Photo by: Cycle Dump
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.
Usually these “Privateer Showcase” interviews are with riders who have never tasted the good life of being in a factory rig and dream of one day being there, but this week we caught up with a rider who started his career off in a factory rig. Oregon’s Chris Alldredge turned pro at the end of 2014 after a very decorated amateur career with the most prestigious 250 team in the pits, Monster Energy / Pro Circuit / Kawasaki, but over the first two years of his professional career, he had some painful growing pains that quite a few elite level young pros have.
Chris was blazing fast both indoors and out—even finishing on the podium at the 2015 Hangtown National—but he hit the ground quite a bit. The unfortunate thing for Chris, he was on a team that is very select about who they are willing to stand behind during those growing pains days and Chris was not one of them. He was let go by PC and picked up by a privateer team, Barn Pros Yamaha, but after breaking his back at the 2017 Seattle SX, he decided to check out for a while.
Fast forward a year and Chris signed up for the Hangtown National in the 450MX class on a KTM two stroke. He didn’t turn many heads at Hangtown, but the next weekend at Glen Helen he was blowing minds coming from behind to battle inside the top ten on the little 95% stock 250 smoker. He ended up making some mistakes and only scoring 3 points at Glen Helen, but we saw that elite potential again. Then at Thunder Valley, he got his normal back-of-the-pack start and battled well up into the points. Then, with his stock forks gone, he hit the ground hard, breaking his T3 and T5 vertebrae this time.
With Chris home trying to pay the bills working at his step-father’s business, CR Fabrication, and waiting to heal so he can come back again, I gave him a call to find out why he chose the two stroke, his many injuries and about his plans with his return to racing.
Chris, thanks for doing this. What are you up to on a Wednesday night these days?
I’m just finishing up a work project and taking it over to a buddy’s house. It’s a side job I’ve been working for quite a while now making extra cash on the side. For this one, I’m sandblasting a boat frame and just got finished up a half an hour ago.
Last time we saw you, you crashed pretty hard and injured yourself. How are you feeling?
It was just a T3 and T5 [vertebrae] injury.
Oh, yeah, that’s nothing serious. (laughs) You sound so nonchalant about it.
Actually, it’s funny. These two will make number 11 and 12 different vertebra that I’ve broken. I’ve broken my back, my neck and my lower lumbar like I did in Seattle last year, so breaking vertebra is really not that big of a deal, honestly—at least in my eyes. I guess I’m just lucky that it hasn’t been a spinal cord yet.
So you just went right back to work and are just waiting until it’s okay enough to race again?
I go to the races by myself, so I went to the hospital and some people in town were really helpful and got my stuff together for me. They picked me up from the hospital, I spent the night at their place and then I jumped in the rig and drove straight home. On day 9—the second Monday after the accident—I went back to work. I don’t get workman’s comp getting hurt racing a motorcycle and somebody has to pay the bills. They did an MRI, said it was the T3, T5 and told me it takes 6 weeks. We’re at week four. I’m getting my bike all put back together and I’ll be at Washougal.
I’m never complaining about my back being sore ever again on a long drive. You drove from Denver to Redmond, Oregon the morning after breaking two vertebrae?
They threw me in a back brace, but honestly I didn’t wear it. It was uncomfortable. (laughs) I stopped a lot and spent the night in Salt lake City on Sunday night and drove the rest of the way on Monday. I’ve broken so many bones now. You don’t really feel the pain any more. I’m just kind of like, “Oh well, I better do what the doctor says.” (laughs)
Do you have any hardware in your back from all these injuries?
No, I’ve been really fortunate. The doctor that took my MRI this time was like, “You have some strong bones.” He asked if I’ve ever had any bone displacement and I said, “No.” He’s like, “Then you probably never will.” He said, “Your bones are solid and you’re going to be one of those guys who breaks bones but they’re not going to move so you’re not going to have many surgeries in your life.” I only have hardware in my wrist—in my navicular; that little small bone that ends guys careers. I had an ACL replacement and there’s some rods in there and I have a plate in my left collar bone.
Like all of us, you will feel it when you’re my age. (laughs)
That’s why I’m living it up right now. That’s why I’m racing and wrecking myself right now. (laughs)
Let’s talk racing. You showed up on a two stroke 250 KTM this year and signed up for the 450 class for the first time in your career. What went into the decision to race the two stroke?
Honestly, I grew up racing two strokes. I raced 125’s for three years. We weren’t supposed to be on them. Yamaha didn’t want us to, because I was just 12 years-old. We went and bought one anyways and just started riding them. I always had so much fun on two strokes, so it brought me back to when it wasn’t a job as much. The second honest answer is I can afford them. I just bought a brand new Wiseco top end and it was $280. You can’t even buy a valve on a four stroke for $280. Long story short, it’s fun, I can afford it and the challenge, man. It’s so cool. I don’t know if people realize, I got a last place start at every race I did. Just the challenge is so much fun. I love it. I don’t care if I’m racing for 23rd or inside the top 10 like I was at Glen Helen, it’s just a blast.
The two stroke takes off a lot of the pressure. You’re a former factory rider and rather than having that pressure, you have two stroke army people going crazy for you if you simply score a point. Was that part of why you did it as well?
I could go into the big, long story as to racing and why I’m where I’m at, but at the end of the day, when I went professional it just turned so much into a job that I lost sight of how much I enjoyed racing—to the point that I was about to hang up my boots. I know people thought it was injuries, but that’s just part of racing. I like to think I’m pretty fucking tough, but I just wasn’t enjoying it. I took a hiatus, went to work for about a year and out of the blue decided to buy a bike. Then after riding it a few times, I decided to race some outdoors. I only got to do one year of outdoors and I was always so bummed about that. I always loved outdoors and even podiummed the one year I got to race it. I get to enjoy it, man—drink beer with the fans and do it like old school racing. I know I can’t run with the top three guys for sure and probably not even the top five guys on my good days, but I know I can be a top ten guy. I ran there at Glen Helen. I know everyone says the class is weak, but that’s racing, and as long as I’m racing inside the top ten, I’m a happy camper.
With this comeback are you trying to get back to the factory team level, or are you already just over the job part of racing completely and just want to have fun, period?
Don’t get me wrong, if somebody was to call me and say, “Hey man, we want you to run a few rounds as a fill in guy.” Obviously, we’d have to work something out, ’cause I have medical bills to pay, insurance and stuff I’m dealing with that people will never have any idea about. As much as I want to do it, I’d still have to weigh the options. Yeah, I guess I’m striving for that. People think I’ve been around a long time, but I’ve only been pro for three years and this is my rookie 450 season. In Colorado I had a leaky front fork seal, but decided to race anyways and it got terrible by the end of the race. I was up to like 14th.
Yeah, you were on rails with an under powered 250 and a carburetor at 6000 feet elevation. (laughs) One last question before we let you go, do you feel like you’re stealing some of “Stank Dog’s” [Gared Steinke] two smoker thunder? (laughs) I mean he’s been the go to for the two stroke fans for a while now.
Nah, I’ve known Gared since I was a little kid. We both grew up in the Northwest together. Yeah, don’t get me wrong, that definitely crossed my mind once or twice, but at the same time he’s doing it for the same thing I am; he’s doing it because he wants to be there. He’s not doing it for the publicity. He’s doing it because he loves fucking racing. I think that’s what we share in common, right? That’s why we’re such good friends on and off track. There’s so much respect. I would never steal his thunder. He’s still the original two stroke dude. He’s the only guy I know that actually did the whole series on a 125. That’s impressive. I don’t care who you are, that takes balls.