Photo by: Mark Lester

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.

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This week’s Privateer Showcase interview is with the #330 on the Factory Connections KTM, Cade Autenrieth. You might remember Cade as the 17 year-old surprise fill-in rider for the Autotrader / JGRMX / Suzuki team at the end of 2017 Monster Energy Supercross series. A totally under the radar amateur rider at the time, Cade made his pro debut with the JGR team at the 2017 Seattle SX and didn’t make the main event, but a week later in Salt Lake he surprised everyone with a 13th in the main.

After his fill-in ride over at JGR ended Cade was seemingly back to square one of trying to prove himself as a privateer in the pro ranks. It was pretty quiet for the #330 in 2018, but after seeing him finish 18th in the 450SX main event in Las Vegas and scoring points last weekend at Hangtown on the 450, we thought we would give him a call and get to know him a little better. At just 18 years-old, I think the future might be a bright one for this Californian.

In his second ever pro race at just 17 years-old he made the 2017 Salt Lake City SX 250SX main event and finished 13th. I’m surprised that didn’t create more hype around the him than it did. Photo by: Octopi

Cade, where are you based out of at the moment and what are your local tracks there?

I’m in Hemet, Ca. My most local tracks would probably be Perris, Lake Elisonore, Milestone and Pala.


You’re right in the middle of everything.

Yeah, right in the middle of everything.


Was was your amateur career like coming up? I noticed you went to Loretta Lynn’s a couple times, but did you guys do the other big amateur events as well?

I got into racing through my cousin and I raced a little bit, but when I was younger, I never tried the nationals like Loretta’s. When I turned 12, though, I did Mammoth and Loretta’s, and that’s kind of where it started—started taking it serious and racing more. Then in 2014, I won a JS7 Freestone Championship in the 85 class and that helped. I missed Loretta’s a lot because I hurt. In 2015 I got hurt, 2016 I raced the B class and Schoolboy class at Loretta’s, but even that year I broke my ulna right before and went there with a plate in my arm. I ended up getting 5th in Schoolboy. I just worked my way up, but never got any help [sponsors] as an amateur. That’s why I went Pro so quick. I’m only 18 and going Pro was just a better route for me.


With no help, you just went for it. Some people might not understand that.

Yeah, I wasn’t finding the help and I’ve been training with Buddy Antunez since I was 12 years-old, and he just suggested it. I had to do the “Road to Supercross” in the Arenacross series, so I did that. There was no point in staying in the amateurs for me because most the top kids already have a contract into the pros, and it’s hard to get one when you’re at the end the amateurs—like in the A class. It was just better for me to go pro, and then I ended up getting that JGR deal.

Cade is starting to prove on the 450 that there was a reason why he got that shot at JGR. Photo by: Justin Quinn

Is that how that JGR fill-in came about, your relationship with Buddy Antunez? And how was that for you? Did that add more pressure for your pro debut?

Yeah, I was actually at a race trying points for amateur stuff and Buddy told us we could get a test ride for JGR if I got my AX points. So we loaded up my truck and went straight to New Orleans to get the AX point I needed. Then they let me ride the bike and I did pretty good, so they let me race after the ride. My first ever pro race was Seattle, and it was gnarly. I only got one 10-minute practice, but I tried to make it work. I just had some problems and didn’t get it done. Salt Lake was a better race for me.


You did really well in Salt Lake. You finished 13th in the main in just your second pro race ever. I think you surprised a lot of people. Did the 13th surprise you?

I kind of knew where I was at, ’cause I was training a lot with Weston [Peick] and them. I was up there in like 10th and wanted to stay there, but I dropped back a little. I wanted a top 15, so I was happy with that.


It was solid. The next time I remember seeing you, you finished 18th on the 450 in the Las Vegas SX main event and then came out and scored points on Saturday at Hangtown. I also saw you in the A qualifying sessions. Were you surprised they put you with the A guys? You ended up qualifying really good in 23rd.

I raced Millville last year and scored a point on the 450, so I wasn’t sure if they were going to put me in A, but I was kind of surprised. I was glad they did; it was nice. You get to be around the best guys. I know I could have qualified better. The first practice the track was pretty smooth, and I just didn’t take advantage of that. I probably could have had my lap times a little bit further. It was alright.


What made you choose to race the 450? You’re a pretty big kid, so is that the main reason? Is it easier to make a 450 competitive as a privateer?

No, the 250 financially is a lot harder. I raced 250’s as an amateur and it was just hard. I would blow motors and we’d have to go through them. I rode a bone stock KTM 450 motor at Hangtown. All I had was good suspension, aftermarket wheels, bars, levers, a seat cover and grips.

The way Cade’s riding right now, we expect to see him trade in the #330 for a National number in ’19. Photo by: Mark Lester.

It was a really good opening round for you. In both motos, you started 16th and went 19-22 on the day. Talk a little about your races at Hangtown.

In the first moto, I was running around 16th and ran there for the majority of the moto. I could see the big group ahead of me and I was pushing and staying with them, but I ended up over-pushing and got pretty bad arm pump. I started fading at the end pretty hard. I learned a lot at Hangtown, though—changing lines, seeing how the track develops and what to do. Now I know how I need to react to the track and keeping my energy up. In the second moto, I started pretty good and felt good, but I went down in that off-camber turn pretty hard and I got stuck in the banners. I was like 28th and caught back up to 22nd.


Overall, you have to be happy with your ride there.

Yeah, I was happy with that. I was glad to score points. I think it was a good start to the year, and I was definitely happy with it.


Next round is back to your neck of the woods at Glen Helen. The talk of the day at Hangtown was the huge jumps being built there, but what are your thoughts heading to Glen Helen for round two?

I haven’t been there and jumped them. I know the fans like them. The section I saw was that triple step-up into that giant double. I think the triple step-up is fine, but that giant double is a little too big. It makes it sketchy having big jumps and especially on the first lap. Then at the end of the race, you’re tired, it’s rough and you have to hit a 130-foot triple. It’s gnarly.


All jumps aside, how are you feeling about racing at Glen Helen this weekend?

I really like Glen Helen. I’ve been racing there since I was 13 years-old. I’ve been there a lot. I like the hard pack there and how it gets soft in the corners, and I like the hills. A lot of guys aren’t used to those hills, but I get to ride there every week. I’m really well known with the track, so I’m feeling good going into it.

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Click to check out what’s new at Race Tech

Alright, well, thanks for doing this, Cade. It was cool getting to know you a little bit. You’re a privateer, but I’m sure you have some companies that help you get to the races.

Yeah, I want to thank Answer, Factory connection, Arai, maxima, magik and Scott for all their help.


Dan Lamb is a 12+ year journalist and the owner of MotoXAddicts.