Photo by: Chase Yocom – Interview recorded by: Chris Cooksey
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. We tell their stories.
This week’s “Privateer Showcase” is with a rider very few fans even knew he existed before 2018, John Short. John’s first season of Monster Energy Supercross was back in 2016. That year, John put his privateer Suzuki in the main just one time, but it was just enough to give him taste of something he knew he wanted more of.
John returned for 2017, put it in the main three more times and began turning a few heads with a 13th at the 2017 Indianapolis SX. The privateer wasn’t lighting the world on fire, but the improvements were steady and the goal of just making the main events was upgraded to wanting better results in the mains.
During the offseason in between ’17 and ’18, John got off the Suzuki and jumped on the Yamaha for the new season. John says in the interview below that the switch to Yamaha was the difference maker in ’18, and with the TPJ Racing / Maxim Yamaha / Merge Racing rider making five main events and scoring a career-high 8th in Minneapolis, it’s hard to argue with him. The #57 currently has five times the points scored in ’17 and he sits a respectable 14th in the points.
After his career-high 8th place finish in Minneapolis, MotoXAddicts’ Chris Cooksey caught up with the Pilot Point, TX. rider to talk about his breakout season
John, so I took a lot of flack this week. I put you 10th in our weekly “Power Rankings” and Dan Lamb, our editor, gave me some flack about it, but you proved me right with an 8th. What’s been the difference with you this season? You used to be the guy just trying to make mains and now you’re fighting inside the top ten.
You know, I really like my motorcycle this year. I didn’t necessarily have the testing or the funding to get good equipment. This year I’m on the Yamaha, the equipment is good and I’m really comfortable on the bike.
That’s the only difference–you’re comfortable on the bike?
I had an injury that took me out and kept me from riding until mid-January. I had 8 hours on my practice bike before Arlington. I kind of got going last minute, and as soon as I got on the bike, I clicked with it and I’m trying to build up every race.
I heard the first couple of rounds you didn’t even have a mechanic. Is that true?
It’s kind of a funny story. It seems like every weekend I have a different guy, just a buddy that flies with me. Hey, mechanics are expensive, so I make due with what I got: good friends to help me out.
Where do you do practice during the week? I’m sure you don’t have your own private track?
Yeah, I’ve got a backyard track, but for the most part I practice up in Oklahoma at Merge Racing’s compound: Compound 77. That’s where my motor and suspension guy is. Kyle Cunningham rides up there a bunch and we moto together. It works out well having your moto suspension guy there to test and stuff.
Jim Lewis [Merge Racing] is pretty solid with his stuff.
He’s smart, for sure.
He’s helping you and doing your motor work too?
Oh yeah, everyday I go up there he’s wanting to try something or try a new part, a new suspension setting or something.
How many years have you been in the 250 class?
I rode part of ’16 and then I did all of last year on the Suzukis. This will be my third season in the 250 east.
I think I heard that you have a regular job during the week?
I used to. I used to work at a cabinet shop. Luckily I had some more support come on board so I can just focus on the riding aspect–which is a big help, obviously. While I was sanding cabinets, other people were riding.
How recent was it that you were able to quit the job?
It was at the end of 2016. It’s been a couple of seasons. I worked a little bit while I had the hand injury, though–just building fences and tearing stuff down. Once I got back on the bike, I just was training.
I’ve been asking all the riders this, so I’ll ask you too. With the “Triple Crown”–especially as a privateer and all the added expenses–you’re out there double the amount of time. I know if somebody asked me to work double the amount of time for the same pay, I wouldn’t appreciate it. Do you feel like, one, there should be more points given for the “Triple Crown” and, two, more pay?
I honestly haven’t thought about the pay. For me as a privateer, it gives me three opportunities to go out there and showcase what I can do, whereas some night you get a bad start, fall over in the first corner and you’re stuck in the back. For me, I like that aspect of it. To me, I like it. It’s almost like racing amateurs again like at Loretta’s three moto format. I do think it would be cool to have points paid each moto.
Maybe not full points each moto, but like maybe 35 or 50-points for the whole evening.
Yeah, sort of like outdoors. Maybe not to that surplus.
One last question, you ride for Teddy Parks from TPJ [The Privateer Journey] who is one of my favorite personalities in the pits and a funny guy to be around. I have to ask, do you have a good Teddy Parks story?
I have so many of them that I can’t think of just one. You can go into his motorhome at any given time and he’s in there petting his cats. Earlier today he had a…
Wait a minute, he brings his cats on the road? (laughs)
He has a cat named KiKi and a total of two house cats. He’s got a stuffed animal that when he’s squeezes it the eyes pop out and he takes it out and he puts it in the cat’s face. I don’t know, he’s just a character. There’s just too many stories to count. Just hang out with him.
Teddy Parks, the all-American. Thanks for the time.
I appreciate it.