell their stories.
Over the first three rounds of the 2018 Monster Energy Supercross series there has not been much in the way of consistency in the 450SX class, but one thing that has remained surprisingly consistent week in and week out is the Team Tedder / Monster Energy / KTM of Dakota Tedder. Over the first two years of Dakota’s 450SX career, he made a combined three main events, and so far in 2018, he has already matched that. When you’re talking biggest surprises in the 450SX class this year, the #90 being among only 17 riders to make all three main events to start the season has got to be near the top of anyone’s list.
Dakota had a similar breakout year in the 250SX West back in 2014—where he made every main and scored a top 10—but an injury in the outdoors that year stalled all momentum. It appears he might have found whatever momentum he lost with that injury because he is back to believing he belongs in the main events. If he can just get his starts dialed—average first lap position is 20th—we might start seeing him climbing up the results. For now, though, the eight-year veteran is pumped to finally be a consistent main event guy in the premier class of the premier dirt bike series on the planet.
After seeing Dakota make his third-straight main event at A2, we thought we would give him a call and get to know the very humble Surfside, California resident a little better.
Dakota, where are you based out of right now during the week and where are you doing most your riding and training at between races?
I’m based out of Surfside, California. Not many people know it, but it’s technically Huntington Beach, actually more Seal Beach. I ride a lot over at Lake Elsinore. I had my own track built there this year. I used to ride over at [Michael] Lapaglia’s, but it was only two days a week so I was looking for something more day-to-day. We ended up scoring a spot at Elsinore. It worked out so good. I’ve ridden there almost every single day that I could ride. A few days I got to go out to Castillo Ranch and got to ride with the Enticknaps [Tyler and Adam], Ken Roczen and Adam Cianciarulo, which is cool. Since I got on KTM, I haven’t been able to ride their [private team] practice tracks. When I was on Kawis, they let me ride their second track which was cool because I had a second place to ride. Now, though, I’m so stoked I locked down Elsinore’s spot.
Can you contribute your results to start 2018 to having that consistent spot? Last year, you only made two main events all year, and so far in 2018, you’re one of only 17 guys to make all three mains. This has been by far your best start to a season on the 450.
I’ve had a lot of people ask me, “What’s been the biggest change,” and honestly I think so much changed. It’s kind of opened up my eyes that anything is possible. I got a new bike, new crew and the same trainer with Nick Wey. We’ve been working on my confidence. We built a new track and built a bunch of things [obstacles] that really bothered me last year. If anything stands out the most, it’s that I feel way more confident on the KTM than I did on the Kawasaki. It sits more towards the way that I ride. That brought my spirits up and helped me focus on my training more. Every day I show up and it’s like it’s going to be new. It’s gonna be better. It’s just shown me that something impossible could happen, you know?
You come from a full on moto family and obviously with Tedders Racing your dad is a huge supporter of the sport. How pumped is your pops on the results so far.
Oh, dude, my dad is so stoked right now. (laughs) He’s on cloud nine. It’s kind of been both our dreams. Obviously, this is my dream, but he’s just so happy with me right now progressing forward. Being a father, they just want to see their kid progress no matter where they’re at. He’s happy; he sees I’m happy. Progression’s cool. It’s exciting.
Well, you’re now over that hump and beginning to be considered a main event guy. I was looking at your main events so far this year and your starts look like they’re holding you back. Is that something you’re working on to get to that next level?
I think that’s just 100% confidence, and Nick always stresses that on me. He’s like, “When you line up for that LCQ, you know damn well you deserve to be in the top four now, and you start there.” He says, “You’ll start where you think you deserve,” and I agree. He’s like, “In the main event, you don’t think you deserve to be there even though last weekend you were only 2.2-seconds off the fastest time.” Even in the main event, we looked at [Tyler] Bowers, we looked at [Chad] Reed and other guys, and my lap times were right there with them. In my head, during the race I’m just reading the names on their back of their jerseys and it gets in my head a little bit. He’s like, “If you were to think it was an LCQ and start up front, you would probably finish around 10th. I think right now, it’s just believing I can run with these guys.
You had a pretty crazy crash in Houston during the LCQ that still has people that saw it scratching their heads because of the way you just popped back up, got on the bike and qualified. How amazed were you that you were okay?
(laughs) I was amazed after I made it a lap because my adrenaline and my whole mindset was focused on getting going that I didn’t even check or know if I was okay. I was talking to [AJ] Catanzaro on the line for the main and he’s like, “Bro, you were running for your bike before it stopped flipping. It was almost like you did a somersault into a run. I almost hit you.” (laughs)
Then I ended up casing the double after that. I started it up with the clutch in and tried jumping the double after it in 4th gear and framed that. (laughs) It was wild. I almost crashed in the whoops before the finish on the next lap when I was battling Enticknap. My clutch was down, my bars were bent and that wasn’t the easiest track. It wasn’t just rutty. It was sandy, rutty, uneven and everything you hit was quite a bit different than the lap before. It was a tough track.
After a crash that big and so much on the line for you to get up quickly, it’s gotta take a minute to get refocused on what’s going on. It was the craziest thing to watch and you making the main event after all that was awesome. You made the main again out of the LCQ at A2. Were you into the “Triple Crown” three main event deal?
I was into as far as gate time and getting to ride with faster riders. I got to talk to other fans and they were like, “We loved it, we loved it!” I was like, “Yeah, cool, cool, cool. Who won?” They’re like, “I saw [Cole] Seely won one. Yeah, Seely won one of them, but I’m not sure.” It’s cool for the people that are there, but as far as for growing the sport, I don’t think it’s the best idea. You need to be able to follow it easily and know what happened. You can’t watch a football game and be like, “Who won the football game?” And they say, “Well, they won the first half and then so and so pulled through in the second half, but I’m not sure.” Who’s going to the Superbowl? “I’m not sure.” (laughs)
Back to A2, you finished 2nd to Chad Reed in that LCQ and you were right on his ass the whole race. I know Reedy’s having his struggles, but that had to feel good pacing the former champ for the whole race?
It felt really good, absolutely. I grew up watching Reed like everyone else did. It was kind of surreal. I don’t know how hard he’s pushing. I’m stoked I got to ride behind him. There were sections of the track where I’m like, “I’m gaining on Chad Reed here.” Then he would gain on me somewhere else and I got to learn.
Passing Chad Reed would have been even cooler. Was there ever a time where you’re thinking, “Hmm, where do I put a wheel in on him?”
Honestly, I thought about it. I thought, if I really, really wanted to I could risk both of us not making the main and go for a pass. (laughs) It would have been both an awesome feeling and the worst feeling if I took us both out being an idiot. (laughs) I think I made the right move learning off of him and not risking both of our nights.
Last question before I let you go. Looking at the results at the end of ’18 SX, what would make you super stoked on the season as a whole? Now that you’ve made the first three mains, what’s the goal?
Honestly, I’m really stoked right now on the three in a row. You try not to believe too much of what your guy says because sometimes it’s a little tough. They’ll say, “Oh, you’re going to do all these things.” You’d like to believe them, but you don’t want to get too big of a head. The goal is to make all 17 main events, but that was the goal last year and I only made two. The goal is the same, but I now believe I can make all 17. As far as results go, I just want to give myself a solid chance. A 10th [in the points] is possible this year or a 9th. A single digit, I would be beyond stoked. That’s definitely a factory level. Those guys are all being paid to be up there and that’s where I want to be.