Photo 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.
The Monster Energy Supercross, an FIM World Championship series, is not new to seeing foreign invaders breaking through and making a name for themselves in the US. Over the decades of Supercross’ existence, top riders from all over the world have chased the dream of “making it” in the US and winning races in front of a packed stadium of 50,000 screaming fans, but we seldom see a relatively unknown 28 year-old making every main event and threatening the top ten on a completely privateer effort. That is what Jean Carlos Ramos is doing in 2018 in the Western Regional 250SX Championship.
From the big Brazilian city of Curitiba, Jean might be relatively unknown in the US, but in his home country, he is a decorated factory rider with a career resume that includes Brazilian and Latin American motocross and arenacross championships. In both 2012 and 2013, Jean made the trip over to the US for SX—finishing as high as 14th in a main event in 2013—but he did not return due to a lull in the Brazilian economy. We might be seeing more of the Brazilian in the future, and I have a feeling after his 12th last weekend in Oakland, the top ten will be seeing the #992 real soon.
With the help of Travis Gage—a former Pacific Northwest Pro turned team owner and manager of the new WK Pools Racing team—Jean is making one more run at living the American Supercross dream. With his brother Julian by his side as his mechanic and confidant and Travis making sure he has everything he needs on and off the track while in the US, the dream could become a reality. Travis is sparing no expense and throwing everything he can into making this happen and Jean is paying him back with some solid results.
Hey Jean, thanks for doing this. You’re starting to turn some heads in SX, so we thought we’d introduce everyone to the Brazilian on the #992.
Yeah, we’re improving each weekend. We don’t start very well. We don’t have so much time to get ready, because we arrived late here in December 18 or 19. I had two and a half weeks to get ready.
I know in Brazil you have won a lot of MX championships and raced some Arenacross, but what do you do to prepare for US SX? You obviously have some serious SX skills. Do you have an SX track back home?
Yeah, we have Arenacross there, so we have a couple of SX tracks around my city. I ride a lot SX because of the AX series there. Not a lot—we have five rounds there. I used to train a little SX, but it’s different there. We use outdoor suspension there to race AX, so when I come here, I have to learn everything again. I have to get used to new stuff every single year again. I always, from a little kid, trained on SX tracks because my brother was a pro in Brazil. I always followed him with my dad. I was always a little better at SX than outdoors. Right now, I believe I can do really well in both.
You said you came in with no preparation, but right out of the gate at Anaheim 1, you qualified inside the top 20 and made the main through the LCQ. Since then, you started qualifying directly through the heat races and have made every main event this season. Talk about your season so far.
I struggled a lot in the heat races. I was too tight and not riding like myself. We improved a lot the bike and I improved my skills and got comfortable. Each round I was feeling better. The first two rounds, I wasn’t comfortable, but in the main events, I was feeling better and feeling like myself. After Anaheim 2, I started to believe in myself. We showed the results on the track and factory Yamaha of Brazil— factory Yamaha of America here—they allowed me to train one day a week on the factory Yamaha SX track. They have three sections of whoops, so I train a lot of whoops. I feel a lot more comfortable, and the track looks a lot more like race days. My fitness each week is better. We improving, and when the guys slow down at the end, I catch some guys. The last two rounds, we have a crash and still improved. Last week [Shane] McElrath hit my bike and I crashed and lost my front brake and still make a 12th.
The 12th was huge in Oakland on a super gnarly rutted out track. I didn’t see the crash, but every time I saw you, you were steady on a tough track.
In the main, I was still struggling the first three or four laps. (laughs) The fast guys were pulling away. I know the start would be everything, because four or five laps after it would be hard to make passes when the track got worse. I got a good start with fast guys, was pushing hard and made a couple mistakes—lost 2-3 positions with mistakes. Then when I heard someone close to me and didn’t jump triple-triple and when I got to corner and when I looked around, the bike hit me. I kept the bike running ,and when I came to next corner, I look for front brake and I didn’t find it. I stayed calm with no front brake and found better lines to ride with no front brake. I kept pushing and pushing and, of course, made some mistakes. At the end, I catch some guys. Justin Hoeft was right in front of me, but I make some mistakes and didn’t catch him. I was super happy and everyone was super excited about the result. I know we can go up better.
Being from Brazil, you are a long way from home. Did your dad or any family come to the US with you?
Yeah, my brother. He is my trainer in Brazil. He’s always training me. He was my superhero. I always watch him. I always cheer for him. He always come with me when I came over here. He’s my mechanic, and we do everything together here: cooking, go to sleep—we sleep in the same room. We go to the track together too. It’s hard to fight with each other in Brazil because we are not too close all the time, but here we fight about the bullshit stuff. It’s always a good time with my brother. We always do fun stuff and try to improve. It’s always good to have someone with you from your home country to support you. I’m so glad to have him here and have Travis here helping me. After the 12th place in Oakland, we went to watch 450’s, and I tell Travis this result wasn’t only myself; it was all three of us: Travis, my brother and myself. They give me everything I need and that’s why we improve.
How old are you now?
Oh, you are older than I thought you were. That’s impressive, though. It is never too late to try to accomplish your dreams.
When I come here in 2012 and ’13, I was 23—five years ago. If I had these results five years ago, there would be more doors open for someone to help. My fitness trainer, I was talking to him and was, “Ah, I’m getting too old. I need to save some money.” He said to me, look at Chad Reed; he’s 35 and still has a dream to win. Racing is what he loves to do. If you do what you love, it doesn’t matter if you are 35 or 15. You go there. You do your best. That’s why he is different from the other guys. Chad Reed is a bad dude. I’m here and it’s a dream come true. I hope someday to have a factory contract. I know it’s a long way, but it’s my dream. I did not come here to make money; I came to live my dream.
Travis told me you might be doing some AMA outdoor nationals this year?
Yeah, my sponsor from Brazil, Yamaha of Brazil, was at the last round in Oakland and they released me to do some outdoors here. We try to do the first three outdoors here. They’re not the same date as the Brazil races. The main goal was to do the whole series, but it’s a lot of money and we don’t have a lot of sponsors to help me, so we will probably show up at the first two rounds for sure and try to do Colorado too.
Sponsors that help out Jean Ramos and WK Pools Racing
Wk Pool Racing, Geracao Yamaha, Alpinestars, Monster energy, White Knuckle Grips, Works Connection, Piston Bones, Pro Wheel, Bell Helmets, John Burr Cycles, FMF, Dunlop, ENZO Brazil Suspension, UFO, Dunlop, Moto Seat, JE Pistons, CV4 Engines, VP Race Fuel, Rekluse, JMR, NXT, Mr Pro, Two Strokes, Avetec, Moto Style