Photo by: Chase Yocom
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.
Number 261 in the Eastern Regional 250SX Championship series is the focus of this week’s “Privateer Showcase.” Wilson Fleming is in his rookie year of Monster Energy Supercross, and while he graduated the amateur ranks with a 450B Loretta Lynn’s #1 plate in his trophy case, his title sponsor is still Mom and Dad as he tries to prove himself in the pro ranks.
Wilson’s freshman SX campaign got off to a slow start, but as the season progressed, he has proven to be a rider to watch in the 250SX class. Over the first eight rounds in the East, Wilson has put his privateer Yamaha in the main event three times—including the last two main events in a row—and currently sits 29th in the 250SX East standings.
After Wilson’s third main event appearance last weekend, MotoXaddicts’ Chris Cooskey gave him a call so we could all find out a little bit more about this new face in Monster Energy Supercross.
Wilson, where are you originally from and what got you into dirt bikes?
I’m originally from New Canaan, Connecticut. My dad rode a little bit of trails with his buddies up in Vermont. We did a lot of skiing up there, and during the summer they would go up and ride trails. He never really raced, but he got me a PW50 when I was 3 years-old. From there, we raced local races and we tried to do Loretta’s. 2014 was the first year we made it to Loretta’s. I also graduated from public high school in 2014. My dad was really adamant about me staying in school and not getting home schooled even though that’s the route guys are taking. Then I won in 450B Limited class in 2016. I finished out amateurs last year. I decided I didn’t really have that much support, so it didn’t look like it was going to make sense to keep going at amateurs, so we just tried the Supercross thing and it’s going pretty well.
Who was your favorite rider growing up?
I’d say James Stewart. I didn’t really get into watching racing until I was about nine or ten years-old. That was right when James Stewart was in his prime on the Kawi 450. There was just something about the way he rode and just everything about him. He was so fun to watch. He was definitely my favorite rider.
What kind of music do you listen to?
That’s funny; I listen to just about every genre of music that’s out there. It’s all just based off of my mood. Mostly I listen to rap or like Three Days Grace or Blink 182, some of those bands. You can throw some country in there or I like EDM a lot and even Alternative. I’ll listen to basically anything.
When did you decide you were going to race SX in ’18? Was it a decision in January or was it a decision made earlier than that?
I would say it was a little bit before January. My trainer and I made a plan to do the first few East Coast Arenacross rounds. A buddy of mine that I train with, TJ Albright, we did all those together in his van. I felt like—before January—I thought we would maybe have a chance to get that East Coast Lites AX title, but some things didn’t work out. The decision to race SX came in November or December. I raced a few AX rounds and then hopped into SX in Tampa for the first one.
If you had received some support, would you have stayed back in amateurs? Was it a money decision at that point?
Yeah, a little bit. It was weird how it worked out. After I won Loretta Lynn’s—everyone talks about how it’s so prestigious, but you put in the work, you bust your ass to win it—I didn’t get much of anything at all besides gear. I had already met a few people from some companies before that, so I didn’t get much at all. I was looking to try to land on something that could bring me into the pro’s. When that didn’t happen, that’s when I decided I’m just going to go straight to SX.
Where are you riding and training during the week right now?
I ride at the Georgia Practice Facility [GPF] in Cairo, Ga. It’s me, TJ Albright and Jayce Pennington, who is actually hurt right now. Us three, we train together with Dylan Turner, who helps out Jeremy Martin at the races too. He kind of does all our schedules as to what we’re doing on the bike, what we’re doing off the bike, our gym workouts and all that. I’m there from 9am until 1:30-2pm.
As a privateer getting to the races on your own, are you currently making a living or is it costing you money to go racing?
(laughs) I am so far. It’s not even me, it’s my parents. We would be so far in debt if we count what they’ve spent and what I made back. It’s not even funny. The sport just doesn’t pay out enough to make a living unless you’re a top ten guy getting paid a salary from a factory team. The payout from FELD isn’t the best, and there’s not much we can do about it. It has helped racing SX because I actually make right around $1000 every time I’m in a main event. I’d say it probably cuts even when all is said and done—to get there, gas, hotel, keep up on my bike, entry fee and all that. To get to an SX race and pay for entry fee is right about $1000.
How much is the entry fee for a SX, and is that in addition to the fee for your pro license?
It’s $200 for the 250 class. And, yes, the pro license was $300.
Did you watch the 450 main event in Foxborough?
Okay, if you were in Marvin Musquin’s shoes—in 2nd in the 450 main event on the last lap—would you have blasted Eli Tomac too?
I think I would have. I don’t know if I would have done something that drastic. It was pretty bad; there’s no way around it. He said he was riding really well and he was frustrated after leading all those laps. To get passed with two laps to go, you’re going to be upset, especially if you’re riding well. They’re racing for a 450 main event win. I think you would have to do what Marvin did. Those wins are so prestigious and that’s probably another $25-$50,000 right there. I think I would do the same thing.
How can people follow you on social media and what sponsors would you like to give some love to?
You can follow me on Instagram @WFleming261. I gotta thank my mom and dad. They’re the biggest supporters in all this. Also, Answer, Bell Helmets, Scott, EVS, FMF, Rekluse, MGX Unlimited, Pro Taper, Ryno Power, MindFX